As the betting and gaming sector adapts to the lack of physical conferences we asked the CasinoBeats 100 Club if the experience has altered their companies’ perspectives of physical events.
With the betting and gaming sector facing a period of around 12 months with no physical conferences or trade shows. Has this experience changed your company’s view of such events?
The options were:
To some extent – We will now likely review the amount of events we commit to, perhaps balancing digital and physical events throughout the year.
No – We miss them like crazy and it’s hard to imagine a future without a considerable amount of physical networking.
Yes – They’re not as important to our business as we thought they were and we will be scaling down our participation once they return.
The CasinoBeats 100 Club delivered quite a one sided response.
The most favoured response, which attracted 69 per cent of the vote, believed that they would review the amount of events they normally attend per year and look to strike a balance between the physical and digital events.
The second highest outcome, at 31 per cent was a straight no with members expressing that they would struggle to imagine the industry with the need of physical networking.
“Will the likes of ICE or G2E ever be the same, I doubt it”
None of the 100 Club members voted for yes.
One of the members who believed there could be a fine balance between digital and physical events was Adam Doyle, head of gaming at Tru Narrative, who noted: “The panels that have been held at the virtual conference that has been staged are very good and insightful but, the value of physical events is meeting new people and businesses, discussing the opportunity to do business together or progressing any ongoing deals or opportunities.
“I’ve always been a person who will book at least 20 meetings at an event that I am attending. Turning up at the event and hoping that you bump into somebody just doesn’t work these days. By doing this, it also ensures you and your business are getting the best ROI of the money we all spend to attend these events around the world.
“I appreciate efforts being made to create a virtual networking area but, from the last few events I have been blanket messaged all day from companies where there is no fit between our two businesses. Working out a better way to link businesses up, if this could be cracked I think it could significantly help filling the gaps during the period of no face to face events.”
Philip Parry, CEO at Iforium, agreed and elaborated to suggest that despite the number of ‘valiant’ digital offerings being made available, the industry can’t replicate the physical interaction and networking opportunities that physical events offer.
“The commercial, product and account management teams, in particular, build and cement their networks at these events, pressing the flesh is a vitally important aspect of business and trade shows that provide that playground.” explained Parry. “Going forward, we would look to return to events in some capacity but only when it’s safe for all to do so.
“What is not known yet is what value these physical events will bring in the future. Will the likes of ICE or G2E ever be the same, I doubt it. Exhibitors will downsize, physical attendance will fall and trade show investments will naturally be scaled back. #returnoftheshellscheme”
“No Zoom call will ever come close to a week in Vegas for G2E”
Mark Robson, co-founder at King Gaming, believes that the pandemic has made companies ‘look again’ at strategies for events, with ‘digital editions’ keeping their profiles at the fore and allowing an aspect of interaction. It was, however, emphasised that this period has highlighted the importance of face-to-face meetings, communication and socialising.
“As humans are pack animals, we thrive in social situations. Yes, we evolved a lot since the clans and communities discussed in our school text books, but it boils-down to the basics of human nature – you’re more likely to do business with people you trust and it can be extremely difficult to achieve that fully when your only interaction has been done electronically and / or at a distance.” explained Robson.
While some believe that there can be a fine balance between the two, others claim that digital events don’t offer the same value as its physical counterpart. Chief commercial officer at DAOGroup, Glen Bullen, commented
“We are being forced to find new ways of conducting. To some extent successfully so far. But a digital event will never deliver the overall benefit – visibility, networking with both new and existing connections, etc, – compared to a face to face.
“No Zoom call will ever come close to a week in Vegas for G2E – and highlights like that are what make this industry so great to be a part of. But we’ll fight on through, gaming is if anything a highly resilient industry, as are those in it. But it is a bummer.”
Advancing on Bullen’s point, James Myles, analyst at Etadelta, highlighted that while digital events have ‘been better than expected’ from a conference point of view they are missing dynamics when using video meeting facilities.
“To properly understand someone’s problems and needs from a service point of view, there is no substitute for face-to-face meetings. We have had to make do.” explained Myles.
“I say this in the context of someone who attends a restricted number of events under normal circumstances. I am far more likely to attend a physical event than a digital event. Video calls and online recordings of ‘digital’ discussions are easily accessible, which makes people less likely to prioritise them.”
“I’ve never known an industry so reliant on physical networking to make sales”
Helen Walton, COO at Glück Games, expressed that digital events ‘don’t work’ claiming that participants ‘never attended for the content’.
“I’ve never known an industry so reliant on physical networking to make sales, but there it is, and we find it much harder without being able to visit our customers in person or meet up with people to find new customers.” noted Walton.
“Having said which, big stands and sponsorship options are not valuable for us – but the ability to visit our customers and meet up more generally is.”
Yet Rhi Burns, chief commercial officer at Zimpler, highlighted that without physical conferences, the company that employs her has had a ‘record year’ for growth and client onboarding: “We had so much more time to spend on actually selling and so much more money saved from conferences to spend on product, recruitment etc,” she noted.
“I believe physical events (not necessarily conferences) aren’t dead but need reworking. Huge, expensive conferences are outdated and don’t provide real value. Our focus will be more on digital events and a larger number of smaller physical events once things open up again. Think more networking drinks, intimate get togethers and fun events like golfing tournaments.”
With similar views, Tim Parker, COO at superseven.com, expressed what he would like to see in the near future.
“I have long thought that from an igaming perspective then as an operator you should be very close to your suppliers and therefore there is rarely, if ever anything truly innovative at trade shows,” added Parker.
“Furthermore it is rare to hear new ways of thinking at conferences for example. Everyone answers that ‘business is good, everything is so busy’ whether it is true or not, a lot of the time it is an excuse for a piss up.
“What would be more interesting from a c-level perspective is analysis and discussion around where companies are doing well. listed companies have to share their data and therefore if they are doing well in Asia for example it would be more interesting to understand that.”
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