SHOWS: drupa director explains postponement

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The director of drupa Sabine Geldermann is on the front foot explaining why the print mega show had to be postponed, and why it has been rescheduled to next April.

Exhibitors supportive: Sabine Geldermann, drupe director
Exhibitors supportive: Sabine Geldermann, drupa director

Geldermann said the rapidly escalating coronavirus outbreak in Germany and around the world was causing a reassessment of the show's viability, and then the decision by the Düsseldorf authorities to ban gatherings of more than 1000 people "left drupa with no other option" but to postpone.

The new date, 20-30 April next year, was essentially the first one that was free. The calendar for the second half of the year and the first part of next was already full, and drupa needs a two-month window including stand build, the show itself, and takedown.

Geldermann said the response of the 2000 exhibitors has been positive, especially as the decision was made more than three months out, before they started shipping their kit in for the show. She said, "The reaction of our international customers and partners to the postponement was therefore consistently positive and met with great understanding and acceptance."

Looking to next year Geldermann said, "One thing is certain, the industry wants to have a drupa again, one that retains its image, its radiance and its global standing – this would not have been feasible under the current conditions. That's why we will now take every possible measure to meet the expectations of our global customers in April 2021 – let's embrace the future in 2021 together."

Addressing the issue of exhibitors having products ready for a drupa launch and now promoting them in a virtual way Geldermann said, "Our exhibitors will certainly present some of their innovations this year already, using different formats such as customer events or digital platforms. However, these can only bridge the current demand – in our opinion, they do not offer a complete replacement for a trade fair with worldwide appeal. drupa is and will remain the top platform for the printing industry to present innovations, come together and, above all, network.

"That is why drupa will remain the target the print industry is working towards even after the postponement. drupa represents an indispensable platform for industry participants, providing orientation, impetus and, above all, satisfying the demand for face-to-face meetings and worlds of experience to a high degree. It is all about human needs, haptic experiences and running machines that fascinate participants and which definitely cannot be fulfilled at this point by digital media.

"What distinguishes leading world trade fairs such as drupa is the concentrated energy that arises from the selective gathering of many people; the personal and emotional exchange; the joint presence of decision-makers, multipliers and idea providers; lively discussions; presentations that set the pace; chance encounters; opportunities to acquire new customers; and recruiting options.

"The need for personal encounters and an extraordinary customer experience after such an experience will certainly be even more pronounced in the future. We are people, not avatars – and the desire for personal exchange, knowledge transfer and networking in a fascinating ambience is unbroken despite all digital formats.”

Geldermann said, "Our supporting programme at the five special forums has already impressed with a fascinating range of formats, renowned speakers and exciting topics. Our top priority is to offer our visitors highly relevant, inspiring and lastingly valuable content. The lecture programme is rounded off by Guided Tours and was already available for bookings via our portal. Our aim is now, of course, to adapt and transfer the programme as far as possible to the April date.

"Significant issues concerning the ongoing digital transformation, topics related to circular economy and sustainability or new business models, which will be presented as keynotes, panel discussions and best cases, will continue to inspire and successfully advise companies – and this will be more relevant than ever after the impact of the coronavirus."

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