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FESPA responds to rescheduled show concerns

Following industry concerns over the rescheduling of FESPA to March 2021, just 5 weeks before drupa and with Covid-19 travel uncertainty, FESPA's CEO Neil Felton responds to questions from WFOL publisher Andy McCourt.

Neil Felton CEO FESPA
FESPA's CEO Neil Felton: "Exhibitors prefer to engage with their customers and new prospects in person..."

Following last week's article on the rescheduling of FESPA 2021, CEO Neil Felton kindly took time out to respond to concerns in a Q&A.

First I hope you & yours are safe and well and that no one inside FESPA has been seriously affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. Are you all well?

Neil Felton: All members of the FESPA team are well and healthy, thanks for asking. We’re emerging from an extended lockdown period in most of Europe and we’re all very eager to get back to work on the next show, which we have just scheduled for March 2021!

To FESPA 2021 and its proximity to drupa - has anyone at FESPA been in contact with the organisers of drupa for discussions? Would FESPA consider co-locating the shows if possible? If not, why not?

Co-location is not an option that we have taken into consideration. While there are a few exhibitors who attend both FESPA and drupa, the crossover between our visitor audiences is quite limited. FESPA has always been very specifically targeted to the speciality print community, including screen and digital wide format printers, sign-makers and graphics producers, and textile and garment printers, serving a growing range of vertical markets. Of course our events do also attract commercial printers with an interest in diversifying into some of these more specialist areas. We’ve consulted broadly within our exhibitor base and there is strong support for our new March 2021 dates in Amsterdam. 

 Has there been any feedback from any exhibitors about the closeness of the two shows? Have some decided to exhibit at FESPA but not drupa?

The response from our exhibitor community to the announcement of our event in March in Amsterdam has been positive. There is a strong appetite from suppliers for a platform early in 2021 to re-engage with customers and prospects after a year without live events, and growing confidence that many PSPs will be ready to explore opportunities to rebuild and recover. Exhibitors will undoubtedly invest their marketing budgets where they deliver the best ROI, so they will match their presence, and the products they choose to showcase, to the specific event audience.

 Have the European authorities been consulted with regard to quarantine for Intercontinental visitors and exhibitors - will it remain in place and if so for how long will visitors be required to quarantine in hotels?

The situation regarding COVID-19 is obviously a constantly evolving one, and restrictions regarding travel and so on are still quite fluid. A lot can and will change in 8 months between now and March 2021, and we hope that, by then, international travel will be much less restrictive than it is now. 

We are routinely consulting all the relevant bodies and international authorities to keep up to date with the latest guidelines and restrictions relating to COVID-19 ahead of the re-scheduled dates, and will keep our exhibitor and visitor communities informed of any changes that may affect their planning.

Will there be a virtual FESPA offering where live feeds from the show floor enables those who can't travel to see and ask questions about the exhibits?

While we have been observing some of the recent virtual events with interest, we have no plans to go down this route with FESPA’s events. Ongoing dialogue with our exhibitors indicates that there is not enough demand for this type of platform and that they prefer to engage with their customers and new prospects in person.

I’m sure that individual exhibitors will also showcase their product launches across other channels, and of course our fespa.com website and social media channels will be a valuable source of up-to-date product and event highlights for those who cannot be with us in person.

Why was Amsterdam chosen as the host city for the re-scheduled event?

RAI Amsterdam is one of the most popular venues with our community and has been the host city for many successful FESPA events in the past. Amsterdam is a cosmopolitan hub with excellent connections via road, rail and air, which will enable many northern and central European visitors to effortlessly travel to the event.

 China is experiencing either a spike or second biphasic wave of Covid-19 - how will FESPA be impacted if Chinese exhibitors and visitors cannot attend in person?

The COVID-19 pandemic is dynamic in its development so it’s hard to predict how the situation will unfold in the next year, or which regions might be impacted by any resurgence. We’re in close dialogue with the Chinese exhibitor community through our direct representatives in China, and they are enthusiastically transitioning their bookings from the 2020 event to 2021, underlining their confidence in FESPA Global Print Expo as an international showcase for their products.

 Based on current information, neither Qantas nor Air NZ will be flying passengers to Europe until at least June 2021 - what are your comments on this?

We acknowledge that this is an unhappy situation for our visitor base from Australia and New Zealand. However, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the response of international carriers, is dynamic and it’s very possible that this position will be reviewed in the interim. Meanwhile, PSPs in Australasia can freely access a range of educational and inspirational content on fespa.com and via our social media channels, engage with our Australian national Association for local business support, and consider planning ahead to attend the next FESPA Global Print Expo in 2022, as it’s an annual event.

 With at least 5 major exhibitors active in both wide format/signage/display/POS etc & general cut sheet digital print for both commercial and label/packaging applications, do you see FESPA as a competitor now to Labelexpo, the packaging shows and drupa?

While there is some crossover with the shows you’ve mentioned, we don’t view them as competitors. The audience profile of our FESPA events is very specific and niche and we have built a dedicated international following over the course of six decades of FESPA shows. And FESPA is fundamentally unlike any of these other events in that we’re not driven by the needs of commercial shareholders, but by our ‘Profit for Purpose’ mission to support the speciality print community by providing access to education, knowledge sharing, best practice and networking opportunities. Our single motivation is to nurture a thriving, successful and sustainable speciality print industry. FESPA Global Print Expo and our other global events are means to that end.

FESPA 2021 Show Logos