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Commentary & Analysis

The show's the thing

Coming on September 9th is Graph Expo 2007.

By Frank Romano
Published: August 3, 2007

Coming on September 9th is Graph Expo 2007. At one time there were over 30 national and regional trade shows for printing. Today there is GraphExpo and the Florida-based Graphics of the Americas and a few local events. There are some events that are more focused, like AIIM/OnDemand. Our opportunity to see the vast array of industry offerings is being reduced.

Many suppliers find it more cost efficient to fly prospects to their home office or demo centers and have their undivided attention. But then they do not see what else there is. Kodak and Xerox bring hundreds of people to Rochester and I love the banner at the airport that says "Welcome to Rochester" with Xeikon's name on it.

It only takes one idea to make the entire seminar investment worthwhile. The handouts alone are worth the price of admission because you can share the information back at the plant or office.

Printing trade exhibitions of the modern era began with PRINT 68. I remember it well. It was the last exhibition to display a Linotype and the first to demo a web offset litho press. It was where phototypesetting made its entry and where the first copier was shown to printers. I have attended every U.S. printing event since 1967 when my boss at the Mergenthaler company had me attend because he could not run the movie projector.

The best part of these events is usually the seminar program (not the bar – sorry). Not only can you see the equipment and talk to company representatives, you can learn from the best and brightest -- as well as meet your peers. At one seminar many years ago a person who wanted to sue a vendor met someone who had successfully sued them. It was a marriage made in heaven.

I am always in awe of a good presenter who knows their stuff. I carry a note pad all the time and jot down ideas that I hear. It only takes one idea to make the entire seminar investment worthwhile. The handouts alone are worth the price of admission because you can share the information back at the plant or office. I get angry when the handouts do not match the presentation or the presenter wants me to write for them. I expect professionalism by the presenter and the sponsoring organization and that includes a-v, room setup, and even good signage so I know where I am going.

Some events charge speakers to speak. I was told that presenters at the Print Oasis event in Las Vegas paid for the right to speak. The old Lasers In Graphics conference did the same. The result may not always be objectivity or real education. At one time, suppliers were the primary speakers, but that tended to result in sales-oriented presentations and attendees slowly drifted away. Today, consultants, academics, and real users are the primary speakers. I think you get the best out of a speaker when you compensate them. And almost every seminar program evaluates speakers through audience feedback forms which tends help select the best presenters.

I like trade shows. I especially like the little booths in the back of the hall where small startups show new stuff. I recall meeting Ken Olsen with his PDP minicomputer at a newspaper show in 1967. Digital Equipment Corp. went on to be a powerhouse and then merged into Compaq and HP.

The Graph Expo seminar program has short and longer sessions, hands-on sessions, brunch sessions with food, and even a free general session. It is convenient to the show, not like some events where the conference is some distance away. You have over 60 sessions to learn something new and then go to the show floor and investigate it. Check out --

http://mygraphexpo.com/attendee/grid.cfm

If you have not been to a seminar in a while, try one. I bet you will learn something useful. The Graph Expo pre-registration deadline is August 10.

By the way, I am prejudiced – I have spoken at every Graph Expo since they started.

I like trade shows. I especially like the little booths in the back of the hall where small startups show new stuff. I recall meeting Ken Olsen with his PDP minicomputer at a newspaper show in 1967. Digital Equipment Corp. went on to be a powerhouse and then merged into Compaq and HP. One of the first markets for minis was typesetting. I like running into old friends. I miss the old XPLOR and Seybold events with their large international contingents. Graph Expo now is the only major opportunity for all of us to congregate and share war stories as well as learn from each other. As suppliers consolidate the number of booths dwindle. I think the Kodak booth represents eleven companies, all of who once had their own booth.

Margie Dana, who runs the very successful Boston Print Buyers and Print Buyers International groups is doing a print buyer conference at Graph Expo. For years, a major category of attendee has been "creatives" and now Graph Expo is addressing that audience with the usual techy sessions plus focused sessions just for print buyers. If you want to hobnob with them, you will have to be a seminar registrant.

With the growth of webinar and webcasts and even the avatars and virtual reality of Second Life, we may have even fewer opportunities to meet face to face. Travel costs and headaches are a pain. I teach in the RIT online Master's Degree program and never actually meet some students. It is a brave new world.

So we should take advantage of Graph Expo while we can. See you at the show.

Frank Romano has spent over 50 years in the printing and publishing industries. Many know him best as the editor of the International Paper Pocket Pal or from the hundreds of articles he has written for publications from North America and Europe to the Middle East to Asia and Australia. Romano lectures extensively, having addressed virtually every club, association, group, and professional organization at one time or another. He is one of the industry's foremost keynote speakers. He continues to teach courses at RIT and other universities and works with students on unique research projects.

Please offer your feedback to Frank. He can be reached at frank@whattheythink.com.

 

 

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