We’ve attracted representatives from most African nations – says Kate Chambers
Another exhibition called ICE Afrca, which was organized in October in South Africa by Clarion Gaming, was a great success. The main reason is the gambling industry’s interest in the still attractive African market and the opportunity to develop many business directions.
We asked for an opinion and comment on the organization of the exhibition the most competent person, Ms. Kate Chambers – Managing Director Clarion Gaming.
E-PLAY: How long has Clarion Gaming been involved in the organization of industry exhibitions and what was the impulse to create ICE Africa?
Kate Chambers: The history of Clarion Gaming is quite complex, so please bear with me! We are a division within Clarion which is one of the world’s leading events organisers, with a history dating back to 1947. As a group, Clarion employs more than 2,500 people based in 15 offices worldwide operating across a wide range of industry sectors including gaming. I have been heading up Clarion Gaming for the best part of a decade and during that time we have focussed our resources in developing and building the ICE brand. As well as the mother event, ICE London, we exported ICE first to Africa in 2018, followed by ICE North America in 2019 with ICE Asia due to launch in 2020. Wherever we operate in the world we do so in partnership with the industry and based on the wishes of the industry. With regards to Africa, we were approached by leading gaming organisations and individuals active on the continent to see if we would be interested in organising a professional showcase business event that would provide a platform and meeting point for the industry in its broadest sense including regulators and government officials as well as international investors. We asked the market how in their opinion an event should look and feel, we then produced a business model, held a trial event in 2017 which went well and officially launched ICE Africa the following year. It’s very basic marketing but we only get involved in a region or a sector if the market asks us and if we have its support.
E-PLAY: How do you rate the recent ICE Africa trade fair and are such events needed for the gambling industry in this region of the world?
Kate Chambers: We succeeded in attracting representatives from more African nations, the attendance increased and it felt like an exciting and buoyant business event. The exhibitors were happy with what they experienced: they were able to have bigger stands than in 2018 which was well received and contributed to the overall theatre and energy of ICE Africa 2019. The make-up and the geographical spread of the visitor base meant that exhibitors were able to engage with everyone that they set out to meet. The anecdotal response from visitors has also been positive and confirms that the objective of creating a showcase event that the African industry can be proud of, has to a large extent, been met. There’s a huge need for professionally run, dedicated, business-to-business events such as ICE Africa. All of the metrics that we use to judge an event confirm this view as does the feedback and the conversations that we have had with stakeholders.
E-PLAY: What will we expect from the third edition of ICE Africa and how should media representatives of the gambling industry be encouraged to take part in it?
Kate Chambers: I am a great believer that there’s no such thing as the ‘perfect show’ and we are very conscious that we have a lot to work on as part of our commitment to continuous improvement. I should stress that this is a journey that does not have a destination, which is why we are constantly looking for ways in which the experience of attending any of our events can be improved. We have built strong and productive relationships with the industry in Africa and we have already started working with them on the campaign and content for ICE Africa 2020. In 2019 ICE Africa was supported by a total of 66 media channels drawn from 24 countries. I consider this level of support to be extremely encouraging on the basis that an event that is well supported by the media is, by definition, relevant and news worthy. I am delighted that so many media channels have engaged with ICE Africa and bought into our vision. Our media partners play a major role in building the profile of our event brands and I remain extremely grateful for their support and their status as ‘critical friends.’
E-PLAY: From your own perspective what do you think regulators in Africa should improve on to make the industry more attractive for investors?
Kate Chambers: I have to make it clear that my specialism is in creating and producing professional b2b events for the gaming industry – which does not extend to analysing specific markets or jurisdictions. That said, I think in general terms and across all jurisdictions everyone wants to work in a well regulated gaming environment. The balance is between robust regulation and fair taxation, which is why it is so important to have a professional showcase event at which industry and regulators can meet face to face and agree a way forward. Events such as ICE Africa also help develop a deeper understanding of the contribution gaming can make in relation to the development of many national economies. By bringing this to the forefront of the debate it is possible to have meaningful conversations concerning the far ranging benefits of a progressive, socially responsible gaming industry and what that means in terms of employment, taxation and contributions to GDP.
E-PLAY: Finally what is your advice for software providers and suppliers that see Africa as the next opportunity?
Kate Chambers: Fundamentally, exhibitions are about bringing together the right community of buyers with the right community of sellers, at the right location, at the right time in the calendar and in an environment that is conducive to profitable business. When you achieve that metric of qualities and features it represents an unmissable opportunity to research the markets that you want to enter, understand the full scope of the opportunities, avoid the pitfalls and hopefully engage with the partners that will help you to be more successful. One of my colleagues based in Africa said the hallmarks of ICE Africa could be summarised under the headings: opportunity, networking and partnership. To be successful in any new territory it’s important to be able to forge partnerships with like-minded organisations and that comes from having the opportunity to network in a well respected, highly regarded professional environment. ICE Africa ticks those boxes.
The 2020 edition of ICE Africa will be held across 28th and 29th October at the Sandton Convention Centre, South Africa. For more information, visit: www.iceafrica.za.com