How did the Corona virus threat affect the show this year?
Corona virus has been a major theme of discussion here. As it all started, we started to prepare and firstly talk to our
Chinese exhibitors. We had 258 Chinese exhibitors booked to exhibit at ISE 2020 and we started to contact them and
reached almost all of them. About fifty of them had to cancel either because they were restricted from traveling or had
their flights cancelled.
In addition to that, about twenty two companies cancelled because they were concerned about the health of their staff
and customers. We respect their views. People come first and if that’s the decision, they need to stand by their policies
and their feelings. We tried to help our Chinese customers in every way we can.
Secondly, there was a lot of nervousness from the attendees wondering if they could be here. The entire time, we took
advice from the World Health Organisation, from the RVM (Dutch Health Organisation), the European centre for disease
control and also the GGZ (Amsterdam Health Authorities). We constantly monitored their websites for advice and took
that to move forward.
We put in additional sanitary facilities here like hand sanitisers all over the show. We also spoke to our exhibitors to find
out the kind of sanitation devices they would have and in addition to that we had another fifty thousand small hand
sanitisers that attendees could take with them.
This is your last year at Amsterdam. How has the show been and how has it changed over the years?
When we started the ISE show in 2004 in Geneva, we had only about 3500 attendees and moving to Amsterdam was
quite significant in giving us the opportunity to access people from all over Europe and beyond. Having a city that is very
charismatic, helped in attracting attendees. It has been a successful growth. We have seen it develop, the attendees
have grown and this venue has become too small for the show.
We are moving to Barcelona. Everybody is looking forward to the move. It is both a sad and a happy phase. We are
leaving a city that we like and have enjoyed but also moving to another city which is nice as well and also has the
charisma that can match Amsterdam. We have twice as much space in Barcelona to accommodate exhibitors and
What new additions do you have to the show for ISE 2021?
As our show has grown, we have included more sectors and that is a reflection of where our industry is going. AV
touches everything and we are seeing technology being encompassed in what we do as a business. We have to show
that to our customers – the AV channel and commercial end users – to show them how AV can be embraced.
We have seen a demand in the Pro Audio sector at ISE that unfortunately we have not been able to fully accommodate.
Moving to Barcelona will give us the opportunity to give more space to Pro Audio companies.
On the other side, live events is also a sector which we have touched upon but haven’t had space for all those
companies to be involved in the show. Now, we will be able to do that as well.
You will also see a much larger section for collaboration that can accommodate all those companies.
Broadcast, Residential and digital signage will also be much bigger.
We are also putting up a bigger conference program because we believe that content is important!
How does ISE manage to grow in the number of attendees while all other major shows across the world are
seeing a decrease in footfall?
ISE is not just about Mike Blackman, I have a big team of specialists behind me. To make this work, we have a team
that looks after logistics and others that look after the sales, marketing, accounting and so on.
We sit together after every show and look at what was good or bad, what worked and didn’t work. If it worked, should
we continue. If it didn’t work, should we stop or change it. We try to improve it!
We are the biggest AV show in the world and I make it clear to my team that we must not become complacent, we must
try to better ourselves every year.
That’s the reason why we are growing and getting more attendees and exhibitors. We had 200 new exhibitors at ISE
this year. So, this reflects on our success and the efforts of my team to continue that success.
On top of our direct team, we have our associations as well who are offering certifications, training and education. All of
these make our business run.
How do you look at emerging markets globally?
We are in a group of several shows worldwide. The AVIXA organisation is one of our co-owners – the other one is
CEDIA. This means there are shows in virtually all regions including India, Asia, North America, South America etc. So,
we are offering opportunity for attendees to visit the shows in all regions.
ISE is a show that covers both sides of the market, both residential and commercial.
Secondly, ISE happens at the beginning of the year which is the start of business for many companies. Companies from
global markets join the show to do business. They want to keep ahead of the market.
What are your plans and message for India?
AVIXA has the InfoComm show in India, a very successful show. We also welcome Indian attendees to ISE if you want
to see what’s in the market in the beginning of the year rather than waiting till September. It is a good opportunity to
meet manufacturers and other colleagues in the industry.