HP's decision not to exhibit at Ipex 2014 came as a surprise to the industry and, naturally, we're disappointed. The move goes against the trend we're seeing among other key digital players in the sector: 70% of the 100,000sqm floor space for Ipex 2014 is already committed. We've received more significant bookings from the top-100 vendors than ever before so early in the booking cycle. What's more, the major digital manufacturers have significantly increased their space. Digital brands such as Canon, EFI, Epson, Fujifilm, Kodak, Konica Minolta, Screen, Xeikon and Xerox have all placed their confidence in Ipex 2014 as a vital business platform. And that's to say nothing of the 'who's who' of conventional offset and post-press manufacturers who will be there. There's no doubt that HP will be notable by its absence.
With the number of exhibitions in the calendar, vendors are constantly taking a view on what their long-term commercial strategy is and planning accordingly. So, why are these vendors placing their faith in Ipex 2014 two years out? At the simplest level, they know from experience that a major international exhibition is a catalyst for sales success. Firms of this calibre scrutinise ROI and their analysis of the business outcomes from last Ipex is the driver for booking for 2014.
This brings me to the number of international print exhibitions in Europe. Despite the economic climate, Drupa 2012 has proved a huge success for exhibitors. It has traditionally been the venue where the baton is passed on to Ipex as the next major international event in Europe, and is often seen as the exhibition where prototypes are launched, while these prototypes become commercially available at Ipex.
But an exhibition is no longer judged simply on sales or leads. Any B2B event has to deliver more for exhibitors and visitors than in the past. For exhibitors, a good trade show offers value in ways that contribute to long-term business success. The global visitor audience allows exhibitors to gather intelligence that will shape their business. They can see what rivals are doing and saying, and evaluate competitor innovations and messages in an all-industry context.
Today’s visitor is time-poor and needs to know the visit will deliver real value to their business. The trend in B2B events is for more senior decision-makers to attend, which tells us that these demanding business leaders find exhibitions stimulating and effective. Their feedback is that, despite the array of information resources at their fingertips, attending a major trade show helps them to make informed decisions. That focus on decision-making translates into good business: the majority of visitors place an order there and then or within three months.
I believe that well-organised exhibitions are still the most focused and time-efficient way for visitors to find the information they need to make sound business decisions. That also makes them a great investment for suppliers. Like any good event brand, Ipex 2014 will evolve to reflect the dynamic industry it represents. I’m confident that those who participate will reap clear benefits.
– Trevor Crawford, director, Informa Print & Media Group