ISE heads for Barcelona; what do we know so far?

ISE heads for Barcelona; what do we know so far?
The big news that ISE will move to Barcelona in 2021 broke on July 12 and last week ISE held a press conference in the city. Here are some of the things we now know about the event, as well as a few things we still don’t.

ISE brings in the money
At a press conference at Barcelona City Hall, Mayor of Barcelona Ada Colau [picturedMike Blackman speaking top, centre] told a room packed with AV, Barcelona city and Spanish national press that Barcelona would help ISE “flourish and thrive”,  “make the show bigger and better than ever” and spoke of a “boost to the city’s economy”. That boost – according to Mike Blackman [pictured right], managing director of Integrated Systems Events - is worth a cool $400m. (We’re guessing the city of Amsterdam is not best pleased.)

Free travel for all
This is a big one. A number of trade shows have these deals in place. It’s obviously good for visitors and exhibitors, it’s good for the city too – alleviating congestion caused by private vehicles and taxis and enabling people to get around to spend more money in more places! Of course it’s a big tick for the environment too. Currently ISE doesn’t have such a deal with Amsterdam but Blackman has now confirmed: “There will be free public transport during ISE when we move to Barcelona in 2021. This will cover busses and the metro in the city.  It’s one of the ways that we will look to enhance the experience for all ISE attendees and exhibitors.”

Smaller waiting list
Blackman noted the waiting list to exhibit would be smaller and that exhibitors would have the chance to extend stands, solving two problems that are starting to mount while the show remains at the Amsterdam RAI. After a tour of the Gran Via at Fira Barcelona [one of the empty halls pictured below], we can see why. It’s huge: floor space spans 240,000 sq m over eight halls and ISE won’t be using all of them in 2021. (There are also 2 heliports… if anyone needs them.)
Empty hall at Gran Via
InfoComm Europe? 
No chance; was the consensus from both David Labuskes [pictured top, far right], CEO of InfoComm, and Blackman. ISE will remain ISE and not fall in line with other global InfoComm shows (i.e. InfoComm China, InfoComm in the US). If it’s not broke, then why fix it?

So how about what we’re still waiting to find out?

Where can I find…?
When InAVate asked about a new floorplan and if it was likely to resemble the old one in any way… or if that that was even possible; the answer was – in a nutshell – it’s too early to tell. Blackman said the job of “replaying” the floorplan would happen over the next few months. What he did say was the added flexibility would allow the show to be more focused on specific sectors. This will be a welcome change for visitors who come with narrower areas of interest. 

What will Barcelona do to visitor figures?
We already knew that annual growth of both exhibitors and attendees is currently running at around 10%. With a waiting list to alleviate it’s certain that exhibitors (as well as the space they book) will increase in 2021. But how about the visitors? Yes, they could continue to increase inline with the current trend. But is there something about the location that might actually decrease footfall? Perhaps the local market isn’t as interested or strong as in Amsterdam and there’s still some question about flights into city as Barcelona’s airport is no rival to Schiphol (although ISE is reportedly already talking to airlines to alleviate some of that pressure). Only 2021 will tell what the shift will do to the current upward trajectory and, any initial dip, is likely to be quickly recovered if external factors remain largely the same.