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‘There’s no other trade show like it’: Key exhibitors talk ISE 2020

PSNEurope hears from some of the show’s top pro audio exhibitors to find out what keeps them coming back to what has become an international phenomenon

With ISE predictably primed to shatter yet more records this year, the world’s most influential pro audio trade show looks set to close the curtain on its time at the Amsterdam RAI with a bang. For the best part of a decade, the international AV event has continued to notch up year after year of record-breaking attendances and exhibitor numbers, satisfying its core customer base in the AV and integrated systems sector, while continuing to attract brand new pro audio companies in the process. This seemingly never ending purple patch has led to ISE outgrowing its Amsterdam home, with 2020 marking its final stay at the RAI before relocating to the even more expansive Gran Via in Barcelona in 2021. So, as the market prepares to bid the RAI a fond farewell, PSNEurope asks the pro audio community just what makes ISE such a special show…

Régis Cazin, CEO, Active Audio & APG:

There are several reasons to explain the importance of such an event for smaller companies like APG and Active Audio. February is the best time of the year to launch new products, and this will be the case in 2020 for APG and Active Audio. We have new projects in the pipeline, new partnerships and new members in our team to improve and foster our strategy of development. The location is another reason for ISE’s success historically, since Amsterdam is a well-connected city with an international airport and train station. This is also the case for Barcelona and we are looking forward to experiencing a new, larger venue to support the constant growth of the show.

The substantial and constant growth of ISE since 2004 proves the show’s quality and has gone on to attract an international audience beyond European borders, making it possible for companies, small or large, to meet international prospects, clients and distributors. It is the only place where you can get a whole overview of the latest products, technologies and solutions from the AV industry.

Moreover, it is a great opportunity to present products to foreign markets and attain a global overview of the competition in the audio-visual industry. To sum up, there is no other professional trade show like it. It is a quality showcase for European companies. The great reputation of the show provides both the exhibitors and the end-user with excellent added value.

Discover what products APG will be launching here, and find out what Active Audio will be exhibiting here.

Alexander Pietschmann, CEO, Adam Hall Group:

Integrated Systems Europe is the world’s largest and most important trade show for the AV and systems integration sectors, representing continuous communication with our international customers and partners. For Adam Hall and its comprehensive audio and lighting solutions, the show offers perfect opportunities for collaborative approaches across a wide range of complementary technologies in one place. It’s like an annual class reunion of AV professionals coming together with great new ideas and products to make events and installations a connecting experience for people.

Although we will certainly be missing Amsterdam a little bit, we are very much looking forward to the new ISE in Barcelona as of 2021 and are very excited to see what further developments and surprises the new show location will bring to our industry.

Gain insight on what Adam Hall will be presenting at ISE here.

Martin Bodley, director, emerging business, Bose Professional:

What makes ISE a standout show is so much more than its sheer size. It’s an incredibly efficient use of our time. Where else would you be able to invest four days out of the office or field and not just reconnect with key people, but build new relationships while seeing the evolution of technology being used and discovering what true innovation jumps have been made? Add to this that ISE is the perfect platform to introduce any new initiative or solutions your company may have and it’s easy to see why every year its importance has grown.

ISE also maintains the strongest category mix across our industry, from mounting hardware and lighting to digital displays and conferencing solutions, for both the channel and manufacturers to engage in. This enables system integrators and consultants to see what’s new and experience solutions first-hand, all while still feeling intimate enough to grow relationships and conduct business.

David Claringbold, chief marketing officer, d&b audiotechnik:

We recognise ISE as a unique opportunity to meet a broad spectrum of people from systems integrators and installers to distributors, consultants and consumers, from Europe and beyond. Now more than ever we look at trade shows as being less about black boxes and more as an opportunity to build stronger relationships with current and potential customers and partners.

The d&b team takes ISE as an opportunity, to both share ideas and see what’s new with others in the integration business, not just in pro audio. ISE visitors come from various segments including corporate, live events, bars, restaurants and nightclubs, theatres and performance venues, sports venues and houses of worship – all of whom we find interesting and who might find relevant audio technology solutions from d&b. ISE has also created a forum in which the importance of AV and IT integration is brought into clear focus. This integration is a huge factor in the evolution of the pro audio industry.

As usual we will have a demo room (on the pro audio corridor: E105 and E106) where people can experience d&b products and get an insight into the d&b Soundscape and our systems approach.

David Bruml, sales director, Funktion-One:

Funktion-One is pleased to be back exhibiting at ISE. Following the decision a few years ago to take a break from the show and focus on other opportunities, ISE has clearly gone from strength to strength, and getting an appropriate location in the Pro Audio Hall 7 has proved impossible on account of the exhibition being oversubscribed at the RAI venue in Amsterdam. We welcomed the news that the show was expanding to a new, larger home in Barcelona for 2021, and were very pleased when a stand became available for the forthcoming final show in Amsterdam. We’ve always kept an eye on the show’s development and have remained open to the idea of exhibiting again.

As our own interest in returning has risen, so too have the opportunities to do so – firstly, an option for the 2020 show and, if that goes well, a more accessible format in Barcelona. Not only does the move to Barcelona give the organisers an opportunity to design a more coherent show floor, it may also add renewed energy to the event. Like Amsterdam, Barcelona is a vibrant city with a special energy, which I’m sure will have a positive impact on the show. We are now looking to potentially make ISE our primary European trade show and look forward to a successful show in 2020.

With Funktion-One work extending strongly from our market leading entertainment venue focus into new installation sectors including World Cup, Olympic, Champions League and major ice arena projects, the technology focus of ISE is well matched to our development. ISE also provides a great platform for product launches and the 2020 show will see new releases from Funktion-One, which will be particularly relevant for the show’s AV audience. We look forward to renewed participation with what has clearly already become one of the principal international shows and to engagement with the exciting move to Barcelona next year.

Discover the products Funktion-One will be launching here.

Sami Mäkinen, business manager, AV Installation, Genelec:

ISE is attracting more and more people from the traditional pro audio field (in Genelec parlance that means studios/postproduction etc.) as well as AV. As a result, ISE has started to become one of the most important shows across all business segments in the business. Naturally, ISE is the place to keep up with the AV trends and see where our competitors are going.

For Genelec, the main opportunity at ISE 2020 is to meet all the AV professionals, integrators and distributors globally and let them know about our inspirational technology and product line. Indeed, one of the things that we appreciate so much about ISE is that it is a truly international event. Many other long-standing shows that have served the professional audio market for years, although international in name, in reality are becoming more and more regional. It’s not the case for ISE. We see customers from all over the world – it’s probably the only show that has such an extended reach and has been instrumental in enabling us to gain a foothold in AV markets beyond the Nordic regions where we are already very well established. ISE is an absolutely essential element in our continued global expansion into the AV space.

The only thing I would say is missing at the moment is anything specific pertaining to sustainability in AV. It’s a subject that has shaped our development as a company from the beginning and occupies an equal ranking with our business goals. Today, more than ever, it should be an important topic for us all.

When ISE moves to Barcelona, it will provide more space for both exhibitors and visitors in Europe’s biggest convention centre as well as creating new interest for AV professionals. Both exhibitors and visitors are doubtless curious and excited to see how it will work in Barcelona. I have been given to understand that the venue, Fira Gran Via Barcelona, despite its huge size, is much simpler and more convenient to navigate. This is great news since the RAI has become very challenging in that matter. One thing that worries me is that Barcelona is less accessible for many than Amsterdam, which is easy to reach by car or train for visitors and exhibitors from neighbouring countries. Travelling to Barcelona requires almost everyone to fly and thus more time will be spent travelling, and I won’t even mention the carbon footprint… Today we need to think carefully about environmental issues as well. On the plus side no-one will miss Amsterdam weather in February – bring on the Barcelona sunshine.

Find out more about Genelec’s Smart IP speaker models at ISE.

James King, director of marketing, Martin Audio:

Martin Audio was one of the first pro audio manufacturers to attend ISE, joining in its third year and returning ever since to witness the continued rise of the show. Our original participation was very much an experiment. Installation was a growing opportunity for Martin Audio and increasingly now most audio brands have seen installation become the majority of their business. Part of ISE’s success has been a mirror of the importance of these related markets superseding live sound for many AV companies.

Permanent installation is the largest growth opportunity for any pro audio brand and for many is already the majority of a given brand’s revenue. ISE is the key show catering for this marketplace in EMEA and its pull is now extending to Asia and even the US. As other trade shows have suffered from a lack of direction, ISE has increasingly become the default for many brands. In recent years, we have seen a decline in Prolight + Sound in Frankfurt – that has profited ISE. This is a result of a number of factors. PL+S has always had a stronger link to the live sound community, but as that market has plateaued the importance of installation has driven growth to ISE.

ISE is also very aggressive in its marketing and rebooking system and that also increased the snowball effect of the show. Its points-based rebooking system that encourages and forces exhibitors to rebook early or risk being demoted to smaller and less prominent positions has fuelled a feeding frenzy of activity that can marginalise some pretty big names of the industry. Last year we saw a lot of visitors that were new to the brand. This was partly due to the success of the show and partly because the momentum around the brand has increased exponentially in the last year.

In 2020, ISE will have its last hurrah in Amsterdam, and our expectations are that the show will be hugely successful once again. However, ISE must be careful, especially in light of the shift to Barcelona. It is not a given that Barcelona will be successful, as it is likely to have fewer visitors than Amsterdam owing to less accessible transportation and higher costs for exhibitors. This double bubble may impact some exhibitors’ view of the show.

Find out what pro audio innovations Martin Audio will have on show here.

John McMahon, SVP sales and marketing, Meyer Sound:

The ISE show has become a keystone event in our marketing calendar over the past several years, and for a number of reasons. First, it is now the most important European show for the industry, and Europe has always been a key market for Meyer Sound. We’ve had a company subsidiary in Germany for decades and we have distributors in nearly every other market on the continent. They collaborate with us to mount a strong presence at ISE because a great majority of their most important customers will be there.

Also, ISE is increasingly becoming a global trade show for the AV installation industry, with integrators, consultants and end-users from elsewhere – Africa, the Middle East and South Asia in particular – coming to ISE because they know they can see much more here, and see it first, when compared to smaller regional shows. That’s one reason why we are now making most of our new product debuts at ISE.

Another drawing card for ISE is that, as its name implies, it covers the full spectrum of the installation industry. That’s important because, at our level of the market, many projects are designed and specified as complete AVL systems by the same team of architects, consultants and integrators – with all elements of audio, video, lighting and related IT specified together, usually with integrated network control. This is particularly true of projects involving our Constellation active acoustic systems.

At ISE, all members of the project team can see the newest and latest technologies applying to their coordinated system designs. In that respect, the latest developments in AV networking will take the spotlight at ISE. Throughout the past year, Meyer Sound has been working with the Avnu Alliance and the Milan workgroup in developing and promoting the Milan protocol for AVB technology.

Although it’s true that ISE focuses largely on the installation market, it nevertheless attracts a significant number of professionals from the touring and corporate rental markets – if only because just about everybody who is anybody in high-end audio is at ISE. To some extent that’s because there really is no exceptionally strong show wholly dedicated to touring and rental, as the other large shows aiming at this market are adjunct to the musical instrument business. Granted, the recent alliance between AES and NAMM now makes that January show attractive to us in the US market, but in Europe we feel we can connect just as well with those customers at ISE.

Discover which products Meyer Sound will be showcasing here. Find out about McMahon’s recent promotion here.

Matt Czyzewski, president, Renkus-Heinz:

The installation market has always been critical for pro audio manufacturers, and that includes Renkus-Heinz. That said, what makes the ISE show critical in today’s environment is an ever-increasing demand and need for immersive AV. End-users are increasingly asking for ways to add more sensory components – specifically, more impressive audio and visual components – that bring a wow factor to the customers they serve. Renkus-Heinz can provide the cutting-edge audio component of that, but to execute it on the level of a total AV system requires partnerships. And that is why ISE is so important.

As for what sets ISE apart from other trade shows on the pro audio calendar, and how the show has handled pro audio over the past few years, it is our belief that the integrator community has come to appreciate how increasingly critical sound is to the immersive model. While it may be true that in the past a technology like digitally steerable speakers was being discussed primarily by the audiophiles of the world, the reality is that the integrator market has become increasingly aware of the results of such a technology. Placing specific sound on specific locations in precise levels is something that currently benefits museums, theatres, houses of worship, transportation spaces, education spaces, and corporate campuses. It makes sense in the largest theme parks and the smallest conference rooms. When the goal is to improve experience across the board, there are very few visual components that can’t be improved with the right sound. And this isn’t a pitch – it’s reality! The result of more immersive experiences – regardless of performance – is the empowerment of audience, performer and business. Bottom line, audio is no longer an afterthought in AV integration. The benefits have become too loud – and too clearly heard – to ignore. For integrators, it would be a danger to their business not to offer such capabilities to a client.

Renkus-Heinz is excited about ISE because it gives us a chance to work with our partners – and our future partners – in ensuring they can always offer the very best in professional audio. Our goal and the integrator’s goal is the same: create more impressive AV experiences for all. ISE helps both parties achieve that goal.

Mike Newman, head of sales and marketing, Void Acoustics:

ISE forms an integral part of Void’s annual marketing strategy. As the largest European audio industry show of the year, ISE serves as a great launchpad for releasing new products. The turnout is always impressive, with attendees present from all over the world. Year on year, the show continues to grow, and with that growth, all exhibitors benefit from exposure to an ever-increasing new customer base and the latest technological developments in the audio industry.

Given ISE’s popularity, Void uses this show as an anchor point for connecting with existing clients, as well as attracting new customers. As such, Void’s European and APAC customer awards are distributed at ISE. For managing director, Alex Skan, the customer awards are “an important part of teambuilding. Starting the year by acknowledging our best work in the year just gone helps our network of distributors feel valued and sets the bar for future success for the year ahead”.

In terms of organising the show, the exceptionally helpful ISE customer services team is always on hand to answer any queries, ensuring that the show runs smoothly and helps put my mind at ease. As any show exhibitor will appreciate, planning and participating in a trade show of this size involves a great deal of preparation months in advance but the ISE team have done everything to streamline this process. Having our own demonstration room at the show (E108) really helps us to make the most of the opportunities from ISE.

Mick Olesh, EVP sales and marketing, Waves:

Waves is enthusiastic at participating in this year’s ISE (booth 5-R150), as it is a focused opportunity to exhibit Waves’ solutions for AV and integrated system environments. As opposed to other trade shows, ISE is focused on AV, making it a perfect setting to showcase Waves products and convey to users their benefits hands-on, on a one-on-one basis.

Waves is predominantly known for its studio and live applications. At ISE we can exhibit our audio solutions for AV installations and showcase an impressive catalogue of 200+ audio plugins that will enhance sound production through the Waves SoundGrid Audio-over-Ethernet for real-time processing and networking.  Exhibiting Waves technology means that at ISE, we are networking in more than one sense, enabling the connection between markets and people in a well-defined and targeted environment.

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