Last week’s inaugural PrintWeekLive! has been acclaimed as a success, with exhibitors reporting strong interest from visitors in new technology and ways to grow their businesses.
The Wasps Arena, Coventry, welcomed more than 2,000 visitors across the annual show’s two days. Visitors were attracted by the event’s combination of a show floor featuring the latest technology, workshop theatres promoting best practice and a conference schedule boasting a number of inspirational speakers.
Vistaprint founder and Cimpress chief executive Robert Keane opened proceedings to a packed audience, in the first of the conference’s 13 keynote sessions, and shared his vision for his business and the industry at large.
However, the show floor was the main focus for the visitors, featuring four workshop theatres and hosting the event’s six headline sponsors: Antalis, Close Brothers Asset Finance, Duplo, Heidelberg, Tharstern and Xerox, along with dozens of the industry’s other leading manufacturers and suppliers, showed off their latest kit, applications and services.
“I was very impressed by the level of customers that attended and we had some very meaningful discussions with them. Overall: very impressed,” said Heidelberg UK managing director, Gerard Heanue.
“It was definitely a worthwhile event for the UK industry. The exhibition, the conference and the workshops generated food for thought on how people can grow their businesses.”
His comments were echoed by Antalis channel director for print, James Jarvis.
“We had a good level of people coming to the stand; some good interactions. Visitors were hunting for information and ideas that they could take back to their businesses; we were pleased by that.”
Antalis’ stand was split into five expert zones, designed to help visitors develop their businesses. The firm also hosted two sessions on colour management in the PWL! workshop theatres.
“We were really surprised by the number of people that came to our workshops. We knew it was an important topic, but they were packed and people were standing around the sides in the aisles. It was incredible, and afterwards they came to the stand asking more questions,” he said.
“You can get thousands of people coming past at shows, but if they’re not really interested in taking those ideas back to their businesses, then it seems like you’re busy [as an exhibitor], but the quality of the interactions is not high. But pretty much everyone we saw [at PWL!] we had in-depth conversations with, which was really good. The venue was good too, very easy to get to.”
Xerox marketing manager, graphic communications Europe, Kevin O’Donnell, said the firm had generated a “significant number of leads” from the show and he welcomed the mix of content and technology.
“It was a very well-rounded show, and well attended from our point of view.
“From our perspective, if the goal of the event was to inspire, initiate and innovate, then certainly over the two days we ticked that box based on the conversations we had,” he added.
Among the kit on display on the Xerox stand was the firm’s Drupa-launched Direct to Object printer, being shown for the first time in the UK.
“The level of interest it generated was amazing. We embraced the ethos of the show, the visitors to our stand had too, we had some great conversations, and I think the marriage of an exhibition with a very strong conference and workshop programme gave visitors the ability to not just to see, but to also hear and discuss opportunities,” said O’Donnell.
Tharstern marketing manager Amanda Newman also praised the format of the show, which she believed reflected the changing needs of the industry.
“The feedback from the team was that it was fantastic, that it had a really nice feel to it and felt like the print shows of old,” she said.
“The quality of the audience was really good, we had lots of conversations with decision-makers, they were interested and the education vibe of the event meant that there was a great buzz, people were talking about working together. Our workshops went down really well too and were well attended.
Close Brothers Asset Finance used the show as a springboard for its new digital finance initiative, which it unveiled just prior to the show.
David Bunker, assistant managing director of Close Brothers Asset Finance’s print division, praised the networking aspect of the show.
“For us it was a great event. It felt like there was a good number of attendees and had a really good mixture of customers talking about transactions and suppliers talking to us about opportunities. I thought it was a good networking event.
“I suspect a lot of people didn’t really know what it would shape up to be, but for us the cost of attendance was more than rewarded by the customers we saw and the conversations we had.”
Duplo UK marketing manager Sarah Crumpler was equally impressed.
“It was a well organised show, and there were good quality people there too, but I don’t think I’ll be able to say for two or three months just how well the show went for us, because it was something very different. But we’ve walked away with well over 100 leads to follow up, so we’re going to be busy."
For our full report on last week’s show, with feedback from visitors and exhibitors, a round-up of the show launches and an exclusive interview with Cimpress’s Robert Keane, see next Monday’s issue of PrintWeek.
PrintWeekLive! 2018 will take place at the Wasps Arena, Coventry on 7-8 March.
Xerox's Direct to Object printer draws the crowds