A Tradeshow Fit for a King — or a President

ISE 2023

Integrated System Europe (ISE 2023) showcases the world’s leading technology innovators and solutions providers with four days of inspiring conferences, events and experiences.


ISE 2023

I recall the preparations leading up to ISE 2022 last May. It had been a few years since we’d seen a big industry show and the question was still how many attendees would show up. It ended up being a solid show, even though a few big names didn’t exhibit. Infocomm the following month seemed a little disappointing, but CEDIA Expo in September felt like we were truly back, even though it was only 75% of the last pre-COVID CEDIA. As an ISE 2023 exhibitor in Barcelona, we felt confident and planned a full display. It looked like others did as well. And the show delivered.

Total attendance was just over 58,000 for the four-day event. Traffic at our (RTI) stand was such that I never made it out of the home technology hall, other than to reserve our space for ISE 2024. (It always feels wrong that the shows expect us to do that before we fully gauge the results of the current show.) The opening morning line for attendees was an hour long. This might have been related to the morning visit by King Felipe VI of Spain. Our stand was 30 meters from his entourage’s route, but by then I was neck deep in control system discussions and missed the excitement. The President of the Government of Catalonia, Pere Aragones, also made a visit and, as one would expect, spent much of his time with the Catalan-based companies exhibiting at the show.

Royalty? Check. Political leaders? Check. But it was the enthusiasm of the attendees that made this an exciting show. As exhibitors, we generally approach a show with the goal of showing of the new this, the improved that, possibly taking home an award or two. But shows are really about connecting with customers, with distributors, with suppliers, with former colleagues, with friends… with people. I have learned that the most important aspect of a show is listening to customers—in our case, to the integrators installing our product into the homes and businesses of their customers. They speak of the challenges they face, the opportunities they see, the questions they have. And they generally let us know how we’re doing on every aspect that impacts their business.

Coming away from every show, savvy exhibitors will do a de-brief with the attending team leaders to discuss what went well and what could be improved at the next show. But equally important is what we are hearing from those who work with our products on a daily basis. After all, it’s a serious concentration of industry partners with experiences and opinions to share. They help product management confirm the roadmap. They help marketing confirm the message. They help senior management confirm resource management.

That 58,000? It’s quite a bit less than the last pre-COVID ISE and far fewer than the almost 100,000 who attended the combined International Builders Show and Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas during the same days. But the quality of conversations in Barcelona could not have been better. And this is why we attend trade shows … at least why I do.