In October 2020, Integrated Systems Europe commissioned research, targeting AV professionals to evaluate visitor appetites for conferences and events following COVID-19. The research, completed before news of a COVID-19 vaccine, gauged interest in face-to-face, digital and hybrid event formats. The results show that 98% of the audience missed attending in-person AV industry events.
ISE was forced to postpone its Barcelona debut in February 2021 due to the global pandemic. In the absence of in-person events, there has been a sharp rise in digital events to fulfill education, networking and profiling agendas. Virtual events are useful for lead generation, deepening customer relationships and building brand profile but live experiences such as touching, seeing and hearing AV products, are yet to be replicated.
ISE wanted to explore the general feeling towards face-to-face events in 2021. The research consisted of a web-based survey sent to ISE’s database and a collection of in-depth interviews with ISE exhibitors. Over 700 (711 completed responses analyzed and used within the research and Strategy) people from 96 countries (71% of respondents were based in Europe, 13% North America, 8% Asia, 5% Middle-East, 1% Central and South America, 1% Australia and New Zealand, 1% Africa) responded to the survey with 95% having attended ISE before (60% in February 2020).
The research and the results overwhelmingly endorse a return to in-person as soon as it is safe and practical to do so. Findings show that 98% of the research audience missed attending events, with 42% of these missing meeting and networking with people the most, 32% missing the live experience of products, and 21% missing the direct exchange with suppliers and customers.
Almost 70% of the audience is ready to attend in-person trade shows and 57% would be ready to visit international ones. Given that this research was conducted before news of a vaccine, it shows a desire to get back out to physical events again.
Mike Blackman, managing director of Integrated Systems Events said, “We felt it very important to listen to our industry in shaping our offering for 2021 and so we commissioned independent market research specialists to conduct this intelligence project for us. The results clearly demonstrate that, for an industry at the cutting edge of immersive technologies, there is no substitute to the touch-see-hear experiences that are at the heart of the AV industry and shows such as ISE. We are working very hard towards the goal of ISE2021 in Barcelona in June next year and it is reassuring to confirm that strong demand is there too.”
“The annual calendar of trade shows provides a rhythm and cadence to our ever-changing and advancing industry,” said David Labuskes, CTS, CAE, RCDD, CEO of AVIXA. “As individuals move in and out of roles within the industry, these shows have always provided a touchpoint that allows us to reconnect with the people we do business with. I am certain that all of our past and future attendees are anxious to meet again in person soon, and the research reinforces that emotion. The incalculable value of ISE to the exhibitors as a platform for engagement and thought leadership and to the attendees as a community from which to learn and grow compels us to do everything in our power to ensure that there will be a safe return of ISE in 2021 and an exciting debut in Barcelona.”
Giles Sutton, Co-CEO of CEDIA adds: “In our industry, the experience is everything. Home technology products need to be touched, seen and heard if integrators are to recommend and specify them on projects for their customers. More than that, our industry is a community that benefits from meeting, talking and build relationships with others as well as the opportunity to learn from experts at in-person training. These are all massively important factors for professional integrators who want to grow their knowledge and continue to do good business. That’s why we support the safe return of the ISE event in June 2021.”
ISE also spoke to key exhibitors who also confirmed their desire to return to in-person activities:
- Peter Pauwels, vice president sales EMEA, Barco NV said: “Together with you, the AV partner community, we make the choice to look forward, not backwards. The new normal will be hybrid, but for real connection we need to meet in person and ISE Barcelona is a great place to meet up.”
- Michelle Downey, Harman marketing director, EMEA comments: “2020 has been an uncertain year for our industry and we look forward to returning to some kind of normality for 2021. We are excited to attend ISE and have the opportunity to meet our customers face-to-face again.”
- Eva Claudi of Lang-Iberia comments: “Our industry is one of the largest economic sectors. In addition to commercial events, events in the business environment are essential for the success of the economy. Only in an emotional, experience-oriented environment we can succeed in developing and fostering customer relationships through face-to-face communication. Positive emotional experiences, through the use of AV technology, promote socio-cultural development and also the connection of people of different cultures and countries. The language of emotion is international. For this experience there is no digital alternative with a similar effect.”
Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) 2021 will take place at the Fira de Barcelona, Gran Vía, on 1-4 June 2021.