Boasting eight new exhibitors and a new venue in London’s ILEC Conference Centre, the Autumn Coin Op Show 2021 is set to be a bustling and vibrant comeback for the amusements industry exhibition scene, with organiser Swan Events putting a strong emphasis on the social aspects of the show to allow visitors to relax, network, and simply enjoy each other’s company after 21 months apart. Karen Cooke talks about the return to duty.
Coinslot: As organiser of the first major assembly for the industry in 21 months, what reaction have you had to the return of ACOS?
Karen Cooke, managing director of Swan Events: The reaction has been fantastic. The exhibition hall sold out very quickly and I have had to find more space for companies who were so keen to take part.
We have a brilliant line up of industry leading companies and ACOS will also be glad to welcome eight new exhibitors including Cosmic Leisure, HC Terminals and Fat Cat Softworks, Heddleworth Amusements, Instance Automatics, Jabro Games, NRM and Novomatic Gaming.
As usual ACOS is a platform for the launch of new products and updates and we have already received announcements from Innovative Technology, Novomatic Gaming, NSM Music, Reflex Gaming and Whitehouse Leisure.
The industry is clearly very keen to get back together which is demonstrated by a high level of visitor registrations.
CS: New normal, new venue. Why the change and will it be permanent?
Karen Cooke: As you can imagine, the pandemic has created absolute havoc with the exhibition timetable. Unfortunately, our Olympia venue is undergoing works for the next few years and cannot offer us an alternative area or dates.
I searched all over London for an alternative and discovered the ILEC Conference Centre which could offer a great venue with the right dates, in an area that everyone is familiar with. The venue has clearly been upgraded to a very high standard and offers a much better layout. We will continue to consult with our exhibitors and visitors to ensure the location is relevant moving forward.
CS: What special initiatives are you preparing for the show – both event-wise and health-wise?
Karen Cooke: As this is the first time that the industry can re-unite and enjoy each other’s company, that is what I have concentrated on. Making ACOS 2021 a comfortable and relaxed environment where visitor and exhibitors can meet socially and for business.
Regarding Covid, we are all aware that the majority of Covid restrictions have been removed but safety will continue to be of paramount importance during our ACOS. Additional spacing has been created wherever possible to allow distancing, enhanced cleaning programmes have been put in place and plenty of hand sanitiser stations will be placed around the hall.
We continue to work closely with the venue, our stand contractors and other organisers to ensure we adopt the best industry practices, and we are confident of staging another successful and enjoyable event.
CS: The events industry has been one of the hardest hit by Covid, what adjustments have you had to make for the comeback?
Karen Cooke: Actually, the style of ACOS makes it a good comeback event. It is a comfortable size and we do not encourage large or complex stand builds, so exhibitors and visitors can return to a live event with something manageable.
Hopefully this will rebuild confidence for the larger events to follow in the new year.
CS: Logistics – it’s a torrid time for the sector with transportation, shortages and deliveries under so much pressure. How does this affect a show like ACOS?
Karen Cooke: Again, I think this is where ACOS can be a great event to restart the UK exhibition calendar. It’s size and the fact that I know all the exhibitors means that I work with them personally and be as helpful and flexible as possible.
Access to the new venue is much better, we do not have lifts and stairs to overcome so I am confident that we can make this as straight forward as possible.
CS: Highlights and talking points of ACOS 2021?
Karen Cooke: Quite simply the exhibitors and their fantastic products.
Visitors attend exhibitions to refresh business relationships and discover new and exciting ideas for their businesses. The job of ACOS is to make that process as easy and enjoyable as possible.
Another ACOS highlight is always the first night “After Show” networking reception. This is a tradition that we have maintained, and we look forward to getting together with everyone on Wednesday 20th October in the George & Dragon, a traditional pub onsite at the IBIS London Earls Court Hotel.
CS: Looking longer term and how things are likely to change, we’ve seen in football, for example, that matches are worthless without fans. Do you think that will be the same conclusion with events: the industry is nothing without live events?
Karen Cooke: Swan Events is lucky enough to organise shows in other market sectors and we have already staged two events since lockdown. In both cases it has been clear how much visitors and exhibitors have enjoyed being able to meet again and do business face to face.
We have tried online and virtual events but there is nothing to top face to face meetings.
We know that trade exhibitions can be run safely and successfully, and we are sure that ACOS will provide an ideal first step back to business as normal.