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A Turkish man, an Englishman and a Maltese man arrive in the UK. No, it’s not the start of a joke, but the start of the Revpanda’s team journey in London during ICE and iGB!
Considered by many as the mother of all conferences, this year’s ICE Expo did not disappoint. According to the organisers, there were 35,000 people who visited the event, and walking through the conference, it certainly felt so.
But first, let’s take a step back and reflect on the week that Emre Goktas, Jacob Leach, and I had during ICE and iGB 2023!
Day 0 at ICE
We arrived a day before the start of the expo on a Monday, and we were all arriving from different locations. Coming from Malta meant that I needed to book the flights way ahead of time due to the huge influx of people and the limited number of flights. Alas, the end of December was still not early enough and certain flights had already sold all their Economy Class seats, leaving just a few overly expensive Business Class seats.
In the end, I managed to book a Ryanair flight, which would arrive in Luton on Monday afternoon. It was actually my first time at that airport and as expected, there were quite a few familiar faces on the plane.
On our arrival, I cabbed it with a good friend of mine whom I met on the plane. This way, the almost 2-hour journey from the airport to the hotel passed more quickly, as we ended up talking about our favourite subject: football!
However, while walking towards the taxi, the first thing I noticed was that it wasn’t as cold as we thought it would be. I dare say that in Malta it almost feels colder because of the humidity!
The hotel we booked is probably one of the best ones I’ve ever had in London: The Tower Hotel. The view from my room was equally amazing, as you could admire the beauty of the River Thames and the majestic Tower Bridge.
Jacob and I had to arrive on the day, so after unpacking our stuff, we decided to have a quick pre-conference meeting at a nearby pub, The Dickens Inn. I love the traditional English pubs and this one certainly did not disappoint. While talking, eating, and drinking, we met fellow iGaming colleagues who were also staying at nearby hotels. However, our evening was cut short as the pub served the last order and started to close down at 9pm.
We headed to the hotel’s bar for one last drink and then called it a night, knowing the next day will be a long one!
Day 1 at ICE
We did not have a stand this year, as we wanted to walk around the entire expo (if you’ve never been to it, it’s absolutely huge!). We wanted to be there early, so we grabbed a big breakfast from the hotel and hailed a cab. There was quite some fog and the concierge told us that in the 10 years he had been at the hotel, he had never seen it this bad.
Arriving at the destination was a bit dragging, as there is only one route and the traffic piles up. But after a 30 min ride, we finally arrived at the Excel.
Emre was going to join us later that day as his flight from Riga was scheduled for the early afternoon. When Jacob and I arrived at the Expo, we decided to split up in order to cover more ground, also because we had different meetings already scheduled for the day.
The day passed quickly and after over 16k steps and 11km, we were tired from all the meetings and walking around. However, the day was not over yet, as right after the expo we had Sigma’s iGathering Dinner, which we were sponsoring: a cruise on the River Thames.
This allowed us to network further with new people and also catch-up with old friends. After this event was over, around 11pm, we decided to head to another event: SBC’s London Baby at the National Museum, with its spectacular venue having a huge skeleton whale right over your head. After a busy and eventful first day, we were done for the night and decided to head back to the hotel to prepare for the following day.
Day 2 at ICE
Similar to Day 1, this involved a lot of walking about and meetings, but was spiced up by the fact that we also got to meet two former football players: Luis Figo and John Obi Mikel!
After all those walking we had to endure, it was a relief to know that the evening’s event, the iGB Networking Welcome Drinks, was being held at our own hotel! This was also a fruitful way to once again make new contacts as well as introducing ourselves to new possible clients.
After the event, we decided to go find some pub for some food and drinks, but once again, it seemed that during the week they close early. Instead, we ended up at a Tapas; talking, joking, and laughing about past stories. All in all, it was a very pleasant and relaxing evening.
Day 3 at Ice / Day 1 at iGB
This was going to be a long day and night. We had meetings both at ICE and iGB, so there was a lot of running around from one section to the other (and that’s quite some running around!).
I found iGB to be really good, as there was a concentration of all the companies and people I needed to speak to in one smaller area, whereas at ICE, everything and everyone was scattered around.
Again, there was no shortage of former and current football players, as I got the opportunity to meet up with Carlo Cudicini and the World Cup winner Emiliano Martinez. If the name does not ring a bell, think about the player with that golden glove meme after the final.
However, for us, the main event of the day was in the evening. We had been nominated at the iGB Awards for Rising Star of the year and were looking forward to this event at the Troxy.
The event was a black-tie one, so we needed to be at our best. This meant I had to wear a bowtie, which it didn’t want to be worn. In the end, also thanks to Jacob’s intervention, I managed to set it up.
After a sit-down dinner, the awards started and ours was one of the first awards. We were a bit tense as we had just won awards at Sigma and AGS, so we wanted to make it 3 out of 3.
As per usual, they first announced the nominees, with the names showing up on the big screen behind the presenter. Then a guest came out with the envelope to announce the winner, but the winner he announced wasn’t us! We obviously clapped and watched the other guys go onto the stage.
However, just as they were doing so, on the big screen, under the Winner title, there were two names and the second name was that of Revpanda!
We looked at each other, not understanding what was happening, until we saw that the presenter had two awards to hand out. Apparently, the guest who read out the winner’s name, didn’t realise that this award was co-won, and missed out the second name. So we got up and headed to the stage to grab the award, which for a second, we thought had eluded us!
This meant that we needed to celebrate, so we headed to an event organised by friends of ours: Revenue Whale.
To be fair, after 3 long days, I started feeling quite tired, so I decided not to stay long and went back to the hotel early.
Day 2 at iGB
ICE was officially over, but we still had iGB. I also had a lot of catching up to do, so I decided with Jacob that he would go to the conference that day, and I would work from the hotel. I also had to fly early the next morning and decided not to sleep during the night to go straight to the airport.
It was quite a quiet day from that angle, but it was great to follow up on the meetings I had and the new contacts I made during the past few days.
I packed my luggage, stayed up until 1am and waited for the cab I pre-booked to take me to the airport. This time, the trip was shorter and only took an hour to arrive, giving me time to relax a bit at the airport before finally heading back to Malta.
ICE and iGB were definitely quite an experience and overall it went pretty well from an expo point of view. It was also a cold, but sunny week, and it might be the last London location for this expo, as the rumours are that Barcelona or Madrid might be hosting it from next year.
It was also a successful one, as we added a new award which again certifies all the good things Revpanda have done throughout 2022. But more importantly, it motivates us to keep pushing harder as we reap the rewards of all the hard work we put into it.
Now that London is done and dusted, we prepare for the next expo in early March: Dubai’s Affiliate World Conference. From the cold of the UK, to the heat of the UAE!