During 2017, WhatTheyThink attended two Xeikon Café events, one in the spring at Xeikon headquarters in Belgium, and a North American edition last fall in Chicago. The North American edition was the first such regional event; the company also held a smaller regional event in Denmark during 2017.

Now the planning for Xeikon Café 2018 is in full swing, with a bit of a change in focus. According to Danny Mertens, Xeikon’s Corporate Communications Manager, “Over the past editions of Xeikon Café, we took session evaluations from visitors very seriously and listened to their feedback. We also believe this experience and our general industry presence has shown us what the industry needs—targeted, focused and educational events that speak directly to the business and production issues they face every day. As a result, we are expanding the concept, and moving it to an annual frequency, except during drupa years. Future Xeikon Café’s will be structured as open and neutral and objective industry. Everyone is invited to attend, and visitors will even hear about competitive products from some of the speakers. We are also making some changes in the structure of the conference and exhibition.”

Mertens also indicated that there will also be an expansion of regional Xeikon Café events, including a North American Xeikon Café in Chicago in the spring. He added, “We are working with each of the regions to help them structure regional events under the Xeikon Café umbrella that address the most relevant topics in their areas. The idea is to have a Xeikon Café infrastructure that delivers global value through our headquarters event and a series of smaller, more specialized regional events. The common theme will be the neutrality and objectiveness of the content, and the inclusion of a number of customers during the presentations to give attendees that real-world perspective they are looking for. Each iteration of Xeikon Café will be a little different in terms of focus, but with a common approach to how information is presented. We will, of course, welcome North American and other visitors to our headquarters Xeikon Café, but we also want to make those regional venues available since people may not be as willing to travel as they have in the past.”

As far as the Xeikon Café Conference & Exhibition, scheduled for 20 to 23 March in Belgium, there will be two major components: a Conference with more strategic presentations, and an educational Academy with more technology-driven presentations and practical workshop sessions. “When you combine the two,” Mertens stated, “visitors will gain a holistic view of the particular application areas in which they are interested.”

Mertens also reported that the focus of Xeikon Café in March will be packaging. “We will be showing 40 different packaging applications as part of the event. Some of them will be covered in depth in the Academy, and our conference speakers will also be addressing some of those applications as well, talking about how they have been able to benefit from digital printing. We are developing those applications in conjunction with 35 to 40 Aura partners so visitors can understand the whole thing, end-to-end, and really get their arms around how they might benefit from implementing them in their own businesses.”

To make the event easier to navigate, Xeikon has chosen what it believes to be the top six applications that can most impact the packaging business. These include Wine & Spirits, Craft Beer, Security Products for packaging, In-Mould Labeling, Food Service and Chemicals. For each of these, a “trail” will be identified to help visitors better navigate. And there will be “trailblazers” on hand to share real-world experience and knowledge that will ensure visitors leave with actionable ideas they can use in their own businesses. These six application areas will also be heavily featured in the Conference sessions, bringing both brand and converter strategic elements into the discussion. Also for easier navigation, some applications will be grouped; for example, in pharmaceutical, there are labels, folding cartons and package inserts, which can all be printed digitally. This is an example of how the whole story will be put together by application and industry.

Mertens stressed that the event is positioned as an industry event. The objective is for the content to be as neutral as possible. When asked whether the venue would be used to announce new Xeikon products as the company has done in the past, he said, “No. That’s not the goal of the event. We are not going to use Xeikon Café as a reason to make product announcements. We want to keep those things separate. We’d like our partners to make announcements, of course! And we have made enough announcements over the last few months to make it interesting for people to come see the new products in person.”

Xeikon will be making more announcements about the event over the coming weeks. WhatTheyThink plans to attend the Belgian event as well as the North American event, so stay tuned for more information leading up to and after these events.

Original Announcement: "Xeikon Café 2018 introduces Academy"