Seeing as two huge events are coming up this month, I had a chat with iGB Affiliate Awards and LAC organizer, Alex Pratt, aka my “industry boyfriend”. Relax!! I’m kidding, and is wife is in on the joke too. Seriously though, during our conversation, Alex revealed what we can expect during the 2010 Affiliate Awards and covered the LAC highlights such as numbers of attendees expected, where they are from, details on the venue, “must attend” sessions, details on the ASOP, and of course, the networking parties.
Can we discuss that there are SEVEN official parties taking place over the course of a two day conference? This is does not even include all the private parties in between! Pretty bloody impressive if you ask me…
iGB Affiliate Awards Interview:
RL: What is the nomination process? How do you come up with the “Final 5”?
AP: The awards have three stages, the first is nominations where industry people go online and nominate programs, affiliates, managers and service providers for awards.
We then take these nominations and put them up for voting which is where things get interesting and this year it has been crazy surpassing our expectations, right now we are at over 4,000 verified votes!
The third stage is where you get your Final 5 and this is derived from the votes. These final 5 are then put forward to a judging panel who will judge them against a set criteria.
RL: Who are the judges that choose the winners of each award from the “Final 5”?
AP: The judges are leading operators and affiliates in the industry and unfortunately their names are kept under wraps so they can’t be compromised and can give us a fair and honest decision.
RL: What is the theme this year? Come on, you can tell me- I’ll keep it between us, I swear.
AP: Unfortunately this is top secret but I can give you a few hints as you asked so nicely. There will be two rooms at the event with two separate themes which are linked, I can also say we will have a special royal guest accompanied by her friends and that people will have an incredible view as they sit down for dinner in the main room.
RL: How is this year’s award ceremony going to be different than the years previous?
AP: We have made a lot of changes this year that I think will make it an amazing night with plenty of surprises, everything from a special guest presenter to accompany Michael Caselli to a completely different form of entertainment before and during the awards. The awards have always been about surprise and providing an experience like no other, and with what we have planned this year, I believe they will go down as the best yet.
RL: An affiliate is sponsoring an award for the first time- who is this affiliate and why did they choose to sponsor?
AP: The affiliate is OLBG.co.uk which I personally think this is brilliant because rather than doing it for commercial reasons, they are simply saying “thank you” to all the sports betting affiliate managers in the industry. Often AM’s aren’t recognized for the hours of work they put in and this is their way of saying it is noticed and greatly appreciated.
RL: What is the agenda for the night? What can we expect?
AP: Well without giving too much away….the event will kick off with a champagne reception hosted by a special royal guest and sponsored by CAI Affiliates where we can mingle and chat with the 550 people attending the awards. We will then go through to the main awards room where we will sit down to a three course meal with even more drink in amazing surroundings which I wish I could tell you about.
After dinner, the awards ceremony will begin with our first round of entertainment which I think will amaze people, and don’t worry I had nothing to do with this (I chose last year’s comedian, whoops), followed by the actual awards, and then further entertainment including a chance to win £500 cash on the night courtesy of Intercash.
Following the awards is the after party. The bar will of course remain open until 1am at which point I am sure you will go on to party whilst I will sneak off to bed without anyone noticing.
RL: The awards ceremony takes place the night before the LAC expo hall opens. This is evil Alex! We will be so hung over. Why did you choose this night?
AP: Ha ha, it used to be on the Friday but I changed it purely to annoy you! Seriously though there are a number of reasons, firstly we have a large number of Jewish affiliates and operators and the Friday didn’t really work for them. In addition we found a lot of the ICEi people were crashing our Thursday party and drinking our free drink, so we thought we’d kick off with the awards on the Thursday instead and move the Thursday party to the Friday. That and because I am a masochist.
London Affiliate Conference (LAC) Interview:
RL: Old Billingsgate is a new location for the iGaming affiliate crowd- why did you choose this venue?
AP: The main reason is that people wanted a venue with just one floor and there really isn’t any other options in London that are either big enough, available, or aren’t under restriction. Actually, Old Billingsgate is not big enough for us- we sold the stands out in just 3 weeks and have a waiting list of 20 operators! The good thing is the venue is amazing and right on the river Thames with incredible views of Tower Bridge, Tate Modern and the Millennium Wheel.
RL: Who qualifies for free entry and how is this different than previous years?
AP: All affiliates qualify for free entry. In the past it was members of just GPWA and CAP but is now open to all affiliates no matter what forum they are a member of – this has really helped bring new affiliates, particularly the guys not in iGaming yet. In addition we are letting media owners in free as we are keen to attract anyone that has traffic that the operators can use whether this is through a paid or affiliate deal.
RL: Lets talk numbers. How many affiliates are you expecting and from what parts of the world are they coming from? How many booths? How many registrations in total? How do these numbers compare with previous years?
AP: London is our biggest event by a long way, last year we had over 1,600 people which is incredible considering 2 years before that we had 600! This year is looking even bigger with 1,200 already registered, if we are lucky I reckon we could hit the 2000 mark. In terms of where they are from, it’s a real mix, obviously a lot UK affiliates but we also have guys coming from as far afield as India, New Zealand and Japan. We have also noticed a big increase from Eastern Europe, Germany, Italy, Spain and France which I think reflects the industry in a lot of ways.
RL: Tell me about some of the speakers and panels you have arranged. What are the “must attend” sessions?
AP: I think the conference is the best yet with some really great new sessions as well as a spin on some of our traditional sessions such as breaking the SEO panel into two parts, angels and demons which will be very interesting.
I can also exclusively reveal that we have Bing speaking as one of our keynotes at the event on a number of issues such as how Microsoft views the iGaming market, why they launched in this market, the trends, tools and collateral to stay on top of the game, and much more.
We also have the infamous Casinomeister doing a session with a number of actual players where we will get the perspective from the players and really find out what they want. Another highlight for me is the paid search session being given by Sri Sharma who is undoubtedly one of the number one guys working in this area. On top of this I think the session on mobile gaming and how affiliates can take advantage of this emerging market will be really interesting as I think there is a huge opportunity here in 2010. There are just too many to mention.
RL: Everyone is aware that your conferences are known for superb networking parties. What’s on tap for LAC 2010?
There are a ridiculous amount of parties at LAC, both official and unofficial. The parties actually start the night before the event on the Wednesday with the Fire & Ice Party, which is now in its 8th year and is an unbelievable event with 2,000+ industry people there.
On the Thursday afternoon we officially kick LAC off with drinks hosted by Partnerlogic at the official hotel, this is then followed by the iGB Affiliate Awards which promise to go on late and set us up perfectly for the Friday expo and conference.
On the Friday we once again have two parties!! Firstly the BingoPort Awards which run from 6-9 in the main hotel with free drinks, food, a comedian and of course their player voted awards. This is then followed by the 888.com party which we have come to expect will be full of surprises and an essential one to attend.
On the Saturday we welcome back our friends at C-Planet who will be hosting their third party in London and undoubtedly know how throw a seriously good party. Expect this one to go late…..
Finally we finish everything up on the Sunday with informal beers, food and of course coffee at the Sunday session which is a more relaxed affair in a local pub near the official hotel where we can unwind and try and remember the previous week.
RL: Tell me about the ASOP, who the sponsor(s) are, and how things have changed this year?
The ASOP has gone through a major change this year in that affiliate managers can now play in it which means we can truly find out who the best poker player is. We trialed this in Budapest and the Affiliate Managers were wiped off the floor almost instantly so they have a lot to prove this time around. We also have a big announcement that THE Victor Chandler is playing the tournament and even better he has £500 on his head along with a load of prizes so look out for this industry legend at the tables.
In terms of prizes we still have the ASOP gold and diamond bracelet worth $10,000 plus the $13,000+ of cash to give away thanks to the sponsors Victor Chandler and Cake Poker. In fact, I worked out the other day that we have given out over $200,000 worth of prizes in the ASOP which is unbelievable considering it’s a free event.
RL: What is the Sunday beer session all about? Why should people stay the extra day to participate in this networking event?
AP: This is a great session that has changed and evolved with our event. Basically we find a local traditional pub or hire the bar in the hotel and provide free beer, soft drinks and food to finish the event off in a relaxed and informal style. What is great about it is that its completely the opposite of the previous hectic three days so people can genuinely just sit back and have a drink with the new friends they have made before they fly off, although last year we got snowed in so a few wines rolled into a few bottles, the poker chips came out, and the rest is history as they say.
RL: If you could give operators and affiliates one reason why they must attend this year’s LAC, what would it be?
Hmmmm…..difficult one…because there will be more operators, affiliates and opportunities at LAC than you have ever seen before, and of course, it will be great fun and if you can’t have fun in this business then you shouldn’t be in it. Ooops that’s more than one.