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Going to FESPA? - Here's the latest on travel, costs & Covid - Andy McCourt

Australians and New Zealanders love the FESPA Global Print Expos, held in alternating European capitals every year or two. Attendance from A-NZ is usually much higher than our smaller populations would suggest. As one sign industry supplier once said to me "It's OUR show" - and I don't think he's missed one in 20 years. But, what about Berlin 2022? With so much disruption, should local industry people make the long haul, and what are the benefits & challenges?

FESPA Munich 2019 entry
FESPA's last major Global Print Show was in Munich, May 2019 in a pre-Covid era

 

FESPA (Federation of European Speality Printers Associations) has earned a loyal following for the quality of its Global Print Expos, with a solid focus on Sign, Display, Textile, Screen Process and of course Digital technologies from all of the biggest names in our industry. The last full-blown show was in Munich, May 2019 - a scaled down event was held in Amsterdam last October after two postponements of the planned Madrid show, all due to Covid.

Berlin FESPA from Tuesday May 31st - Friday June 3rd looks to be almost back to normal, with approaching 400 exhibiting companies across eight Halls of Messe Berlin. A list of exhibitors is HERE. Platinum Sponsor is Durst, with Gold Sponsors Mimaki, HP and Brother. Back again are the World Wrap Masters, Printeriors and FESPA Forums.

So, if you are keen to get to FESPA, what do you need to know? I conducted a straw poll and spoke to a few people including UK-based graphic arts freelance journalist Nessan Cleary, an experienced European trade show veteran who recently attended InPrint in Munich. He revealed that evidence of vaccination and wearing of the correct mask (available at airport) is quite rigid in Germany but: "I certainly didn’t have any worries in Munich (InPrint) and I don’t expect to have any problems in Berlin. So if you’re planning on coming, then don’t be put off by either the pandemic or the war in Ukraine."

Air Travel Costs

I've lost count of the number of European trade shows I've attended, I know drupa 2024 will be my ninth drupa! I've always preferred one-stop flights direct into the destination, it saves time and is safer. For Berlin that really only means three airlines - Qatar, Singapore and Scoot (owned by Singapore). Qantas does have some code-share with Qatar but is generally two stops.

When checking Expedia, I was amazed at how inexpensive it can be to fly from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Perth one-stop to Berlin for a quick 'in-and-out' visit to FESPA flying direct into Berlin Brandenberg airport, leaving Sunday 29th May and returning Friday 3rd June.

Scoot Airline: the cheapest Scoot no-frills return economy airfare is AUD$857 (with 5 hour transit in Singapore Changi)

Singapore Airlines: With a shorter 3 hour transit at Changi, from around AUD$1,500-$1,700 return economy

Qatar Airways: Economy return via Doha around $2,000-$2,300

One-stop flights from Auckland are more expensive and only Singapore appears to do these, starting from AUD$2,500 economy. Business class airfares from all departure points vary between $4,000 and $7,500 return, or there's always your points bank.

These choices present either taking the long leg first (Qatar), about 15 hours, then the shorter leg (7-8 hrs) or vice-versa (Scoot and Singapore)

All one-stop flights to Berlin take around 24 hours total, a couple of hours less ex-Perth. Two and three stop flights may be cheaper but can take up to 34 hours each way.

Hotels

Hotels around the Messe appear plentiful and range from $100 a night to $300 and beyond, or you can stay downtown in Berlin about 22kms East of the Messe exhibition centre. StayZ and AirBnB are also options. You could even stay at 'Checkpoint Charlie' for $150 a night and pretend you are the Spy who Came In from the Cold. Just a few are HERE.

Of course with StayZ and AirBnB, you can always get a small group together and pay as little as $50 a night each.

Covid

Since peaking on March 28th, Covid numbers are now decreasing in the Brandenberg/Berlin region of Germany and the nation in general. Recovery rates are above new infections. Like most counties, they have put 'normality' over lockdowns for the milder Omicron strain. You'll need to show an accepted vax certificate to enter. As our mate Neesan wrote: "You have to show proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter most places, including restaurants and hotels, as well as the trade shows. You can print this but it’s easier to keep it on a phone. They’re quite strict on this - you can’t even get into McDonalds without the right barcode. You’ll have to check that whatever you have in Australia is acceptable in Germany."

Getting into FESPA

You can pre-register for the show HERE. Entry cost is €80, €50 with a promo code and some exhibitors, such as Agfa, are offering free entry tickets! The Berlin Messe is huge and inviting, with North and South entrances - South is probably best for FESPA.

You can see the floorplan of all eight halls HERE. So, if you're thinking of visiting FESPA 2022 but feel a bit uncertain, yes, there are some differences to previous FESPAs in 'normal' times but equally, this year's show is in a fantastic city, with great transport and plenty to do, very safe so long as you follow the health protocols and best of all it's the best opportunity to see all the latest technologies, trends and marketing take-aways...until the next FESPA in 2023!

I hope this article helps you decide. If you see me in the aisles, don't forget to say hello!

Messe Berlin