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Going South: Heading to a Bigger Than Ever GOA

Press release from the issuing company

By Noel Ward January 24, 2005 -- It's getting habit forming, this annual trip to Miami Beach for Graphics of the Americas. But how can anyone argue with a trip to Florida in February? Sure, going down-island to Aruba or the Grenadines would be nicer, but Miami will do just fine. And while Miamians may be complaining about having to dress warmly to withstand the rigors of recent temps dipping into the fifties, I'm looking forward to a break from watching the mercury struggle to reach the teens. So next week it's off to the Miami Beach Convention Center for the 30th annual Graphics of the Americas, February 4-6. But this show is not just an excuse to go south and rent a convertible. It's much, much more, especially this year. GOA is the trade show and conference of the Printing Association of Florida, arguably the most active affiliate of the Printing Industries of America. While many other regional shows have withered or disappeared altogether, GOA has grown from a regional "pipe and drape" show to become the premiere winter event of the printing industry. In addition to being the first show of the year, this pre-eminence comes from the steady increase in attendance, expected to reach 22,000 registered attendees this year, up from 20,000 in 2004. Chris Price, GOA general manager, says attendance always swells following a "drupa year" because vendors often roll in technology introduced in Germany the previous May. More telling than the swelling attendance is the support of vendors. Most of the major firms are in attendance, many with booth space significantly expanded from 2004. Price says more than 400 exhibitors will be occupying the 500,000 square foot convention center. Sensing opportunity, some leading players will be at GOA for the first time, including Lasermax, Nipson, and Xeikon. And it's not by chance that Xerox and other firms will be announcing new products in Miami Beach. GOA has become an important show. Part of the buzz GOA generates is its international flavor. While 60 percent of attendees are from the U.S. (mostly the southeast and east coast), some 40 percent come from the Caribbean and Latin America, bringing with them market and product needs very different than those of print providers in North America. This is not an idle point for purveyors of digital printing technology. From CTP to DI to wide format to full-color variable data printing, the Latin American market is expanding rapidly. "The market for digital print is taking off in Latin America," affirms Price. "They have watched the evolution of digital printing equipment mostly from the sidelines and are now ready to dive in. The key difference--and advantage-- for Latin American print providers is that digital printing technology was developed and refined in other markets like the United States. This means Latin American print providers can invest after the technology's early growth phase--and its associated growing pains. This shortens their learning curve and the time to profitability." Xplor at GOA As anyone who's been involved with digital printing knows all too well, climbing that learning curve is a vital component for successful digital printing. This is one of the main reasons Xplor International is holding a variable data and digital color printing conference in conjunction with GOA on February 3 and 4. Skip Henk, president and CEO of Xplor, believes advances in digital print technology and the changing business climates makes GOA a great educational opportunity for variable data, especially with respect to the Latin American market. Brazil, for example, is one of Xplor's fastest growing chapters and Henk says partnering with GOA positions his organization to support digital printing education there and in other Latin American markets. The eight Xplor conference sessions target print providers looking for new opportunities and ways to grow business, as well as creative and marketing pros looking to understand the issues and benefits involved in creating targeted messages and stronger print communications. "The conference is really about using variable data and digital color printing to grow business, whether you are an end user, a print provider or from the traditional print or IT worlds," says Henk. "The content addresses questions such as: 'Why variable data and digital color? How do I implement it? What are the pitfalls and best practices? How do I sell it internally and externally? How much does it really cost?" These are core issues related to variable data and digital color printing , and the Xplor conference at GOA should provide an excellent venue for all attendees, not just those from Latin America, to hear answers to these questions. The sessions also emphasize how digital print technology shifts printing away from being a commodity. Digital printing is more than ink or toner on a page--it's really about innovation and offering new and more effective ways of communicating. As Frank Steenburgh, Senior Vice President for Business Growth in Xerox Production Systems Group stated earlier this week at the World Print Congress in South Africa, "Innovation moves you up into the creation of new businesses, new markets and new possibilities. Digital printing is a complement to offset, not simply a replacement. Unlike offset, digital printing is about much more than printing. It's about helping customers compete and communicate more effectively with customized content and color on-demand." Still More Learning Opportunities The opportunity to learn at GOA is hardly limited to Xplor, though. The InDesign Conference, running concurrently with Xplor, is designed to give graphic designers more of the knowledge and skills they need to get the most out of Adobe's top-shelf page layout software and leverage its integration with Photoshop and Illustrator in Adobe Creative Suite. One session is even dedicated to multi-lingual publishing, a vital topic for Latin America. Catering to the audience, all the InDesign sessions will be presented in both English and Spanish. Want more? On Saturday, David Cross, senior consultant and trainer for the National Association of Photoshop Professionals will be running five sessions that should help many designers raise their image editing skills in the "Photoshop Down and Dirty" track. And it doesn't stop with the conference sessions. Out on the floor, special areas such as the Mailing Zone, Design City, Sign and Banner Hall, and JDF in Action will run throughout the show to deliver practical knowledge on these key areas. The growing interest in digital printing in Latin America, the increasing commitment to GOA by vendors, and the rising attendance of Graphics of the Americas is evidence that digital printing is going to blossom under the tropical sun. I'm looking forward to hearing the latest information, and I'll fill you in on what I see and hear. Stay tuned!