We spoke yesterday to Mike Blackman, ISE managing director, 24 hours before the exhibition was due to open. How was he feeling?
“I don’t get nervous any more, but the adrenalin is pushing, and that excitement’s really good,” he said. “My favourite time is the evening before the show opens. All the stands are complete,” he smiled, “and I just wander through the halls going ‘Wow!”
In his view, exhibitors put far more effort into their stand designs at ISE than at any other show – and each year, they raise the bar. In one of the innovations that he and his team regularly introduce in order to keep the show fresh, this year sees the introduction of an independently judged competition to acknowledge that effort.
For Blackman, exhibitors are front and centre of what ISE is about. He notes that there is a direct correlation between numbers of exhibitors and numbers of visitors, with each exhibitor bringing with them their own customer base.
According to Blackman, the ISE organisation is facing two important challenges – both of which he relishes.
“ISE is now very well known among manufacturers and the channel,” he said, “and word of mouth recommendation has worked very well for the show. But we’d like to make it much better known in the end user community – and we’re focusing our marketing investment in that direction. That’s much harder – but we’re convinced it’s the right thing to do as we look to keep ISE growing, and to deliver more value to our exhibitors.”
The sheer growth in the show – 20 times as many people will be at ISE 2017 as were at the first show 13 years ago, walking 20 times as much floor space – is the other challenge.
“That’s why you’re seeing us increase the way in which we theme the event, and why we’ve added a hall dedicated to education technology this year,” he explained. “It’s all about how we help make the visitor experience better by making it easier, more efficient – more productive.”
The 65,000+ expected to come through the doors over the next four days will certainly appreciate his efforts.