Things Getting A Bit Testy As What Worked Or Didn’t At Last Week’s ISE Debated In Social Media

May 17, 2022 by Dave Haynes

There’s a bit of a scrap online coming out of last week’s Integrated Systems Europe trade show, with questions about exhibitors, press coverage, wayfinding and even the merits of virtual versus printed badges.

I wasn’t there, so I don’t have a particularly valid or relevant point of view. I can only relay the discourse.

Adrian Cotterill of DailyDOOH, who will likely love being described as a Champions League-level shit disturber, is maybe the noisiest about what he suggests went on, but not the only one raising opinions.

There are questions about vendors who paid as normal to exhibit, versus those who were given space.


Mike Blackman, by the way, runs the company that puts on ISE on behalf of trade association owners AVIXA and CEDIA. In a post-event interview with UK-based AV Magazine, Blackman said claims of freebies are damaging and false. “Two companies mentioned by name had paid in full or paid for a stand equivalent to a cancellation fee. Free stands went to industry associations to promote the industry. Media companies have longstanding barter agreements while the novelty of assistance for social media influencers has the same purpose: to promote AV more widely without dictating content.”

There were suggestions that influencers had their costs covered to come to ISE, and as a result, produce coverage. My take: no one asked me, and I crazily think I am influential. SNIFF!!!

What I do know is that I get into most trade shows and conferences free anyway, but the Faustian bargain I make for trade press access and a press lounge to park my tired butt is ending up on the email and calling lists of 100s and 100s of companies who want me to arrange meetings at their stands – even if their products or services have zippo to do with digital signage. If I was smarter, I’d just pay to get in. I’d get about 50 less emails a day.

There were also suggestions that North Carolina-based rAVe Publications, which always has a crew at ISE and InfoComm standup videos at every stand, was  pay-to-play this time around (in other words, they show up to shoot videos if the vendor pays). rAVe denies this.

As of this morning there are some 500 videos up on RAVe’s ISE 2022 microsite, though some vendors have multiple videos talking about differing products or services. I don’t have any insight on how the commercial side works. While those quick and dirty 60-75 second videos are not exactly works of art, they can be quite helpful to people who couldn’t get to the show or, if there, missed a stand.

Perhaps the biggest post-ISE debate points:

Wayfinding: The wayfinding at the new venue in Barcelona was criticized for doing a poor job of locating specific stands. Blackman concedes to AV Magazine that it could have been better (there were, for example, no stand numbers on the floor) and will be improved for year two at the new site.

“There are tweaks that we have to make,” Blackman told AV. “We are learning and I think we’re allowed to ask for forgiveness the first time but not the second time.”

Again, I wasn’t there, but feel safe in saying that finding specific booths in Barcelona seems less of an issue than being hopelessly turned around in the deranged maze of the old venue, the RAI in Amsterdam – which is a collection of buildings of varying sizes connected by above and below-ground walkways. It was a chore to find a hall, never mind a specific stand in a hall.

The lack of physical badges: The show used virtual badges for access, a decision brought on by two years of health concerns. But it meant attendees were walking around unidentified, with no printed badge dangling off a lanyard. There is a good, separate wrap-up of pros and cons comments on that in AV.

I like physical badges because they help me remember who is coming up to me to say Hi. By 3 PM at a trade show, I have to refer to my badge to remember my own name, never mind the name of someone I met once, six years back, for 15 seconds. Name badges have spared me from embarrassment many, many times.

The people who don’t like badges just turn them around to be anonymous (I don’t blame big retail brands from doing that, as EVERYONE wants to speak with them at shows). Or once inside, people pull them off and tuck them in pockets or bags. Easy.

My summary take on all this: I’m happy I don’t run events for a living.

  1. Bryan Crotaz says:

    I thought ISE was fabulous other than the lack of badges (on day 2 we went to get printed ones) causing kerfuffle with getting the phone and app out to be scanned on every stand. And the wayfinding was non-existent, which for a show that’s all about communication really should have been front and centre.

    At least the wayfinding was missing, and not just wrong as in Amsterdam I have a photo somewhere of two signs pointing left and right, both directing you to Hall 7. The problem is, the photo was takin inside Hall 7!

    I also missed having the small food booths between halls. I skipped lunch on the second day because it was such a trek to the central food court (and very long queues and 17 Euro for a not very good pizza slice).

    1. Dave Haynes says:

      17 EU for a slice??? Stuffing an energy bar in my walk-the-floor bag might be in order!

      1. Luis Carrillo says:

        I just hope Infocomm doesn’t follow these patterns… Otherwise “monster” breakfast will be deployed… 🙂

  2. Miguel Fonseca says:

    Overall the show was FANTASTIC ! Almost as normal as pre-Covid and Barcelona a great location

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