By Melissa Donovan
Presented by the International Sign Association (ISA), the ISA International Sign Expo celebrates 75 years this Spring. Held from May 4 to 6, 2022 in Atlanta, GA at the Georgia World Congress Center, the ISA team is thrilled to bring the event back in-person after a two-year hiatus.
Working hard to hone in on what its membership is looking for in terms of leveraging connections and experiencing new products and solutions, Lori Anderson, president/CEO, ISA, says her team adapted quickly to everything that was thrown at it during the COVID-19 pandemic and never strayed from ISA’s main mission.
“The pandemic did not change ISA’s vision. We exist to help support and grow the sign and graphics industry. We do this through fighting for reasonable sign codes and regulations, offering relevant education, and encouraging the next generation of workers to explore the tremendous career opportunities that exist in this industry,” she shares.
It does this in multiple ways, but the annual in-person gathering is a tent-pole attraction. “It is no secret that the primary source of ISA revenue comes from in-person events. While we added more revenue producing programs and services to our portfolio, the trade show also continues to grow. It is important to stress that all of the valuable work we do only exists because of the investment of the industry’s suppliers in these in-person events,” notes Anderson.
The last few years were considered a time to rebuild and reflect for many and ISA is no exception. “The ISA team re-evaluated how we can improve and enhance the entire ISA International Sign Expo experience. The industry wants to come together, and attendees anticipate an exhibit hall brimming with new technologies to help them deal with today’s challenges, such as how to be leaner and more productive in times of staffing and product shortages,” explains Anderson.
ISA’s membership levels remain strong. “We have support from our members and through our affiliated associations. Most sign and graphics members join an ISA Affiliated Association and receive complimentary membership in ISA. We also have suppliers, manufacturers, and direct members—mostly our larger sign companies. ISA continues to have a strong membership base, and our members continue to find tremendous value in our programs and services,” notes Anderson.
Above: The ISA International Sign Expo is back May 4 to 6, 2022.
Virtual vs. In Person
Serving that core base of constituents through a pandemic keeps ISA on its toes, for one thing introducing new virtual events. An example is the introduction of ISA The Link: Install., which was created in response to COVID-19.
“National sign companies and local installers must partner, and they often utilize ISA International Sign Expo’s in-person installer reception to make those valuable connections. Because meeting in-person was not possible the last two years, a virtual business-to-business matchmaking event was created. More than 150 local installers have participated to date, with them telling us that the virtual program has considerable advantages to the previous in-person program,” admits Anderson.
The virtual matchmaking event will occur in 2022, and because of its prior success Anderson says the in-person reception at ISA International Sign Expo 2022 will be altered to resemble the virtual one. “That is quite a shift, isn’t it? We are exploring other creative approaches to helping create valuable connections in the future.”
Despite the success of ISA The Link: Install., Anderson points out that live, in-person events are still highly desired. “People want and need to get together. It’s in our DNA. The last two years have been tough for many reasons, but it was especially difficult because the sign and graphics industry is fundamentally a people business. Perhaps one bright spot over the past two years is truly understanding how much we need and rely on each other. People—and businesses—need connections, and trade shows are one of the best ways to come together.”
New in 2022
So what’s new for 2022 at the ISA International Sign Expo? Anderson highlights three main points, more education, the location of Atlanta, and remaining exclusively in person.
“There is a hunger for more education and training, particularly information provided by product manufacturers,” she says. In response, the education at ISA International Sign Expo will be revamped to incorporate more hands-on training, as well as new opportunities to connect with others in the industry who have the same challenges.
The ISA team is also excited to be in a new city—Atlanta—and plans to offer some off-site events, allowing attendees to see the signs in this major metropolitan area. “Atlanta has made massive enhancements in its downtown area around the convention center, and we can’t wait for everyone to explore it,” explains Anderson.
ISA International Sign Expo will be exclusively in person. “There are outstanding opportunities to connect virtually but trying to simultaneously execute an in-person event with a virtual component would be too high of a hurdle for exhibitors and the ISA team. Be on the lookout, however, for follow-up virtual events that include some of the learnings from the in-person show,” shares Anderson.
Heading to GA
We’re looking forward to heading down to Atlanta in May. There are a few hot spots on our tourist list that we hope to fit in. You can hear all about them and additional information from Anderson in our recently recorded webinar by visiting digitaloutput.net/webinars.
And check back in our April and May issues, which include vendor previews of what to expect at the ISA International Sign Expo.
Feb2022, Digital Output