It was an ugly duckling that is almost certainly going to turn into a swan following this week’s inaugural EAG Online event. A networking option designed to fill the gap until the live exhibition returns to ExCeL in January, this week EAG Online delivered far more than most had anticipated.
EAG Online had no aspirations of replacing the ExCeL showfloor, it was hard enough proving its worth to a discerning coin-op audience. But that it did with aplomb as almost 1,000 people registered for the online networking event that brought the industry together for the first time in 15 months.
EAG Online debuted on Tuesday and Wednesday with an innovative idea, albeit still technologically in its infancy. On this week’s showing and the response to it, it’s likely to evolve into a key component of live exhibitions going forward.
Talking to media on the opening day, David Purvis, MD at Gauselmann-owned Blueprint Operations, signalled the embracing arm of the industry to the trial innovation: “We were pleased to support EAG’s virtual exhibition. It provided us with an opportunity to meet and greet our customers.
“On day one there was an encouraging number of visitors, with some interesting product inquiries, which we are now following up. Feedback from visitors and the Blueprint team has been very positive. We are looking forward to day two and welcoming more visitors to our virtual stand.”
A total of 967 registered attendees agreed. At any one time during the two day event, up to 268 people were engaged either in online chats with exhibitors or navigating their way around the showfloor.
One real winner was the seminar programme which drew 730 attendees for a busy schedule of sessions. Indeed, these numbers in some cases were better than those for live conferences around the world.
Organiser Karen Cooke was enthused by the response. She told Coinslot: “We’re still analysing the data but we have to be pleased with the debut. It kick-started something and people embraced the idea. Every stand was visited and people managed to network.”
The event stayed live throughout the 48 hours of EAG Online, enabling international attendees to catch up with events. And the show will remain live for the next 30 days, extending the life-cycle of EAG into May.
“We all know that the live exhibition will never be replaced, but this initiative has proven itself. It’s probably a must-have at a live show now, maybe in a slightly different format but running alongside. A lot of work went into it and everyone went that extra mile to make it work,” Cooke added.
But it was “the opportunity to get networking again,” Cooke noted, a point reinforced by the likes of Quentin Stott, Sam Coleman and Kevin Temple, who all conveyed that view to Coinslot.
Some time in coming, and some sceptic hurdles en route, EAG Online delivered exactly what the industry needed: a forum to communicate and one that helps start the engine for trading.