Global Gaming Tries Its Luck with a New Time, Venue and Attitude

October 7, 2011

Although you might think that a trade show dedicated to gambling wouldn’t be a very optimistic place to be these days, participants at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) appeared to have something to smile about.

Held Oct. 4-6 in its new home at the Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas, the world’s largest trade show and conference for the gaming entertainment industry attracted nearly 26,000 attendees and 440 exhibitors spanning 250,000 square feet of exhibit space. In 2010, the event attracted 24,941 attendees and 520 exhibitors occupying 250,000 sq. ft.

According to Judy Patterson, senior vice president and executive director of the American Gaming Association, which organizes the show in partnership with Reed Exhibitions, despite a drop in exhibiting companies, the renewed energy and optimism on the showfloor was because of several factors: the move to a new venue and consolidation under one roof, a shift to better dates for the industry and a more positive outlook for future of gaming.

“First, we’ve moved to this new venue and reconfigured the showfloor,” Patterson said. “It’s much easier to navigate, we’re all on same level and in the same space, and it’s easy to find where you want to go. There’s also more visibility for the smaller exhibitors … that’s been a big plus for them.”

Besides the show’s redesign, the move to a new venue after almost a decade at the Las Vegas Convention Center also allowed G2E to move its dates from mid-November to early October, giving casino companies more leeway in making product investments before locking up their budgets for the coming year, Patterson said.

In addition, gradual revenue increases and the impending expansion of gaming in several U.S. states, including Illinois, Massachusetts and Florida, also was giving the industry something to feel positive about, she added.

“Companies are still having to make difficult choices in how they spend their money, but we’re starting to see a turnaround,” Patterson said. “For example, in Las Vegas, hotel room rate averages are going up, visitation numbers are gradually increasing and so are gaming revenues, so all the energy that’s out (on the showfloor) is a combination of all of these factors.”

Highlights at the event included dozens of panel discussions and 135 educational sessions covering hot industry topics and trends ranging from Internet gambling and social media to tribal gaming, as well as the debut of a G2E mobile app, an expo entertainment stage and networking opportunities.

The event also marked a first-time collocation with the International Association of Gaming Advisors and National Center for Responsible Gaming, an arrangement that will continue periodically going forward, Patterson said.

On a bright and colorful expo floor touting the latest and greatest in casino innovations and products, including hundreds of slot machines, traffic was brisk. Many exhibitors said they were very pleased with the show’s new venue, dates and configuration.

Exhibitor Robert Garity, senior sales executive of Micros, said he was especially happy with the show’s new layout.

“The larger exhibitors are deeper into the show than at the LVCC, so traffic has to come through the hall and (attendees) have to walk by us,” Garity said. “Although I think it’s a little slower than last year, and I haven’t seen a lot of people buying product, people are buying our product, and we’re doing well.”

Long-time attendee Ely Prussin, director of player development of Mesquite Gaming, said he was not only pleased with the new venue and the improved layout, but also was feeling optimistic about the signs of life he was seeing in the industry.

“Our business is starting to pick up a little bit and our new owners are making investments in new product,” Prussin said. “Increases in revenue are definitely a step in the right direction.”

G2E will return Oct. 2-4 to the Sands

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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.