Day-Long Coffee Break In Las Vegas, Anyone?

Clarion Gaming is once again gathering its Ampersand community in Las Vegas on October 10, just prior to G2E. The experts come together to discuss what is important to the industry and how it should be presented at Clarion events, including ICE London, in February, throughout the year.

Day-Long Coffee Break In Las Vegas, Anyone?

I am indeed a coffee fan (a day not started with a cappuccino made with my traditional Italian kitchen-top mocha coffeemaker is a day lost), but I am not advocating at all for a day-long consumption of caffeine, aware of its potentially harmful effects, if not used in moderation.

Having worked in events for most of my professional life now, I know the value of coffee—to clear one’s mind for the busy morning of sessions or exhibition visit (in particular after socializing the evening before), to assist at networking during coffee breaks, to energize after lunch and to fuel’s one’s evening activities. All for the sake of maximizing our performance and effectiveness at industry events.

The coffee break is a sought-after interval. Yes, as an opportunity to re-caffeinate, but really mainly as an opportunity to talk, to people we know and people we have only just met, people we’ve arranged to meet and those we have randomly run into. And it’s that randomness that offers the serendipity so desired and valued from face-to-face events.

It’s the randomness as well that just wasn’t possible to recreate in the digital world, despite efforts, including those by my company, to launch virtual conferences, exhibitions, webinars and meet-ups. And even in the face-to-face environment, that randomness is difficult, if not impossible, to be forced or instigated; it just happens, with the right environment and the right people.

A few years ago, I did find a formula that gets me close to recreating the randomness of encounters leading almost instantly to meaningful conversations. And I’m not promoting a therapy retreat here, but a meeting I’ve been organizing twice a year (in London and in Las Vegas) for Clarion Gaming’s Ampersand community. The formula is called Open Space and is a self-organizing meeting format that allows a diverse group of participants to come together and discuss a broad spectrum of topics in a relatively short period of time.

It’s not a conference and there are no pre-planned sessions or speakers. Indeed, there isn’t even an agenda until the first hour through the meeting, when we set it together with the participants, with the topics that they put forward. A series of free-flowing discussions, often happening in parallel, follows through-out the day, with participants choosing discussions they want to go to. Some might have twenty random participants, some only two.

The organic format of Open Space means that there is a constant cross-pollination of ideas and each participant ends up in a variety of discussions on topics that they choose to join, brainstorming with others who share their interest. The discussions are completely at the mercy of their participants who can take them wherever their interests lead, sometimes even aside and outside of the agenda set in the beginning. Each participant can drive the direction of the conversations, but it also means that they take responsibility for where they want each conversation to go to. There isn’t much of an external control, unless we spot some very dominant voices that silence others.

We’ll be back in Las Vegas with this format, after a two-year Covid-19 hiatus, bringing together around 100 leaders in North American gaming, wagering and iGaming to input into the future of the industry, discuss key trends, challenges and opportunities. Expanding the reach beyond just the Ampersand members, the ICE Symposium will tap into a similar meeting held earlier this year in July. The venue, Top Golf, will help get the blood going as well to fuel the conversations and inspire different points of view.

But there will be coffee available throughout too.

We’ll be talking cashless payments, sports wagering, iGaming, metaverse, hospitality tech and anything else as put forward by our participants. Do you have something to say, are eager to learn from others and want to contribute with your opinions and knowledge? Join us.

More information and registration form for the ICE Symposium, powered by Ampersand, is available here.

Articles by Author: Ewa Bakun

Ewa Bakun is director of industry insight and engagement for Clarion Gaming. At Clarion Gaming since 2009, Bakun has held various roles focusing on industry research, market intelligence, key stakeholder engagement, product launches and strategic initiatives. Keeping track of the industry developments, she has seen the rise (and sometimes fall) of trends, brands and people, a testament to the dynamic pace with which the industry evolves. Amongst her most significant achievements are launch of the Sports Betting USA conference, introduction and growth of the Consumer Protection Zone to ICE London and oversight of Clarion’s start-up initiatives. In her current role in charge of insights, she is focusing on maximizing research and insight drawn from both the external and internal sources to drive product improvement and development for the Clarion Gaming brands, such as ICE and iGB.