Mike Blackman Talks Digital and In-Person ISE 2021 With Gordon Dutch


After a successful ISE London 2021, Gordon Dutch, CEO of Re-Sauce Sales & Business Consultancy, sat down (virtually) with Mike Blackman, managing director of Integrated Systems Events to discuss the event. Representing rAVe [PUBS], Gordon successfully snagged the first interview after ISE 2021 with Mike to discuss all the virtual and in-person show details.

ISE 2021 was branded as a networking event to “bring the industry back together,” Mike said. He discussed the event’s planning, saying that many of the key players (such as Barco and Panasonic) knew they would not be able to present in the space how they normally would. But, they all wanted to be there to meet up with the customers after such a long break. Mike revealed there were just under 1,000 unique visitors during the two-day, in-person event. Many took advantage of the new Irish Pub Bar, called the “Eve O’Lution.”

“I was impressed with the people who came, and love that we had the pub — the ‘Eve O’Lution,’” Mike said. “What became clear was AV Brits love to have a drink!” 

Unfortunately, Mike could not attend the in-person event due to quarantine regulations, just as our own Gary Kayye and Steph Beckett could not. Mike said teams of trusted contractors in the U.K. were able to put together the in-person event and did so extremely well. Exhibitors and attendees alike have commented on how special it was to be able to come back together.

“I am pleased with what I saw and what I hear,” Mike said. “I’ve had people contact me and say, ‘Wow, this really was needed. In absence of being able to meet and being able to see our customers, we needed something like this to be able to get back together.’”

Though many could not attend the in-person event, there was no shortage of attendees on the digital side of ISE 2021 throughout the month. Over 8,000 virtual attendees have come to the ISE/Cisco virtual platformMike revealed that having a virtual side to ISE 2021 has proven to be effective, and future ISE’s will certainly have virtual and online components. 

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“There is a place for digital,” Mike said. “In the past, people who didn’t make the show weren’t able to get there for whatever reason. This gives us an opportunity to reach out to them, and is an opportunity for them to actually see what’s going on and maybe connect with exhibitors.”

In fact, ISE 2022 will be a digital, hybrid platform. Over 600 companies from ISE 2021 have already started rebooking — the space they will take up so far is a whopping 47,000 net square meters (over 50,000 square feet). Exhibitors at Amsterdam’s event in early 2020 took up 55,000 net square meters (over 59,000 square feet), and Mike hopes to see at least 400 other companies confirm their attendance for ISE 2022. 

“We’re very confident; the response so far has been really, really good,” Mike said. “There’s been very much an eagerness from the industry to get back together, to be able to show and to support ISE.” 

For those who could not attend in-person, or want to see digital content, all of ISE 2021’s digital content is available online and On Demand.

“We like to describe it like Netflix; you see what’s happening now you see all the different channels, and you can choose what you want to look at,” Mike said. “Everyone has the opportunity to see what they want to see, for as long as they want.” 

As far as other events this year, Gordon looks forward to InfoComm in October, and Mike agrees. Mike said there will also be the digital signage summit, DSS Europe. The event will take place in Newport at the end of September. Mike said he is looking into the possibility of other events, too.

“We want to do some surveys, do some research on both our exhibitors and attendees to get a feeling,” Mike said. “We’ve seen that our industry wants to network, wants to get together. Why not?” 

Watch the full interview here: