Lucien, what was your vision for the ECA Slot Summit? I think the ECA Slot Summit was really an offspring of the Slot Academy. But the big difference between the slot academy and the slot summit is that the academy is a five-day management training course in which I assume the role of teacher. It’s highly interactive, participants work on exercises and do tests
– the basic idea is to make them better in their jobs.
The primary objective of the ECA slot summit, which has a range of different speakers, is not to train people to get better at the things they do today, but to bring them up to speed on industry developments in other countries and technology trends. The speakers are either experts in their fields or company executives.
Another big difference is that summit delegates spend three evenings with colleagues from other casinos – giving them plenty of time to sit down and discuss what’s going on. So at the summit, we have interaction among delegates, but also interaction with the sponsors. In my opinion, that is the third big difference between the slot summit and the slot academy. The academy does not have sponsors; the summit needs sponsors – particularly to cover the simultaneous interpreting costs, which are very high.
The sponsors like the summit, because they have a very captive audience. If a slot manager goes to the ICE in London, he won’t get more than a couple of minutes with any sales director. But at the slot summit, they can actually have dinner together and sit down all evening to talk.
So the feedback I get back from people is that the slot summit is a great opportunity to meet with your counterparts and discuss issues of mutual interest. It gives delegates the chance to meet suppliers in a completely different setting – one which they would never find at an exhibition. They hear about new technologies and upcoming developments. There is no other event that provides this opportunity to such an extent. If you go to an exhibition, you won’t hear what a supplier is planning for the next 10 years, you’ll hear and see what they are planning to sell this year.
What are your experiences in overcoming the language-barriers at such an event? When you have delegates from all over Europe, you have to work with simultaneous interpreting. That is challenging. It all falls back on the quality of the interpreting, and our tried and trusted concept here is to work with the same interpreters every time. The interpreters we used this week, we will use them again next time. They are now familiar and more comfortable with the terminology, they understand the context and connections. At the same time, we have to brief the speakers carefully. Many of them have little if any experience of working with simultaneous interpreters, so we have to explain to them that they have to slow down to give the interpreters time to catch up on what they just said. People are often afraid to ask questions in a foreign language. I am convinced that most of the people who follow the summit via the interpreters are fully aware that they would not be able to take all the information on board if there was no simultaneous interpreting. We also provide hand-outs to delegates people in their native language.
What was your aim when you put together the programme for the slot summit? Obviously, the whole ECA Slot Summit stands and falls with the quality of the program, the overall set-up and the daily schedule. We have already gone through the learning curve here, and I think we now get almost everything right. We will also bring the themes we chose this time into the summit in France later this year to ensure continuity.
Essentially, we had one day on “Data and performance analysis” (What do you have to look at here? How do you do data-based performance analysis?). One day focussed on “Marketing” (“What are the profiles of people who visit casinos? What do these different profiles expect from pricing strategies, promotions, progressives or the placement of machines?). On the third day, we addressed a very hot topic in Europe at the moment, namely “Server-based gaming, landbased gaming, online gaming, conversions…” (How can casinos establish and use synergies with other forms of gaming?).
From your point of view, what would you like the delegates to take away from this event? First of all, I hope the ECA Slot Summit will make their world bigger by giving them an understanding and an idea of where they can go with their organisation. I think they will gain understanding for the technologies that are coming and that will help to remove a lot of the apprehension people are currently feeling – with regard to the internet or anything else they see as a threat to their own local operation.
I think the ECA Slot Summit should be somewhere between a wake-up call, an eye-opener and a revelation – somewhere between the three.
On top of that, I really think it is an excellent way for people to extend and maintain their networks.
How do you view the cooperation with ECA? What does the ECA bring to the slot summit? This was the first time we had done this event together. At the first slot summit in Slovenia, the ECA realised that this event fitted perfectly with its plan to offer and organise seminars for the casino industry throughout the year. So we got together and organised this first joint event in Hanover. I think we can already say that it was a total success and a win-win situation for both of us.
ECA involvement is particularly important in marketing the event, in getting the message out to its members. The association with the ECA gives the summit an image, a brand I could never have achieved on my own. With the ECA and the University of Las Vegas as strong brands behind the ECA Slot Summit, I believe this event has the potential to become an industry standard.