Virtual drupa just finished its day two. The stream of webinars and company presentations did not ease. 61 were listed for the 21st of April and obviously there is no way to cover them all. I managed about a dozen and glimpsed into a few others. Here are my impressions and conclusions.
The 20th of April 2021 marked the first day of virtual drupa. After live trade shows garnered a lot of criticism lately – besides Covid-19 making live events impossible currently – virtual drupa should be a good benchmark on how virtual events can replace the live version. Drupa has an invaluable head start on many other virtual activities due to their strong brand name and almost guaranteed media coverage.
The good news first: the website technology mostly worked well. The live streams had some small interruptions. Occasional screen sharing and presentation issues were on a level we are used to. Navigation on the site remains a bit challenging, however – like navigating their 18 halls without an exhibitor guide.
During the first day visitors of virtual drupa are torn between a multitude of offerings. To be honest, I did not make it into the exhibition and matchmaking areas yet. There were 59 web session listed for the first day, accordingly many sessions running in parallel. The sessions fall roughly into two groups: vendor presentations (mostly on products) and more educational sessions in the conference area.
Drupa 2020 is history – that never happened. Drupa 2021 fell victim to the pandemic as well. But there is still virtual drupa in 2021 and we are all curious on how this experiment is going to work out. After all, a virtual event is almost the opposite to the live, meet and touch drupa we all know. Virtual drupa 2021 is going to take place next week on four days on your screen, from the 20th of April to the 23rd.
Virtual drupa will have several elements:
- An exhibition space
- A networking plaza
- A conference area
Printing is not all about inkjet, but this is the most dynamic type of technology, with the potential to drive new applications and markets. Therefore, some inkjet events to watch out for are lining up.
Inkjet Insight is having an Innovation Week. This is series of webinars to educate the industry on the latest inkjet technology coming to the market, across document, labels, packaging and industrial segments. Technology coverage includes presses, press components, software and finishing. Different experts will share their knowledge and are available for Q&A. The webinars will run from June 14th to 18th.
Also, at Inkjet Insight a monthly overview on the latest inkjet production press installations gives readers an overview on which company installed which device into which company. It will be interesting to see how markets and demand develop. We started this series in January 2021 and will have a monthly update. January was a strong month with 16 installs, followed by 11 in February. You would need to become a member, but this is definitely worth it. Naturally we will miss some installations, as there was no press release or other public mention. If you know of any installs, please let me know.
There will be some more inkjet events to watch out for this year. A lot will still be virtual, but I hope on-site events will resume. I certainly have marked my calendar for the Hunkeler Innovationdays 2022, starting on the 21st of February 2022. Hopefully there will be opportunities to see the latest launches even before that.
Yes, we know drupa 2020 has been moved and Covid restrictions mean that there will be no trade shows for 2020 at least. Still vendors want to launch new products and since even open houses are out of question for now the last resort is virtual events. There have been a few in the last couple of months.
There are pundits that extol the virtue of virtual, but I find them somewhat unsatisfying – and I know that I am not alone. There are big differences in the quality of the virtual events as well, in terms of content, presentation and getting the attendants enthusiastic. But the main point is that marketing anything around print, which distinguishes itself as something multi-sensory and tactile, only virtually is a bit dicey.