By Kemal Carr
Around 2018 it seemed tradeshows had lost their luster. Exhibitors were downsizing their booth space or thinking about doing so. Customers often didn’t feel the need to travel to a show when they could learn about new products on websites. Just two years later, in 2020, tradeshows came to a complete halt as we all grappled with a pandemic. While many vendors put on virtual events in the hopes of nurturing (and keeping) customers, that, plus constant Teams and Zoom meetings, led to what might be called digital fatigue. As the pandemic began to wind down, things began to change.
Last year, Deloitte predicted business travel would return to nearly pre-COVID-19 levels during 2022 and other experts predicted a resurgence of domestic conferences, events and tradeshows in 2022. It appears that both predictions are coming to fruition because, as we get ready to close 2022, tradeshows appear to be coming back. Nothing validates that more in the print industry than the recent PRINTING United Expo held October 19-21 in Las Vegas. PRINTING United was the only all-segment expo in the Western Hemisphere in 2022.
Initial marketing for the show promised product launches, live demonstrations, powerful keynote education, networking opportunities and the chance to reconnect under one roof. The show management didn’t disappoint. With 700 exhibitors on the floor, for many of us who have been in the industry a while, it felt like Graph Expo used to feel. The booths were always busy and the layout was great with two halls supporting commercial, digital, apparel, digital textile, packaging, mailing and fulfillment and graphics/wide-format spaces.
I went to PRINTING United to observe the health of this show and there is no doubt, it was extremely healthy. At first, I was a little surprised at the turnout, the enthusiasm and the energy that seemed to reverberate from the walls. However, as I think about it, business relationships have always thrived on face-to-face connections. We need the energy of being together and the ideas that are generated when we meet in person. The activity at PRINTING United reminded me of all this, along with the lyrics of a once-popular song: “You don’t know what you got till it’s gone.” I doubt we will ever again take for granted the importance, the value and the inspiration that occurs by seeing products up close and doing business in person. It is easy to see why PRINTING United Expo 2022 was such a success.
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