ow was ICE 2013 for Clarion Events? How would you describe the highs and lows?
2013 was a hugely important edition of ICE Totally Gaming at a number of levels. Firstly, we moved to our new, modern, purpose-built venue at London ExCeL and as part of that move we took up new dates in February. ExCeL represents an important new chapter for the event. It delivers our stakeholders, both visitors and exhibitors, with a modern business environment and it also gives us the ability to grow, to expand and to meet the demand which exists within the international community of gaming innovators for space at ICE. If you take statistics as the measure for success or failure then ICE was a triumph. Our audited attendance of 22,247 unique attendees represented a 4.3% increase from 2012, 8.6% compared to 2011 and just under 18% in reference with 2010 - to achieve this in an economic downturn demonstrates how important ICE is to gaming in every form. More people stayed at ICE for longer with visitors staying an average of 1.81 days. I think this is an important metric particularly as the event continues to grow and to build upon its status as the world's largest gaming event. The post event research we conduct each year also confirmed a very positive feedback from stakeholders, which is the stand out feedback we look for. We did also learn some lessons, and we have quickly moved to resolve them.
ExCeL is a huge venue with halls of a length close to 700 metres. To address this, we have taken over both the North and the South halls and reduced the length. The outcome is a squarer format but one which is 12% larger than the one in 2012 This reduces the distances visitors have to walk and improves the visitor flow throughout the halls. We have also made some big changes to the arrangements for build-ups which should deliver significant benefits. You never stop learning in this business and if you do, it's probably time to find another career challenge!
What are you preparing for ICE 2014?
One of the great things about ICE is that there's always going to be something, a game changing piece of genius that appears at the event without any prior knowledge or fanfares of publicity, that's part of the beauty and intrigue! What I can say is that visitors will experience the entire world of gaming covering betting: bingo, casino, lottery, online, street and social gaming in what is the world's largest gaming space comprising 55,00 sqm. We will have some 50 nations represented on the show floor and over 60% of exhibitors will be from outside the UK.
What this delivers is a really comprehensive take on gaming from a global perspective and the ability to identify trends and products from every corner of the world. No other gaming event can deliver this.Alongside the established major gaming brands, the household names in gaming, we also have 67 companies who will be at ICE for the first time. I think one of the aspects of our Totally Gaming week and one which sometimes gets overlooked, is the ICE Conferences programme which has become widely recognised as the best learning programme in gaming. The eight strong programme, which opens with the International Casino Conference on Monday 5th February, comprises 40 hours of targeted learning and networking delivered by 150 of gaming's most eminent thought leaders. The Conferences programme is an opportunity to engage, network, and learn before meeting with the innovators and suppliers on the show floor who are interpreting trends, regulations and the latest thinking into commercial gaming solutions. It is a valuable part of what we offer.
How do you see the global industry evolving over the short and medium term?
I think it's very important to recognise that we are event organisers and our specialism is gaming. Our job is to facilitate opportunity on behalf of our stakeholders who we work with. All we can comment on is what the various market sectors are telling us and the trends that we see working across our brands. With ICE, for example, we know that visitors have a diversity of interests that they didn't have previously: when they pre-register they are identifying more product sectors. This suggests a significant increase in divergence, which has been reflected in the acquisitions that continue to take place. One of the topics which was discussed at our EiG event in Barcelona was how online would become a less densely populated sector through the emergence of powerful brands which would dominate the space. I think the gaming sector is hungry both for innovation and for information and that argument is evident in the demand for places at ICE Conferences. I think the big macro issues of the day will always revolve around technology and regulation and the relationship between the two.
How can we see i-gaming's impact on the floor-plan and what other market segments have potential for ICE?
While our research showed that the most popular sectors at ICE 2013 were I-gaming, casino, and betting, the real reason for coming to ICE Totally Gaming is the fact that you can see the whole of the gaming landscape and what it comprises - all in one place. We are always going to have dominant sectors driven either by player trends, technology or changes in legislation. For example changes in the prize levels for the UK street and bingo sectors will, I am sure, be reflected at ICE 2014. The event has established a deserved reputation for being a window to the world of gaming and a shop window for the world's gaming's innovators.
What can you tell us about the first Brazilian gaming congress?
The purpose of the Congress was to bring international sports betting, online, regulatory and compliance expertise to Brazil to openly discuss and debate best practice at a time when Brazil is looking forward to the World Cup and the Olympics as a commercial and responsible gambling opportunity. Feedback at the event has been extremely positive and I believe the industry has a renewed sense of purpose and energy to seek to engage with government to implement change.
What are your next goals as a company?
We have a single purpose, which is to help our customers and stakeholders achieve their commercial objectives. As part of this we launched Commercial Intelligence, the first part of which is a market research service. We are in the process of trialling this, examining in detail UK Consumer Gambling Behaviour on mobile devices. The reaction we've had has been extremely positive and we'll be looking to develop this concept through 2014.