More Commentary on PRINT 13
So after last week’s blog went out I got a call from Ralph Nappi, president of NPES, the organization that runs the PRINT and GRAPH EXPO trade shows. The call was not unexpected and I was not surprised to learn that Ralph disagreed with some of my comments, but we had a great call about the show.
He largely agreed with my thoughts about the flow of traffic on the show floor and we both bemoaned the way traffic tends to fall off on Wednesday afternoon and that the final day remains a challenge—as it does at most trade shows. NPES had actually reduced the length of the show from a planned six or seven days to the five days it actually ran, based on the input of many vendors. I remember when the show ran for seven days, but those were very different times in a much different industry, that needed a larger show.
Show length is always a question. Organizers have to strike a balance between what they think attendees are willing to cope with and what makes sense for vendors—especially the equipment companies that roll in several tons of expensive machinery. Determining optimal length is a question that can be debated indefinitely. Even drupa, the giant of all print shows, has trimmed its length from two weeks to 11 days for 2016, primarily due to pressure from exhibitors.
Ralph told me that overall length is always on the table, and show hours can be, too. The Sunday noontime opening used this year and last, has proven to be a big success and is likely to continue. Longer show hours on some days may be another discussion point as NPES looks for ways of making the show more valuable and accessible to attendees and more effective for exhibitors. This is all good, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next fall at GRAPH EXPO.
Ralph also kindly explained that I had been somewhat misinformed about the booth reservation process. NPES members do get preferential treatment when seeking booth space, but it turns out that many vendors liked not having to commit (and make a deposit) a year in advance. In fact, some wanted a way to defer their decision because it eases the fourth-quarter budget pressures. My mistake for not checking the details more closely. Consider me dope-slapped.
What is important to take away from PRINT 13 is the vibe I mentioned in my last piece. People were at this show looking to buy. All the guys selling big equipment were cutting deals and were pleased with the results. The print industry may not be what it once was, but the companies in the business of putting text and images on pages and packages are committed to what they do and looking for the best ways to do it profitably. PRINT 13 showed that print is still very relevant and is not going away anytime soon.