From the Editor: Trade Show Woes

TIMES ARE tough for trade shows. Anyone who attended the first couple days of PRINT 09 in Chicago last fall will recall the deserted aisles and near-empty booths. In response, many vendors are rethinking their trade show strategies. Some have decided it’s cheaper to fly prospects to their demo centers than pay to bring equipment and staff to a show. The news that Heidelberg, Komori and Mitsubishi Lithographic Presses all plan to sit out Graph Expo this fall struck many as a sign of things to come.

This month the AIIM/On Demand Conference and Expo comes to Philadelphia. I counted just 97 exhibitors on the list. True, there are another 147 on the AIIM side (which deals with information and content management), but for in-plant attendees, it’s looking like a quick day trip should do it.

To be fair, I spotted most of the major companies on the list, particularly the bindery vendors. And most of the key digital print vendors are coming, like Xerox, Océ, HP and Canon. Ricoh and Kodak, however, will be among the missing (though both will be at IPEX—see our story on page 46).

On Demand isn’t all about equipment, though, and the educational program still looks good. It even includes a full track called “Managing the In-Plant Operation,” with seven sessions. Once again, a number of in-plant managers have been tapped to lead these sessions, though not quite as many as at last year’s show, when I counted 11 sessions with in-plant managers as speakers.

It’s somewhat flattering that in one of the opening keynote sessions this year (“50 Ideas in 50 Minutes”) two of the five panelists will be in-plant managers (Debbie Pavletich, of Briggs & Stratton, and Roger Chamberlain, of The Cincinnati Insurance Company).

This will be my 16th On Demand show (woah!), so I have a pretty good idea of which managers often attend. I e-mailed a dozen or so of them to see how many were coming this time. All of the local Philadelphia-area managers I contacted are planning to attend, some with staff. Most say the main reason they are going is because it’s so close. (A quick, easy trip, and a day out of the office—why not?) A couple of those folks plan to investigate particular types of equipment, such as folders, coil punches, varnishing gear and wide-format printers. Some have specific gear in mind: a Duplo DC-645 slitter/cutter/creaser, a Xanté Ilumina press. One manager says he’s hoping to get ideas for new revenue streams. Others say they just want to check in with their vendors.

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