Following drupa Postponement, What’s the Outlook for 2021?
With the postponement of drupa 2020 due to the coronavirus — which had been planned for this June in Düsseldorf, Germany — to April 20-30, 2021, Sabine Geldermann, Director of drupa and Global Head, Print Technologies, at Messe Düsseldorf, discusses what's in store for drupa 2021.
Printing Impressions: How has the global printing community responded to your announcement of drupa being rescheduled to next year?
Sabine Geldermann: The current situation is affecting all industries worldwide in an unprecedented way and the effects of the coronavirus are already having a drastic impact on public and economic life. As in other industries, the printing industry is feeling the effects of this in the form of short-time work, production downtime and supply bottlenecks — on a national and global level. In this situation, however, the health and protection of employees and partners takes precedence.
The reaction of our international customers and partners to the postponement was therefore consistently positive and met with great understanding and acceptance. Three months before the regularly scheduled start of drupa, we were thus able to give many exhibitors the opportunity at this point in time to reschedule their upcoming logistical and very cost-intensive measures, such as the shipment of machines.
We were very pleased with the numerous emotional feedbacks on our social networks and platforms. One thing is certain: the industry wants to have a drupa again, one that retains its image, its radiance and its global standing. This would not have been feasible under the current conditions. That's why we will now take every possible measure to meet the expectations of our global customers in April 2021 — let's embrace the future in 2021 together!
PI: What has been the response by the city of Düsseldorf, given it is such a major event for local hotels, restaurants, the Altstadt, etc.?
Geldermann: In general, Düsseldorf's trade fair, congress and event business has a very positive effect on the city. According to a study by the ifo Institute, it generates an average of 36.3 million euros in additional tax revenue annually. Added to this are purchasing power effects of 1.66 billion euros and 16,664 jobs, which are secured by Düsseldorf's trade fair and congress organizers and their events in the region.
The fact that a world-leading trade fair such as drupa is being postponed, along with a number of other trade fairs, is therefore certainly having an effect on the hotel and catering industry. We are in contact with the DEHOGA (German Hotel and Restaurant Industry Association) about this issue and they are asking its members to be flexible when it comes to re-bookings by exhibitors and visitors. These times are difficult for everyone, therefore we must try to find a reasonable middle ground together.
PI: Because drupa is such a forward-looking event from a technology standpoint, how do you think that will impact the cycle of new product introductions that have now been made ready to launch this June?
Geldermann: Our exhibitors will certainly present some of their innovations this year already, using different formats such as customer events or digital platforms. However, these can only bridge the current demand — in our opinion, they do not offer a complete replacement for a trade fair with worldwide appeal. drupa is and will remain the top platform for the printing industry to present innovations, come together and, above all, network. That is why drupa will remain the target the print industry is working towards even after the postponement.
drupa represents an indispensable platform for industry participants, providing orientation, impetus and, above all, satisfying the demand for face-to-face meetings and worlds of experience to a high degree. It is all about human needs, haptic experiences and running machines that fascinate participants and which definitely cannot be fulfilled at this point by digital media. What distinguishes leading world trade fairs such as drupa is the concentrated energy that arises from the selective gathering of many people; the personal and emotional exchange; the joint presence of decision-makers, multipliers and idea providers; lively discussions; presentations that set the pace; chance encounters; opportunities to acquire new customers; recruiting options ...
Especially in the current situation, where numerous European countries are subject to unexpected restrictions, the need for personal encounters and an extraordinary customer experience after such an experience will certainly be even more pronounced in the future. We are people, not avatars — and the desire for personal exchange, knowledge transfer and networking in a fascinating ambience is unbroken despite all digital formats. That's why it's great to see that numerous key accounts are already shaping the motto "let's embrace the future in 2021 together.”
PI: How are you handling already acquired services, for both exhibitors and visitors?
Geldermann: The current drupa layout will initially also apply to the 2021 event and provides the basis for further adjustments where necessary. Existing contracts will also remain valid for the new date. All technical orders placed with Messe Düsseldorf or our partners for drupa 2020 can also be carried over to the 2021 staging. Should exhibitors not be able to adhere to their existing contracts, we will make every effort to find an individual solution in specific cases, in consultation with all parties involved.
Visitor tickets already purchased for the postponed trade fair, as well as admission ticket vouchers, remain valid for the postponed date. If visitors are no longer able to attend, they can cancel their tickets at the Messe Düsseldorf ticket service (email: email@example.com; Tel.: +49 211 4560-7600; Fax: +49 201 3101-9950). The cost for the tickets will be refunded.