ow are you preparing for ICE and what are your expectations for the upcoming show?
Obviously it's been an extremely busy time and I speak on behalf of the entire team when I say that we can't wait for the show to open and to welcome the many thousands of visitors we anticipate will make the journey to London's Earls Court. Of all the 20 or so industries I have been involved in I can honestly say that the gaming industry is the most dynamic and the most intoxicating. It's been a great year of positive change for ICE and now's the time to judge how the various new initiatives we've introduced work. In terms of my expectations it's important to recognise that we are all - and by that I mean exhibitors, visitors, show organisers the media - part of a mammoth event. With 400+ exhibitors drawn from the international betting, bingo, casino, lottery, mobile, online and street gaming sectors occupying some 20,000 sqm, ICE 2011 represents the most comprehensive display of gaming products ever housed under one roof.
On the show floor a record 54 countries - more than double the 26 at November's Global Gaming Expo - are represented by exhibitors, an amazing fact which goes way beyond just exhibition statistics. In real business terms it means that whatever is taking place anywhere in the entire world of gaming has been demonstrated by exhibitors at ICE. The very clear message is 'come to ICE and see the world of gaming'. Like every one else my expectations for the show are very high.
Do you have some estimated figures about the number of exhibitors, visitors and countries represented?
In terms of exhibitors by the time the doors open at Earls Court there will be in excess of 400. Perhaps more significant is the number of countries represented on the show floor. 54 nations is an amazing figure which has never been matched by any gaming exhibition at any time. In terms of visitors we can only go on the experience of previous years. Over the last decade ICE has attracted 180,000 visitors from a total of 180 visitor territories - for context the United Nations recognise 192 Member States.
Despite the global industry facing its hardest recession for decades, ICE 2010 succeeded in maintaining attendance levels at above 90 per cent of the preceding year's record-breaking tally of 20,707. Furthermore the number of sovereign territories represented in 2010 held firm at 123 and exhibitor feedback confirmed the quality of buyers remained constant. Our level of pre-registration has been very strong and we have been working hard to convert these into physical attendees.
What are the most important features that visitors will find this year at ICE?
We have worked extremely closely with the industry in its various guises to deliver an event which is tailored to the requirements of our stakeholders - exhibitors, visitors, trade bodies and regulators. ICE 2011 is totally different to its predecessors. Our new Identity is much more than just a logo. It is a way of thinking which has change, technology and opportunity at its core. We have invested heavily on putting together a seven strong programme of ICE Conferences dealing with really important issues such as how casinos can take advantage of mobile gaming and use social media to engage with a younger audience and retain customers.
The third annual International Casino Conference (ICC) in partnership with the European Casino Association is part of the programme. The ICC will be examining how operators can marry land-based and online gaming using Casino Gran Madrid as a case study, as well as strategies to increase customer spend in the on-going economic downturn. Big changes have taken place since the 2010 show with far more additional and exciting developments which will improve business opportunities in the pipeline and implemented in time for the 2012 edition of ICE which we have been working on for the last six months.
Which trends will visitors be able to observe this year?
I think one of the really valuable things about ICE is that trends start at the show. Every single break-through product that's impacted the industry has been shown at ICE and it's a certainty that the hit product of 2011 will be there also. A really great thing about exhibitions is their ability to reveal something which fundamentally changes the way in which a sector does business. The potential to be among the first people to unearth a gem is what makes exhibitions so compelling. We will have over 100 regulators at ICE and perhaps some of the most valuable trends will be a move towards greater liberalisation of gaming laws in different jurisdictions. Whenever there are regulatory changes they will be reflected at ICE.
During the last months it was rumoured about a possible new trade show in Europe based in London. What do you know about this and what is the position of ICE?
Our approach has always and will always be to work with the market to build and create events that will make a telling contribution to businesses. To this end I would like to thank the European Casino Association, National Casino Industry Forum, eCogra, European Gaming and Betting Association, Association of British Bookmakers, Irish Bookmakers Association, Independent Bookmakers Association, European Sports Security Association and of course our many, many friends in the international gaming media for their fantastic support in helping to make ICE Totally Gaming what it is today. I am working on the 2012 show and beyond in partnership with our exhibitors to deliver events that they want. We're very committed to the gaming industry, we enjoy working with the gaming industry and we will continue to support the gaming industry. The 20,000 or so visitors who come to ICE each year love the exhibition because it represents an unrivalled opportunity to meet up with old friends and see the new technology that's shaping the future of gaming. Our collective mindset is to always be at the vanguard of the gaming revolution. ICE 2011 celebrates over two decades of providing a source of product innovation and inspirational ideas for the international gaming industry and long may that continue.