Best of both worlds: how virtual and in-person events are mutually beneficial
Can you walk us through your strategy going online to make the best possible alternative to iGB Live!?
Naomi Barton, group director, iGB Events: Our online strategy is a little different, in that right now iGB Live is still happening in Amsterdam on 28September - 01 October 2021, so our online event is a huge feature for our online presence to those who aren't able to make it this year.
Our strategy is to gather our iGB community together, online or in-person, and keep them engaged. Offer them a platform in the digital world to book in-person or virtual meetings, chat with other attendees, view our range of content across ICE 365, iGB and iGB Affiliate etc. Having an online platform that compliments what we do at the live show means that we’re covering all bases and allowing businesses to continue growing, while helping them to discover innovation and to connect with new partners digitally or physically.
At what point did you realise that a hybrid event was necessary?
NB: Ultimately, any decisions like this are decided by our community, and what they want. We spent time talking to the iGB community and asked how things were going, how things had changed, and what they were doing to respond to some of the major business and personal challenges they were facing in recent months. It became clear that due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, a 2020 event was not going to be possible. And when we realised that we needed to postpone the 2020 live show, we developed iGB Live! Online as a stand-alone virtual event, then set our sights on how we could make the 2021 show the best event to reconnect igaming and the most important comeback event for the industry.
iGB’s live events offer a huge opportunity to deliver business to a really engaged iGaming and affiliate industry, and it offers strong ROI for the customers who participate and attend – as long as this is the case, we’ll always look to find a way to ensure that we deliver an event, with health and safety clearly right at the top of the priority list.
Is this a format you’ll retain for ancillary events once live events resume?
NB: Absolutely. We’re really excited to look to deliver on this new ‘hybrid’ event strategy, particularly during a time when we need to think differently about how to gather people together. It also allows us to potentially increase visitor audience by up to 30% by having them available digitally – we can consider live streaming our conferences, thus opening up our community even further to a more global audience. This goes back to ROI, increased delivery of ROI and potential business for our customers via a new and wider audience reach.
What are some of the benefits of having a hybrid event that can't be experienced in person (and vice versa)?
Alex Hamilton-Tomlinson, senior marketing manager, iGB Events: We strongly believe in the power and the value of doing business face to face; there’s genuinely no other marketing medium that allows you to do so many things at the same time. Bringing people together is fundamentally what we do, and our customers continue to want us to physically deliver these events when and where we can do so safely, as they deliver really impressive growth and data acquisition opportunities for them alongside many other tangible benefits.
One of the benefits of having an online element to the event (apart from travel restritions) is comfort. If you attend from home, you don’t need take an entire day or more out of your schedule to travel to a live event – you can drop in to attend specific sessions, book one-to-one meetings with potential clients and scout the attendee list for who you really want to speak to. An important benefit for virtual attendees right now is also cost. A virtual offering means no travel and accommodation costs, and iGB Live! Online will be free to attend, as we want to open up our community to a global audience.
What measures do you have in place so iGB Live! ONLINE runs smoothly from a technological standpoint?
AHT: We’re working with the best technology providers to deliver a really smooth event, we're using Swapcard since it has had incredible feedback already since it was used for Traffic and Conversion Summit, and ICE North America. From an AV perspective, we have some great partners already in this field and they’re working hard to get the best footage to ensure people feel right at home whether they're online or in-person.
How does the program differ now that it's being conducted in a hybrid fashion? What alterations did you have to make?
NB: Adjusting the agenda to fit a digital format took a lot of time and consideration. We’re very aware that during the lockdown, our audience’s screen time in general increased significantly, and now lockdown has relaxed somewhat, we have bigger risk of attention fatigue.
To counteract this, we have consolidated the conference agenda into a shorter and punchier format and there will be fewer sessions. In order to make best use of the shortened time, we’ve recruited only the very top, most senior members of the iGaming industry to speak and help us deliver the most relevant and timely insights to our audience.
We also recognise the importance of our customer’s ability to meet and connect with the market. We’ve worked very closely with our event platform provider to ensure that attendees are able to easily find and connect with each other, encouraging conversation, new business and the exchange of new ideas.
What has been the industry response in terms of registration numbers so far?
AH-T: We’ve had a fantastic response to the online event so far, which is great to see. Everybody seems to be ready and excited to come back to industry events and iGB Live! has always been a pinnacle event for the industry. 74% of attendees tell us iGB Live! and iGB Affiliate Amsterdam are very important to attend, professionals from all corners of igaming and affiliate marketing come and join us to really hit the ground running in terms of increasing ROI and knowing that when they attend our events, they're guarantee'd to hit their event goals.
As a result of the pandemic, are you getting a sense of industry cohesion and a greater willingness to help strengthen it across all disciplines?
NB: Yes. It’s very heartening to see that out of a really tough situation, we’re also witnessing innovation and creativity. We want to prioritise the customer first and foremost and understand what they want, what they need, and what we can offer via our products to support them, be it an event, a digital offering, a content platform or all of the above. Collaboration is key here as well. We all need to keep talking but above all, we need to keep listening and coming up with solutions that benefit everyone. As we continue to move on from this period, working closely together with the iGB community will be the only way to ensure that the industry will not only survive, but actually thrive going forward.
iGB Live! and iGB Affiliate Amsterdam will be taking place on the 28 September - 01 October 2021