In any industry, the opportunity to attend a conference may just divide opinion among a workforce, or at least spark unspoken grievances. Of course, there are many different benefits to these, though there are some who simply see it as a day wasted.
It begs the question though, actually how valuable are conferences and how much business is actually at least started at these - longer-term what is the eventual conversion rate?
The iGaming industry is one that promises an almost full calendar when it comes to these - certainly equatable to one every quarter, with numerous to choose from in a variety of locations.
Each conference usually varies according to market - certainly the most recognised revolve around the UK and European markets and as a result, there are a handful of these each year hosted by different cities.
Perhaps the most popular is LAC (London Affiliate Conference), which is usually hosted every February and attracts some of the biggest operators, software providers, affiliate companies and marketing agencies on the continent. This is often merged with ICE - arguably the most prestigious conference in Europe and it is quite common for the two to overlap, with this lasting at least three days.
Attracting speakers from some of the biggest companies in the industry, there is also countless networking, while agencies often put on demonstrations for potential clients.
Of course, with numerous bars on location, there are many attendees - more often than not on the operator side who make the most of the chance to network and meet suppliers or potential partners. Generally, it is the affiliate teams at operators who represent them, taking the opportunity to prospect for better affiliate representatives who are then able to drive more qualified traffic to their websites.
From our point of view, we get to meet clients, suppliers and, due to having offices in the UK and Gibraltar, a chance for the team to meet up in person. We see massive value attending iGaming and tech conferences, particularly after two years of minimal human interaction.
Organising conferences in the online gambling industry is nearly almost a 365-day per year job. Barely even after one event has finished, planning starts to go into the one for the following year.
Generally, most attendees are pitched to sign up for the next year while they are there, often incentivised with priority booths or agencies being offered a discount.
It is often the case that conference organisers begin reaching out to potential prospects at least nine months before the event so that they can plan efficiently once they have a commitment in place.
Arguably one of the most crucial aspects is customer feedback and ensuring that they can learn from this to provide an even more stimulating experience for next time. For the most well-known conferences, such as ICE, agencies know that the best affiliate companies and operators in the industry will be there, which often means that they are willing to pay fees, for a potential return on investment.
It means that from an organiser's perspective, they need to do very little to improve the event because they know that they will still attract the crowd - if anything, they should be appealing more to operators to enhance their experience.
Attracting a key person of influence (top-level consultant) in the industry to give a speech, or demonstration can be one way to go because this can act as a magnet for all parties involved. This does not necessarily have to be from the industry per se, but a guru in the field of SEO for online gambling, or even artificial intelligence.
Finding a USP for an event every year can prove to be highly effective in drawing in the crowds, which also means that organisers can then increase the price.
Depending on the venue, certain vendors have to be considered, whether this is from a catering perspective or even entertainment - as a result, there is a lot that goes into the logistics.
In 2017 in an interview with one of LAC’s organisers, Shona O’Donnell spoke about the potential growth rate of the conference over the 10 years, stating: “If current growth is any indication I would expect it to be bigger by another 50%.
“I would like to see us providing a world class delegate experience backed by really good data technology helping to make the customer journey seamless. Networking will be even more valuable as we look at creating events that help people connect faster and with more ease to the right people.
“I would hope that whatever it looks like we still deliver it with passion and continue to work with the industry to meet their needs.”
Regarding what affiliates could expect from that year’s event, O’Donnell went on to reveal: “They will be able to meet with existing business partners, meet new ones and create value partnerships. There are opportunities to attend the conference sessions and gain new, practical skills and insight that will have a real impact on their business. On top of this they will get to meet with friends, make news one and of course find time for some fun.”
While the answer to this may seem obvious, with more business usually high on most companies’ agenda, for some, it is the opportunity to learn from industry insiders - especially if they are influencers.
For small agencies that are just getting started, this is simply a great opportunity to network with others in the industry - even observe what their bigger competitors do and how they do it, pick up ideas and also make connections for potential joint-ventures.
It can also be a valuable experience if it is your first time in attendance and with the iGaming industry continuing to grow, every company is always open to new and better solutions - even a fresh perspective about things.
Gaining first-hand exposure to new markets is also another reason to attend an iGaming conference. Regardless of whether this is LAC or AAC (Amsterdam Affiliate Conference), in most cases, people will invariably have the opportunity to meet representatives in markets that they do not yet operate in and these could be valuable connections to make.
Overall, there is certainly a lot of value to be had for companies that attend conferences in the online gambling industry, especially as it is one of the fastest growing in the world. Expect even more to occur over the next few years, particularly with new markets opening up around the world.