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UPDATED: Reaction – AV industry gives its views on ISE’s 2021 switch to Barcelona

"Each place will have its pros and cons. The bottom line is that the RAI simply wasn’t an option any more"

Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) – the world’s biggest AV trade show – announced last week that in 2021, after 14 years in Amsterdam, it will be switching from the RAI to the Gran Via in Barcelona (read full story here).

Whilst the move to a larger venue is vital for ISE’s growth ambitions, would the decision to relocate almost 1,000 miles south to the Catalonian capital be one warmly welcomed by the AV industry?

To find out, we spoke to some of the ever-presents at ISE to gage their reactions – both good and bad.


Ruben Rengel, managing director, Europe & Oceania

ISE’s announcement to move to Barcelona is great news, not only for me (I am delighted to have an opportunity to come back to my hometown), but also for the industry who will benefit from a location that boasts enough space to cater for the industry’s growth, as well as the ever increasing number of visitors year after year. With such prestigious guests like the Mobile World Congress and soon ISE, Barcelona can pride itself in hosting two of the biggest international exhibitions.

Christie Digital

Arlonna Seymour, senior director corporate marketing

The tremendous media buzz around ISE’s relocation to Barcelona in 2021 demonstrates just how important the show has become to the audio-visual industry. 

Long recognised as the largest systems integration show in the world, ISE has become a ‘must attend’ event, not just for Europeans, but also for visitors from across the globe. At Christie we have a close and long-standing relationship with the show, being one of the founding partners and exhibitors at the inaugural show in Geneva, back in 2004. We’ve been at the show every year since, from Geneva to Belgium and Amsterdam – and we’ve enjoyed them all. 

However, it was clear to organisers at ISE2018 that with more than 80,000 people coming through the doors, the show was reaching capacity at the RAI in Amsterdam. For that reason, we welcome ISE moving to Barcelona in 2021. 

The new location will allow the show to continue on its upward growth trajectory, and gives us confidence as an original exhibitor that our presence at the show will continue to add maximum value to Christie, its partners and customers. We’re very much looking forward to Barcelona 2021. In the meantime, we still have two more years at the RAI to enjoy and we look forward to seeing everyone on the Christie booth in Amsterdam in February 2019.

AV Stumpfl GmbH

Fabian Stumpfl, CEO

We absolutely love Amsterdam, but Barcelona seems like an equally inspired choice for the future of ISE. We are looking forward to being part of the future growth of this amazing exhibition.


Lucy Meredith, field marketing specialist 

I think this is an exciting move for ISE. Visitor growth has been on an upward trajectory year on year and, for the last three years, the show has sold out, so it makes commercial sense.

Sadly the show has outgrown not only the RAI but also the city. The clamour for restaurants and hotel space is certainly something we’ve struggled with in recent years, and we’re hopeful that Barcelona is better positioned for meeting that demand.

From a Panasonic perspective, we’ve had a cap on stand space in recent years and haven’t been able to grow our presence in the way that we’d hoped. With the additional space available to us in Barcelona we’ll look again at whether this is going to be possible.

That said, we know from experience that shows at the FIRA can be very expensive in terms of both floor space and the cost of hotels in the city. So we hope that the ISE team are taking that in to account, to ensure that exhibitors aren’t faced with increased costs as a result of the move.

Amsterdam has been a great home for ISE and I think that I’ll miss the familiarity and friendliness of the city. After so many years, it’s like home away from home, but hopefully Barcelona in February will be a little warmer.

However, the new venue is not without its challenges, the trains to FIRA Barcelona tend to be very crowded and the taxi queues at Mobile World Congress, for instance, are the stuff of legend. But the venue is much easier to navigate than the RAI, so that should make the visitor flow better.

Crestron EMEA

Petra van Meeuwen, director of media relations

After more than a decade in Amsterdam which has been a fantastic host city for Crestron on all levels as the RAI has been a wonderful and very efficient venue and the entertainment in Amsterdam was a great bonus, it is very exciting to see ISE move to another wonderful city such as Barcelona. As the show is growing year in year out, having Barcelona as the new host city is a great choice. The city has history, culture, a great football team and wonderful tapas bars and is still at the heart of Europe, which is the ideal place to host customers from all over the world!


Francesco Fanicchi, brand and communication director

Rumours have been circulating amongst industry players for the last two years about having the Amsterdam RAI as a sustainable venue for the future of ISE, and it has been a great location that has directly contributed to the show’s success for many years.

However the growth of the show combined with a limited floor space meant that eventually exhibitors’ requirements couldn’t be met, forcing the organisers to adopt a stand booking system with debatable criteria. 

With the aim to serve exhibitors at their best and deliver a valuable service to visitors, I do believe this move is the right decision for the whole growing AV industry. Gran Via in Barcelona is one of the Europe’s largest convention centre, and from a manufacturer point of view, exhibiting in a venue that can evolve with the AV industry allow companies to better plan long term strategies.”

BenQ Europe

Chris Moore, head of sales B2B

A change of venue is always good, can spark interest from people who have maybe thought they had seen it all. Also the strength of the show has always been the Vendors and the Products they are showcasing, this will stay the same.

I guess only time will tell if it’s the right thing to do [moving]., Barcelona is a vibrant city like Amsterdam and easy to get to so I can only see visitor numbers continuing to increase.

Amsterdam is a wonderful city with very friendly people. And I guess familiarity, we know where to go, how to get there, who and where to meet. However doing things differently can also be exciting, the start of a new era.


Bob Boster, president

On a personal level I think it’s exciting because I don’t know Barcelona very well and I look forward to having a chance to explore it. On a business level I feel a little concern as I know ISE has been successful at the RAI and I’m not familiar with the facilities and support infrastructure that exists in Barcelona.

Is it the the right decision?I would need to have the details the decision was based upon, so I’m really not in a position to address it but ISE has grown so successfully in recent years that one can only assume that organisers know their business.

I very much enjoy the multicultural flair of Amsterdam and I think it serves an international conference effectively. I hope the same level of cultural diversity exists in Barcelona as well.

I understand people are very excited about this change, but I wonder if Barcelona is as welcoming a place as Amsterdam. I have heard some media stories about anti—visitor feelings on the part of local residents in Barcelona, which makes me a bit worried about it affecting the experience of the convention attendees. This would not deter us as exhibitors but I don’t want anything to happen that would negatively influence potential customers.

Alcons Audio

Tom Back, Co-founder

It was obvious that the RAI couldn’t keep up with the show’s rapid growth, the set-up and strike logistics were becoming very difficult. However, as our ‘home turf’, Amsterdam was the best option for us, both for our own booth as well as for being a Technical Partner of the show.

Barcelona will be a big change for us, although we already have an international convention and show there in June (CineEurope). The city is nice, even besides the appeal of la Rambla, and the weather in Spain around February could be a plus.

I can understand international visitors preferring the special ‘intimate’ atmosphere of Amsterdam (being a Dutch company, we may be biased here!), but I guess each place will have its pros and cons. The bottom line is that the RAI simply wasn’t an option any more.

Logitech VC

Anne Marie Ginn, senior category manager

Amsterdam has become synonymous with ISE for us over the past few years, and we’re definitely feeling a little sentimental on the news of the move. However, ISE has become the go-to industry event for everything UC, AV, digital signage and more, so the fact the show has outgrown the RAI and is having to move is a great credit to its continued success and importance. Securing space at the show has been a challenge the last couple of years, so as a vendor we welcome the move into a larger space. It should allow everyone to have a better presence at the show for many years to come.

Yamaha Music Europe

Tobias Weich, sales & marketing manager

We are pleased about the decision to hold the fair in Barcelona from 2021. Like Amsterdam, Barcelona is an international business location with an excellent infrastructure. Moreover, it is a charming city with its own flair and thus the perfect place to meet with existing and future business contacts. We are therefore looking forward to the relocation in 2021, but are no less excited about the last two editions in Amsterdam in 2019 and 2020.

Jacobs Massey

Graeme Massey, MD

I think the move is an excellent idea. It enables further expo expansion for our industry and a fresh impetus for a new visitor experience. We will certainly be there!

Any trade show however successful needs growth. Barcelona is a fantastic cultural and creative City which meets nicely with AV innovation and technology.

I have visited Barcelona a few times and it never disappoints. Steeped in history, rich in culture and amazingly friendly people. I’m sure ISE will thrive.

Royal Society of Medicine

Kevin McLoughlin, AV manager 

I’m disappointed ISE is leaving Amsterdam as its a compact city populated with wonderfully welcoming people and fabulous restaurants and bars and excellent transport infrastructure (and just as Eurostar has begun a direct train service).

However, I have always found the RAI difficult to navigate and increasingly so as numbers at ISE have increased, although I have not visited the Gran Via complex it seems on paper to have a simpler layout and with the greater capacity this should make moving around the halls and the show floor a more comfortable experience. I just need to start practicing my Spanish so i can order delicious tapas and cerveza in what is a magnificent city.

Woop Jobs
Denise O’Keeffe, director

I think it’s incredibly exciting news. The confirmation that the show is moving to a bigger location is a huge testament to how fast the industry is expanding. Amsterdam is a fantastic city, but the move will be refreshing to all that have been attending for a number of years. This will really enable some of the smaller AV business to exhibit next to the big players and provide an opportunity for new technologies to have an even larger platform to launch.

I completely think it’s the right thing to do. With the market trends of digital displays getting bigger and bigger, this now provides a space where businesses are going to be able to take what they showcase to the next level. It’s also apparent that the show’s team have really thought about the smaller businesses. Providing a bigger location is opening the market up even further, as visitors will have a wider range of products to view.

Pioneer Group
Paul Childerhouse, managing director

Moving to a bigger location is a true reflection of the expanding industry, so it’ll be great to see more exhibitors under one roof. As integrators, we’re always on the lookout for new technologies to incorporate into projects, so we’re hoping Barcelona will offer a bigger platform for businesses to showcase new products on a larger scale as well as broadening vendors.

The RAI has provided a great location for a number of years, however the industry is rapidly evolving and moving forward. ISE has always been such a dynamic show, showcasing forwarding thinking concepts so this is the next logical step to take.