drupa to Maintain Its Four-Year Cycle (Includes Commentary from Mark Michelson)
DÜSSELDORF, Germany — June 7, 2016 — When the exhibitors who filled 19 halls at drupa 2016 voiced their opinion, trade fair organizers got the message loud and clear. Despite the red lanyards showgoers have been wearing at drupa 2016 that say "See you at drupa 2019," the largest print show on earth will maintain its four-year cycle, not the three-year cycle that Messe Düsseldorf had previously announced. As such, the next drupa will be held on the fairgrounds here from Tuesday, June 23, to Friday, July 3, 2020.
As I met with several of the largest exhibitors for one-on-one briefings last week during drupa 2016, not one executive I spoke with was in favor of the event being held again in three years. The reason: The huge costs involved in building expansive, sometimes multilevel, exhibits; the expense of bringing in and setting up equipment; and the housing and T&E expenditures for the required staffing. For example, HP — drupa 2016's largest exhibitor — filled the entire Hall 17 with 56 presses representing its family of HP Indigo, HP PageWide web press, HP Latex wide-format printers and the like. Although HP representatives were reporting brisk sales activity as of the end of the first week, imagine just how much equipment needed to be sold by HP to just reach a break-even point? In fact, one senior HP executive told me, emphatically, "We will not be back here in three years."
drupa 2016 had been shortened from two weeks to 11 days at the request of the more than 1,800 exhibitors representing 54 countries, but the show organizers hoped that they could move the event to every three years as a tradeoff, arguing that the shortened product life cycles and R&D times for the rapidly growing influx of digital printing and finishing gear, and the software to drive it, made the proposed switch to a shorter, three-year cycle more plausible. But that wasn't meant to be.
“The current drupa, with its outstanding business deals and positive atmosphere really stands out ... ,” explained Werner Dornscheidt, president and CEO of Messe Düsseldorf, in a press release announcing the new dates for 2020. “...This is what many representatives of the exhibitor community have assured us over the past few days here — they want to be at and with drupa in the future, their No. 1 international industry platform. Therefore in the interest of our customers and international markets, drupa will stick to its four-year cycle.”
Like any good services provider should do, Messe Düsseldorf listened to its customer base. And, like the new "drupa song" that's written for each rendition, the chorus refrain they heard from key exhibitors was in unison.