There’s always this moment the morning after a big night where you wake up and you’re sweetly cocooned in ignorance about all that transpired the night before. It never lasts. You yawn, stretch, roll over and reach for your water bottle (empty – damn) and suddenly the memories start bubbling up like sewage from an open drain. Dear God. Did I really say/do/ask that?
Old Billingsgate was once again witness to the London Affiliate Conference, an event crammed with stands, people, merchandise, lederhosen and hotpants. The freezing temperatures of London town weren’t nearly enough to dampen the spirits of the hundreds of delegates who turned up in droves to do business during the day and party at night. The days were fast and furious, the nights were long and the whole thing was over in a flash – so if you missed any of it, here are the highlights.
During the Day
One of the keys to a great conference is having the right proportion of affiliates to affiliate managers and this year, LAC got it spot on – it was busier than ever with plenty of new faces and had enough people from both sides of the fence to keep everyone happy. People spilled from the stands and happily clogged up the aisles, chatting animatedly with old friends, new business contacts and of course, the ever-present promo models.
Everyone in the industry may be used to seeing them walk around, but the staff at the event are not, and consequently they wreaked havoc wherever they went. Requests for tea were forgotten. Lunch service slowed. Security guards left their posts to wander, open-mouthed, after the scantily-clad pairs. Amusingly, the girls were more professional than any of them, taking the adoration and drool in their 15cm-heeled stride. Special kudos have to go out to a particular model whose job was apparently to remind the rest of the world why spandex jumpsuits went out of style in the 1970s. Plenty of toe and not at all on her feet. Ouch.
The conference was so big this year that they put the lower ground level to good use, filling it with tables, stands and an enormous seminar stadium where lots of eager delegates could go to hear talks about everything from player mentality to SEO. Even if you’ve been in the industry for a while, it’s a good idea to make time to sit in on a few of these as they’re a useful way to keep yourself up-to-date.
Once in full swing, every table was packed with people, the stands were thronged and the day was spent finding, making and finalising deals with new and old partners.
‘I am not going out on Thursday,’ declared almost everyone I know. ‘I have a big day of meetings ahead on Friday, and I can’t be tired/hungover/violently ill/unable to walk in heels.’
Everyone always says this. And then you have to peel their alcohol-soaked frames from the top of Nelson’s Column at three in the morning.
Throwing a great party has become a point of pride for affiliate managers, and the whole industry has benefitted from companies striving to outdo last year’s events in bigger and more creative ways. There was the Fortune Party Bus, a blinged-up double-decker bus which required some life-threatening dashes across traffic to board and transported affiliates to trendy London bars; the somewhat disappointing opening party at Sway Bar; William Hill’s Awards-alternative bash at Movida, and of course Awards night itself.
The iGB Affiliate Awards are a highlight of LAC, and thanks to the good folk at Butlers Bingo I went to the ball. It was a ritzy Russian-themed affair with a chef who got a little too fancy with the food, but this was amply made up for by the generous bartenders, who created brilliant cocktails for thirsty patrons. Strange performances onstage were largely ignored, but that only meant you had time to chat to your fellow diners. If you’re feeling flush next year, this is definitely one to hit.
The usual fun of the official closing party was threatened when it emerged that the Hippodrome Casino did not have a DJ, which is surprising considering the fact that the proceeds from the cash bar could have bought out HMV. The party unofficially moved to a neighbouring bar, where we danced until the wee hours of the morn and staggered home to collapse into bed at 4am.
After the hijinks of the London Affiliate Conference, I’m pretty sure that many people will be feeling the same way: utterly broken. Luckily you’ve got a few months to recover before we do it all over again in Amsterdam!
About the Author
‘Hailing from Australia, Kahmen Lai worked as an executive for broadcast network The Seven Media Group before moving to London, where she took up the position of Media Director at online slot and casino affiliate Big Gains No Pains.’