Getting to GRAPH EXPO...the Hard Part
I, like many others trying to fly to Chicago for this year’s GRAPH EXPO, had my Saturday morning flight cancelled due to an intentionally set fire at a nearby FAA radar facility. After being told there were no seats left on any other flights, even with connections, to Chicago O’Hare, Chicago Midway or Milwaukee, I opted for a flight to the next closest city available: St. Louis. From there, I caught an Amtrak train for the remaining 5-1/2 hour trek to Chicago.
There were many similar stories like mine of how showgoers flew to other cities, or drove long distances, to get to the Windy City. Unfortunately, though, most of the out-of-towners I spoke with were exhibitors, and some did note cases where their printer prospects and existing clients opted to skip GRAPH EXPO altogether after their flights were cancelled.
For the many who participated, however, it was a solid event from a standpoint of the “new normal” of industry trade shows. At times, the aisles were packed, but attendance seemed sparse at others. The most noticeable change upon walking into the South Hall was seeing that the registration area had been placed there, and the main entrance moved back. The emphasis, as expected, was on digital printing—especially inkjet—on equipment to finish digital output and on workflow. The anchor booths, all with digital presses on display, like Canon U.S.A., Xerox, EFI, HP, Ricoh and Konica Minolta, buzzed with activity.
As a positive sign, numerous exhibitors indicated strong buyer interest and activity overall, as well as a generally positive business attitude amongst many printer attendees who were seriously looking to invest in hardware and software that could reduce their manual processes and enable value-added services—especially in growing areas like wide-format digital printing, various coating and finishing enhancements, and fulfillment.
The Graphic Arts Show Co. (GASC), which runs GRAPH EXPO, aggressively promoted the event in advance and created show floor attractions like the Plastic Print Pavilion, Wide-Format Application Zone and Inkjet Candy Store. To attract attendees, more than 50 co-located user group meetings, conferences and special events were organized. And CPP EXPO showcased package printing and converting.
Perhaps best of all, trips home from the show were far less eventful.