Is Drupa At ALL Important?

Is drupa at all important? Before answering the above question, a few definitions may be in place. For Messecenter Düsseldorf and drupa, drupa, of course, is tremendously important. For the exhibitors who decided to spend millions of euros, drupa at least WAS important. For the 260.000 visitors in 2016, we are confident that drupa was important AT the time.  

By Andreas Weber and Morten B. Reitoft

Tradeshows are not important in itself by any measures. That goes for the events in the printing industry, and it goes for shows in all other industries as well. The important thing is the objective.  

The purpose is to present innovative products and services, and the objective is to generate leads or closures. So as with all marketing activities, the investment has to create an ROI.  

Super-events like drupa have a long history, and maybe some people have stopped thinking about the reasons to exhibit - at least at drupa? drupa became a recurring expense, and the discussions were not about attending or not, but how many square meters to rent. drupa has, to some extent, become a pedestal for the industry where bigger booths, showing off, after parties, analyst meetings etc., have become the measure.  

Then came the virus. 

The current pandemic has put pretty much everything in perspective. The quite arrogant behavior of Messecenter Düsseldorf from unanswered phones and e-mails to slow answers to then pandemic, the money that won't be returned, the losses, the frustrations, and eventually the wakeup call where exhibitors and vendors realize - sales are not decreasing because of a postponed drupa. The products the vendors have developed fill the needs in the market, and they can communicate their products and services via channels that are faster, cheaper, and way more controlled.  

Then came the virus. 

Vendors figured soon out that promoting new products when they are ready to do so, rather than in cycles defined by city/state-owned exhibition center, gives them so many advantages that in an Internet-fueled world - no way - being depending on a trade show. 

Then came the virus.

Suddenly important got re-defined, and vendors could see how private events could create an even bigger fuzz about their products, services, brand - and engagement with clients and prospects - even on C-level. When Hundsdörfer, Sammeck, Bobst, Gamper, Saltin and all the other CEO's we had conversations with suddenly can communicate with not only a few VIP's that are granted access to the holy champers of a trade show, but now via online channels can reach out and promote their businesses better? 

Why then cry over the shows that do not exist anymore - Ipex, Graph Expo, Cebit - and, well, you know the history better than us anyway. 

These shows didn't die because of a virus, but drupa may die for the same reasons - lack of innovation. 

As bad as the COVID-19 is, it is so good that it makes people think. If drupa survives as a brand and we will see shows like drupa again, it for sure next time will be with many more considerations about the objective. Suppose drupa can innovate and create a show where the ROI and the value are evident for both exhibitors and visitors - just great! 

But to return to the once upon time - NO WAY.