Virtual show next best thing to the real deal

For many printing industry suppliers, taking part in the recently held four-month long Print, Sign, Display & Graphics Virtual Trade Show was all about maintaining and building connection with customers which can be difficult in a pandemic.

Twenty five exhibitors were involved in the show which ran virtually from June to the end of September and attracted nearly 13,000 online visitors in that time, organiser Visual Connections says.

It replaced Visual Impact that was to take place in April this year on the Gold Coast but had to be called off due to the pandemic and its repercussions.

This online experience was the next best thing to a real show and was organised to fill a gap that was rapidly broadening as more and more shows dropped off the calendar, including the megashow drupa that should have taken place in Germany in June.

A host of webinars were held in the virtual show landscape while show specials were also offered.

Products were also released in the virtual setting, which broke new ground for trade shows.

The show was designed to keep interest up and maintain supplier and customer connection even as COVID-19 continued to slug businesses and operators with shutdowns across the country, and most notably in Melbourne.

The show coincided with the extension of an increased asset write-off increase scheme by the federal government which even in the early days of the show was having noticeable positive benefits for those looking to invest, according to EcoLease director Marian Taggart-Holland.

Product launches

In the absence of drupa 2020, Screen GP used the show to launch its new press, the Screen FL830.

Screen’s new press PacJetFL830 was released at the virtual trade show

Screen GP Australia managing director Peter Scott said the timing of the virtual show worked perfectly for the release of the new press.

“That’s something that we were going to announce and show at drupa this year. The timing of the launch of the virtual trade show was just right as Screen as a company has just announced the development of that particular product,” Scott said.

“It’s something new and exciting for the local market, even though the commercial availability of the product is not expected to happen until sometime in the first half of next year.”

Maintaining a connection

Currie Group also used the show to display the features of its new HP Indigo 100K Digital Press for commercial print customers and the new technology of the V12 for label customers.

“Like everyone we were trying to maintain a connection with the industry, so the virtual trade show added to the mix of online activities we undertook,” Currie Group Sales and Marketing Director Phillip Rennell told Sprinter.

HP Indigo 100K Digital Press

“2020 was supposed to be a drupa year so a number of new product releases were planned and implemented albeit virtually.

“We fielded a good number of enquiries and follow ups from the show. At the same time we hosted many virtual demonstrations as a result of these new releases.”

Overall, Rennell said he was happy with the virtual trade show’s format and the results.

“We have been pleased with the uplift in the labels and packaging sector and continued interest in digital transformation across commercial print and 3d given the circumstances,” Rennell said.

“We were happy with the format, user experience and intuitive menu system,  however it’s no substitute for seeing our products demonstrated in person.

“We are looking forward to welcoming people back into our business when business fully reopens.”

Ball & Doggett national manager display and visual, Leigh Hooper, applauded Visual Connections for staging the show, given the difficult circumstances being faced by all due to the pandemic.

He said the products that garnered the most interest where certain media stocks that have been in high demands due to the pandemic such as EZ Floor, Mastertac AluFoil and Airpurity. But he said it was hard to determine if these sales came through the virtual show or other channels.

Envirocore, a recyclable board, has also been getting a lot of interest from a sustainability point of view, he said.

Ball & Doggett’s fully recyclable Envirocore is growing in popularity for its sustainability

“I applaud Visual Connections for moving forward with this event online, given the current pandemic. It would have been an easier decision to cancel the event, and wait until next year, however I admire their proactive approach and commitment to provide our industry an event which provides a great source of information from leading suppliers across Australia,” Hooper told Sprinter.

“If circumstances don’t allow Visual Impact to proceed in 2021, I would encourage Visual Connections to engage with supply partners and define a number of initiatives that will draw more customers to the site, lift the engagement levels between suppliers and customers and provide a stronger ROI for the supply partners funding the event.”

Exhibitors of the virtual trade show also included: Epson, HP, Roland DG, Bőttcher, Ecolease, Eurotech, Fujifilm, Hexis, Mutoh, Trotec, Control Zone, Europoles, Gravotech, Mimaki, Sign to Badge Solutions, Starleaton, Aeronaut Automation, Ferag Australia, Ricky Richards and Wilenco.

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