Like a pair of planets with intersecting orbits, the drupa and Print expos are going to cross paths on the calendar in 2025 and overlap in six additional years after that through the end of the century. That’s one effect of the scheduling change announced earlier this week by the drupa governing committee, which has reversed an earlier decision by moving to shorten the interval between drupas from four years to three starting in 2016.
For mere mortals, there’s probably not much to be gained from speculating about the coincidence of the two shows in 2037, 2049, 2061, 2073, 2085, and 2097. But, now that the quadrennial Print shows will no longer be taking place exclusively in drupa “off” years, we wondered how the Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC) felt about Print’s being double-billed with drupa 10 years from now—a time frame that most of us can still reasonably expect to see ourselves occupying.
“As I stand right now, the show still takes place,” replies Ralph Nappi, president of GASC, which also produces Graph Expo. Acknowledging that many unpredictable things could happen between now and 2025, he says he views drupa’s new timetable as more or less neutral in its likely impact on the GASC properties.
He explains that this is mostly because drupa draws relatively few visitors from the U.S. and thus has never been a drain on attendance at the GASC shows. “This is not a new dynamic,” he says.
Nappi, who is also president of NPES, the print equipment manufacturers’ trade association, points out that a greater, nearer-term obstacle to U.S. printing trade shows is the lingering slow-to-no-growth condition of the North American print equipment market. This is what has prompted some manufacturers either to cease exhibiting at the GASC shows or to sharply reduce their footprints at them.
GASC is trying to overcome the weakness by restructuring the events to accommodate the new realities of the print marketplace. This year’s Graph Expo, for example, is being co-located with events from other industries in hope of driving a convergence of interest in printing and packaging among them.
So, while Nappi finds the drupa announcement “surprising,” he doesn’t see it looming nearly as large as the battles he’ll have to fight between now and the next Print in 2017—one year after the next drupa, and just two before the world expo returns to Messe Düsseldorf in 2019.
GASC isn’t the only trade show producer adjusting to changing times. In announcing the three-year rotation, the drupa governing committee said that sticking with a four-year interval would have led to “an incredibly stressful year” for some exhibitors in 2020—the year for the next edition of interpack, a giant packaging show held in the same venue. That clash is avoided by moving drupa up one year from 2020 to 2019.
The scheduling change runs counter to what the drupa governing committee voted to do in November 2012, when it declared it would “maintain its Olympic four year cycle” despite pressure from some exhibitors for a more frequent event. The committee did, however, trim the duration of the show from two weeks to 11 days. The dates of the next drupa are May 31 to June 10, 2016.