Becky’s Affiliated: The beauty of the Barcelona Affiliate Conference (BAC), a view from the inside

beckys-affiliated-beauty-of-barcelona-affiliate-conferenceThe Barcelona Affiliate Conference (BAC) really is something special.  So special in fact, I know of some people who have traveled to this event on their own dime, outside of work.  For most of us who are actually at these conferences for work purposes, the BAC is an opportunity for affiliates and affiliate managers to meet face to face, an opportunity to learn and of course to have some fun.

I’ve been frequenting iGaming events for almost nine years and the affiliate conferences arranged by iGaming Business have always stood out.  I wanted to give the world an insider’s view on why these events are so special, in particular the upcoming BAC in October.  To get a true 360 view, I was able to catch up with organizers Michael Caselli and Shona ODonnell of iGaming Business, BAC speaker Nick Garner, affiliate Christine Marrah of Streak Gaming and exhibitors Kfir Dahari of Winner and James Woods of Bet365.

Lets begin with why Barcelona for this event.  According to Caselli, “If you have to ask that question you have never been to Barcelona”.

Its true that Barcelona has been a favorite destination of the industry for years, it all started with the initial location of Clarion’s EiG conference and that Hilton Hotel.  Caselli is clearly a big fan of the city, especially when it comes to satisfying his fine dining tendencies. “Besides being a beautiful city with great weather in October, the city has an unending nightlife, and some of the best restaurants in the world with a group of ex-El Buli chefs having opened their restaurants there”.

Dahari particularly enjoys the opportunities that Barcelona provides for entertaining his affiliates.  “We have been coming here for years and the city and weather never disappoint! We have taken affiliates to hack their way around some of the local golf courses and also entertained a few at the Nou Camp watching Messi and co”.

Marrah enjoys the city as well and added,  “I love Barcelona because the lifestyle is so laid back and relaxing!  The food is amazing, the nightlife is something I have never seen before; I just love the whole Spanish culture.  I love the fact that nothing opens until around 10am so things are less stressful at this conference”.

With such an active nightlife in the city, it’s pretty easy to find a good time when the conference hall closes.  iGaming Business has always been very good about providing a unified meeting spot for all attendees in the evening, usually a venue with some local flair. “We are looking at all new venues this year to keep [BAC] fresh and exciting. We are working with some local companies and hope to be able to add something very special to the nights”, said ODonnell.

Bet365 has always found value in entertaining affiliates and marketing partners at the “official” parties by booking VIP tables.  “iGaming Business go to great lengths to organise networking events late every evening at various world class venues in any conference cities.  Therefore, after dinner we trust in iGB’s judgement and ensure that we have a strong presence at the evening events”, said Woods.

Of course a huge highlight of the BAC is the Intertops Sunday Session.  This year we’re going back to the beach bar and we can expect some outstanding sangria based on last year’s reviews.

I really enjoyed Marrah’s description of the day, an event she holds near and dear to her heart as takes part in its organization.  “Intertops has been sponsoring this day for many years, they are all so warm, giving and friendly towards everyone no matter who you are.  This day is not for competition or business meetings, it is a day of relaxing and unwinding while meeting new faces or visiting with those you barley had time to see during the hustle and bustle of the conference”.

In addition the beaching, eating and partying, there is always a lot of activity at the conference itself, including sessions tailored specifically for the BAC audience.  “We have dramatically increased our number of SEO sessions, and have dedicated a track, across both days specifically to Online Marketing and SEO. This year we have white hat techniques, black hat techniques, defending against black hat techniques, cloaking, link building and PR for SEO sessions that everyone will want to attend’, said Caselli.

SEO expert Nick Garner is a seasoned speaker at iGaming Business events and is always thankful for the opportunity.  “If you are the guy on stage, everyone knows who you are and so it’s far easier to meet new people and learn from them. Getting a speaking slot is so valuable that I had to pitch hard for a spot and thankfully I was asked to speak”, he said.

I asked Garner for a little sneak preview on what he plans to reveal at BAC and here it is for your viewing pleasure: “SEO is full of FUD: Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt, partially because Google like it that way to keep things confused. I hate FUD, so I want to build upon my session at London Affiliate Conference on link planning so affiliates can see there is no big secret, just data, some analysis and a plan to rank”.

As an affiliate program, there are only a handful of opportunities throughout the year to meet face to face with so many current and new affiliates in one location.  Woods explained, “A lot of our affiliates are present at these events and I think it’s of crucial importance that we make ourselves available to any and all of our partners who wish to meet during these shows”.

iGaming Business has incorporated iGB Espana into this year’s event and Woods plans to take full advantage.  “One thing that’s great about Barcelona this year is that we have the chance to meet with a lot of our Spanish affiliates and discuss Spain as a market, [Bet365] having been licensed and operating there for just over a year now.

There are many factors that make the BAC (and other iGaming Business conferences) truly exceptional, but what’s hard to replicate is the care and love that the iGaming Business team puts into their work.

Marrah loves the free passes for affiliates and the new VIP area on the expo floor that has just been introduced.  “I think iGaming business does a great job of bringing in expert speakers in to educate affiliates in many different areas that are essential for success in this industry.   Affiliates are really looked after by the entire team, if you have any questions or concerned they are taken very seriously”, explained Marrah.

On the other side of the coin, year after year affiliate programs continue supporting iGaming Business events and for good reason. Dahari shared, “iGaming Business has grown and developed in to a really professional operation. James and Nick, whom we working with regularly, are always available to help with anything we need”.

Probably most heart warming is the praise from Woods: “The team at iGaming Business are fantastic and had it not been for these conferences I am unsure whether the bet365 Affiliates Programme would have progressed as rapidly as it has…it’s a credit to the iGB team that they’re able to organise these shows time and again with military precision”.