Venue concern ‘still an issue for ICE’

The recently released ICE Location Analysis survey conducted by Explori (‘The event industry’s no. 1 tool to measure customer experience’) has re-ignited concerns among several leading exhibitors that London can perhaps be seen as no longer fit for purpose beyond its 2022 edition.

These concerns now re-visit an industry-wide debate that was seen after first the Covid-19 postponements and then the cancellation of ICE 2021. The survey carried out during June and July 2021 by Explori, despite the statement issued by ICE organisers Clarion Events that they had “engaged in significant exhibitor and attendee outreach”, was directly only at attendees, not exhibitors.

As one leading industry executive noted: “The exhibitors pay the bills and create the show’s profits but it seems that our opinions on London as the continuing venue for ICE after 2022 do not matter.” That executive went on to note the lack of both a meaningful information flow and personal contact from Clarion. “We feel that we have been left in the dark and while the events of this year are both disappointing because of the pandemic and everything that has entailed, we have to look forward and that includes considering a reset of London as the host venue of ICE beyond 2022.

While it is almost universally agreed that London’s ExCel is a magnificent venue, its location in the Docklands is the exact opposite. Also causing concerns are the difficulties arising from Brexit and the UK’s departure from the European Union, the costs of travel and transport for non UK exhibiting companies, the costs of accommodation and social events and the costs of exhibiting space themselves when compared to events based on the European mainland.

As far back as December, industry magazine European Casinos – The Elite devoted its entire editorial page to an article titled ‘Clarion Gaming (sic) Should Take ICE out of UK’. In an emotional text the magazine’s Editor Emeritus, Pedro Galindo Guerra, then highlighted many of the issues of concern now once again being intensely debated.

This issue refuses to go away and it is clear that those exhibitors who are concerned about the future of the global gaming industry’s biggest and arguably best B2B exhibition must come together, express those concerns openly and engage in a dialogue to find a solution.

In closing his article, Galindo wrote: ‘Clarion should not pass up this opportunity to take ICE out of the UK. They have the resources to do it and, if they don’t, someone else might.’ Words to consider as the search for a solution continues.