Mike Blackman #ISE20Years interview - part 4: The move to Amsterdam (and Brussels)

Mike Blackman #ISE20Years interview - part 4: The move to Amsterdam (and Brussels)
After Geneva in 2004, the next three editions of ISE took place in Amsterdam, Brussels and then Amsterdam again. Integrated Systems Events Managing Director Mike Blackman explains the thinking behind these choices of location.

RAI exterior ISE 2013What was the feedback from exhibitors like at the end of the first ISE show, in Geneva in 2004? 

The feedback was quite positive. As we had all the exhibitors there, we called a meeting on the last day of the show. We invited all the exhibitors to come and sit down with us and talk about the future of ISE. The very clear message we got was everybody unanimously wanted to have this show, and they wanted to be there, but they didn't want to have it in Geneva. And so we were given instructions to go and look for a central European location. 

The result was that myself and Jason McGraw, who ran the InfoComm show, went on the road the following week, visiting locations throughout Europe. We came up with a shortlist, we proposed various venues to the group, and from that shortlist, Amsterdam became the new home for at least for one year.  

In the early years were there target companies that you felt were bellwethers, which a lot of other companies would follow if you got them in?

Absolutely. We focused very much on getting the display companies. So by the second year we got Sony, we got Barco, we got Samsung, we got Philips, we got a few others in there. We also saw that pro audio was a key area. So the next phase was coming to get some of the market leaders in pro audio as exhibitors to help us build on that part of the show as well. 

So how did the first Amsterdam show compare with the Geneva show? 

The show floor more than doubled, the attendance more than doubled, and so that was another very strong message in support of the show. Most people had actually heard about ISE by now. 

"The strength of the European AV market, certainly at that time, was UK, Germany and France. And we had a location which was very much in the centre of that"

We got more and more companies who said they wanted to be part of the show and help to make it grow. 

The attendance was great. It was a lot more accessible. The strength of the European AV market, certainly at that time, was UK, Germany and France. And we had a location which was very much in the centre of that. 

ISE left Amsterdam in 2006 and went to Brussels, but then came back to Amsterdam the following year. What was all that about? 

Well, it was very much that we couldn't get the venue in 2006. The process we have at ISE is we start the rebooking during the show for the following year. At that time, another show that was also in Amsterdam felt that we might be competitive; they had history there and the person who was running that show decided that it wouldn’t be good for them if ISE was there. So the RAI had to make a decision on whether we could stay there for the future. 

Because we couldn't get that decision before the show, we had to decide about what to do for the following year. So we chose to go to Brussels, as somewhere also quite central, and they had a venue there. We were struggling to get the French audience, which we felt was more of a cultural and language thing. We felt like Brussels could be a good, neutral place to attract French speakers.  

So we planned the show in Brussels, but during ISE 2005, the RAI had taken someone on board to give them advice, who is actually in the management of that show, and he said, “No, I don't see ISE as a competitor and there's no reason why they shouldn't stay in Amsterdam.” The result was the RAI said, “We'd like to have you back.” They offered us the venue for 2006, but we'd made a commitment to Brussels and we said we would stick to that and come back in 2007. 


.>> Part 5: Using our own technology 

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