I no longer rush to update the drexit from drupa since the news trickles in, and even the local subsidiaries of the major manufacturers are slow to update us. Maybe some of them will be slightly less shameless about putting advertising in the B2B trade rags on hold for ‘pandemic related reasons.’
Exhibitors can most easily reallocate part of what they would have spent on drupa on marketing with a bit of effort. Many of the too many webinars and virtual expos are falling flat without the help targeted, knowledgable, and engaged B2B platforms can provide.
I heard only yesterday that over the past weekend, Canon and Ricoh have pulled out of drupa 2021. To again recite the drexit list, Bobst and Xerox were the first to quit the event. Next came Heidelberg and Manroland Sheetfed, followed by Komori. Then it was Screen in the first week of September, Fujifilm on 14 September, Kodak in the third week of September, and HP, the Post Press Alliance at the end of September, and EFI on the last day of September. Now in the first week of October, it’s Canon and Ricoh.
Both Ricoh and Canon say they will now switch to hosting their events and the virtual showbiz tools. And while Canon has a direct and robust presence in India with a demo center in Gurgaon, the story with Ricoh India, which was an incorporated company quoted on the Bombay Stock Exchange, is a turbid tale over the past few years. Dogged by poor governance, insolvency proceedings in the National Company Law Tribunal, a seemingly messed up resolution, it is now in the Supreme Court.
There are the hardcore drupa remainers too. Among the top twenty remaining exhibitors are Koenig & Bauer, Kurz, Landa, and Windmöller & Hölscher. Alongside these are the significant exhibitors who have not yet melted away, such as Xeikon, Konica Minolta, and RMGT. One expects more exhibitors to withdraw and further fragmentation of the ecosphere of knowledge and technology sharing. As Gareth Ward of Print Business in the UK has written, “A host of other smaller companies would be giving serious consideration to withdrawing from the event if it did not mean losing a deposit of several thousands of Euros, which many cannot afford to do.”
The drexit will put even more pressure on salespersons than usual, who will have to become proficient in communicating knowledge and technology with the aid of a variety of videos and presentations. For some of the bright sales engineers, it is an opportunity to master digital tools and the tech they have to sell. In the past, many of them were selling on the back of major exhibitions and big brands’ company experts.
The Covid-19 virus has wiped out many events, conferences, awards, and other face-to-face opportunities for the industry to grow. Exhibitions are an opportunity for an industry faced with many challenges to grow as a community. With little prospect of the pandemic subsiding as it sees a substantial second wave in Europe and the United States, travel in April has become unlikely for global visitors. Visitors from China, the United States, and India are currently banned from travel to Germany.
In September, the organizers declared that drupa 2021 would be a hybrid physical and digital event, and the most recent withdrawals strengthen the digital and virtual outlook. They said that starting in October 2020, drupa will be making an online portal available to exhibitors and visitors. However, as of 8 October 2020, there is no real sign of the hybrid event, and in fact, the drupa home page is inviting exhibitor bookings. It is a complicated situation, and only with the prospect of the drexit one sees more clearly the advantages of a major international comprehensive event like drupa.