At the recent Hunkeler Innovationdays 2019, we bumped into Sabine Geldermann who is the Director of DRUPA, and we got the chance to sit down and talk to her about DRUPA 2020.

DRUPA is by most people in the printing industry considered the most important and also the biggest – and as Sabine Geldermann tells in this film, vendors even plan developing cycles around the DRUPA 4 years cycles – so no wonder. However, looking at the numbers DRUPA also becomes smaller and smaller – and, of course, some of the decreases come from the fact that the industry is shrinking, but some may also come from the fact that trade shows, in general, have difficulties attracting the visitors to come.

The numbers from the previous DRUPA in 2016 also show something that must be a challenge. 68% of the visitors came from Europe and only 9% from, i.e. North America. To be a true global print show requires not only vendors from all over the world but also visitors from all over the world. Sabine Geldermann tells that some local German tradeshows have closed and been absorbed by DRUPA but also that the number of visitors from outside Europe is growing.

In this very openminded interview with Sabine Geldermann, you get a great insight into the upcoming DRUPA 2020, and though it still seems to be far away Sabine Geldermann tells INKISH.TV that the sales for 2020 have already reached the 2016 level and all key accounts are assured. Good for DRUPA, good for the industry – and regardless of where you are located it’s time to organize hotels, Airbnb’s and travels to be sure to get accommodation – and just in case you haven’t been in Düsseldorf before: Be prepared to spend an awful lot of money to get even the worst shitty hotel

Sabine, such a pleasure to meet you here in beautiful Lucerne in Switzerland. We have to talk about drupa. Next year is drupa year. Fire away.

Yeah. My pleasure as well to meet you here during the Hunkeler Innovationdays. Yeah, drupa is in a very positive mood. As I already mentioned we are in great progress, and we already have taken the last results of drupa 16 in terms of space and key accounts that are already registered for drupa. We are in the middle, as well, of getting the agenda set for our different conference areas, stages, touchpoints.

If it’s the touchpoint packaging or 3D fab+print, dna, which is actually a fresh and new approach of the formerly drupa innovation park, we’re coming from cutting edge technologies, global trends and the targeted aim is to show the impact on our industry, so, yeah, it’s all very dynamic.

Talking about being on track and selling the space, which is, I guess, a very important thing for a big exhibition that takes place every fourth year, would you say that your success rate of drupa is a mirror of how the industry is developing right now?

Absolutely. I think coming from a big consolidation period, not only on the visitor side, print service provider side, but as well from the supplier side, this actually has given a lot of spirit and a lot of positive move, and if you look at the portfolio of our major key players, you clearly see that the graphic arts, yes, it’s still the heart of drupa since foundation 69 years ago.

However, all the major key players certainly now have a digital strategy and there’s no more only one digital hall or two or three, but we’re talking about 18 halls full of digital solutions and of certainly looking at inkjet. This is one of the drivers in the industry where you not only print on graphic material but on ceramics, on wood, on textile.

You have an advantage with Inkjet Presses takes out a lot of space, right?

Yeah. As one of the USPs of drupa certainly is that exhibitors are coming with running machinery, with big equipment, that is certainly as well an exciting curve for many of the participants.

I’ve been at drupa many times, of course, since I’m a member of the industry. But one of the things I like it about drupa a lot is, of course, as you said, that you have running equipment, I also like that it is more than two days. I’m not 100% sure I like that it’s 11 days, and it used to be 14 days. If you look at drupa in the marketplace, is there still a need for these long-time exhibitions? I know it takes a lot of time to put things up and there’s a lot of people there. But I’m just like, time is changing and as you mentioned dna, I think there’s a lot of changes in the world going on, so I’m curious about your opinion about that.

So actually we are not taking that decision by ourselves. We have a drupa committee which actually represents the visitor and exhibitor side, and interesting enough, obviously, there’s still the need to have 11 days, and still in 12, they were 14 days-

That’s good they were like 15 month ago, right?

11 days. I mean, we would have adjusted. Like running the K show for 8 days or interpack for 7 days, having an overlap of exhibitors in that circle, and we regularly ask our customers, would you rather reduce or remain with the timeline and as I said the feedback was 11 days are perfect and I think we just meet in there the requirements of the industry you just said and mentioned with a four or five week construction period and with all that machinery-

Takes us a lot time to do it basically-

Simply, with all the country days and different teams coming from all over the world, it’s fascinating to see.

Why exhibitions, I mean we have the internet, we have films, we have …. a lot of the exhibitors at drupa and big brands, they have their own shows, why big shows like drupa?

Okay, we [inaudible 00:04:29] there certainly, that’s our commitment but on the other side, I think with all the digitalization and with a digital transformation the need of meeting and face to face into active exchange of ideas touching solutions, being a human being with the desire to have practical experience, this is obviously still a very big boat for trade fairs, and interesting enough we are observing at Messe Düsseldorf with a portfolio of 25 own trade fans and 25 guests partners, so far there always was a good reason why trade fairs took place and our own shows that have taken place already since the beginning of the year. If it’s the bold show, if it’s your sixth show for the biggest retail, that’s a meeting point. They have seen even an increase in participation and –

But the reason why I’m asking is because if you look at your visitor numbers over the past, let’s say five, six shows, it has a curve and it’s not a positive curve.

That’s true. That’s certainly true-

That’s why I’m asking you if there’s a … because I can understand … I totally agree with you on the tactile and the networking thing and running equipment and all these kinds of things. I totally agree on that. But I’m just wondering why is it … I mean of course the industry is a decreasing industry, so of course from that perspective there will be fewer visitors. But I’m just wondering, do we as an industry have a challenge ahead of us actually convincing the print service providers and the industry to actually back up and get inspiration from getting to the trade shows?

I think this is our absolute responsibility to show the universe of print different business models, how to probably partner and take the woodwinds of every partnership. And this is I think a big tendency, observe not only on the visitors side but as well on the supplier side. Interesting enough, we see that some of the big players formally being competitors now, getting much closer and really serving the customer from a different angle and perspective, and just to answer your question or to reply to your observations.

Thank you.

Yeah, you’re fully right. 10 years ago or seven years ago, we had 15,000 print service providers in Germany, let’s name it like this, now we are talking about 7,000 so 50% of the base of visitor potential has been eliminated from the market due to digital transformation. Other reasons why they didn’t survive and obviously that consolidation’s still going on. However, from an international point of view, visitor numbers were increasing. We had an increase again from India, from China-

Emerging markets go to Germany-

Yes, absolutely I think Europe as a region and as a country still has a very high reputation when it comes up to engineering processes and to quality technology. Like here in Switzerland, I think Switzerland, Germany, Scandinavia, these are very strong countries that simply have an absolute let’s say quality and reason why the world is going to still need a platform such as drupa.

It’s kind of fun because when I attended print 18 in Chicago, the obvious question is always the first day of the show. How many will come and how is the buzz and things like that, and I actually asked the guy that gave me the badge, I asked, “so is it a big show this year?”, and he was like, I don’t know. See, I’m not with the show, I’m just here with McCormick place, and the way I see it is that 10 years ago there was like five, ten people from every company coming here.

Yeah, that’s another reason-

But now-

It’s a budget dimension, absolutely.

And I was just wondering if … because I wrote an article about this because I think that one of the challenges the exhibitors or the exhibiting industry has, is that it really has to be valuable for the customer..

Relevant valuable-

To get that because one, I’m just wondering, in your opinion, do you think that not DRUPA particular but more like in general, do you think that the industry and the exhibitors has been too much focusing on the exhibitors rather than the visitors.

We as an organizer-

More general. Yeah, that’d be good. I mean this is … I mean one of the surprise that I have is, I see that the number of private shows like this one and like little bit like Dscoop, a little bit like Argos Inspiration days.

Different formats simply.

Seems to be attractive for the vendors because they have their own organs and they can manipulate the communication the way … the story they want to tell, and I was just wondering if, the users liked to participate in these events, doesn’t that challenge the big ones like yourself even more?

To a certain extent I think. These news events or user events as you just mentioned, Dscoop for example, or EFI Connect, I think another very, let’s say successful example. I think it’s the charming thing is the mixture out of it because you just, you said you just meet the audience you already know at drupa I guess the impacts is coming as well from fresh and new contacts have as well a great value for exhibitors, and it’s simply a different platform. It’s coming from a different hierarchy, and so yeah, the word of trade fairs has changed as well.

We have seen a lot of consolidation. I mean, the biggest competitor when I started at Messe Düsseldorf was Ipex in terms for drupa it’s gone. That trade shows in Germany, like Druck und Form finished or-

Okay. You actually-

Consolidated from-

Even from a German perspective, you consolidate? So some of the local fairs now become more attracted to go to drupa.

Yeah. Because I mean anyway, if you are taking your business very carefully and have a big responsibility for your future, you’ll have to get orientation and guidance, and where do you get orientation guidance? Certainly one thing is a good print source and magazine or different, let’s say farm, it’s conferences. However, on the other side I think you have to get a vision and you have to get inspired by I think many key players that are certainly driving our industry, and I think this is what drupa still stands for in terms of value proposition.

I totally agree on that. I’m looking forward to go there of course, a final little round of questions here. Unless you have something you want to add to it, I was just wondering, now we have been touching a little bit upon the market and the challenges that I think we agree on that it requires-

Absolutely-

Some kind of, I wouldn’t say change, but it requires considerations about how to actually make it attractive to go there. If you look at the next drupa, what is … if you have three reasons why a print service provider or converter should go there, shoot away.

Yeah, absolutely, as I just said, it’s about inspiration, it’s about new business models, it’s orientation and guidance. It’s simply taking, as our claim says, embrace the future taking or identifying what is relevant for me, what has informed me as quality and implementing those ideas. If you’re a print service provider in your daily business or if you’re a supplier, just getting an idea of what is happening because I think the universe of print is still, let’s say, it’s still unlimited in terms of ideas and in terms of applications and as always now some big visions around provided by key players of the industry, and I think there’s not one industry where you don’t find printing applications.

If you’re looking at the automotive industry, if you’re looking at the medical industry, if you’re looking at the various, let’s say applications in terms of packaging, I think printing is so inspiring and.

Of course I agree with you. I’m not trying to be provocative but anyway, I’m just asking you, the things that you mentioned right now-

It’s a must attend event, if you miss it-

But isn’t this more or less the same … Could you say that about the 16 and the 12th drupas? I mean I’m just wondering, I had a conversation with Thayer Long and I actually think that was the reason why I got involved with the APTech for the last show because I was saying that the value is not … I mean you know the hotel prices in Dusseldorf and you know how expensive it is, but that is not the real cost. The real cost is basically that you take out your time of your company and that’s where the value proposition, so what you say is of course right.

I couldn’t disagree with anything of what you’re saying, I’m just wondering because if I was a … let’s say that I’m a printer in Hamburg or I’m a printer in Milan or I’m a printer in Athens and I have to go and I want to go to drupa, it’s not just … It’s always about equipment, it’s always about a return on investment, but it also has to do something that the value that you bring is that enough, enough to have a lot of holes with a lot of gear because that also … It is a challenge for the industry to reinvent themselves in order to make it even more valuable to go there.

But then… Let’s say you’re talking about the timeline for a printer that is visiting, that’s one side of the story. I think that’s as well a USP of drupa. I’m being in a four year cycle. We just had it very interesting interviews and discussions, dialogues with customers. So one big value of drupa certainly is that the supplier side is developing specifically on that four year cycles innovation so if you-

They use it to actually kind of

it’s obviously the Olympic, the Olympic thought behind it that I think it’s really one big advantage.

Okay. That sounds awesome. So that means that we can build with confidence, go to drupa and we can confidently believe in the next drupa as well.

Absolutely agree.

Okay. Thank you very much.

Thank you very much.