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ISE 2019: the stage is set

With everyone primed and ready to descend on Amsterdam this week for the penultimate time, we find out from managing director Mike Blackman what they can expect.

How will this year’s show compare to other years?
It’s gonna be bigger and better than ever before. I know I make the same claim every year, but it’s true. It always is. So, in its 16-year history, this will be its biggest ever.

We’ve been very fortunate that ISE has become a date in the calendar and the stage for many of the world’s leading manufacturers to unveil their latest products. If you’re in the channel and want to keep up to date, then ISE is absolutely the place to be to understand and to see what’s happening, what’s new in the market and what’s coming.

How do think the show’s appeal has grown outside Europe?
Last year, I met a lot of US-based integrators at the show and asked them what they’re doing here. They explained that because business is moving so fast, they need to be at InfoComm in June and at ISE in February to keep themselves ahead of the market.

What’s going on with the conference programme this year?
I’d really advise participation in the conferences. We have some fantastic speakers in all of the conferences and we’ve been very careful to bring in people that are neutral about what and how they are presenting and ensuring that what they discuss is relevant and informative.

How are you tackling the issue of space?
One of the well documented issues is that we have been running out of space, but we have found ways to actually extend the building. We have some new exhibitors for 2019 and you’ll really see a lot of new things from them. The extension of the building has given us the additional space we needed for now, which has helped us manage the waiting list, so we have added another 50-60 exhibitors in there. This satisfies our customers and adds an even wider choice for those in attendance, so it’s a win-win.

Another thing that we’ve done to extend things even further is include the Okura Hotel, which has allowed us to extend the conference programme. We have been getting increasing demand from our exhibitors to bring more and more vertical markets to the show. So, we’ve created some additional conference facilities over at the Okura and everyday we’ll be running half-day conferences, two of which will be making their debut at the show, which will be the Digital Cinema Summit and the Hospitality Technology Next Generation.

You will see a slightly bigger show in 2020. Where we have our concerns is the ever-growing audience. We’re an industry that’s reaching out into so many sectors now. We’re touching every mode of working, every mode of life and living and more and more people are interested and saying: how will this affect me? Will this affect me? How can I prepare for it? How can I take my business forward?

You’ve also updated the ISE app to help people get around.
We hope the app really helps people getting around much more efficiently. However, I do recommend to everybody to take a floor map around with them. We have the show guides and a floor plan and the app.

It can be difficult to navigate ISE without those, and they will help make that journey more efficient. For the next two years, we’re trying to do as much as we can to ease the issues and make the experience more enjoyable.

Amsterdam has been a wonderful home for us. But we’ve ran out of space for both visitors and the attendees, so we have to look at the comfort and safety factors.

What changes have you made to encourage people to stay the whole week?
What often happens is manufacturers show a lot of new things at the beginning of the show, so everyone wants to be there when the new ideas are being presented. That means that the show is very crowded on those first few days. What we are saying is that it’s all going to still be there on the Thursday and Friday and you’re going to get a lot more attention from the exhibitors and much more time from them on those days because they will be able to dedicate more time. On top of that we’re doing a lot more on those days.

When we first started out, we put all the really exciting things at the beginning. But we’ve learnt to spread them out and help to expand the experience. ISE is so big and you need more than four days to get around and see all the different things you want to see, but this will help.

Above all, we want you come and enjoy the show. There are a lot of social activities going on. ISE is not just an exhibition, it’s an event. There are a lot of things happening all around the show. The show floor, in the conferences, the seminars, the training and education. It’s the parties, the meetings and the networking on and off site all around Amsterdam and the show. Come and join the party – we look forward to seeing you.