When Korbi Carrison was named by Reed Exhibitions (now RX) as event director of G2E five years ago, she was the first person with gaming experience to take that position. With more than 20 years experience in gaming, now Event Vice President Carrison understands the concerns and issues that exhibitors and attendees bring to G2E.
“She speaks our language,” said one major exhibitor. “She knows what we need to get out of a trade show and helps us reach our goals like no one before her.”
In her five years with G2E, she has helped to navigate the most disruptive business interruption in modern trade show history. When the 2020 show was canceled, she helped RX partner American Gaming Association to produce a virtual show that made sense for both exhibitors and attendees. When G2E returned last year with major restrictions due to Covid mandates, exhibitors and attendees returned with lower expectations. But 2022 is different. With most Covid protocols set aside, expectations are sky high and Carrison is determined to deliver.
She met with GGB Publisher Roger Gros via Zoom in August to explain what to expect at G2E 2022. (To see the full interview see video below).
GGB: What kind of response are you getting from the attendees and the exhibitors looking forward to this year’s G2E?
Carrison: The response has really been great. Everyone is really looking forward to being together again. Looking back over the last couple of years, we were digital in 2020 and we did a hybrid event last year, which was really well received but of course it wasn’t the experience that everyone looks forward to with G2E. This year will be so much more like that experience that everyone knows and loves with G2E. We’re really looking forward to being a global event once again that is able to convene safely.
Will there be any Covid restrictions this year?
Just keep in mind that we are staying with the local Covid policies. Right now that means no masks and no verification of vaccinations. Of course, we have to be agile. And if there is some sort of a restriction that would come into place, we’re going to follow that. But right now there are no restrictions in place and we’re back to the way that we are accustomed to G2E being.
That doesn’t mean people can’t wear a mask, if they feel more comfortable that way, correct?
Right. It’s all about what you, as an individual, are comfortable with. Certainly, if you would like to wear a mask, we invite you to do so, and we will have masks and hand sanitizer there available for anyone to use, but it’s up to your individual level of comfort. We want everyone to have a great experience at G2E.
How many exhibitors are you having this year as compared to the last fully live show in 2019?
We are up to over 300 participating companies, which is a lot more than we had in ’21. And we still have over a month to go. There is so much excitement daily about how companies can participate. So we are really looking forward to a robust show for this year.
From what we’re hearing, this should be a record year for online gaming participants.
It definitely is a growing segment. It was growing last year, and even more so this year. We’re seeing growth not only on the expo hall floor with iGaming companies, but across into the education program as well. And they really do come together everywhere you experience G2E, whether it’s in the hallway, meeting up with someone, there are just a lot of new folks who are interested in this segment, that we are certain is going to grow for us and the future.
What kind of educational sessions are you offering for iGaming?
There’s a full track on iGaming, so I would encourage anyone to check that out on the website, globalgamingexpo.com. There’s a link under education for the schedule and the sessions. So you can check that out, decide if that’s something that you want to participate in, but yes, definitely a lot of content on iGaming. And it does cross over. It transcends the education program over to all of the G2E experience.
How will people use G2E’s interactive tools this year?
The G2E mobile app will be there as it has been in years past. That is something that will really help people to connect with one another and to get the best experience possible out of G2E, whether it’s connecting with another attendee or looking at the recommendations that are served up to you, based on the specifications that you make, when you register for G2E. The app will recommend for you different exhibitors to visit based on your priorities and even potentially some education sessions that might be interesting to you. So we definitely do encourage the download and use of the G2E mobile app.
One other new thing this year that I encourage everyone to be on the lookout for is a G2E networking lounge. That is something we haven’t done before, but we’ve heard from people in the post-show surveys that everyone wants to connect with one another around topics of interest. So we are putting together a space and we’re populating it with different meetups and just different opportunities to come together with people of common interest so attendees can sit down, chat with people and connect with your community.
One of the things we always look forward to is the keynote events. And I know G2E likes to add that as a surprise toward the end, but what can you tell us about that for this year?
There will be three keynote addresses this year—one Monday, one Tuesday, one Wednesday—and rest assured they will all offer content that people will be really interested in hearing about, how the industry is growing, the future of the industry and what that means for all different people, different constituencies across the industry.
Tribal gaming is always an important element of the show. In the past, it’s been about 40 percent of the attendance. Do you have something planned for this year?
Well, the Indian Gaming Association has long been a strong partner with G2E, and that doesn’t change for this year. We partner together with them to produce a large number of education sessions. They have a full track across three days of different tribal gaming topics that are relevant to folks who work in the tribal gaming space. And even outside of the tribal gaming space, it’s just really great information, and they will be represented on the expo hall floor as well this year. So no question the Indian Gaming Association is a really important partner of G2E, and that relationship will continue.
In August, the AGA came out with the nominees for the Gaming Hall of Fame, three terrific candidates who receive their awards at an invitation-only event. How important is that Hall of Fame event?
It’s really critical to the industry. And of course, the American Gaming Association is our partner in G2E. So it it’s really wonderful to be able to look upon the selections of the Gaming Hall of Fame winners and reflect upon all of the contributions that they have made to the industry over the years.
And the candidates are terrific—Gavin Isaacs, who was behind the success of several companies, such as Aristocrat, Shuffle Master and Scientific Games; Mike Rumbolz, who has experience on all sides of the industry, from operator to regulator and manufacturer, where he really elevated Everi. And then of course, Virginia McDowell, the former CEO of Isle of Capri. But even since her retirement she’s making a difference by really getting Global Gaming Women off the ground. GGW is a good partner to G2E.
Global Gaming Women is a great partner with G2E. I don’t want to steal their thunder because they will soon announce the time and location for their annual Kick Up Your Heels fundraiser, and they also will have a networking breakfast in the morning on Thursday, which also people can sign up for. It’s really a wonderful way for everyone, not only women—everyone is welcome—to participate and really lift up women’s voices in the industry.
We’ve just seen two spectacular revenue years for the gaming industry—2021 was a record and 2022 is looking to be even greater than that. What does this say about the health of the industry and the importance of G2E to help keep that going?
Well, I think those numbers are a testament to the health and resiliency of the industry. This is a strong industry built by strong people, and G2E is here to be the platform for that. So we’re really excited to once again be the show that everyone looks forward to, and that really creates an experience that is valuable to everyone and helps them reach new heights.
Any suggestions for people attending G2E this year?
I can just make one suggestion for everyone who’s prepping to come to G2E. Make sure you do some pre-planning. Make sure you get your badge in advance because no one likes to stand in the line at G2E. Just go on the website, globalgamingexpo.com, get your preregistration all taken care of, check out all the opportunities for special events or education that you might want to participate in, get those things organized on your calendar. If you haven’t made your hotel reservations, the discounts are going away really soon. Do that and you will get the best pricing and the best experience.