ISE’s Live Show Opens In Barcelona; Spun As Preview Of Full ISE In Eight Months

June 1, 2021 by Dave Haynes

Integrated Systems Europe is now open in Barcelona – running a small in-person show and a parallel virtual event.

It is predictably small – certainly compared against ISEs held in more normal circumstances – and probably attended mostly by people from the region.

Show director Mike Blackman is spinning it as an “exclusive preview” of what’s to come in February, when the global health situation should, please-please, be much more positive.

“I’m delighted to report that there’s massive support from the industry for ISE 2022 next February,” says Blackman. “Our stand rebooking process starts in earnest next week, and we are confident that it will be business as normal, business in Barcelona.”

“In fact, many of our biggest clients are already asking for more space than they had last year. Pre-reservations from our top 50 clients amount to 37,000 net square metres – that’s equivalent to around two-thirds of the entire space that we had at ISE 2020. It also demonstrates why we had to relocate here to the Fira Barcelona to accommodate this enthusiastic demand.

“And there’s another reason we came to Barcelona. Catalonia is positioning itself as the European audiovisual hub, and we want to be a catalyst in that development. As the world’s leading show for professional audiovisual systems integration, we believe we are well placed to help.

We always knew the ISE journey from Amsterdam to Barcelona would not be an easy one. None of us ever imagined what would transpire between February of 2020 and June of 2021,” says Dave Labuskes, CEO of AVIXA, which co-owns the show with CEDIA. “And yet, with steadfast commitment to our industry and our members, we have arrived. We’ve shed old assumptions and business models and we’ve suffered extraordinary losses of life and life’s moments. But now, we come together to celebrate and lead our industry on to greater heights than ever imagined as well.”

The images and video from the show floor so far today suggest the exhibit hall experience is a bit like a regional pro AV showcase in a Holiday Inn banquet room – small and the sort of thing one could walk, with lotsa stops, in a couple of hours. The regional government has a big booth, but the rest of the vendors have pretty modest looking stands – which makes total sense.

The images also present some issues of optics, with the show taking great pains to explain how COVID-aware it will be, and then cramming people together for group photos and media scrums.

The charitable thing to say is people are learning on the fly about what to do and how to do it. There will be lots of people questioning the point of all this, and I doubt there is a positive ROI for the show or the exhibitors. But big sporting events like the Olympics and football hold test events at new venues all the time, to train people and work out a lot of kinks.

I suspect, if nothing else, Blackman’s team will know a lot more about the Fira Barcelona and its support system, and that will streamline some of the job of spinning up the real, full show come February.

It’s also just good, let’s be honest, to see a hint of a return to normal business and the chance to see industry friends and partners again.

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