Products seemed to almost take second place to people at ISE 2022 in its long-awaited move to the Fira de Barcelona which, after a frustrating spell of cancellations and rescheduling, finally opened its doors to the global AV community on 10 May. New technology and upgrades that had been developed during the past two years were very much in evidence throughout the halls, but official press launches were in much shorter supply than in the years before Covid, and while visitors were engaging with on-stand demos and presentations, most seemed more interested in engaging with friends and colleagues they hadn’t seen for several years. Masks and fistbumps had largely been replaced by smiles, handshakes and hugs, and the overall mood was upbeat, positive and joyful. ISE’s audio contingent could be found in Hall 7, the furthest from the main entrance, and most stands were alive with deals and discussions. Despite most manufacturers reporting full order books, however, the frustration of supply chain problems was very much apparent.
Some stands were showing notably less products than in the past, but others were loaded with as much technology as in previous years. While there was a notable absence of anyone from China, some visitors from Asia and the Middle East had made it to Barcelona, with delegations from India particularly in evidence. Aside from this, the halls were packed with exhibitors and visitors from Europe and America, who evidently couldn’t wait to get back to an in-person event. Each morning revealed a rush of people racing to the main entrance to join lengthy queues, and the frantic pace was kept up inside the show.
The long walkway connecting all the halls within the Fira made the exhibition simple to navigate, though once inside the halls, stand numbers could be tricky to find. When it came to onsite facilities, WiFi was available, seating areas had been provided between halls and F&B outlets were abundant. Leaving the show was another matter, however, with crowds gathering at the single taxi rank from late afternoon for a long wait. The airconditioned metro station in the basement of the Fira was a more practical transport solution and didn’t involve waiting in the heat, but not many seemed to be using it, or were even aware of its presence.
These are all teething problems however; the general and unanimous consensus was that the move to Barcelona has been extremely positive for ISE and the inaugural event a resounding success. And it does seem that the tradeshow is back.