Details and pictures from the press conference.
Despite the news being spoiled by a non-authorized preview from a Spanish newspaper, the press conference presenting ISE’s relocation to the Fira Gran Via in Barcelona took place all the same, in the usual professional yet relaxed style that distinguishes ISE press meetings.
A trip to Barcelona, a warm welcome, organized transportation, and at 13,00 the international and local press gathered in the stupendous Saló de Cent in Barcelona’s City Hall: among those present were Mayor Ada Colau, Minister of Enterprise and Knowledge for Catalonia the Hon. Àngels Chacón, General Manager of the Fira Constantì Serrallonga, AVIXA CEO David Labuskes, CEDIA CEO and Global President Tabatha O’Connor and, naturally, ISE Managing Director Mike Blackman.
The reasons for ISE’s relocation are well-known: the fair is growing, and despite the need to locate fifty or so booths in a tensile structure connected to the RAI already in 2018, several companies are on the waiting list, not to mention the overcrowded pavilions. As Blackman said: “When a family grows it needs more room, so we will move into a more spacious house with a bigger yard”. He continues, “We want to be sure that we are able to continue offering the right space for creating business in the AV sector”.
But new details emerged during the press conference, thanks in part to the numerous questioned asked by the audience: “the (confirmed) opportunity of the month of February, whether or not any sort of “legacy” will remain in Amsterdam (the mapping event will stay there and will be developed), if ISE in Barcelona will mean events for the city, and this will occur but without changing the B2B profile. On the thorny topic of managing the pavilions (at ISE the “right of priority” for the best spots is given by a score calculated by seniority and the size of previous booths held over time), Blackman answered that the next two years will be used to understand the flow of visitors, define booth positions and to better focus the pavilions according to subjects so that visits become more effective. He also specified that more space will be given to strands that to-date have not had as much (such as residential), without straying, however, from the specificity of the target market.
The topic of the Catalan independence movement, which last year (just to mention the latest incident) had no small impact on the city, was unfortunately barely touched: the presentations from both politicians and ISE preferred to focus on Barcelona’s liveliness and its dual profile, equally devoted to technology and progress (think of the World Mobile Congress) and to culture and tourism. Essentially, considering (as Blackman affirmed) that a fair brings in an average of 12 to 20 times that which is spent on it… well, the total could amount to 400 million euro. Also interesting was the topic of the final two years at RAI, which will be handled by temporarily spilling over to the Hotel Accor, just a few minutes’ walk from the RAI, and the new pavilion, but that will only be ready in 2020.
The afternoon was dedicated to visiting the Fira Gran Via: one of the largest European exhibition centers, its eight pavilions span about 200,000 m2, it is connected to a convention center with halls fitting up to 600 persons and it is just 12 km from the airport, while still being inside the city. The pavilions seem to be sensible and logistics are convenient (4,000 parking spaces, two metro lines, hotels and services in the area), it doesn’t rule out a green approach and, last but certainly not least, it promises a better climate than that of the Netherlands! Jokes aside, these are the features that answer the question that comes before all others: why Barcelona! Added to these are availability of the local government to properly welcome, broadly speaking, an event that will bring Barcelona money, people, ideas, energy and opportunities.
The day concluded with a wonderful dinner (with a breathtaking view over the sea): another opportunity to exchange points of view and ideas with lots of colleagues coming from the four corners of the world that generally have a favorable view of a move that already seemed inevitable even before the announcement.
Thanks again to ISE for having involved us in this important moment for the sector: a passage that is certainly necessary, but which will be handled with care and attention.
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