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Looking Ahead to ISE 2021: What AVTweeps Say About the Move to Barcelona

Most ISE 2020 attendees say it’s about time pro AV’s largest worldwide event relocates to a bigger venue, even after attendance dropped in Amsterdam.

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A lot of people in the AV industry around the world have been looking forward to Integrated Systems Europe’s relocation to Barcelona in 2021 since officials announced their plans in 2019, even with one more show set for Amsterdam in between the announcement and the pro AV’s largest show’s move.

Now that ISE has closed its Amsterdam chapter and the industry can officially look ahead to ISE 2021 at the Fira Gran Via in Barcelona Feb. 2-5, 2021, we were wondering how people who made the trip to Amsterdam for ISE’s Netherlands swan song thought about the new home for the foreseeable future.

ISE officials confirmed the final edition of ISE in Amsterdam attracted about 52,000 people, a drop of about 30,000 people in the reported numbers. Pre-registration numbers for ISE 2020 were about the same as last year but many people couldn’t get to the show because of travel or health concerns.

“I think there are more demo rooms, more booth space available [at Fira Barcelona], so I think that should become more valuable for us because it was difficult for us to get demo room space here because there’s not very many of them,” says Renkus-Heinz’s Brandon Heinz.

“It’ll make it a bit more valuable a show, while making it a better place to go because it’s a bit warmer in February,” he says.

ISE managing director Mike Blackman expects the Fira to have more dedicated meeting rooms for those who want to talk somewhere other than on the trade show floor. He also expects more designers and builders to come to the show in its new location.

“It’s been a great run [in Amsterdam] but when I announced Barcelona, I said it was like a family that’s grown up and has a bigger home,” Blackman said during ISE 2020 in Amsterdam. “We have that bigger house now.”

AVIXA CEO David Labuskes talks about ISE 2021 in Barcelona during a panel with ISE managing director Mike Blackman and CEDIA’s Tabatha O’Connor at ISE 2020.

ISE 2021 and Beyond: Headed to Barcelona

Alesia Hendley, associate sales engineer at Access Networks, is looking forward to ISE 2021’s new venue.

“I’m really excited to see how the show floor and the convention center is different,” she says, noting it was a challenge navigating the RAI Amsterdam.

“It seems like the layout there is a little more straight-forward, more of a grid that we can follow a little bit easier so it should be good.”

Certainly, Hendley isn’t the only one looking forward to the Barcelona version of ISE.

“We’re excited about it certainly from the weather,” says Harman Luxury Audio’s Jim Garrett. “That’s been a huge factor this year.

“It’s sad because we’ve been [in Amsterdam] so long and you kind of know the city, you know the venue and you know the restaurants and other places to go. But it’s exciting to see the show continuing to grow and one of the reasons we’re moving is we’ve simply outgrown this city,” he says.

Not everyone is excited about ISE 2021 moving to Barcelona.

“For our company, it’s going to be a challenge for logistics,” says Hugo Fitzjohn of Meridian Audio, based in Cambridgeshire, U.K. “For us it’s really just so easy to get [to Amsterdam]. We’ve got guys that we use from the U.K. to help set up, it’s just down the road from us. To get here by plane, it’s just an hour flight.”

We haven’t heard much about how ISE officials will incorporate the local flavor of Barcelona in ISE 2021 and future shows at the Fira, but here’s hoping we’ll see performances like this in Spain next February.

“Barcelona gives us a new platform,” said AVIXA chief global officer Sarah Joyce in an earlier interview with CI. “It’s not just a platform of growth and expansion of floor space, but there’s a mental shift we can all take in going there.

“We can offer different types of conferences and events. The opportunity is considerable to not only expand the (attendance) numbers, but the type of programs,” she said.

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