With back-to-back-to-back conferences in the form of G2E, EiG and the Barcelona Affiliate Conference a real possibility for a number of industry high flyers, maximising one’s time and, as age catches up with you, energy at these events is critical.
If your focus is split between business development and relationship management, finding the most appropriate balance is tough. Fitting in enough meetings on a daily basis is just the first step – it’s the evening’s networking events and parties that take it out of you, particularly in iGaming. If you’re fortunate enough to receive invites that clash, picking the best event for you can make or break the success of your conference visit.
Rule Number 1 – If you’re planning on talking business, make sure it is possible to hear yourself think…
This is particularly prevalent at the official parties thrown at affiliate conferences – notably Barcelona as it goes – where there is an ever increasing propensity for outlandish dance music and even more dubiously energetic shapes thrown by members of the iGaming Middle Eastern fraternity.
Rule Number 2 – Only accept an invitation from an operator/supplier/affiliate you have the slightest interest in doing business with – no matter how appealing the invitation is. Word will get around that you’re a free loader pretty quick…
Rule Number 3 – Remember your business cards
Taking stock of my 9 years in the iGaming industry, with one eye on nostalgia and another on providing a helping hand to any newbies out there, I’ve evaluated the top 10 “networking events” that I’ve attended, and scored them based on business development opportunities and outright enjoyment.
10) Affiliate Edge Launch Roller Disco, Budapest 2010
Based on the novelty factor of people whizzing around on roller skates in possibly one of the coolest nightclubs I’ve ever been to. Think aircraft hangar full of Eastern Europeans high on something other than vodka. Mental, but also one of the most civilised VIP areas, where one could chat, talk shop and watch people stack it. Brilliant fun and useful networking. Business Development 6/10, Outright Enjoyment 19/10 – Total Score 15/20.
9) CalvinAyre.com Launch Party, Prague 2011
What can you say about this? Butchered pigs, dwarf dancing, absinthe… a real “privilege” to have been invited. Therapy was required. I actually put it above the Seven Deadly Sins, as it wasn’t so eye-popping that you couldn’t even consider business. Business Development 7/10, Outright Enjoyment 9/10 – Total Score 16/20.
8) Intertops/Affiliate Edge Dinner – iGaming Supershow Dublin, 2012
Evenings are critical to the success of your conference. You may get multiple invitations to dinner and picking the right one is critical. The Intertops/Affiliate Edge dinner is an affiliate conference tradition, and if you’re fortunate enough to get an invite, do not hesitate in accepting it. My favourite conference dinner of all time was in Dublin at the iGaming Supershow. I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by some fantastic company – affiliates, operators, service providers – and it was a top notch meal. Business Development 6/10, Outright Enjoyment 10/10 – Total Score 16/20.
7) Bet Victor – FC Barcelona v Atletico Madrid, CAP Euro Barcelona 2008 – I’m a little bias on this one, as it was my idea. We took a select group of affiliates to the Nou Camp to watch heroes such as Messi, Henry, Ronaldinho, Xavi and Deco tear about Atletico. Superb for business development and relationship management – we got plenty of business from it, as did the affiliates we took. Business Development 7/10, Outright Enjoyment 9/10 – Total Score 16/20.
6) GameOn Marketing Bar Crawl, CAP Euro Barcelona 2008 – there are bar crawls, and then there are bar crawls. This one took in flaming shots (which turned ugly when a fire broke out), a pirate themed bar, a remarkable number of drinks and some fantastic company. What’s more, the absence of pounding music made conversation (at least early on) more than possible. Business Development 6/10, Outright Enjoyment 10/10 – Total Score 16/20
5) Casinomeister Meet Ups, ICE – Every Year
Casinomeister hosts this event at Waxy O’Connors every year, inviting members and casino representatives from the forum to partake in copious amounts of Guinness. It provides fascinating incite in to the thoughts and habits of players you meet there and affords you the opportunity to meet affiliates and affiliate managers ahead of the all important London Affiliate Conference a couple of days later. Business Development 8/10, Outright Enjoyment 9/10 – Total Score – 17/20
4) Ukash at Nike ID, LAC 2011
The payments provider put on an incredible event at London’s Nike Town store, inviting guests to design bespoke Nike shoes (complete with a Ukash logo subtlely marking the heel). Beer and sushi accompanied an excellent networking opportunity to meet and talk to both Ukash staff and affiliates. The trainers I designed were a bit more gharish than I was anticipating. Business Development 9/10, Outright Enjoyment 8/10 – Total Score 17/20.
2) Affiliate Edge Dive Casino Crawl, G2E 2014
Simply the most fun I’ve had whilst networking. G2E for most casino affiliates is a laid back affair and a byproduct of their “research” at the tables or on the slots. The World’s “biggest” luxury limousine was at our disposal, courtesy of Affiliate Edge and we headed off-Strip to some of the quaintest casinos and cardrooms one could ever expect to find in Las Vegas.
Formal networking was out of the question with a shot at every stop (I *think* there were around 8 stops in all, but I could be wrong), but in terms of pure relationship building with some of the most illustrious affiliates in the game, this event has no competitor. Business Development 8/10, Outright Enjoyment 10/10 – Total Score 18/20.
1) Fairway Casino Golf Day, iGaming Supershow 2011
The first of two annual golf tournaments held at the iGaming Supershow in Dublin, this event saw teams of four join together for an afternoon at the K Club, which played host to the Ryder Cup in 2006. Even for a very casual golfer like me, the event was incredibly enjoyable and the perfect business development opportunity – over 4 hours of quality time with potential and/or existing clients. The rain even held off for the majority of the round. Business Development 10/10, Outright Enjoyment 10/10 – Total Score – 20/20.