ISE Confirms 2020 Attendance Down Sharply Due To CVID-19, Storms

February 21, 2020 by Dave Haynes

The organizers of Integrated Systems Europe have released its numbers on last week’s trade show in Amsterdam, confirming unofficial reports that total attendance dropped by roughly 30,000 year on year.

Integrated Systems Events says the drop was due to the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 virus spread – including the inability for many Chinese vendors to travel outside their city and country. It was compounded by wind storms in Western Europe that grounded flights and even slowed or stopped rail service.

Daily attendance figures, which include exhibitors and attendees, were as follows:

The show is trying to spin this a bit by saying the cumulative total is 116,599 visits, but the actual non-duplicated headcount was 52,128, versus about 82,000 in 2019.

ISE doesn’t normally release this level of detail on numbers. It says pre-show 2020 registrations “were broadly in line with those of last year, but it was apparent that some of those who registered were not able, or no longer wished, to attend the show.”

“This year’s show demonstrated to us just how determined our attendees were to come to ISE. Many of our exhibitors exceeded their targets for customer engagement and lead generation,” says Mike Blackman, Managing Director of Integrated Systems Events. “The show has delivered on all fronts: as the global industry’s biggest annual forum, as a launchpad for new solutions, as a place to do business, and as a source of professional development and education.”

“Having now had a few days to reflect on our last ISE in Amsterdam, I am struck by the sheer determination and enthusiasm our AV industry friends and colleagues showed last week,” adds Dave Labuskes, CEO of AVIXA, one of the show’s owners. “In the face of significant challenges, thousands of people still made the trip to the show, attended conferences and took part in the networking events, awards and parties, and engagement across the show floor was meaningful and important.”

I certainly heard, and others have written, that the virus situation had a weirdly positive impact on the show (acknowledging there is nothing positive for those directly affected by COVID-19).

The people who attended really wanted or needed to be there, resulting in more qualified booth visits and far fewer go-nowhere conversations with tire-kickers and people just wandering around. Exhibitors also said they often had more time to spend on conversations, demos or serious business discussions, because the booth and aisle was not as crowded.

There is not a lot of indication the attendance dip reflects a show that is troubled, or has plateau’d. There is speculation attendance may never again hit the dizzying height of 2019 because the new home, Barcelona, is a plane or train, and not a relatively short drive, for many people in Western Europe. But that doesn’t seem to worry exhibitors. Most vendors, at this show or really any, want quality, not quantity.

Says ISE:

During ISE 2020, over 950 exhibitors booked their stands for ISE 2021, with 61,968 square metres of stand space sold by the close of the show. This equates to 82% of the available ISE 2021 show floor, and approximately 115% of this year’s exhibition floor space. Reflecting the increasing number of vertical markets that ISE serves, additional Technology Zones for next year include Live Events and Lighting, Broadcast, and VR/AR/XR.

The content programme at ISE 2021 will be augmented by three new strands produced by TNW (The Next Web), focusing on technology and its impact on society: Growth Quarters, Startup City Summit and The Assembly. This co-operation between ISE and TNW was announced on the first day of ISE 2020.

ISE 2021 will take place at the Gran Via – Fira de Barcelona on Feb. 2-5, 2021.

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