The dust has settled on Blueprint’s VExpo and the post event mood music is suggesting a more upbeat tempo to the second half of the year as operators look to invest in the future

Blueprint’s VExpo has been recognised by the industry as being a ‘best in breed’ 3D virtual exhibition. Jason Frost, the former bacta president who heads up EUROMAT, believes the format and access that virtual exhibitions deliver provide an important opportunity for operators to participate in industry events that they otherwise may not be able to attend in-person.  He explained: “We know from our experience with the EAG virtual exhibition and more recently from participating as a visitor in Blueprint’s VExpo that virtual events open-up access to the entire community of buyers.

“Technology is constantly improving and VExpo set new standards in terms of the quality of the graphics, the representation of feature areas and the ability to talk with members of the sales team. While I can’t envisage a time when virtual will replace in-person there’s definitely moves to create blended events which combine the very best of both formats. So, you can have visitors attending the live event while others who can’t be there in-person participate in a virtual format. The advances which were part of the VExpo experience will no doubt provide a platform for future development in what is an extremely dynamic sector.”

Nicola Wallbank from Blueprint confirmed the positive reaction to VExpo received from all sectors of the business.  She said: “We’ve been really pleased with the comments and the feedback. Clearly the purpose of participating is to see outstanding product, but VExpo went beyond simply introducing the 20 games that we had on our virtual stand.

“Industry events whether they are live or virtual give you an opportunity to do what this industry does best and that’s to talk about the business and assess the mood of the market.

“The industry had been open for a week prior to the show and the consensus was that it had been a good positive start with business better than the corresponding period when the sector reopened last July.

“Motorway Service Areas have been busy as the country reopens and FECs and holiday park operators are preparing for a summer season powered by the restrictions on international travel and the consequent popularity of the staycation phenomenon. Although sectors are travelling at different speeds with bingo and pub limited by the regulations on social distancing and vertical drinking respectively, there was a purpose and energy about our visitors who were looking to invest in their entertainment offering and in some cases win back players who may have migrated online during lockdown. We were able to demonstrate a really strong content roadmap moving forward into 2022 and I’m cautiously confident and optimistic about the future.”

Mark Edmundson of Blueprint sister company GeWeTe was equally upbeat about the VExpo showing and for the prospects for the business.  He said: “VExpo had a symbolic significance for me as it felt as if we were drawing a line under the challenges of the last 15-months. It felt like a restart for the industry and the mood was very positive. To say that 2020 was a difficult year is an understatement but being able to fulfil customer orders and installing our cash handling solutions in such difficult circumstances was a significant highlight as was increasing the install base of our MARS TITO and Data capture system. Even during lockdown, our development team worked throughout and used the time to develop new products and new features, which make cash and cashless handling much easier and more transparent for our customers.

He added: “The GeWeTe complete debit card TITO solution was a big talking point for our VExpo visitors as was our ability to offer any operator our Group products and services, from wiring the venue right through to seven days a week hotline support.”

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