Twenty years ago, the first Global Gaming Expo was held only a month after the devastating events of 9/11. The organizers of G2E—the American Gaming Association and Reed Exhibitions (RX)—decided to hold the show anyway, and it went off without a hitch, reminding members of the gaming industry that life goes on and terrorism never wins.
Four years ago, G2E 2017 started just one day after the most deadly shooting in American history, on October 1, just down the street on the Las Vegas Strip. Again, organizers believed it would be better to join together to mourn and discuss the event together, and the result was somewhat cathartic.
Last year, the Covid-19 pandemic did what those other two events could not, as the world shut down along with an in-person G2E. This year, with the effects of the pandemic still lingering, the AGA and Reed have decided to move forward with G2E 2021. Event Director Korbi Carrison sat down with GGB to talk about why that decision was made and what it means for the show, the exhibitors and attendees, and the future of the industry.
GGB: Last year G2E was only held virtually. This year, it will be back live, but an element will be virtual. How will that happen?
Korbi Carrison: Covid-19 has changed the way events deliver content and share information. While we’re thrilled to convene with the industry in Las Vegas this year, we wanted to offer virtual elements to accommodate individuals who aren’t able to attend G2E in person. We’ll continue to engage with our virtual audience during education sessions, live-streamed keynotes, virtual networking with attendees and exhibitors and constant connection through G2E Insider Live and other G2E digital content.
How will G2E handle a mask mandate if it’s still in place?
The state of the pandemic changes daily. Masks are currently required for all attendees, per Nevada guidance.
What other health and safety features will be ramped up at G2E this year?
In addition to the current mask requirement, we’re providing sanitizing stations, increased daily hygiene and complying with all guidelines outlined in the Venetian Clean protocols, and more. One of the advantages we have at RX is our ability to learn from our partner trade shows within our global portfolio in addition to G2E, which allows us to implement the most up-to-date best practices.
Health and safety come first for everything we do. G2E health and safety guidelines continue to evolve according to federal, state and local requirements and are updated regularly to ensure we provide a safe in-person experience.
How many exhibitors are you going to have, and how will that compare with the last live show in 2019?
It’s been a really challenging time for our exhibitors to balance their business goals alongside the commitment necessary to participate in an event like G2E. Some exhibitors have opted to take smaller booths than in the past, and we’re really happy that the vast majority are able to join us again, having made the decision that G2E is an important part of their success strategy. We’re forecasting to have over 240 exhibitors.
What are some of the networking opportunities for G2E attendees this year?
One of the most memorable parts of G2E is being able to network with other industry professionals. This year, G2E kicks off on Monday, October 4 with G2E Connects, a very different, collaborative session giving attendees the opportunity to participate and learn from each other by interacting through facilitated discussions about what’s most relevant in their professional development right now. G2E Connects topics will include promoting inclusivity in the workforce, building careers through mentorship and adapting to customers’ changing needs.
Additionally, we’re bringing back the round-table discussions that were very well-received in 2019. Conferees gather and select from a variety of micro-topics within the themes of our education program. It’s an opportunity to dig deeper and cultivate relationships with your peers and counterparts.
How is the show handling keynote events in 2021?
As we convene for the first time since the pandemic, hearing insights from industry leaders will be critical as we move forward. Anyone who attends G2E will have access to our keynotes, and they will be live-streamed to our virtual platform for those joining virtually. We’re excited to announce our keynote speakers shortly.
Indian gaming is always a big part of the G2E conference program. What are you doing to ensure that tribal government gaming remains a big part of the show?
In the 30 years since the passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, tribal gaming has become an integral part of the gaming ecosystem, growing from small bingo halls to global event centers with thousands of slot machines, table games and hotel rooms. It’s been exciting to witness how the tribes have expanded their success in gaming into other business opportunities, and there’s even more to discuss with the tribal entry into the Las Vegas gaming market.
Once again this year, we plan on highlighting that growth by making tribal gaming a prominent feature throughout the show. There will also be opportunities for attendees to connect, network and learn from the most influential tribal gaming leaders in the business.
Tell us about the interactive tools that G2E is offering to assist both exhibitors and attendees to get the most out of the show as they can.
Traditional content- and information-sharing has changed since the pandemic began. At G2E, we want to provide a seamless experience for attendees and customers by leveraging our technology offerings and digital platforms to provide a positive and interactive customer experience. The G2E mobile app is the most comprehensive resource that all G2E community members can interact with leading up to and at the event.
Much like casino operators offering a seamless user experience for their patrons, we want to leverage that same experience at G2E. The app offers:
Personalized Recommendations. Large events like G2E can feel like a well of limitless opportunities. That’s why we deliver a personalized list of exhibitors, products, and education session recommendations directly to the attendee. Our goal is to empower attendees to customize and control their schedules, so they can get the most out of their show experience.
Direct Messaging. Through the app’s messaging platform, attendees will reach out directly to exhibitors and fellow attendees to set up appointments and start conversations.
Geolocation. Once Bluetooth is enabled within the mobile app, attendees can look up booth-to-booth directions, search for specific exhibitors and log in to create a list of favorites, allowing them to navigate the show floor more efficiently and successfully.
Ask G2E. The Ask G2E in-app feature saves trips to the info booth by offering attendees the ability to text G2E for real-time answers directly.
Hot Hits. G2E Hot Hits is a real-time ranking of exhibitors showcasing new products and services at G2E. Attendees can scan the unique QR code that each exhibitor has on display in their booth, automatically counting as a vote. The Hot Hits Leaderboards in the app and in the expo hall will update in real time to show attendees’ favorite exhibitors.
The expo floor is home to many different areas devoted to special disciplines, like table games, iGaming, security and surveillance and more. Does this work for both exhibitors and attendees?
After two long years away from their customers, our exhibitors are thrilled to finally be able to showcase their latest products and innovations designed to provide the world-class gaming experience the industry is known for. For many, the expo hall is the most highly anticipated part of the G2E experience. There’s nothing like the serendipity one can experience while exploring at G2E. So yes, this definitely works.
With such a dynamic plan for this year’s G2E, what does it say about the growth and health of the casino industry and its largest trade show and conference?
In the face of every challenge, gaming has risen to the occasion and come out stronger on the other side. Our recovery thus far is the direct result of gaming’s resilience, innovation, and ability to provide world-class entertainment for our customers. Gaming is a dynamic industry—and this year’s show reflects that dynamic, resilient spirit.
Why is it so important that the industry get back together as the pandemic winds down?
It’s been two years since we’ve reconvened in Las Vegas—and a lot has happened since then. There’s no doubt 2020 was the most challenging year in our industry’s history—and each of us learned important lessons during that time.
Reconvening is important so gaming professionals can share their unique experiences, insight and wisdom with each other as we move forward on the road to recovery. We’ve adapted and learned, and will continue to do business in a virtual setting. But there’s no substitute for gathering together to personally connect and do business.