Ahead of gaming’s biggest exhibition – ICE 2014 Team SBC caught up with the Clarion Events Gaming Team to discuss this year’s conference. ICE 2014 will be hosted at the Excel London Arena 4-6 February. The event will look to bring a board range of gaming subject matter to attending delegates, and will also showcase the latest innovations for the gaming and igaming sectors.
Team SBC caught up with Clarion Events Ewa Bakun, Head of Content and Silvia Peneva, Programme Manager Gaming to give us the lowdown on ICE 2014.
SBC: So Ewa & Silvia, please tell our readers and your delegates what the hot gaming topics and trends are at this upcoming ICE2014?
EB: If you look at the 8 conferences we are planning for ICE, their titles would indicate where we see the biggest developments and hottest trends in various areas of both land-based and online gaming. Without simply enlisting the conference titles, social gaming, mobile, tablet and multi-screen gaming continue to be exciting the industry and providing hope for major innovation; trends in content development that feed off social and mobile will be analysed in-depth with targeted focus on the technology and design; customer insight, player retention and data management will be presented in operator case studies and, within the field of regulations and compliance, new UK regulations and the anti-money laundering directive will without a doubt be widely discussed, so couldn’t be missed from the conference agenda.
SP: We are particularly excited to be launching the Game Design & Development conference as the latest addition to the suite of 8 ICE conferences this year. This event is dedicated to the core of the industry – the creative minds behind the games across multiple channels that drive our industry. The event features some of the major game developers and product strategists in the industry who will be sharing their experience and expertise and it promises to attract some of the most creative attendees at ICE to discuss innovation and compelling content across multiple platforms.
SBC: Can you give our readers insight into how your team prepares for the production of such a big conference. What is the build-up to an ICE Exhibition like as producers?
EB: Preparing for ICE is a year-long process and we never stop to think about it. For the conference production team, the work intensifies around May when we start consulting with the industry on what exactly keeps them up at night – this is a good indication for us on what our conferences should be about. We speak to the market directly; we consult with the previous attendees, speakers, ICE visitors and any newcomers to the industry that we find out about through our contacts or by reading industry press. This year we had six people altogether working on defining the conference agendas and inviting speakers and the amount of the business intelligence that we gathered during the three months of researching and talking to the market is just overwhelming. Silvia, who has now taken over the management and delivery of the conferences in the run-up to ICE, can tell you more about what happens next.
SP: Following the completion of the conference programmes it’s a matter of maintaining contact with all our 200+ speakers and making sure they have all the information they need in the run-up to ICE. The production team is also responsible for liaising with our media partners and ensuring our speakers seize the opportunity to get interviewed as well as sharing other content through our channels in the run-up to the conferences. We realise ICE is a very busy time for all of our speakers and we appreciate all their support and involvement with the conferences, both before and during the show.
Internally, it is a matter of project managing the conferences which entails working closely with the marketing team on creating the brochures and maintaining the website; attending meetings with our sponsorship team to present the conferences; briefing our delegate sales team who need to understand the core content and key benefits of the conferences and last, but not least, working closely with the operations team in planning how the venues will be set up for the events.
SBC: What factors have come into gaming in 2013, and what effect have they had on your team producing an agenda for ICE 2014?
EB: I have mentioned some of the trends above that have shaped the educational agenda for ICE. Other developments that have influenced the content we’re planning to offer at ICE include our cooperation with some of the key associations, like ECA, IAGA, IAGR and NCF, that have resulted in ICE offering a special networking and educational proposition for regulators called World Regulatory Assembly; iGaming progress in the USA, in particular the need to provide more information on tribal gaming, which will be offered during the free seminars and during the GiGse lunch; interesting regulatory developments in India and Japan, which will also be part of seminar content at ICE, with participation of some key decision-makers from these markets.
SBC: How is your team introducing/presenting new technologies for iGaming at the upcoming exhibition?
SP: The ICE exhibition features 72 new exhibitors so far and an ever growing presence of mobile gaming solution providers, security, data analysis and IT hardware companies (such as AMD) who have come on board for the first time to exhibit at ICE and provide innovative solutions to the industry.
SBC: ICE Expos are huge and very important events, what advice would you give to gaming operators on how to make the most out of the exhibition?
EB: I think preparation is key. With so much going on, we encourage our visitors to find out what’s on offer as early as possible so they can plan when and where they want to be, whether it’s at sessions, expo floor or in meetings. ICE is huge and attracts a lot of people, so ICE Conferences, that are very topical and focused, are a good place to channel the networking to make sure you talk to your peers and decision-makers.
SP: ICE is enormous and although 3 days may seem like a long time, they fly by. If you aren’t well prepared in advance it is easy to get lost in the busyness of it all and lose track of your objectives. The powerful functionality of our new multi-channel and cross-platform app will allow all registered ICE visitors to send messages to, and arrange meetings with, fellow attendees and exhibitors; view and make personal notes against speakers, sessions and exhibitors; add sessions and meetings to their personal ICE agenda; keep up to date with news and social media before the show and share with their personal social networks.
The mobile event app will automatically sync all of this information (as well as provide additional information such as updates & news throughout the event, local amenities and travel information etc.) so they’re ready to use it on-the-go. Watch out for the ICE app launch in December – available on Blackberry, Android and iOS.
SBC: Producing an exhibition as big as ICE, what surprises you most when working on the EXPO and with gaming companies?
EB: It is going to my 5th ICE, but every year I get really impressed by the creativity and imagination of our exhibitors in terms of the design and entertainment offer at their stands and, from what I’ve heard, I can expect that in 2014 too. On a more selfish level, as someone who has responsibility over conferences, I am always so grateful to our speakers, in particular for their flexibility and willingness to help if there are unexpected drop-outs or complications on the day.
SP: The buzz at ICE is overwhelming. I would say fulfilment is a better word than surprise when it gets to being on-site at the show. When I see busy, excited and happy people, doing business, making new contacts, learning new things, I know the hard work over the year has paid off. The 2014 show promises to be a sensational one and I look forward to seeing our campaign come to reality as well as the creativity of our exhibitors; their stands are always very impressive to see in their full glamour.
Ewa Bakun, Head of Content Clarion
Silvia Peneva, Programme Manager Gaming