I visited The Print Show at the NEC last year and was very impressed with the overall feel and culture of the show. A great mixture of traditional past and current digital technologies.
This year the show was re-directed to the International Conference Centre in Telford, a move which could have meant its untimely demise. The Telford venue has some challenges in terms of location and facilities, and understandably the print trade looked upon the relocation with a few doubts about its suitability for this emerging exhibition.
Some of the doubts and concerns about the location of the show were realised, but overall it still had some great qualities and the feel and culture was not lost. It was great to see that the aisles weren’t over stretched in width to exaggerate the size of the show, as seems to be the case in quite a few exhibitions these days. Even the car park was free for visitors, a lesson the NEC needs to learn as this is one of the main bug bears of visitors who, after travelling, queuing, and either being bused or walking a distance to the NEC halls really despise paying £12 for such a poor service. You would think that the NEC would make a better effort to be more attractive and affordable and therefore see the benefit of increased footfall, or perhaps they are too arrogant to care?
Getting back to the show format; it was really great to have an area where visitors could see at first hand and learn about where today’s print has evolved from, with some great traditional machinery on show and artisans of a bygone age showing that history and their skills still matter. It was also great to hear from many exhibitors that, although the level of enquiries was down on expectations, they had met a very high proportion of new litho-to-digital transition companies who had not previously been on their radar.
It has to be said that it did seem like the visitor attendance was noticeably down on the previous year but, considering my earlier comments, the show still had something to offer to visitors that they would have otherwise missed. It was also noticeable how many new exhibitors had come to show their wares together with a genuine desire to understand more about what this show has to offer. Although it was noticeable that some of the bigger brands had probably over done their involvement and splashed a bit too much cash when all things were considered.
There was also some over indulgence from certain manufacturers who clearly encouraged too many of their partners to exhibit, which gave visitors a confusing amount of choice of the same products. I can only imagine that this could have been a negative if the visitor had decided to focus on getting a clear and simple review of what was available to them.
I understand that The Print Show is re-locating back at the NEC next year and I can only hope that this year’s visitors can forgive them for the Telford blip and that normal service will be resumed at the NEC. I’ve heard rumours as to why Telford was “chosen” this year and considering the disappointing reviews I’ve heard about this year’s IPEX it would be good to think that the NEC might learn to back a more certain winner in the future.
We can but hope!
Peter Davidson was an exhibitor at The Print Show in Telford.