ISA International Sign Expo 2021, an all-virtual experience, brought more than 7,500 attendees—a figure that blew past projections and industry averages for these types of events. The expo, which closed on Friday, included education sessions, networking and a robust, interactive exhibit hall.
“When we began planning this event, most experts told us that virtual events were drawing 20 to 25 percent of the typical in-person attendance, so we set expectations for 4,000 to 5,000 attendees,” said Lori Anderson, ISA president and CEO. “People were skeptical that any virtual event could come close to replicating the excitement of an in-person ISA International Sign Expo, but those who participated told us we’d come pretty darn close. In fact, more than 2,000 signed up after the event began. While some of those were probably people who procrastinated, I believe others got an email or heard from a colleague how valuable they were finding the event.”
One attendee said he “took an idea he learned in one of the peer groups and connected that to something he heard in the Women Leading the Industry (WLI) education session and has already pulled his team together to see if they can make this change in his company.”
Exhibitors were equally excited about the experience. “This is the best virtual event we’ve participated in,” said one print manufacturing executive.
In all, some 75 suppliers and manufacturers were present on the expo floor, and most reported a tremendous level of engagement from sign, graphics, print and visual communications companies who were ready to buy and invest.
“We encouraged our exhibitors and education session presenters to do their best to replicate the in-person experience, and they rose to the challenge,” said Iain Mackenzie, ISA’s vice president of meetings and events. “The expo floor included lots of live demonstrations and interaction. The education sessions were far from a stale PowerPoint presentation—attendees were keen participants, often joining the presenter on stage to ask questions or discuss the topic at hand.”
ISA Sign Expo 2021-Virtual was the latest in a line of very successful virtual events produced by ISA, which has invested significantly in virtual events through THE LINK. Past programs have included THE LINK…INSTALL, a virtual version of the always popular custom/national sign company networking event; The Wrap Experience for graphics installers; and a series of niche buying events.
More virtual events are scheduled throughout 2021.