Taking the Industry's Pulse on Merits of Annual Printing Trade Show
Tribute mentioned that no major equipment manufacturer wants to be the first one to rock the boat by not supporting our industry's largest annual trade show. But, based on current market conditions, lack of buying activity and the hard financial realities that many of our industry suppliers face, can one really blame them if they decided not to participate?
Printers are facing these same financial hurdles every day, and are being forced to make tough decisions that impact their employees and their customers. The difference, though, is that they enjoy relative anonymity when finding ways to make budget cuts.
They don’t have to worry about battling the perception that not supporting a trade show, conference, event, industry publication or Website is a sign that they're not supporting the industry they serve. Or, that not exhibiting or taking a smaller booth at an event as important as Graph Expo or PRINT raises concern among their printer customers that they're on shaky financial footing and may not be around to support them long-term. They also fear that their industry counterparts might use their absence as a competitive advantage by raising those kinds of doubts in the minds of printers who attend the show.
In reality, it’s not fair to ask manufacturers to bear so much responsibility for subsidizing industry initiatives. It’s the responsibility of trade shows, conferences, industry Websites and, yes, our trade publications to generate a return on their investments.
Trade shows are an ideal setting for printers to come and review all of their buying options under one roof, so I believe there will always be a need for them. As an editor, Graph Expo provides me the best single event anywhere to stay current with technology offerings and to make contacts. Even so, it appears some printers are currently taking the attitude of "Why attend, if I'm not looking to buy something soon anyway?" Let alone the fact that corporate travel budgets have been slashed, as have staffing levels back at their plants.