29 October 2012 Commercial

The reason for Drupa's three year plan lies in Dusseldorf

A fall in visitor numbers and fewer days at the next Drupa would be disaster for Dusseldorf, but is the answer a three yearly cycle?

Committee must decide future direction for Drupa.

Committee must decide future direction for Drupa.

THE DRUPA COMMITTEE MEETS THIS WEEK TO DECIDE whether Drupa will move to a three-year cycle, amid vocal opposition to the move from the event’s major exhibitors. However, Drupa director Manuel Mataré has indicated that in discussions many exhibitors have favoured the move.

But the proposal has nothing to do with trying to squeeze out Ipex, Print or other international events and securing Drupa’s position in the pantheon. Instead the proposal is about appeasing the hospitality industry in Dusseldorf where Drupa visitors can be worth €5 million a day to local businesses.

WHAT ALL EXHIBITORS HAVE LOBBIED FOR, AND seem to have achieved, is a reduction in the duration of the show, from 14 to 10 or 11 days and covering just one weekend. This represents a huge reduction in demand for hotels, for meals in Dusseldorf’s restaurants, for taxi rides and local coach businesses ferrying staff from hotels to fair ground. But running four ten-day shows in a 12-year cycle rather than three 14-day events in the same period is a reduction of just two days in that time, palatable to the hotels and restaurants of the city.

Many of these businesses had been pinning their hopes on Drupa this year achieving the same level of visitors as in previous years, but visitor numbers fell. And importantly many, stung by their experience in previous years, preferred to stay in Essen or Cologne rather than in Dusseldorf. It has been easy to point the figure at Messe Dusseldorf for the slackness of business during the show. Few hotels were full for the duration and it was easy to book restaurants and to move around the Altstadt.

THESE FEELINGS WERE EXPRESSED AT A POST-SHOW MEETING BETWEEN representatives of the hospitality businesses and organiser. Many had taken on extra staff to cope with a Drupa rush that never arrived. But the jacked up prices for all shows and especially for Drupa, the most international of all the large shows staged at the Dusseldorf Messe, have been blamed. Cash strapped printers have selected cheaper options.

Many European visitors are able to reach the show and return the same day thanks to the rise in low cost flights and expansion of high speed rail networks, helping to control their costs during recession.

the fall in visitor numbers was down to the shrinking industry.

the fall in visitor numbers was down to the shrinking industry.

DRUPA HAS WORKED WITH THE LOCAL HOTELIERS ASSOCIATION (DEHOGA NRW) to create better transparency and understanding of the needs of exhibitors and visitors. The exhibition company endorses a seal of approval for a FairFairs Hotel and the hotel “can enjoy the advantages of this innovative marketing tool free of charge and gain a competitive advantage”. Werner Dornscheidt, CEO of Messe Dusseldorf, adds: “Trade fair visitors are hotel guests and it’s important to consider that when setting room rates.”

It is against this background, rather than because Ipex is moving to London, that a switch to a tri-annual bonanza of visitors for Dusseldorf’s hotels and bars should be seen. There will be pressure to ensure that this initiative is improved for future years and that plans for Drupa should take account of the impact on the local economy, reckoned to be around €5 million a day during the show. Losing four days from the show could be considered a disaster.

OPPOSITION TO THE MOVE FROM EXHIBITORS HAS CENTRED ON THE disruption to the rhythms of product development that are suited by a four-yearly technology focused event. Heidelberg, KBA and HP have all declared that they do not favour changing the show’s frequency.

The argument from Messe Dusseldorf, that the three-yearly event over 12 years provides the same number of sales days without increasing accommodation costs, fails to take account of this, nor that it would mean an increase in marketing, stand design and other costs for exhibitors at a time when the industry is shrinking and needs to curtail its expenditure. The exhibitors want to reduce the length of the show, and the question is whether they can have this without agreeing to a change in frequency.

THE FOUR-YEARLY CYCLE OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE shows was settled on by Eumaprint to bring order to a cycle after Nowea had changed Drupa’s frequency to every five years in 1990. This was considered a move to ensure that the millennial 2000 print show should be in Germany rather than in the UK as would have been the case. But as the other shows included are Print in the US and Igas in Japan, and take no account of the now dominant Chinese market nor the potential of Latin America and elsewhere in Asia, there is room to discuss changes to the show timetable.

There are already events at the Dusseldorf Messe, including packaging events Interpack and K, which operate on a three-year cycle, but which do not attract the same international spread of visitors as Drupa. However, there was not a hotel bed to be found during Interpack, which took place in 2011, not because the show had suddenly attracted hordes of international visitors, but because the Eurovision Song Contest was taking place at the same time.

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Committee must decide future direction for Drupa.

Committee must decide future direction for Drupa.

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the fall in visitor numbers was down to the shrinking industry.

the fall in visitor numbers was down to the shrinking industry.

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