By Editor Morten B. Reitoft 

After years of cancellations due to the pandemic, PRINTING UNITED is finally back. This time in Las Vegas from October 19-21. During the past months, we have all seen the banners on LinkedIn where printers, influencers, and visitors, in general, support the event with slogans like 'I'm attending!'

The 'under-one-roof' event features a broad range of exhibitors, and though only a three-day event, many vendors will be showing running equipment.

Though INKISH won't be covering PRINTING United LIVE as initially planned, we still support the event entirely and hopefully find other ways to cover the event. The American exhibition space is still not very 'united.' With Tarsus and their LabelExpo in Chicago, APTech's recent Amplify Print, a wealth of other print events, and PRINTING United, the under-one-roof concept may be the dream. However, for now, you will still need to travel to many locations to get the complete picture.

Exhibiting is relatively expensive or, maybe more correct costs a lot of money. So as with everything else, the exhibitors will evaluate their ROI after the event. But how is that ROI eventually measured? I know many looks at how many leads they get at a show. At the recent Print4all, we spoke to two exhibitors, and one was SO happy that he couldn't get his arms down. The other expressed zero value in exhibiting and said they would never attend again.

The lead count is, however, an extremely inaccurate measure. Is an existing customer a lead? Is a lead that doesn't by counting on the positive list, and more importantly, could you have achieved the same leads easier, cheaper, faster - considerations marketing managers MUST consider constantly!

When vendors consider exhibiting, they consider the value in relation to leads, but they also think about the competition. How does it look if one company is competing with another and one isn't exhibiting? Or why is it always mentioned which exhibitor has the biggest booth?

We all know HP took that thrown from Heidelberg at the last drupa - but is that important?

Some vendors are SO crucial to a show that the organizer sells at lower prices, barters, or even gives space for free - or even cancels events if they can't convince the VIP vendor to exhibit! The bigger your booth is, the lower the booth space typically costs. The total is, however, the opposite, as the big exhibitors have more gear, more people, more of everything, so it's big numbers.

As a visitor, the cost is also high - you can think of entrance fees, flights, hotels, etc., as the main cost, but the reality is that the cost of being away from your company is rarely considered!

When we looked into covering PRINTING United, we wanted it to be LIVE on all days from beginning to end, but the cost of doing that in Las Vegas would run about $30,000, which is a lot of money - so back to the drawing table considering if and what we can do :-)

So when we have been speculating about the future of tradeshows, it's in this light. Can exhibitions be justified financially? Will you get enough leads to justify the cost - or is it 'just' something you have to do as part of your existing customer maintenance? Networking with customers is always essential, and of course, always important to show products and services. BUT it comes at a cost.

Now PRINTING United takes place in October, and I wish I would be there. The Dallas edition in 2019 was GREAT. As an exhibition, it was like so many other trade shows, but the optimism and the quality of visitors, as Erik Holdo, then Konica-Minolta, now Kodak, says, was just one of the many good statements. For INKISH, it was GREAT as we broadcasted two hours LIVE daily for the first time, which gave us SO much experience that LIVE-streaming from events is part of our standard offering. At FESPA in Berlin, we streamed daily from 10 AM to 4 PM, and though it was hard, we covered FESPA in a way that gave us a lot of credit.

In Las Vegas, you will, without a doubt, see a show that will be great. The PRINTING United team has visited printers and vendors during the past months and prepared things to detail, and though we won't cover the event, I am sure PRINTING Impressions and other media will do it, so you still can get the latest and greatest from the US printing industry :-)

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