by Sam Goodall
Two words that grow louder every month as the nights draw in: ICE London.
The biggest and boldest of industry events returned after a covid-enforced hiatus, and for Square in the Air, it was a time of real excitement.
Although some of the major brands weren’t present due to a variety of reasons, and the show was slightly smaller than previous experiences, that was in no way a dampener for what is the industry’s pre-eminent networking event.
After two years of Zoom calls, Teams meetings and Skype chats, it also gave many of us the chance to actually meet clients, contacts and even colleagues face to face for the first time.
It is definitely an interesting one when people who have been on calls with each other for years greet each other and, in the words of one B2B team member, ‘actually have legs’.
While pacing the floors of the ExCel, looking at the mammoth stands and incredible displays is enough to overwhelm anyone, this time SITA were armed with even more talking points than the usual client catchups. In the week leading up to ICE, we’d launched the Coverage Tracker, B2B Social Media and our ‘Sneak Peek At…’ products.
This ensured that we approached ICE with the real potential to bring exciting new content to clients and partners, and I’m reasonably certain every conversation contained ‘Have you heard about Sneak Peek At…?’.
As each day saw SITA prowling the floor looking at industry trends, talking to execs and occasionally drafting up urgent content in a corner, the evenings of entertainment during gambling’s premiere show were an equally anticipated part of the week.
From Pariplay drinks on the converted yacht that is the Sunborn hotel, to a Blueprint party that saw X-factor sensation Chico as a surprise guest, it was a week that contained a little bit for everyone. Fresh from a civilized dinner, a number of the team attended SBC’s London Baby at the impressive Natural History Museum. With an air of the Night at the Museum about it, the location was one that definitely showcased the best of London, as iGaming’s best and brightest boogied away under the iconic whale.
Mornings at ICE will always separate the hardy from the foolish, the sensible from the suffering, and 2022 was very much the same. A swift circuit of the exhibition in search of a free coffee will always be punctuated by a worse-for-wear delegate in search of a safe space before the real business of the day starts.
One thing that will always stand out at ICE is the sheer scale of the beast. While toned down slightly this year in both footprint and imaginative launches, it still boasted astounding stands from the likes of Pronet, Soft2Bet, Pragmatic Play, Digitain and more. The lights, sounds, interactive features and more all gave credence to the thought process that ICE really is a celebration of the industry as well as an important date in the sales calendar.
From bumping into old friends and colleagues on the show floor, to last-minute dashes the length of the ExCel as your meeting overruns, there are some things that are just a certainty at ICE, and another of these is that regardless of the weather, climate or amount drunk the night before, the gaming community will always put on an incredible show and 2022 was no different. At the end of a busy week, many of the team would have been grateful for a Good Friday day off to rest their feet and enjoy a well earned Easter Egg or 10, reflecting on what was an excellent period for the entire SITA collective.