The continuing growth trajectory of the ISE show is a major success story. It’s easy to forget that at the start of the 2011 show, The ISE Daily was predicting an attendance in excess of 30,000 (in fact nearly 35,000 people came). This year, it was the 40,000 visitor mark that was smashed.
Adding 33 per cent more attendees over a two-year period is a fine performance at any time, let alone during a period of economic uncertainty, and Mike Blackman and his team are to be congratulated on this.
Why is the show such a success? My take is that, even in a less than buoyant market, ISE remains front and centre in people’s minds. The show now has a critical mass that draws in more and more people from across the industry. Its very existence acts as a focus for organised gatherings, such as distributor meetings or customer parties, as well as more informal ‘see you at ISE’ get-togethers among industry peers.
There is, however, a recent development that requires comment. Just as we were putting the finishing touches to this issue, the news broke about Extron pulling out of future InfoComm and ISE shows. The announcement certainly came as a surprise; however, I do think that Extron is something of a special case: it has a massive product range, and its show stands have long resembled a real-life version of its catalogue, with hundreds of products on view and numerous people on hand to talk you through them. It also spends an enormous amount on its free parties at both events, and organises its show activity to a meticulous level of detail. I don’t subscribe to the rumours circulating online that the decision is due to the company being unhappy with its space allocation at ISE 2013.
My gut feeling is that Extron has done a cost-benefit analysis and decided that its traditional approach is no longer the most effective use of its resources in territories where it has high market penetration (it has not pulled out of smaller regional shows).
However, it is ISE’s ever-greater prominence and its importance to the industry that has led to the show once again exceeding expectations for the second consecutive year.