Perhaps, some of you will remember, that this year was the first for the LOOK Digital Signage service as an exhibitor at the Integrated Systems Europe. In fact, for us, as a relatively small and rather young company, this was a truly important step, entailing great responsibility and invaluable experience. And today, after these 2 tough months for the whole world, which have passed since the end of the exhibition, we would like to share with you some of our impressions of participating in the show and give you a couple of useful tips based on our experience, on how to better prepare and make your participation in the Integrated Systems Europe being most effective. We are sure that this cheat sheet can become a good tool, first of all, for those who are first thinking about participating in ISE 2021.
By far, the most important stage of participation in any event is preparation. And, in the case of the ISE, guys, it is better to start preparing right after the end of the previous show. At a minimum, at this stage it is strongly recommended at least to reserve your booth. The best places for the next year, as a rule, become occupied already during the event itself within a rebooking their places by the current exhibitors, but over the next 2-3 months you will still have a chance to book what you really want. Therefore, become an “early bird” or be content with a second-rate booth far from the traffic you are interested in, which at the last moment was refused by unknown Chinese manufacturer. Of course, we unfortunately went down this road, starting to deal with the task just in October. The only good news was that our booth was located in Hall 8, completely dedicated to digital signage solutions.
Next, we faced the question concerning our booth's design. And here, looked at the prices of the official contractors of the show, we made the easiest decision for all the time of preparation, that we will definitely manage this task by ourselves. To support us in this decision we also thought, that a strict minimalism in design will only emphasize the merits of our product, without distracting visitors with "excessive tinsel." Well, as practice has shown, minimalism really did not distract visitors, but, at the same time, unfortunately, it did not attract them as well. In conditions of already reduced traffic, it required a considerable effort from our team in the field of organizing attendance at our booth. In this regard, here is another important tip. If you are not a world-famous brand (and you're likely not the one of them yet), do not expect the people to go to your booth within an endless stream. Mostly like you will have to catch people from traffic or at the entrance area and literally bring them to your booth by the hand. And no matter how blasphemous it sounds for the digital signage industry, the most helpful tools for you in this case will be the printed advertising materials and a free merch. For example, we've prepared nice branded eco-bags for convenient collecting and storage of exhibition handouts.
Another difficult moment in the preparation for us was the search for affordable accommodation. At the first time we encountered this issue last year when we came to ISE 2019 as visitors. The fact is that already high enough prices in Amsterdam's hospitality industry, during the exhibition become at least doubled. In this regard, more or less affordable accommodation options (unless, of course, you plan to live in a dormitory for 10 beds with the common conveniences on the floor) are sold out in half a year before the event. But this time we were lucky, and booked a really great spot. To be honest, not in Amsterdam itself, but in a nice village in 15 km from the city. Given that we had a car, this was not a problem for us and we reached RAI in less than half an hour. But the apartment itself was truly unique - a huge newly refurbished rustic attic with a separate entrance, kitchen and all the amenities in a 19th century village house. A quiet peaceful neighborhood combined with pastoral views made this spot only more attractive. Adore Airbnb for the exceptional opportunity to get such an experience.
Despite the fact that we lived outside the city, there were no problems with evening promenades in Amsterdam. This bright, party, multicultural and at that time still over-crowded city, as always, gave us some fun discoveries. For example, a shop with bath ducks in the images of various cartoon and movie heroes or a showcase of one of the many sex shops, decorated in the best traditions of the top trade merchandising.
Now about the exhibition itself. Obviously, that the main accompanying topic of the show was the Covid-19, which was only starting to penetrate Europe. Because of the threats associated with the virus, LG, the recognized leader in the digital signage market, refused its participation in the show, after which several dozens of manufacturers followed suit. Unfortunately, to our minds, it significantly affects the assortment and quality of hardware solutions, which this time, at least, did not surprise us, and looked much weaker than the year before.
The visually rather low flow of visitors, apparently, should also be attributed to the influence of the Covid-19. It was noted not only by us, but also by 90% of the exhibitors among those with whom we managed to talk during the 4 days of the show.
On the background of these negative aspects, we would like to note the high-quality and coordinated work of the event team in terms of informing and implementing preventive measures against the Covid-19, like printed recommendations spread among all key spots, on-site medical center and free sanitizers in the entrance area. It was really impressive!
Among the other positive aspects, we would note a rather wide representation of digital signage software solutions. Moreover, in addition to famous brands recognized around the world and familiar to everyone, we drew attention to a large number of small highly specialized European companies with really interesting products in the fields of augmented reality and other types of interactive experience. We would call this as quite a healthy trend, confirming the steady growth of the digital signage software market, which, as a result, supports the further growth of those players, who offer proven simple and reliable solutions and respond to market challenges by constantly expanding their functionalities.
And what about the results? Despite the reduced flow of visitors and a number of other negative factors, overall, we assess this experience for ourselves as positive. Along with it, it's obvious that the calculation of ROI should be the logical next step after any paid marketing activity. However, the standard cycle of the deal closing in B2B, aggravated by the current situation in the world, does not yet allow us to get a clear digitized result of this activity. But we are optimistic and expect to proceed closing the hottest prospects from ISE 2020 within the next 2-3 months, which will allow us to get the first transparent results. So, stay tuned!
Well, thanks for reading this huge text till the end. Hope it can help some of you to make the right steps to the ISE 2021 visiting or participating. Moreover, the show says goodbye to Amsterdam and next year at the first time it will be held in hot and tasty Barcelona.
So stay safe and hope to see you there! Cheers!