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ISE: European Vacation

The Integrated Systems Europe show closed its doors Jan. 31 on another record-breaking year. Maybe you should plan a visit soon.

The Integrated Systems Europe show closed its doors Jan. 31 on another record-breaking year. Held again in Amsterdam, this year's ISE spanned seven halls, attracted more than 400 exhibitors and 22,000 visitors, and showed a 300 percent increase in the number of architects and designers in attendance. ISE deems itself “Europe's No. 1 show for professional AV and electronic system integration,” but there's good reason for U.S. integrators and manufacturers to add ISE to their trade show calendar down the road In fact, many U.S. companies already have.

“It's become a show where people actually do business, and a place for releasing new products,” says Randy Lemke, executive director of InfoComm International in Fairfax,Va., which co-owns the show with the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association, based in Indianapolis. AMX, Avocent, ClearOne, Extron, Harman Pro Group, Lutron, Planar, and others made the trip to ISE this year. Some have offices in Europe; many sent U.S. contingents. For its part, InfoComm took the opportunity to launch ISE iQ, a European version of InfoComm iQ, its customizable online product catalog.

Companies also use the show to educate attendees. Middle Atlantic Products hosted two free training workshops devoted to integrating racks. Extron covered video signal education.

But manufacturers aside, there are compelling reasons for U.S. integrators, designers, and consultants to make the trip, too. “With the value of the dollar what it is, there's a great opportunity,” explains Lemke. “A design consultant can bid a job in dollars and make his margin, and the European client gets a discount.”

Integrators on large corporate accounts may also want to attend ISE. “Corporate U.S. firms with offices overseas, for example, want their AV to be consistent. So integrators for these companies, whose jobs originate in the U.S., can take their work international or meet up with European systems integrators to handle those offices,” Lemke says.“In these cases, we do matchmaking for integrators.”

Just be prepared for subtle industry differences across the pond.“At ISE, it's a mix of residential and commercial. In Europe, those markets aren't differentiated like they are here,” Lemke says. “The role of the distributor is also different. In Europe, the distributors are also installers.”

Going forward, organizers believe ISE is on a steady track of exponential growth. “It used to be a one-day show, but now it's already about 55 percent of the floor space of InfoComm—and you can't do that in just a day. So it's a two- or three-day show and has a lot more education [than before],” says Lemke.

Scheduled to remain in Amsterdam for the next five years, the show floor of the 2009 installment, Feb. 3–5, is already 80 percent sold out.“It looks more like InfoComm. Companies are putting more into their booths, more into demos, and more into parties,” Lemke says.“[ISE] has definitely become a show that people will invest in.”

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