There is no sign of slippage when it comes to the ongoing expansion of ICE London, the premiere UK-based international gaming industry conference and trade show, which will take place this year at ExCeL London from February 4-6.
Last year, the event attracted 36,092 attendees, an 8 percent increase on the 2018 figure and the eighth consecutive year of growth, according to press materials. These showgoers hailed from 155 nations, another record for the yearly gathering.
“ICE London is experiencing the most successful period in its history,” said Kate Chambers, managing director for Clarion Gaming, the long-time show organizer for ICE London. “Since we moved from Earls Court to our home at ExCeL London, the brand has undergone a phase of exponential growth with attendance increasing from 21,336 in 2012 to 36,093 in 2019. Over the same period, the number of exhibitors has increased from 430 to 612 and the net floor space has grown from 22,500 square meters to 47,500 square meters.”
GOING TO MARKET
One of the primary reasons for ICE London’s sustained growth has been a continuous uptick in interest and attendance from the international gaming community. “ICE London attracts more visitors from more countries than any other B2B gaming event held anywhere in the world,” said Dan Stone, head of marketing for Clarion Gaming. “Very few business exhibitions in any sector can compare with the internationalism of ICE London: it is something that we have worked hard to achieve over the last decade and a brand characteristic that our stakeholders place great emphasis on. Having access to the entire gaming universe in one place is a huge benefit and it is unique to ICE London.”
“Gaming professionals from a record 155 countries were represented at the 2019 edition and our objective is to consolidate and, if at all possible, to grow that figure in 2020,” Stone added.
To accomplish this task, Clarion launched an integrated global marketing plan last October. The campaign in support of ICE London 2020 is comprised of extensive through-the-line marketing activities including print and online advertising, post and digital communications, social media, PPC, content marketing, referral efforts and, with the international scope of the event, an expansion of the partner network focusing on key regional outlets.
The theme of the campaign was also carefully selected to entice a positive response from potential attendees in every gaming vertical, inviting them to “Step, Leap, Dive and Look—Into The Future.”
“The vast majority of the 35,000-plus visitors who attend ICE London… aren’t interested in the past—they want an insight to the future,” Chambers said. “Whether delegates are interested in future technology, future regulation, future trends, future lifestyle changes, opportunities or challenges—ICE London is all about the future. Other events may be more comfortable with the status quo, but our passion, and that of our stakeholders, is to embrace what’s next, hence the 2020 campaign in support of ICE London and ICE VOX.”
“Our ‘Into The Future’ campaign narrative resonates with audiences in every one of our gaming verticals and we will be working with the international community of digital and print specialist gaming media as well as utilizing the influence of social media to maximize the brand’s reach,” Stone added.
Another pillar to ICE London’s international growth strategy has been ICE VOX, the event’s conference program. This year’s ICE VOX involves 200 speakers and six topic tracks (Modernizing Lotteries, Hospitality Technology, Cybercrime & Security, World Regulatory Briefing, International Casino Conference and, new for this year, Marketing, Advertising & Data Science), all taking place February 3-4 at ExCeL London.
“For 2020, we will feature an unprecedented amount of C-Level speakers with some of the most influential decision makers and thought leaders from across the entire global gaming ecosystem primed to provide insights and knowledge tackling the biggest issues in global gaming,” said Sadie Walters, head of production for Clarion Gaming. “One of the most notable aspects of this year’s line-up of industry leaders is the representation of diversity across the board. Currently, the lineup features several women of C-level or above, which is hugely encouraging in terms of highlighting the growing position of influence women have across all levels of seniority throughout the various sectors of gaming.”
“This year’s edition will feature 48 hours of learning delivered by key speakers drawn from both within and outside the gaming industry who will deliver tangible benefits that delegates can take back to their businesses and improve performance,” Walters added. “We have worked closely with the industry to ensure ICE VOX reflects the dominant themes and trends, hence the inclusion of a second day for the conference, focusing on hospitality, tech and innovation and an entire new track dedicated to advertising and marketing.”
The inaugural Advertising, Marketing and Data Science track features experts, influencers and thought leaders drawn from both inside and outside the gambling industry. Insights will be provided by marketing experts at leading brands such as Jack Daniels and LADbible, who will appear alongside key figures from some of the world’s most recognized and disruptive gaming companies. The distinguished lineup includes Chris Conroy, former head of data, Rank Group; Dan Towse, head of brand, Marathon Bet; Elen Barber, chief marketing officer, Kindred Group; Irakli Davarashvili, marketing director, Adjarabet; John Cole, group director brand partnerships—sport, gambling and alcohol, LADbible Group; Matt Parkes, director of brand and creative, BetVictor; Nidal Ramini, head of brand advocacy, Brown Forman-Jack Daniels; Phil Kornyshev, head of marketing, Betmaster; and Rostyslav Maikovych, chief data officer, Parimatch.
“We know from researching the industry how important this topic is with gaming professionals so we have combined our content based around advertising, marketing and data science into a single comprehensive agenda,” Walters said. “As well as providing information on new methods to engage and retain an audience, the track will also identify ways of gaining maximum value from data and the utilization of technologies including AI and machine learning to generate maximum ROI. All of our feedback suggests this is a big topic for the industry and a prescient time to deliver the very best market analysis and insight.”
Much like the conference side, the tradeshow portion of ICE London offers unique opportunities for the show’s international vendor community, which features innovators drawn from the betting, bingo, casino, e-sports lottery, mobile, online, payments, social, sports betting and street gaming sectors.
One such program is Pitch ICE, the opportunity for gaming start-ups to debut their companies to the wider gaming industry at ICE London. This year, the Pitch ICE stage will have a new high-profile location on the showfloor—situated within the high-footfall area adjacent to the E-sports Arena in the North Hall at ExCeL London. The move, alongside what promises to be one of the most popular show features, reflects the huge importance entrepreneurship and innovation plays in the culture of ICE London.
“Many of our start-ups have secured important investments and acquisition partners as a direct result of their pitch presentations and the opportunities at ICE London 2020 are going to be huge,” said Ewa Bakun, director of industry insight and engagement for Clarion Gaming. “Pitch ICE showcases the best ‘fresh thinking’ from the world’s most exciting start-ups. Getting exposure and obtaining funding is incredibly difficult, particularly for start-ups in the gambling space, and Pitch ICE is a great way for new companies to promote their innovations and to get some traction.”
ICE London also devoted part of its tradeshow floor to a Consumer Protection Zone (CPZ), an area set aside for social responsibility concerns. For ICE London 2020, CPZ will enjoy an enhanced location on the show floor and a footprint that’s up 30 percent year-on-year. CPZ also enjoys strong support from the international gaming industry—indeed, less than 24-hours after the marketing campaign in support of CPZ 2020 went live, Clarion Gaming had received sponsorship contributions totaling £15,000 with £5,000 pledged by 888 Holdings, Kindred Group and Videoslots. All proceeds from the sponsorship will go to a gambling charity nominated by the sponsors and announced prior to the opening of ICE London 2020.
Ewout Wierda, general counsel at Videoslots.com, believes the CPZ has become a key feature of the ICE London experience. “Social responsibility is a corner stone of building customer trust and is integrated in our business,” he said. “We aim to be industry leaders in offering safe transparent, fair and social entertainment. Likewise, the CPZ makes social responsibility a natural part of business when the industry meets at ICE London. We gladly support putting social responsibility at the heart of the industry.”
So far, these and other ICE London tradeshow promotional efforts by Clarion Gaming have been rewarded—as of December 2019, 73 first-time exhibitors from 37 jurisdictions had committed to the event. This list of countries includes Argentina; Armenia; Canada; Chile; China; Croatia; Curacao; Cyprus; England; Estonia; Germany; Greece; Hong Kong; India; Isle of Man; Israel; Italy; Lithuania; Malta; Mexico; Montenegro; Netherlands; Philippines; Portugal; Republic of Ireland; Russia; Scotland; Serbia; Seychelles; Singapore; Slovenia; South Korea; Spain; Sweden; Taiwan; Ukraine, and U.S.
“Despite the continued program of mergers and acquisitions taking place in the industry, ICE continues to grow both in terms of the net floor space it occupies and the number of exhibiting companies which choose London as the place to launch products and services to an international audience,” Stone said. “As well as existing exhibitors taking additional space, we are delighted to welcome those companies who will be attending ICE London for the first time. It’s an important part of what keeps ICE London fresh and exciting and we know the ability to meet with potential new suppliers resonates with our international visitor base.”