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Smart Thinking from GASC

The announcement from GASC regarding their "

By Noel Ward
Published: May 6, 2009

The announcement from GASC regarding their "stimulus plans" for Print 09 proves that GASC understands the dire state of our industry. Every vendor has significantly dialed back expenses, cut executive and employee pay, reduced staff, restricted travel, cut ongoing programs, and more. Most of these cuts are survival strategies, but with Print 09 looming in September at least some of the savings will likely support efforts at that show.

I've posted before about the coming demise of most trade shows, and that in North America the last shows standing are likely to be Graphics of the Americas and GraphExpo/Print. This move from GASC (which I'd heard was in the works some weeks ago) reaches to the cold heart of the matter; the onerous and often rapacious drayage costs for moving large equipment in and out of expo halls. Taking advantage of this offer clears the way for equipment vendors to roll in the machinery that people come to shows to see and touch.

At Graph Expo last year leading vendors I spoke with said the cost for bringing some of their top products to the show was simply too high to justify the expense. I haven't talked to them since this announcement came out, but I expect to see them smile--and very likely rethink the lineup of boxes they'll bring to Chicago. This is a very good thing.

Everybody wins with this precedent-setting move. And it does set a precedent. How this will change shows in the future remains to be seen, and it most certainly sets expectations for the future, and it could backfire if the same offer is not made come 2010. But for now GASC has shown itself to be the leader in how print shows should be done.



By Patrick Berger on May 07, 2009

Once an offer is on the table it is always in the purchasers mind. The offerer has shown that there is not set price and from this offer forward everything can be negotiated.
The purchaser will now always wonder if he is getting the best deal.


By Michael J on May 07, 2009

I haven't seen the offer, but from the post I assume it means they will defray trucking costs.

If that's true, it may be just cutting margins for the trade show folks instead of looking at new business model. We've seen how that's been a road to ruin for many globals as well as small business.

The real value created at a trade show is the people you meet and the conversations you have. That is worth money because a trade show is the best place to do it.

So instead of bringing heavy metal, why not save 75% and invest 25% of the money in the coolest virtual reality booth possible. The new eyeglass screens, RFID on the tickets, QR codes on promo material, wrap around screens, the best in online meeting tech.

Only serious buyers want to see the heavy metal.The reality is that most are skeptical of trade floor demos anyway. So have lots of space and time for the serendipity of new connections. And a killer show, with the CEO's of all the vendors on the stage together talking about their strategies and where they fit into the emerging landscape.

Then a series of lesser events. My personally hoped for is the Webb/Romano show. I would pay for tickets to that one.

Then do the seminars using on line learning tools. Those at the conference live. Those who couldn't make take do the seminars at their offices. Get the division operating managers at each vendor to be available for on line Q&A.


By Patrick Berger on May 07, 2009

Here is the link.



By Clint Bolte on May 07, 2009

It's a good move for all concerned. Few people may realize that the pavillions added in recent years are quickly rivaling the specialty competing shows with the same key vendors, equipment, and announcements. For example, Mailing & Fulfillment versus the National Postal Forum (Mailcom is now under).

Still a new business model is needed. The labor charges at McCormack Place for trade show booths are and have been exorbitant. Chicago makes plenty off hotels, restaurants, etc. Trade show complex is the attraction. It does not need to be as expensive.


By Patrick Henry on May 09, 2009

Writing for WhatTheyThink, Robert FitzPatrick and Steve Aranoff have recommended organizing trade shows around vertical market segments. For instance, a show with an automotive theme would highlight, among other things, digital printing systems for parts labeling and inventory management. At a show for the pharmaceutical industry, the emphasis would be on packaging innovations and anti-counterfeiting systems. Efforts then would be made to attract small but highly qualified audiences to these verticalized shows.

Maybe the time has come for GASC and its exhibitors to start thinking in terms of market-specific end uses, not just the sheer weight of equipment on the floor. The diminished presence of heavy litho presses at the last few Graph Expos suggests that the model has shifted in this direction already. Relying more on education and less on hardware, market-specific events could take place in smaller, less expensive venues than McCormick Place. Or, separately administered events could be clustered here, each benefiting from the kinds of incentives recently announced by GASC. Exhibitors from other industries serving the shows' target audiences could be invited to take part. With a bit of imagination and the right kinds of promotion, verticalized shows could be vibrant, relevant, and profitable.

I'm betting that Print 09 will be as successful as an event of its kind could be in this awful business climate, and I'm looking forward to attending. Still, it's impossible to avoid the notion that the big-tent approach to printing trade shows might be playing out its string at last. Drayage credits are a good idea, but more than that will be needed to revitalize a burdensome annual marketing exercise that time and economics have finally caught up with.


By Michael J on May 09, 2009

Customer organized shows is a brilliant idea, IMHO. It is a sensible move from a value chain economy to a user network economy where the various pieces snap into place because of the customer's interest.

Since the end user (customer) is the only source of new money (energy) into the network, it only makes perfect sense to arrange the technology and services which would easily satisfy their hunger for useful information.

Very nice.


By Ralph Nappi on May 14, 2009

GASC has done this for two basic reasons: our exhibitors need some help and attendees consistenty tell us they come to shows to see new technology and running equipment. GASC footing the bill for moving equipment into the show helps both important consituents.


By Michael J on May 14, 2009

Can you share any info on the attendees. Are they buyers or tire kickers? or both.


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