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Exclusive: Hans Vereecken, EMEA sales manager at Bose Professional, on ISE’s handling of the pandemic

The global pandemic has impacted all sectors of the AV industry, perhaps no more so than exhibitions and live events. So it was perhaps no great surprise when Integrated Systems Events finally called time on their attempts to stage a full-fat ISE 2021 in-person show at the Barcelona Gran Vía, Fira de Barcelona.

This year’s ISE was always going to be a tricky event. Scheduled for February as usual, and then moved to June, Covid-19 put the ISE team under serious pressure. Should the event have been pushed back to the autumn? Should it have gone ahead as planned in Barcelona? And about the Live & Online approach, with four in-person events in Barcelona, Munich, Amsterdam and London – plus the Cisco-powered ISE Digital? We spoke to Hans Vereecken, EMEA sales manager at Bose Professional for his take on things.

What do you think of ISE’s overall approach to this year’s crisis in what were incredibly difficult circumstances?
The last year has reminded us all that we need to stay nimble in our planning, building in contingencies in case our situation changes. ISE did exactly that: dealt with the on-going uncertainty by remaining nimble. We’re all eager to reconnect and continue being active in person in our industry.

How surprised were you that the event was ultimately cancelled as a physical event? Should this decision have been made earlier or was ISE correct to wait until it did?
Given the uncertainty we’re all working with, ISE’s decision is on target for adapting and serving the industry. Their communication was clear and succinct; we like that they had a contingency option with the multiple, smaller events across Europe.

What are your thoughts on the four regional events and how likely are you to either attend or exhibit?
We had made our planning for our marketing activities for this spring inline with the expectation on the ability and willingness to travel in Europe. We don’t think [that] even [for]smaller events, in June, people will be comfortable again to travel. Multiple travel restrictions in Europe will probably still apply. Companies will still be very careful to allow their employees to join physical events.

How important do you think the virtual show will be going forward? And what are your thoughts on virtual shows in general (which have, unsurprisingly, been given a massive boost on the back of Covid)?
Similar to the hybrid workplace, we expect to see a virtual aspect at most of the large shows to continue. The technology is available and the experience improved since 2020 required it to evolve and respond quickly to virtual attendees’ needs and feedback. While I can’t imagine virtual shows ever fully replacing in-person shows, if the experience is done correctly, it could prove to be an important part of larger shows for those unable to attend.

Are you planning or anticipating any sort of business travel this year (including Infocomm)? Or are you and your organisation planning for 2022 or a return to business travel?
Bose’s primary focus is the health and safety of our customers and employees. With this in mind, we regularly assess the situation in each region to ensure it’s safe to return to the office and travel. With the vaccine becoming increasingly available, we’re hopeful as we look to 2022.