Editor’s Notebook: Why GRAPH EXPO Is Orlando-Bound in '16
Having returned from a recent “GRAPH EXPO 16 Exhibitor Preview” event in Orlando, Florida, Graphic Arts Show Co. (GASC) President Ralph Nappi was frank in his assessment why next year’s annual industry trade show is moving to the Orange County Convention Center, Sept. 25-28, 2016, after a run of 20 consecutive years at McCormick Place in Chicago.
Nappi cited several reasons. The first was—like the problem that exists with this year’s show dates—McCormick Place was only offering dates for the 2016 exhibition that would conflict with Rosh Hashanah, an important Jewish holiday. This was totally unacceptable, especially for two years straight.
Second, is the rising popularity of Chicago both as a convention and tourist destination. Due to demand, hotel room rates continue to escalate, making the show very expensive for out-of-town visitors. In fact, he noted that out of the 30 hotels in the GRAPH EXPO room block, all but five of those have average room rates of more than $200 per night.
And, finally, after two decades in Chicago—and perhaps because of being taken for granted as a loyal McCormick Place exhibition client—it was time to look elsewhere. Other cities investigated included Las Vegas, Anaheim, Indianapolis, Philadelphia and Orlando, with Orlando ultimately getting the nod over Philadelphia as the two finalists.
Other added benefits Orlando provides is its gateway location to potential Latin American visitors, such as Brazilians. The close proximity to Disney World (at a time when crowds at the parks are small) and its lower hotel room rates may also attract some showgoers to bring their families. And, given that Florida is a “right to work state,” exhibitors should expect cost savings of 15 to 20 percent in comparison to McCormick Place due to lower booth setup costs, according to Nappi. This, in theory, would encourage them to bring more equipment to the Orlando event—reversing a trend of the past several years due to Chicago’s restrictive union regulations and work rules.
For Chicago lovers, it should be noted that PRINT 17 is already slated to return to McCormick Place from Sept. 10-14, 2017. But, after 2017, the city venue is wide open as to where future GRAPH EXPO shows may end up.
The real wild card is whether or not the large cluster of Midwestern printers who are used to driving to GRAPH EXPO in Chicago will now hop on planes to fly to Orlando for next year’s show. Only time will answer that question.