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2022 International Trade Shows - which should you attend? - Andy McCourt

Despite the best efforts of Omicron covid variant, it looks like a dozen or so important industry trade fairs will go ahead in 2022. As someone who has attended most of them (or their variants), Andy McCourt surveys the global expo scene so you can pick and choose to suit your calendar and extra-curricular wishes.

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Social distancing and trade shows are not easy bedfellows - but measures are in place
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WFOL publisher Andy McCourt

There was a time when a career in print, packaging, signage and the field of graphic disciplines could be measured in a 'span of Drupas.' Such was the power of the Dusseldorf, Germany quadrennial trade show, manufacturers would plan their entire R&D schedule around it. Some presses were even dubbed 'Drupa models.' Digitialsation fragmented some areas with specific shows for labels and signage in particular proving successful, while the now defunct Ipex event in the UK cast a shadow across the channel for a while until a disastrous move from the Midlands, UK, to London (coupled with post-GFC belt-tightening) put paid to it from 2014.

We all have war stories of trade show happenings in far away lands - my favourite being the nameless Australian executive who had his briefcase exploded by Israeli security on the Scitex stand when he left it unattended. It was during the 1980s height of hijackings and terrorism and any unattended parcel or item was suspect.

And now we have Covid to contend with. As Wolfgang Marzin, CEO of Messe Frankfurt notes in this issue, following the postponement of Heimtextil - the situation 'remains volatile.' Nevertheless, our industry's drive and desire to stage and attend physical trade shows in unconquerable. It's not just the chance to see the latest technologies and observe trends - large trade events cement personal relationships, create new ones, educate, stimulate the imagination and inject a feeling of pride and achievement as part of the almost one-trillion dollar global print-related industry.

The virtual events put on since the pandemic began and travel was restricted are great and have fulfilled important needs but they are no substitute for the real, tactile, in-person and on-the-floor events that appeal to all five of the human senses.

Aussies and Kiwis love to travel to these shows and keep one step ahead in the business process and technology game. Yes, there's also the fun angle after hours and why not? It's all part of the networking.

So here's my round-up of twelve industry trade shows still scheduled to run in 2022. Some are specific to industry sectors, others more general and bigger but there must be at least one or two to appeal to everyone. Remember, things can change at short notice as we have seen, so links are provided to keep up to date. I look forward to seeing you in the Aisles and/or bars!

Sign China 23-25 February, Shanghai, China

A show that was proving popular with ANZ visitors prior to Covid cancellations, huge and bewildering.

NPSOA Spring Conference, USA 17-19 March, San Antonio TX

The US National Print & Sign Owner's Conference is the perfect event for smaller print&sign shops and franchises. It's knowledge-rich with great presenters and supported by Canon, Ricoh, Konica Minolta and amy others.

Sign & Digital UK 22-24 March, Birmingham, UK

A smallish show but very well organised by Faversham House. Australian software innovator PrintIQ is one of the exhibitors.

Labelexpo Europe 26-30 April, Brussels, Belgium

The big one for all label and flexible packaging players. Increasingly digital, great venue in Belgium.

ISA International Sign Expo 4-6 May, Atlanta GA, USA

Massive show if you prefer US travel to EU. Dedicated only to Sign & Display

FESPA Global 31 May to 3rd June, Berlin, Germany

We can all only hope and pray there will not be another postponement. Fespa is a must-see.

Heimtextil/TechTextil 24-26 June, Frankfurt (provisional)

Recently moved from January - co-location with TechTextil in June to be confirmed

PacPrint-Visual Impact 28 June- 1st July, Melbourne

This is OUR show! Looking good to go ahead after 2 deferrals. Floorplan already looks great.

Labelexpo Americas 13-15 September Chicago

Grew in popularity over Brussels pre-covid. Good fall-back if EU is still a no-go

The Print Show UK 20-22 September, Birmingham, UK

A one-hall show, so it's no ersatz IPEX, but if you have family in UK........

All In Print China, 11-15 October, Shanghai

Co-organised by the Drupa organisers, a more visitor-friendly show than ChinaPrint

Printing United 19-21 October, Las Vegas

This is the result of the US amalgamating 3 of its trade events incl. SGIAA. HP is lead sponsor. Viva Las Vegas!

IGAS 2022 24-28 November, Tokyo Big Sight

Igas has been more of a Japanese show until recently and it has plans to be more international. Sure to please and Tokyo is a wonderful experience.

...and not forgetting that the next Drupa is in 2024, 28th May to 7th June!