Commentary & Analysis
That Jet-Lagged Look: Must be a DRUPA Year
By Noel Ward,
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: February 9, 2004
By Noel Ward, Executive Editor February 9, 2004 -- I figure there's a contest going on to see which printing industry vendor can fly the most journalists and analysts the longest possible distance for the fewest number of days to watch the greatest number of PowerPoint slides before going to drupa. It's the only possible explanation for the plethora of pre-drupa events to which industry analysts and editors are traveling over the next several weeks. Oh, the travel, the agendas, the food, the frequent flyer miles….the jet lag! Plus all the stuff you miss out on back in the office! It began with the official pre-drupa press/analyst briefing last month in Dusseldorf. Coming up are at least half a dozen dog-and-pony shows, shindigs, press events, and soirées in Barcelona, Antwerp, various German cities, and even Athens. And those are just the ones that have come across my desk so far. There are certainly others, all of which require doing the Atlantic shuttle. One editor is going to a European event, flying back to the U.S. for the PMA show, then back to Europe. Assuming no flight delays between the legs, he may get home long enough to change his socks and for his kids to start calling him Uncle Daddy. A consultant told the hosting company he wouldn't go to an event unless they found him a place from which to view the SuperBowl. So they arranged for him to catch the game in some German sports bar. At least the beer and wurst were probably good! But did he still see all the ads? Now, I'm an inveterate road warrior and truly love traveling, especially in Europe, but some things just don't make sense. All these trips are short duration, run on exceedingly tight schedules, and can require more time traveling than the meetings themselves. In addition, some events overlap, forcing publications and analyst firms to decide which ones to miss, as there are not enough people to go around--which is not good news for the vendors putting on the events. We're fortunate at WhatTheyThink.com and OnDemandJournal.com in having several industry pros on our show team so we can divide and conquer. And we're still missing a couple of trips. But it could be better for all involved, and less expensive for the vendors, too. Suppose that in a drupa year, the vendors could agree on a single location for one mega set of meetings for the editor/analyst community. One week, lots of information, time to cruise and schmooze, and security to keep secrets from competitors. Let everyone learn, ask questions, have some fun. The vendors could split the costs and save a bunch of money. If showing equipment is essential, pick a week and have coordinated meetings at a few sites in Europe based on the specialties of the attendees and get it all over with at once. Western Europe (mostly Germany) is not so big that intra-city travel is a problem. The trains are fast, comfortable and run on time. Plus, Germany has autobahns! Vendors may be reluctant to cooperate, but this idea makes some sense to the editors and analysts I've talked to. Most of us are good, seasoned travelers, enjoy the junkets, and are happy to do whatever is necessary to properly cover the companies that shape the industry. But I bet we could do an even better job with a more coordinated approach. On the other hand, maybe in 2008 I'll just go take an apartment someplace in Europe and work over there for the front half of the year. Then I can get in some skiing in the Alps on weekends and lease a fast car to burn up the autobahns getting to the different events. Sounds like a plan.