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Xplor-GOA Partnership A Good Fit?

March 2006

Xplor joined up with Graphics of the Americas last month to bolster its conference. Did it work?

By Bob Neubauer

AFTER WATCHING attendance at its conference dwindle since the booming days of the '90s, Xplor International teamed up with the successful Graphics of the Americas (GOA) conference this year, putting on a joint event last month in Miami Beach that drew about 24,500 attendees, according to organizers.

The partnership seems to have been a wise move, as it freed Xplor from the task of organizing a trade show, allowing it to concentrate on its educational mission. GOA, in turn, got a host of new attendees—14 percent more than in 2005.

Whether the Xplor crowd of technical folks meshed well with the largely Latin American congregation at GOA depends on whom you ask. Some Xplorers were pleased to find more sessions on graphics and design topics than in the past. Others felt many of the 490 exhibits at this traditionally offset-heavy show did not have much to do with their interests in transactional printing and variable data.

Still, digital technologies were all over the show floor, perhaps more so than in previous years. Xerox, Kodak Versamark, HP, Xeikon, IBM, Nipson and others were showing off their latest digital printing gear, and plenty of software vendors were in evidence.

Freed from trade show detail, Xplor seems to have thrown all its energies into its educational program. More than 250 sessions were available, covering PDF, JDF, XML, digital prepress, design, variable data and more. About 1,700 people attended the four-day conference, according to Xplor—a great turnout.

Perhaps because of the numerous choices, attendance at individual sessions never seemed heavy. Sessions were very informative, though, and drew rave reviews from Xplorers. If the merger with GOA allows Xplor to focus even more closely on its sessions, this could help the association build attendance back up to previous levels. Already Xplor 2006 topped attendance at the previous two Xplors.

In-plants: Make Your Customers Happy

One conference speaker, Howie Fenton, led a whole series of sessions geared toward in-plants. Companies are looking for ways to cut costs, leaving in-plants in a precarious position, said Fenton, senior technical consultant for the National Association for Printing Leadership. To ensure their futures, in-plants must focus on making customers happy by being very convenient for them.

"The easiest way to do it is to be convenient online," he said, referring to online ordering systems and offering PDF proofs.


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