EAG, but not as we know it

EAG online 2021
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EAG Online made its debut last week with two days of exhibiting and networking, finally, for the UK industry. Designed to fill in the gaps whilst Covid temporarily hits the conventional face-to-face trading process, the initiative did more than that – it served up real credentials for an event with a future. In the first of two reports, this week Steph Norbury guides us through the highlights on the seminar schedule, whilst three attendees – Quentin Stott, Kevin Temple and Sam Coleman talk about how the experience worked for them.

 

The first day of EAG; the hum of machines, the chill of the morning exhibition hall, the coffee grabbed at Costa on the way in. The slight headache from last night’s dinner in town with the team is not bothering you too much as you nod to the guys on the stand across the way. The announcement over the tannoy system. “EAG is now open!”. The first day of EAG Online – however – saw most of us log on from the comfort of our own homes to be greeted by the graphics of John White, Martin Burlin and Greg Wood welcoming us to the show (and no those were not their ‘real’ bodies!). The show was split into three sections, exhibition hall, seminar room and bacta lounge. It was easy to see the list of those present on the system and to video chat, text chat or email.

Quentin Stott and the Reflex Team had recreated their iconic Dransfields Arms stand online. Quent was quick to hop on a video call when I visited the stand. “It’s been good so far,” he said. “The experience was a bit clunky at first as we are all very new to the technology and if I am chatting on video I can’t show the products for example but we had a few decent conversations on day one and we are hoping for more of that today,” he said. “It was good to see the number of attendees is quite high.”

Ideal OneJohn Vallis of IDEALONE Software solutions posted an image of the reality behind his online stand on social media. “Easiest booth I have ever had to set up!” he said next to the picture of his kitchen counter, coffee and croissants. IDEAL ONE was showing a range of systems for Arcades and FEC s comprising of different elements such as a Cashless System, Redemption System, Online Party Scheduling and ticketing solutions with POS at the very heart of everything.

The online system allowed visitors to download brochures from the stand and view video demonstrating the products, giving some neat functionality to the virtual booths.

As a visitor, I found it really pleasant to leave messages of support and reconnect with company representatives and visitors. Of course, it wasn’t anything like the experience of actually being there but it had the feel of an industry event and there was goodwill on all sides for the effort that had been put in by Karen Cooke and the team behind EAG Online.

Charlotte Parcel from Crane/CPI said, “It really has been a great experience, very busy! It’s been a really good way of networking virtually.”

Gary Newman of Newman’s Sales found the experience a little more frustrating. “It’s tough doing an online show because I think we are an industry that likes to (touch and feel) the games,” he said.

The Seminar programme was important as it added a ‘live’ element to the event. It was also useful to find the replays of previous Seminars available promptly, so it was possible to catch up on anything that you missed.

EAG OnlineOn day one, visitors were treated to The Future of the FEC in Europe , featuring Greg Wood President of bacta, Jason Frost, President of Euromat and Kieran O’Keeffe, Secretary General of Euromat. James Miller of Funstation, former bacta President led a talk on Cashless Payments being more important than ever in a COVID-safe environment. David Snook led talks on the Amusement Revolution in Italy and Kevin Williams of the Stinger Report talked about Social Entertainment.

Kevin led the second day’s talks with a panel discussion on XR: Employing Immersive Entertainment Now. Sean Grant of Core Impact talked about Retention and Development of Your Employees. Kurt Janson of Tourism Alliance and John White discussed The Future of Staycation to finish the seminar programme. Despite 300k jobs being lost in tourism due to the pandemic and inbound tourism due to drop 70 percent this summer – there will be a staycation boom. However, as Kurt explained, this will not last necessarily as overseas holidays become possible – therefore the time is now to make sure that visitors to the coast and other tourist destinations ensure that they make a lasting impression on guests.

 

The manufacturer’s view

“…everyone is really looking forward to getting back to ‘normal’ in the safest way possible”

KEVIN TEMPLE DIRECTOR OF SALES NOVOMATIC GAMING UK

 

Coinslot: How did EAG Online go for you?

Kevin Temple Novomatic UKKevin Temple: EAG Online was a great success, we had a good amount of traffic and plenty of discussions with current and new customers. It was really good to showcase our new cabinets and games to the market place, as well as network with old friends and customers who, due to the pandemic I have not seen in quite some time.

Coinslot: What were the highlights over the two days?

Kevin Temple: The highlights were the positive reaction regarding our new Novoline B3 platform and games and the excitement surrounding the “From Dusk Till Dawn™” game release, which is our latest B3 Novoline game, based on the classic Tarantino film. The addition of the new Novoline B3 offering to our already successful Magic Games range of machines and games gave the customer base a real buzz.

Coinslot: Key initiatives that caught the eye?

Kevin Temple: Our key products that caught the eye were our state-of-the-art Panthera and Dominator cabinets, our FV551 cabinet which houses our Cat C compendium and the new Novoline B3 suite of games, which will receive regular new game updates throughout the year, as well as Sir Francis Drake™, a new game from SWA Magic Games, which also drew a lot of interest.

Coinslot: What were the main talking points?

Kevin Temple: The main talking points were about getting back to business and also ramping up the offering from AGC and Bingo in particular through our new products. I think that everyone is really looking forward to getting back to ‘normal’ in the safest way possible.

Coinslot: Your ideas to develop the online expo concept?

Kevin Temple: This is our first online expo and the platform was very user friendly and simple to navigate. In future, I think that it could be run alongside a real time event in 2022 to cater for customers who are unable to attend the event by appointment, or just as an addition to the real-time event to improve the customer experience.

 

The manufacturer’s view

“…it’s really good to be reconnecting with the industry after such a long spell of closures”

QUENTIN STOTT MANAGING DIRECTOR REFLEX GAMING

Coinslot: How did EAG Online go for you?

Quentin Stott Reflex GamingQuentin Stott: It’s a very different experience to exhibiting in the traditional sense, but it’s really good to be reconnecting with the industry after such a long spell of closures.

Coinslot: What were the highlights over the two days?

Quentin Stott: Having industry colleagues attending the exhibition and using the video functionality has been extremely useful, as has being able to get some early performance information from the pubs who have opened their beer gardens and outside space.

Coinslot: Key initiatives that caught the eye?

Quentin Stott: The range and number of seminars has been impressive. I understand that attendance has been extremely high and I hope that attendees got value from them.

Coinslot: What were the main talking points?

Quentin Stott: There’s been quite a lot of discussion and optimism about venues reopening. With some luck with the weather, it is highly likely in our view that the UK’s hospitality and leisure sector will come back strongly. The other main talking point has been the GPT cashless payment app. Between the first and second national lockdown, some pubcos have seen over the bar cash spend drop from circa 40 percent to circa 20 percent. The halving of in venue customer cash spend is a meteoric drop and strengthens the immediate need to support machine income via alternate payment methods.

Coinslot: Your ideas to develop the online expo concept?

Quentin Stott: I would like to see the “who’s online” function split out visitors from exhibitors.

 

The distributor’s view

“…hopes for the upcoming season… are very positive”

SAM COLEMAN SALES & MARKETING MANAGER JNC SALES

Coinslot: How did EAG Online go for you?

Sam Coleman JNC SalesSam Coleman: It was certainly strange being involved in a virtual trade show for the first time, but it was nice to be able to reach out to our customers and talk them through our new lines as well as reach out to some new leads.

Coinslot: What were the highlights over the two days?

Sam Coleman: For us it was being able to show customers our new-look website, which they were able to visit via the stand. We’ve had some great feedback about how the website now helps them navigate through our full product range and can now see what the various new and used machines look like. It was also good to be able to watch the online seminars, as typically during the Excel shows the suppliers aren’t able to get time to watch these!

Coinslot: Key initiatives that caught the eye?

Sam Coleman: The stand-out new products for us were Epic Shooter, the immersive basketball game with the giant video screen, Rocket Launch, our new take on the pusher/prize redemption concept for children, and the Mini House 2ply crane. All these demonstrate excellent value for money and high quality gameplay and design.

Coinslot: What were the main talking points?

Sam Coleman: Naturally most conversations aligned with the current climate and hopes for the upcoming season, which are very positive. It was nice to be able to speak with customers about machines again compared to previous months that had been tainted with uncertainty regarding opening dates. Our customers have been impressed with the new product lines we have coming in, as well as our wide range of strong used equipment including more recent hits such as Walking Dead, Down the Clown, and Bean Bag Toss.


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