G2E Celebrates 10 Years in November

This November, the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) is celebrating its 10th year in Las Vegas, and you are invited to join in the special birthday festivities. The fun will kick off with a birthday cake at the welcome reception at The Venetian and prize drawings during the ribbon cutting. Loyal exhibitors will be displaying framed certificates on the show floor. Be sure to visit the 10-year photo montage near the networking lounge to see more pictures from the show over the years.

The first G2E in 2001 was, at the time, the most successful launch in the history of Reed Exhibitions. The show was more than 110,000 square feet in size with 380 exhibitors and 100 conference sessions. Total attendance was 14,100 people with 6,500 in the exhibit hall. Courtney Muller, senior vice president at Reed Exhibitions, says, “It was a very respectable and successful first event launching in a brand new industry sector for our company.”

The AGA board determined it was time to launch this show five years after the association was first created. AGA President Frank Fahrenkopf Jr. recalls, before 2001, gaming industry trade shows had been owned by for-profit companies, so the revenues did not go back into supporting the industry. But as the new decade began, the AGA partnered with Reed Exhibitions to create G2E. Fahrenkopf says, “Our ongoing close partnership with them has been one of the keys to the success of G2E over the years. We launched as the show ‘by the industry, for the industry,’ and that still holds true today.”

The newfound energy created by the AGA and Reed partnership hit an early challenge. The first G2E was set to take place just three weeks after the devastating day of Sept. 11, 2001. Because of the national tragedy, this meeting of the gaming minds almost did not take place. Fahrenkopf recalls: “We had serious concerns about proceeding, both because our industry and travel to Las Vegas had been severely impacted by the events, and because even established trade shows that were scheduled to have their events during the same time frame were cancelling out of fears of poor attendance. So, here we were trying to launch a show in this environment, which was even riskier.”

However, AGA and Reed leaders felt it important to move forward and launched the show as planned. Muller explains, “As I’m sure you remember, there was a tremendous sense of coming together for our country at that time and the gaming industry really came out for the event—the industry gathering gave people a renewed sense of optimism and solidarity, and there was a good feeling surrounding the show.”

Fahrenkopf adds, “I think it was a testament to the strength of the industry that we were such a success in that first year. Not only did a lot of business get done at the show, but G2E gave the industry a way to come together during that difficult time.”

From that point on, G2E has reached numerous milestones and hosted many memorable moments. Some great ribbon cuttings people might remember include Clint Eastwood and the cast of Gilligan’s Island. Michael Jackson even visited the G2E after hours in 2002.

There is much behind the scenes work that goes into your experience at G2E. Venues and dates are decided many years in advance, in some cases. Muller’s team is already looking at the 2011 show and talking about the floor plan, layout and other things that need to be done before the 2010 show even takes place. At the same time, registration for 2010 is up and running and marketing for the expo is in full gear. Muller says, “We are very conscious of time, because in the case of the trade show business, time does run out! The deadline of the show is always looming so we have to move fast on everything we do. It’s a fun and exciting business with lots of moving parts.”

When 2010 is done, the team will start on the major planning for 2011. Muller explains, “We send out research to our exhibitors, attendees and conferees to give them the opportunity to tell us how the show did for them and to let us know how we can improve it and what we can work on for the future.” The planning teams pay close attention to survey responses. For example, G2E has added food and beverage as a response to the growing importance of that segment to the bottom line of casino resorts. Throughout the year, Reed teams are selling booth space, working on the marketing strategy and meeting with the conference advisory board.

Challenges around dates and venue have existed, Muller says, and challenges around tactical aspects of the show will always be there. However, she says they pale in comparison to the biggest challenge of evolving and staying fresh.

Fahrenkopf believes G2E has consistently met that challenge, which he is most proud of. “The fact that we have so many industry leaders involved in planning and developing the show is a big reason we’ve been able to stay on top of these developments and reflect them at the show.”

G2E has overcome other challenges as well in the last 10 years. It survived the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the industry. But, he says, the biggest challenge to date has been the economic recession. “Gaming companies have been forced to cut costs across the board. The show certainly has been impacted by these cost-cutting measures on the part of our exhibitors and attendees, but I think it’s a testament to the strength of the industry and the value of the G2E event that we are still performing well despite the economy. ”

Marcus Prater, executive director of the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers, says G2E is important to AGEM members because it is the premier event for slot machine companies to show off their latest games and technology. “The product development cycle at the slot companies and most gaming suppliers is driven by the timing of G2E, and therefore it’s a showcase unlike any other trade show in gaming.” He says the eye-popping levels of innovation on the G2E show floor were simply not in existence in the 10 years leading up to G2E.

Fahrenkopf believes the success of G2E also hinges on the fact that it brings together such a large group of international industry decision makers to discuss the future of gaming. It also provides opportunities for operators to see hundreds of new products in person. “G2E is an unparalleled marketplace for the innovative products that will help drive their business forward—whether on the gaming floor, through their non-gaming amenities like restaurants and entertainment venues, to their back-of-the-house operations.”

All of the attendees, an average of 27,000 over the past five years, also create a unique networking opportunity at G2E. Muller says, “When an industry comes together it becomes energized.” Many of us stay connected between shows via social networks, e-mailing and online orders, but G2E is a time to connect in person.

“And this is why, today more than ever, an event like G2E is so critical for the gaming industry,” Muller says. “It’s an opportunity for manufacturers to talk with the operators face to face, to build relationships and learn about things that can help move your business forward.”

Of course there are also educational opportunities unlike any other at G2E. Fahrenkopf boasts: “Our conference attracts truly world-class speakers and our sessions do deep-dives into the issues that matter most to our attendees. There is no better place to gain the tools and knowledge to be a leader in our industry than at our conference.” The G2E conference program tackles future issues and opportunities including i-gaming, social media and responsible gaming.

Muller adds, “Last but not least, this annual gathering gives the media a reason to talk about gaming.” Hundreds of journalists attend G2E. It gives daily news outlets the backdrop needed to highlight the gaming industry.

So what will be creating buzz this year at G2E? New features including the My G2E Show Planner, which will help attendees easily plan their time on the exhibit floor. Muller adds, “We will also be launching a mobile application that will allow attendees to search for exhibitors and products right on their mobile device.”

When you’re feeling hungry after a day full of walking the floor and making connections, there will be a new networking area, with snacks each afternoon, to visit. For more networking opportunities, industry executives will be hosting networking hours each day. And to really keep you going, there will be a Coffee House & Demonstration Stage which will feature freshly brewed gourmet coffee and live demonstrations.

Muller says her favorite part of G2E is working with the people in the gaming industry. “Gaming is a smart, aggressive and fun industry and I feel honored to be a part of it and to help create an event that serves the industry.”

Happy Birthday G2E! Here at CEM, we can’t wait to celebrate with you.

So, have you booked your flight to Vegas yet?

G2E Milestones
2001: First G2E in Las Vegas with 14,100 attendees and 110,000 square feet
2002: 20,000 total attendees
2003: Expo floor reaches 200,000 square feet
2004: 25,000 attendees
2005: Non-gaming amenities are added, food and beverage conference track added
2006: Expo floor reaches 300,000 square feet
2007: 30,000 attendees, the G2E Leadership Academy debuts and G2E Asia begins
2008: G2E Asia moves to The Venetian in Macao
2009: The Security and Surveillance Institute begins
2010: 10-year birthday celebration

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