As fears about the continued spread of the coronavirus pandemic linger, we saw the National Association of Broadcasters this week postpone its annual event from April 2021 to October 2021. That decision naturally put some of the industry focus on ISE 2021, set for February in Barcelona.
Integrated Systems Events managing director Mike Blackman has repeatedly maintained that ISE 2021 will make its in-person debut in Spain this winter and a risk assessment by ISE staffers and their health consultants in July using World Health Organization protocols show the COVID-19 risk as “low.”
That risk level could change, though, as a second wave of the pandemic sweeps across Europe. Would that put the fate of an in-person ISE 2021 in jeopardy or force organizers to consider going all-virtual for the event’s first show in Barcelona? Those decisions haven’t been made yet, says Blackman.
“Obviously, we are concerned [about the second wave of the coronavirus outbreak across Europe] and observing the situation very carefully,” he wrote in an email to Commercial Integrator. “Surveys with manufacturers show us that that the industry is very keen to have a show in 2021.”
ISE 2021 Still On As Planned
It’s unclear when ISE officials have to decide whether to move forward on the in-person event or switch to an all-virtual format, but Blackman says the online elements of the show will be part of ISE this year and beyond.
They’ll use some of the lessons they learned from InfoComm 2020 Connected, AVIXA’s virtual version of the largest pro AV show in North America from June.
ISE 2020 in February in Amsterdam marked the show’s smallest attendance in years as a combination of increasing fears about the emerging pandemic and travel restrictions caused by a snowstorm that swept across the continent during the week of the show dropped it from about 82,000 in 2018 to 52,000.
Blackman said in a previous email exchange with CI that ISE 2021 would move forward with its in-person show even if U.S. residents were still barred from entering Europe. North American attendees have been about 5 percent of the overall ISE crowd in recent years, although that percentage is growing.