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g2e 2021
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G2E Brings In-Person Excitement Back to Las Vegas

By Leslie Mujica

I have been attending G2E since 2006 and through the years the show just got bigger and bigger. Then came the 2009 economic downturn, and the show started recessing back a bit. However, over the last decade the show picked up steam again, but then came COVID. This show epitomizes what Las Vegas is all about — after all, it’s all about Global Gaming. Last year they held a virtual show but my conversations with some exhibitors and attendees at this year’s show, proved there’s nothing like connecting with people in-person, and they are all excited to be back in Las Vegas.

Angela Whitman, president of Southern Gaming Solutions, an exclusive distributor of products for IGT in Georgia said, “We needed to be here to be able to see our corporate customers and partners face-to-face, which makes a huge difference.” She added that their sales were the best last year since they opened their business in 2015, and that’s why attending G2E was important. Seeing and touching the products makes a huge difference. She also shared that because of vaccination requirements, she felt really comfortable traveling to Las Vegas and attending the show and events. She has a few meetings scheduled with key decision-makers and is excited to learn more about new product lines.

This was Katie Gehrke’s second time attending the show. The marketing specialist at JCM Global did participate online last year; the virtual show helped her stay informed, but she missed out on connecting with clients. She said her organization looks forward to G2E every year, and the opportunity to meet with their customers and potential new customers. She said this year it was also great to reconnect with the industry. It helps that it’s in their backyard: JCM Global is headquartered in Las Vegas. In regard to safety protocols she said show organizers and the venue did a great job trying to keep exhibitors and attendees safe, and providing guidelines and requirements. She said, “There were pre-show meetings and emails, they gave all the exhibitors recommendations to have hand sanitizers and masks at the booths, information on frequently asked questions, and lots of things to reference throughout the show. We’ve had a lot of great customer meetings and more scheduled.”

Cheryl Duarte, senior customer success gaming representative at Trutly, a software company that securely connects gamers to their bank accounts. The company is headquartered in Sweden, but Cheryl is stationed in Florida. She said she felt really safe about coming to Las Vegas because of all the safety precautions. She really liked having to get the vaccination wristband because it made it feel safer. She shared that unfortunately, not only did some customers have to cancel their trip due to the vaccination mandate, but a colleague from Canada was stopped at the border due to CDC guidelines. She said they are excited to be here as business has been increasing, and this is a great way to reconnect in-person with the gaming industry. Duarte added that they are getting a lot out of the show because although they’ve had meetings over ZOOM, nothing compares to actually meeting with people one-on-one, “There’s a lot more camaraderie and you can tell if there’s interest in your product by observing body language and eye-contact, which is really hard to do just doing it by ZOOM.”

Emma Plagemann, senior marketing coordinator at JCJ Architecture, a regular exhibitor of G2E through the years, has been at the show a few times in the past. She said this show feels like the old days, especially since they are meeting new clients and reconnecting with former clients. Things are different as everyone is masked, but she said she feels very safe. The fact that everyone is wearing the “Clear wristbands” required to confirm vaccination status provides a level of comfort. She said they’re getting a lot out of the show; the traffic is consistent and the flow is good. Things do feel a bit more spaced out than before, but she said she feels they succeeded in meeting with their target clients, just as they had hoped.

Graham Flight, vice president of Cumming Corporation, has been attending G2E for more than 10 years in a row, except for last year.  Cumming is a construction management firm that just celebrated their 25th Anniversary, and G2E has always been a must-attend tradeshow for them. He said although the show doesn’t seem as well attended as previous years, there’s certainly positivity in the air and people are looking forward to getting back to meeting and reconnecting. As far as safety protocols go, he said, “It’s definitely as safe as it can be. Obviously you have to prove your vaccination, so the mask may be a bit of an over stretch.” He added that they didn’t participate in the show last year mainly because it was virtual and he believes face-to-face interaction is very important. He said his team is looking forward to meeting clients throughout the show, and they co-hosted an after party after we spoke. He said it was unfortunate that some clients weren’t able to come due to the vaccine and mask mandates.

Globalpayments was one of the busiest booths at G2E. Headquartered in Las Vegas, they are a provider of hardware, software and services that enable commerce activity at a casino, whether it is the physical or digital property, from solutions in the cage or multi-functional kiosks that fully automate the cash access process. President Christopher Justice had been looking forward to the show and said, “It’s been great to see everybody face-to-face. So many of the folks that we have seen over ZOOM in more than a year, and we’re continuing to drive everything forward. My second quarter this year was the highest growth revenue on record, and it’s really great to see casinos returning to life, and certainly see our industry growing and blossoming. We’ve had a tremendous show and are excited to be back.” He added that gross revenue for commercial gaming casinos across the county was the highest recorded in history. He said he believes their success is due to introduction of a lot of innovation that has differentiated them from other solutions that have been deployed. He follows all safety measures, but says he believes masks hinder business a bit as it is really hard to judge facial expressions. All in all, he stated that this has been a successful show for them, better than he expected. Their scheduled visits are at 80% from 2019, they had quite a bit of foot traffic which he attributes to folks truly understanding the significant difference between what it is that they are actually delivering. He said the interest level this year far exceeded earlier years. His observations are that because of everything that has been happening, more key decisions-makers are at the show, bringing information back to their organizations and not the other way around.

IGT never ceases to amaze with their great booth and sea of people wanting to learn more about their products and having fun navigating through the booth. I spoke with Phil O’Shaughnessy, vice president of global communications at IGT. He stated that there’s no substitute for an in-person tradeshow. “We are able to replicate a full casino environment, Hill and Partners has been a wonderful partner to us because last year, when the show wasn’t physically here, they were able to help us come up with some virtual solutions.” He added that at this show they asked Hill and Partners to reconfigure the design for this show and with 20,000 square feet of space to work with and 237 machines, they were able to come up with something really great. He said that he got a lot of customer and employee feedback, which was very positive, they really liked it. He feels they are in a very compelling selling environment thanks to their ability to be at G2E. He was pleasantly surprised when he saw how many key customers were in attendance at the show. He predicted that although the numbers might reveal a decline because some international clients weren’t able to attend due to travel restrictions, this will be a case of quality versus quantity because the level of customer meetings they’ve had has been outstanding.

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