ISE Breaks Attendance And Exhibitor Records Again, Though Just

February 14, 2019 by Dave Haynes

Integrated Systems Europe has released the final numbers on last week’s trade show in Amsterdam, and it once again exceeded previous numbers, though just barely this time.

ISE has seen some dizzyingly rapid growth in recent years, with big jumps in attendance and other key indicators year on year. For 2019, 81,268 people turned up. Last year, the number was 80,923. So the increase was a few hundred instead of a few thousand, which was the norm in the last few years. The count jumped 15,000 from 2016 to 2018, for example.

Events don’t just endlessly mushroom in size, so this shouldn’t really surprise anyone. Vendors care less about foot traffic and more about the quality of leads and volume of pre-booked and spontaneous meetings, so I doubt many care what attendance finished at last week.

It was the largest ever ISE show floor, as well, with 56,100 net square meters of exhibit space and 1,301 exhibitors (five more than 2018). Of those stands, 225 were companies taking space at ISE for the first time. ISE couldn’t really grow exhibitor counts because the venue is maxed out. Areas that were food court spaces the first time I went, in 2016, were taken over by stands this year.

The show pre-sells space for the following year, and 92% of the available floor space at ISE 2020 has already been sold. Exhibitors were told even if they wanted to book more space, they couldn’t.

Attendee surveys revealed almost 1/3 of the attendees were there for the first time, Given the attendance is almost the same year on year, that means about 1/3 of those who were at the 2018 ISE didn’t return in 2019. So it’s not an automatic trip for everyone in pro AV.

Wednesday saw the largest-ever one-day attendance figure for any show at the Amsterdam RAI (I can confirm Wednesday was insanely busy), and the number of attendees on Friday passed 20,000 for the first time. I can also confirm getting a sense many people arrived Wednesday with plans to hang around Amsterdam after, perhaps training it over to Paris or Brussels. I skipped Friday for the first time, which in hindsight was a miscalculation. I need four days to see everything and everyone.

“As an exhibition, as an unbeatable source of education and professional development, and as a destination for a global industry to come together and do business – ISE 2019 has delivered,” says show director Mike Blackman in a press release. “Our Opening Address, Closing Keynote, and our two projection mapping features were fantastic showcases for how event professionals and others can harness AV technology to better realize their creativity.”

The PR continues:

The day after his Opening Address, the world premiere of Bart Kresa’s latest projection mapping sculpture, Sviatovid, took place at the RAI. Constantly changing, highly detailed imagery projected all around the 5m-high figure, synchronised with a dynamic soundtrack, made for a compelling and memorable AV experience.

In ISE 2019’s other projection mapping first, the façade of the soon-to-open nhow RAI Amsterdam hotel, just next to the exhibition centre, became a projection mapping canvas, with video shot that day at the show forming part of each evening’s display.

Presented under the slogan ‘Learn. Discover. Be Inspired’, ISE 2019’s professional development programme featured strong involvement from the show’s co-owners AVIXA and CEDIA, as well as conferences organised by vertical market specialists.

For the first time, the nearby Hotel Okura was used as an ISE venue, hosting five of the show’s ten conferences. New additions for 2019 included Hospitality Tech Summit by HTNG; Digital Cinema Summit, produced in conjunction with Digital Cinema Report; AGORA, for the sports venue market, produced by MONDO | STADIA; and visitor attraction and theme park specialist blooloop returned to ISE for a second year with its new attractionsTECH conference.

AVIXA hosted two of its ‘What’s Next’ conferences, both of which had sold out before the show opened. These two strategy and technology conferences focused on integrated AV experiences in higher education and in enterprise. The association also ran a series of free 20-minute FlashTrack education sessions on its stand.

CEDIA, which used ISE 2019 to begin its 30th anniversary celebration events, had a four-day professional development programme with over 36 different courses, covering pertinent subjects under the headings of Technical Skills, Emerging Trends, and Business Success. Additionally, its stand hosted free CEDIA Talks on topical industry issues each day of the show.

An innovation for ISE 2019 was the Main Stage theatre in Hall 8. This was the venue for high-level thought leadership presentations, best practice case studies and expert-led panel discussions, many of which were ‘standing-room only’. Content was provided by AVIXA, CEDIA, AV Magazine and ISE itself, and the presentations were live-streamed to the ISE website.

ISE’s beating heart is its show floor, and ISE 2019 exhibitors once again made the most of the opportunity to launch new products and showcase their latest solutions. Among the technology trends in evidence were 8K displays; smart building technology, including the Internet of Things; AI-equipped devices; the continued progression of conferencing and collaboration technology; 3D projection mapping; a wider-than-ever choice of curved, flexible, transparent and ever-smaller-pitch LED displays; and further developments in AV over IP and audio networking.

ISE 2020 will be held at the RAI Amsterdam from Feb. 11-14. The following year it is, yay, in Barcelona.

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