Labelexpo Europe will also take place in 2021, as the event will return to the Brussel Expo on September 21-24.
These scheduling decisions have come with an abundance of challenges, but there are opportunities to ensure that attendees generate the most out of their experience – all while remaining safe.
What was the process like deciding to postpone Labelexpo Americas and Brand Print Americas?
Milburn: Postponing shows is certainly not something we take lightly but these are unprecedented times, and the health and safety of all our exhibitors, attendees and show partners will always come first. We have been closely monitoring the situation over the last few months and following the advice of our local partners, the venue, WHO, CDC, as well as listening to exhibitor feedback. We concluded that postponing Labelexpo and Brand Print Americas from September to March is the best way forward.
How did you decide on March for the new dates?
Milburn: This strategic decision was taken as part of a wider Labelexpo and Brand Print portfolio review and not made in isolation. Aside from health and safety considerations in moving our US show, as well as several of our other shows, we had other important factors to take on board such as the availability of venues, time of year, and their position in our wider show portfolio cycle. So, it was by no means a quick or simple decision to make.
Moving Labelexpo and Brand Print Americas to March will, however, ensure we deliver the highest quality, safe experience the industry expects from Labelexpo and Brand Print Americas, and an even bigger show when it returns to Rosemont. As mentioned, the safety of exhibitors and attendees is our number one priority, and we will continue to work with Donald E. Stephens Convention Center on making sure that any required health and safety precautions will be met.
Are there concerns about having Labelexpo Americas and Labelexpo Europe so close to each other, especially for suppliers coordinating attendance?
Milburn: No. The two shows target different geographic markets, so generally speaking, attendee converters who attend Labelexpo Americas are less likely to attend Labelexpo Europe. Our US show is very much designed for the North American market. For that reason, and due to its biennial cycle, it is very important that it runs in this edition – the industry in the region needs the show, and now more than ever as we move into the post COVID-19 recovery.
Four years between editions is simply too long to wait.
What feedback did you receive and rely on from industry partners, both prior to the postponement and after the official announcement?
Milburn: As part of our wider strategic portfolio review, we discussed the options for moving the show with all show partners and exhibitors, and notified them of the changes ahead of making the announcement. Their input was crucial to our decision. Our sales team is now working on confirming all Labelexpo/Brand Print Americas exhibitors into the March event. Partner feedback has been resoundingly positive regarding the move; the industry understands that this is an unprecedented situation, and, under these circumstances, the best outcome. The show will serve as a necessary industry recovery platform for the North American market in 2021.
Working together during these COVID-19 times has never been so important, and this is particularly true of our collaboration with key trade associations like TLMI and APTech.
I’d urge everyone involved in the labels and packaging industry, as well as branded print industries, to really scale up their partnership working, and join us at Labelexpo/Brand Print Americas in March.
How will Labelexpo Americas and Brand Print highlight recovery and the future of the industry?
Milburn: The label industry has remained extraordinarily resilient throughout the COVID-19 pandemic due to its central role in supporting key industry sectors such as pharma, e-commerce, and food and beverage. However, the pandemic has also exposed the problems with relying on workers with key skills – who may have to self-isolate – and on machinery that requires constant human intervention. This means factors like machine automation, workflow digitization, remote machine monitoring and robust networking are now more important than ever, and Labelexpo Americas will showcase the industry’s technology solutions to these issues.
For the branded print sector, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed a particular challenge as retail has been pretty much shut down. However, PSPs are finding new, creative opportunities as the economy slowly opens up again and retailers are completely rethinking their in-store brand messaging toward social distancing, one-way store traffic and so on.
At the same time, the huge increase in e-commerce during the pandemic is opening up new opportunities for innovative transit and gifting packaging. The technology, which makes these new applications possible in the wide format, digital corrugated and digital sheetfed market, will all be highlighted at the Brand Print area at Labelexpo Americas.
Innovation, creative thinking and collaboration are going to be crucial in getting the industry back on its feet, so having the two elements co-located gives brand owners, PSPs and label/packaging converters the opportunity to see how these new solutions and opportunities fit together. For example, taking messaging from labels and packaging through to retail displays and in-store promotions, and integrating track and trace with new e-commerce packaging formats. Taken together, Labelexpo/Brand Print Americas is committed to signposting and promoting these new creative opportunities for the converting and commercial print industries.
What will the pre-show virtual conference entail?
Full details have not yet been finalized, but we are planning a two-day virtual conference ahead of the March show, similar in content to our annual and extremely popular Label Summit Latin America – but 100% online. We’ll be covering the label and package printing industry’s hottest topics, and bringing on board inspiring expert speakers from across its whole spectrum. It will take place over the original show dates of September 15-16.
Our main aim in running the virtual conference is to help the industry stay connected and up-to-date outside our show and support it during these challenging times, particularly now that so many people are full-time home workers. It will also help the industry prepare for the eventual upturn and come to the live show full of ideas.