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What we learned at ISE 2019

Digital SignageInside Airtame
5 min read
What we learned at ISE 2019
Simone Hjorth
February 14th, 2019

ISE, over and out! Airtame presented for the very first time at this year’s biggest tech and AV event. Here’s how it went …

All the pioneers of audiovisual communication were present last week at this year’s Integrated Systems Europe, or ISE. Including, for the first time, Airtame.

Show up and talk to people. That’s it, right? Actually, exhibiting is much harder than that. It requires a well-planned setup, physical stamina, and the right attitude. We were surprised at just how much of the three were needed, and luckily also surprised at how well we managed.

We were (positively) overwhelmed by the number of attendees that visited our booth, and perhaps it had something to do with the way our setup was working.

We were a 17-strong team at the event. Here’s the post-event reflections on what it felt like for a small company like us entering the big league.

Interested in the big tech reveals and what left us feeling ‘meh’? We’ve recapped the most prominent trends showcased at ISE in a post here.

An inviting experience rather than a show of force

Many of the booths we encountered at ISE were very impressive, but not very welcoming. There were huge floor spaces with several floors of merchandise and products, but it didn’t always feel relevant or valuable to the end-user. You can also get the fatigue from being bombarded by so many bright lights (and you need your painkillers at the ready).

Image of an interactive ISE entrance

We had a smaller booth setup than many other exhibitors at ISE and not a lot of furniture. This was purposeful: our booth was not for relaxing and sitting, but for product communication with as many people as possible.

The design was definitely a contributing factor to our many visitors because it created a nice flow in our booth that others were missing. For example, I saw many booths that had sit-down areas, but from my experience, they weren’t used by visitors interested in the product but rather as a place to rest their feet. We eliminated that completely and thus booth visitors got more direct contact time with our sales and support team, and more frequently.

We set up four walls with one or two screens on each to display the Airtame solution. It gave our sales representatives an easy way to demonstrate the product, as all they had to do was connect their laptop or smartphone to the nearest screen. It meant that we were constantly moving, giving the whole booth a dynamic feel that would guide our visitors naturally.

The whole idea with our booth was to drive traffic. As we were doing product demos on all four walls simultaneously, there was never a still moment that might catch the eye of passers-by.

Talking to people like people

I saw many fancy setups at ISE 2019, and many formal-looking exhibitors that looked the part too. While that has its advantages in more corporate settings, it isn’t for everyone. Airtame users range from school teachers to enterprise-size corporation IT managers, and we need to communicate effectively to them all, no matter what their profession or seniority.

It was very important for us especially at this show to meet and talk to our customers on their level, and that’s why we actually had sales representatives speaking German, Latvian, Russian, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, and of course English as well. We recognize the fact that not everyone feels comfortable with a presentation solely in English, and we’re happy to always provide support and product demonstrations in the most common European languages. Minus some of the global consumer brands, this was quite a rarity at the event.

When we go to a show like ISE, our most important task is to engage directly with the end-user community. It’s their influence we want and it’s their feedback we thrive on. We created an open, less buttoned-up and corporate atmosphere within our booth that made it easy to communicate with every visitor, regardless of their purpose, origin or interest.

Airtame representative introducing the device to a potential customer

This might seem controversial at a tech tradeshow, but we actually found that scaling down online forms and lead generating was quite helpful. Instead of fussing over iPads or scanners, our sales representatives powered up on human contact and down on distractions. We took notes throughout, and I think this helped create a better connection with our visitors.

How to survive as an underdog

It cannot be stressed strongly enough just how spectacular some ISE booths were. The leading names come together to show off their hard work and innovations, and many have the “wow” factor.

Man taking a picture at ISE

As first-time exhibitors – perhaps with a more modest and user-centered product to present – it was clear from the very beginning that Airtame was an underdog. With that said, we definitely made our way through the ranks as the week progressed. A lot of it had to do with our excellent and communicative Sales and Support representatives, the booth set up, which was significantly different from other booths. 

Another thing was our whole approach to the show. Here we were, bright eyed and bushy tailed, so eager to meet our users – and competitors. Several visitors told us that our booth was “refreshing”, and that makes sense. We should take this as a learning experience but still remember that fresh, eager, and non-conventional approach to exhibiting.

We also made sure to visit both competitors and other manufacturers in the industry that made us curious. While we hope to be the number one wireless screen sharing tool in the industry, we can also learn from our competition and play nice. Our door is always open to healthy dialogue.

A huge success, with lots of room for improvement

Our main goal was to drive awareness, to make sure there was enough buzz around our brand. Yes, our most important objective is to obtain leads, but if the experience we’re serving at the tradeshow isn’t showing off our good side, i.e. building a product that is user-friendly, easy-to-use and simple to comprehend, we’re not doing the job.

Overall, ISE 2019 was a huge success for us, but there’s still so much we can learn from going to events like this. Our main takeaway from the show is that it’s okay to be the underdog and that being positive, open, and curious can get you really far.

Airtame team getting ready for ISE

Watch this space – we’ll be at the US-equivalent tradeshow, InfoComm, in June, and back for ISE 2020; making waves and educating people how they can use screens better with Airtame. 

Simone Hjorth
My job is to put together words in a delightful, entertaining, and sometimes moving way. 1 part techno enthusiast, 2 parts cat lover, 3 parts creative writer. Too many parts?

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