Why drupa?

As the global print industry gets set to return to Düsseldorf for drupa 2024, let’s not forget that B2B at its heart is often about relationships and the people – P2P. With this in mind, David Pittman ponders the show’s position and role in 2024.

Get ready, get set, expo! drupa is back.

Since the last edition way back in 2016, much has changed. Let’s not go into too much detail of our shared experiences over the last four years in particular, but suffice to say supply chain restructuring, logistical challenges and global headwinds have made print and packaging stop, take stock, and reassess priorities.

A particular question relevant for print and packaging supply chains was where will trade shows fit back into the ‘new normal’ (remember that phrase?). What would they look like, what would they deliver and where would the value be, for exhibitors and attendees alike? In reality, the ‘new’ normal feels and looks very similar to the ‘old’, on the surface at least. Over the last two years, most trade shows and expos have made successful returns, many even benefitting from a post-Covid bounce.

You can read from myriad sources about the range of machinery, equipment and services to be presented at drupa 2024, many of which are to be seen in the iron by most for the first time and some are even brand-new, box fresh technologies, which are set to innovate print and packaging way into the future. It’s up to each company and individual to assess who and what they need and must see to get the value out of drupa; but with 18 halls and 1600+ exhibitors, and just 11 days in which to do it, one suspects that won’t be hard to do.  

Rather, I want you to remember the human element of attending. Post-Covid, print and packaging rushed to reconnect in-person, contributing to the successful return of shows and expos. In post-post-Covid times, this must continue to be valued by all parties. Whilst exhibitor presences and attendee profiles have evolved, the innate human desire to meet and interact with each other remains as strong as ever. Shows and expos benefit from that as a platform to bring people from a range of businesses and backgrounds together, globally in the case of drupa. I can’t tell you the amount of people met, stories shared, and lessons learned directly from this over the years. And that’s just me. With more than 200,000 expected to attend drupa 2024 (220-240,000, is my guesstimate), simple extrapolation yields an untold number of connections and fruitful – and, yes profitable – relationships to be born out of attending.  

Of course, the huge cost implications and logistical burden of attending such events mean the people-to-people side of business-to-business is not enough on its own to value and validate your presence. For a behemoth like drupa, that’s even more pronounced. However, do not underestimate the importance of these interpersonal connections to your overall attendance experience and long-term success. Such gains often arise from those serendipitous meetings and intangible moments when you walk down an aisle or drop by a stand.  

Many will have their time at drupa 2024 planned out with military precision and quite rightly so (I refer you to the aforementioned 18 halls, 1600+ exhibitors and more than 200,000 attendees). However, wherever possible, be sure to build in time to explore beyond your borders and see where those you might not have scheduled meetings with could take you and your business.  

If being an editor for nearly two decades taught me anything, it’s that no-one knows it all. With that in mind, be sure to embrace the unknown and go to see companies and pieces of equipment that you might not know about or have identified in your planning. Ideas can be sparked from anywhere, by anyone and whilst they might not catch fire immediately, 2, 5, 10 years down the line or even longer, you’ll be able to look back on that Thursday afternoon meeting in Hall 7a at Messe Düsseldorf and thank the intangibility of attending a trade show for your good fortune. 

David Pittman is a retired print and packaging industry journalist and editor, now working as a senior account manager at PHD Marketing 

Posted by: Admin