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A farewell to Amsterdam: waving goodbye to the RAI and the rain

Jo Ruddock, editor of the ISE Daily, shares her thoughts on the final ISE at the RAI Amsterdam

The final ISE in Amsterdam was always going to be an emotional affair, but it’s safe to say no one was quite prepared for the rollercoaster that was planning for, and travelling to, the show.

In the weeks leading up to ISE 2020 it became clear that coronavirus was going to impact exhibitor and visitor numbers, especially those from China. Nearer to the event and Storm Ciara added to the challenge of making it to Amsterdam for many.

As editor of the ISE Daily, this impacted the team significantly, with multiple members unable to make it to the RAI in time for the start of the conference programme.

While this combination of events outside of ISE’s control threatened to put a dampener on the final Dutch edition of ISE, it actually had the opposite effect. Within the microcosm of the Daily team, we all pulled together, stepping in to do whatever needed doing to complete each newspaper. And on the wider showfloor, this spirit and willingness to make 2020 an ISE to be remembered was clear to see. Many exhibitors highlighted the quality of attendees at this year’s show, and with 52,182 unique visitors representing 116,599 repeat visits across Monday to Friday, there was still plenty of activity throughout the halls of the RAI.

ISE 2020 also featured the most extensive conference programme the show has produced so far, with ever-popular events such as Smart Building Conference – extended to a one-and-a-half-day event with a new Smart Workplaces Track – and Digital Signage Summit ISE being joined by new additions such as the CEDIA Design & Build Conference and the Control Rooms Summit.  The announcement that ISE and The Next Web have formed a strategic alliance to develop and expand the show’s content offering in 2021 and beyond highlights just how central this has become to the ISE experience.

Indeed what was interesting in 2020, and what looks set to be the case going forward, is that while technology launches and market trends were undoubtedly hot topics, key talking points also included issues such as career development, diversity, wellness and other more human-focused issues that impact every aspect of the AV industry.

To my eyes, this is what ISE does so well. Not only is the show the place to see the latest technology launches and discuss how the AV year is likely to pan out, it’s organisers AVIXA and CEDIA have also made sure the human element of our industry hasn’t been forgotten. Issues such as the lack of awareness of the opportunities afforded by a career in AV and the lack of diversity across the industry have become major talking points, and significant steps have been taken to address them, thanks to ISE and its organisers.

The human side of AV was also very much in focus during the ¡Hola Barcelona! event on the final day of the final Amsterdam show. As well as looking ahead to Barcelona 2021 it also showed just how close a bond ISE and Amsterdam will always have. The announcement that ISE and companies within the AV sector are funding the development of a bespoke centre that will house the families of patients at the city’s Emma Children’s Hospital was a truly fitting way to say goodbye to a city that has always been a great host.