ICE is in safe hands
2 minutos de lectura
(London, SoloAzar Exclusive).- On 1 August Clarion Gaming announced that Barcelona would take over from London as the host city partner for ICE and iGB Affiliate with the initial five-year contract covering the period 2025-2029 (inclusive). With the first editions of ICE and iGB Affiliate to be held at Fira de Barcelona across 20-22 January 2025, Clarion Gaming Managing Director, Stuart Hunter explains the process which underpinned the momentous decision, the purpose of moving to Barcelona and the response from international stakeholders not least those based in Latin America.
What prompted you to change the host of the ICE London event to a Continental European country and which factors were taken into account
The first point that I would like to make is that absolutely everything that we do in relation to all of our brands is customer-led. Taking ICE as an example, a large part of its success over many years is due to the fact that we have always consulted with our customers and we are always asking them questions about how we can work more effectively and how we can deliver an event which meets their business needs.
For a number of years, we have been asked by exhibitors and for that matter some of our media colleagues to explore what other cities and venues would be interested in hosting ICE and what they could offer the international gaming and gambling community.
Initially we started that process ourselves but it rapidly became evident that the task was so complex and so specialized that we could not undertake it internally.
Relocating two events - ICE and iGB Affiliate – from one country to another and involving upwards of 700 stands and 40,000+ international visitors is a huge undertaking. Furthermore, because both shows are pivotal to so many businesses, we were determined to get the process absolutely right. To do so we made the decision to appoint an international agency with vast experience in the events and location search space.
The selection process they put in place included an evaluation of more than 30 variables, venue visits, city presentations and detailed negotiations: it encompassed all aspects of attending, exhibiting and organising both events in addition to longer-term strategic factors impacting the development of the ICE and iGB Affiliate brands.
The process also included the creation of the ICE Advisory Board made up of a cross-section of major international brands active in both online and land-based gaming. The Advisory Board made the final decisions having reduced the candidates - during the final stages of the process - down to a straight choice between Barcelona, and London.
Why did you choose Barcelona, among the other candidate cities of London, Paris and Madrid?
The process enabled us to identify the city that our customers feel is best equipped to be our strategic partner for the future and is able to host two world-class events which meet the needs of businesses of all sizes and locations across every part of the gaming and ICE Community.
The successful bid by Barcelona was notable for the scale of its world-class facilities, an outstanding hospitality infrastructure, logistics, ROI for our customers and the ability to scale. By forging a progressive partnership comprising the international industry, Fira de Barcelona and public and private stakeholders in Barcelona, Catalonia and Spain we have a huge opportunity to create an important legacy for the future.
ICE and iGB Affiliate will be the only major events taking place in Barcelona over the January dateline thereby helping to create an exclusive venue and city experience for exhibitors and attendees alike.
Can you give us a preview of how the organisation will transition from ICE London to ICE Barcelona?
As soon as the announcement was made, we officially started the process of planning for Barcelona. Clarion is an international events organizer and the team is well versed in applying its skill-set outside of the United Kingdom in fact, a number of our operations team are familiar with the FIRA venue.
We tend to work in cycles of two events which means that we are currently working on London 2024 and Barcelona 2025 which is a slightly different approach.
The ease of organizing was one of the metrics covered in the evaluation process and I’m 100% confident that the team will deliver an exceptional customer experience. Preparations are afoot and we have already reserved a total of 40,000 hotel nights during ICE week 2025.
Overall, what feedback have you had and do you think that this move of country implies any change for the Latin American market within the industry?
With decisions of this magnitude, it’s impossible to get universal agreement, however I think that even those companies and individuals who would have preferred London over Barcelona can see that the process we put in place was underpinned by professionalism and integrity.
We examined every detail from every perspective possible. I recently came back from a three-day visit meeting with customers in Las Vegas and there was unanimous support for the decision to move to Barcelona in 2025. Many of the Vegas-based ICE exhibitors I met with also have a strong presence and infrastructure in Spain with a number predicting that the new end of January timeline which avoids clashing with Super Bowl will result in more C-Level members of the US industry attending ICE.
We have been talking with the main LatAm representatives who usually attend ICE and literally all of them are happy with this change. Although they have great memories of and a fondness for London, they believe that Barcelona will be awesome in terms of ROI, in terms of travel and of course culturally. Their view is that the new Barcelona location will support growth from what is a strategically really significant region.
How do you reflect on the years spent at ExCeL ?
On behalf of everyone at Clarion Gaming including our customers whether they be visitors, exhibitors or the extended community of stakeholders I would like to thank and acknowledge the team at ExCeL London for their support over what will be 12 editions of what has become the greatest gambling show on earth and very much look forward to an incredible 2024 edition to celebrate this success story in London.
ExCeL London provided an environment in which both ICE and iGB Affiliate have been able to develop, meet the business needs of their stakeholders and grow in status as two of the most important live events in their respective sectors.
We remain committed to ExCeL as a great venue and are looking forward to bringing iGB L!VE to ExCeL London in July 2025 as this market has indicated a strong preference to retain a presence in the UK. It’s not just ExCeL it’s the city of London as a well.
Few people will be aware that ICE was born out of ATEI – a amusements show which started in London way back in 1936. With the exception of one year when a venue fire forced ATEI to relocate to the city of Birmingham, the show(s) have always been held in London.
Our 2025 move to the 240,000 sqm capacity Fira de Barcelona will open an exciting new chapter in the life of ICE and one that the entire team is relishing.
Our exclusive focus is now on delivering a phenomenal edition of ICE 2024 – one that will live long in the memories of the many thousands of international industry professionals who view ICE as their most important industry event of the year.
Based on the feedback that we’ve received from exhibitors they are already planning to make 2024 the greatest edition of ICE - so far.
País: United Kingdom
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