Opinion: Why the Drupa show must go on

Drupa director Sabine Geldermann talks about the plans for the postponed industry show next year

In mid-March, Messe Düsseldorf announced that the giant Drupa show would be postponed until next year due to the exponential spread of Covid-19. Here, Drupa director and global head of print technologies Sabine Geldermann answers some questions about the new plan for the show.

What was the key factor for Messe Düsseldorf to postpone Drupa?
Messe Düsseldorf is following the recommendation of the crisis management team of the German Federal Government to take into account the principles of the Robert Koch Institute when assessing the risk of major events. In addition, there was the general ruling issued by the city of Düsseldorf on 11 March, in which major events with more than 1,000 participants present at the same time are generally prohibited. Against this background, there was unfortunately no other option than to postpone Drupa.

How did you determine the new date?
Due to the influence of the coron­avirus and the associated official decrees or restrictions, seven trade fairs planned for this spring have already been postponed to the second half of 2020 and to spring 2021. Since we need a timeframe of around two months for Drupa (due to its set-up, duration and dismantling), there were only limited options available. Having weighed up all the parameters and in view of the international trade fair calendar, the date chosen, 20-30 April 2021, is the earliest and best possible date, which we have agreed together with our president and supporting association the VDMA. Under the current circumstances, this date now allows the greatest possible planning security for all parties involved. Fortunately, we are now once again in a similar timeframe to the original, traditional May date of Drupa, which has become widely established in the industry.

How has the global printing community responded to your announcement?
The reaction of our international customers and partners to the postponement was consistently positive and met with great understanding and acceptance. We were pleased with the numerous emotional feedbacks on our social networks and platforms. 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!

Exhibitors traditionally work towards the Drupa date with their new products and much was already completed for June. Is Drupa confronted with alternative, virtual presentation formats?
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.
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. It’s great to see that numerous key accounts are already shaping the motto “let’s embrace the future in 2021 together”.

How do you believe print businesses can weather the storm caused by the pandemic?
There is no doubt that there will be declines and lasting economic setbacks. However, it is important that the industry does not suffer a complete standstill in production as a result of the current measures. Our industry must continue to invest in the future in order to seize market opportunities, because print, with so many different and extensive applications and forms of use, will continue to be indispensable in many markets in the future. The exchange of ideas between industry players and the necessary inspiration are key means to this end, and are lived out and introduced in a future-oriented manner at leading world trade fairs such as Drupa.

What changes will the postponement mean for Drupa 2021?
The postponement represents a new, unprecedented scenario for all concerned and requires a certain degree of flexibility. As in the past, we will continue to take every possible measure to carry over the successful status of Drupa to the new date in 2021.

What are the effects of the postponement on your satellite events?
We do not currently see any effects of the shift on our “Printing Technologies” portfolio and thus on Messe Düsseldorf’s foreign trade fairs.

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