Graph Expo 2011
By Charlotte Woolard
Producer/Owner: Graphic Arts Show Co.
What: Trade event serving the graphics industry
Where: McCormick Place, Chicago
Date 2012: Oct. 7-10
Date 2011: Sept. 11-14
2011 floor space: 300,604 sq. ft.
2010 floor space: 291,134 sq. ft.
No. of attendees 2011: 20,451
No. of attendees 2010: 19,961
No. of exhibitors 2011: 491
No. of exhibitors 2010: 506
Producer comment: “We've shifted from a print show to a graphics community show, with print, online, mobile,” said Chris Price, VP of GASC. “It's a much more complicated world, but we're going to survive.”
Exhibitor comment: “It's North America's largest graphics show, so it gives us the ability to communicate with the graphics community in one centralized location,” said Scott Ginnett, director-digital collaboration and social media at Ricoh Americas Corp. “When attendees and vendors make the investment to be there, that direct face-to-face conversation is the value add.”
Breakdown: Graph Expo grew attendance in 2011, reporting a 7% increase in verified unique attendees and a 12% increase in verified unique buying companies. The gains came as organizers worked to build community in a diverse industry undergoing rapid technological change. “One of the key things in adapting for us has been segment marketing,” Price said. Marketing elements including the website are tailored for 12 different groups. More than 30 collocations helped boost attendance as well, with GASC focusing not just on sharing space, but fully integrating collocated events and providing organizational support, Price said. The company partnered with its exhibitors, providing data and marketing services. It has experimented with event technologies including QR codes, PURLs and virtual offerings. A perpetual Web portal bringing together relevant content and virtual event elements is in the works. “We create this magnet, this channel,” Price said. “Can it help drive [attendance to] those events? Of course it can, but it's more than that.” The goal is to create a year-round touch point to bring together the graphics community, Price said.