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The State of the Industry Trade Show

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I’ve heard the gripes. Most of them, anyway. One segment of the printing industry is unhappy that another is gobbling up more and more square footage on the trade-show floors each year. Still another is annoyed that would-be foreign competitors bring cameras to the shows and try to, shall we say, document their technological developments. You get the idea.

I’ve heard the gripes. Most of them, anyway. One segment of the printing industry is unhappy that another is gobbling up more and more square footage on the trade-show floors each year. Still another is annoyed that would-be foreign competitors bring cameras to the shows and try to, shall we say, document their technological developments. You get the idea.

The complaints are essentially indicators of change—whether the change is for better or worse depends on your perception and bottom line. Trade shows themselves are also heralds of change. They wear market fluctuations, economic booms and bombs, and emerging trends and technologies on their sleeves. For example: One year, a manufacturer will occupy a two-story mega-booth contraption, bring at least half a dozen monster presses to the show floor, and staff its trade-show territory with 36 people; the next year, that same company may occupy the smallest booth space available and man it with one person who is there to take breaks between episodes of melancholy and boredom to make sure adequate amounts of product literature and ad-specialties are on the table.

If you’ve been to industry trade shows during the past few years, whether local, regional, or national in scope, weigh in with some of the changes you’ve noted. If you’re going to your first show this year, write in and tell us your thoughts about it. And if you have any complaints, chances are I’ve already heard them.

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