Organizers Built It. Now, Will You Come? —Michelson

WITH APOLOGIES to Kevin Costner and his memorable line, “If you build it, he will come,” from the 1989 classic “Field of Dreams,” the Graphic Arts Show Co. (GASC) has taken proactive measures to entice both suppliers and printers to participate in the PRINT 09 exhibition in Chicago next month. But, unlike the film, it’s required far more effort than converting an Iowa cornfield into a baseball diamond.
The GASC realizes that printers come to trade shows—especially one being billed as the world’s largest, most comprehensive graphic communications exhibition in 2009—to compare equipment offerings and learn about technology advances through “live” demonstrations.

But, given the shaky economy, soft demand and tight credit markets, some exhibitors were scaling back the square footage of their booths, opting to bring less equipment due to the expensive setup costs and, in some cases, even contemplating whether to exhibit at all.

To turn the tide, the GASC announced an unprecedented financial relief package that’s expected to provide the roughly 600 exhibitors with more than $3 million in credits. Called the PRINT 09 Subsidy Plan, it eliminates all subsequent heavy machinery material handling costs once equipment arrives at the McCormick Place dock and provides similar savings for exhibitors that don’t offer heavy machinery. Savings range from $550 to $165,000, depending on the size and makeup of an exhibitor’s booth space.

The result: A reconfirmed commitment by the majority of exhibitors to go forward with their initial booth layouts, several of which plan to incorporate a range of prepress, pressroom and finishing gear operating all six days within their stands on the show floor.

Of course, building up the show from an exhibitor standpoint is only part of the equation. Filling the aisles with attendees—at a time when most printers are hunkering down and putting capital expenditures on hold—is just as crucial. GASC identified 11 segments of possible show goers, including commercial, quick, in-plant, transactional and specialty printers. Target marketing efforts for this year’s show have also been intensified toward newspaper and book publishers/printers, as well as creative services professionals and print buyers. And commercial shops looking to expand into the packaging market, and existing package printers, will be able to take part in a show within a trade show with the debut of PackPrint. New, too, are two specialty areas: Rap City, a section within the Wide-Format Pavilion geared toward vehicle wraps, wall coverings, etc.; and GREENspace, where attendees will find exhibitors displaying eco-friendly products and services focused on sustainability.