World in motion
Lyra Research says this year’s World Expo in Las Vegas may have marked a transition for the giant remanufacturing event and the industry as a whole
The ailing economy and maturing North American remanufacturing industry combined to drive attendance levels down at this year’s World Expo trade show, continuing a downward trend that started in 2005. Celebrating its 14th year, the Las Vegas show featured educational sessions and an exhibition hall where some interesting new products were on display.
This year, the show also included a one-day forerunner event in August, the Managed Print Summit, which featured speakers from across the industry, including Courtney Kasuba, Senior Analyst for Lyra Research.
Patricia Ames, Publisher of Recharger magazine, says, "While the format of this year’s show was essentially the same as last year, the look and feel of the show was different." She says the floor plan was adjusted to allow for greater attendee traffic in all booth locations and there was a more consistent flow of traffic overall. "Our marketing efforts were focused on bringing in new attendees from related industries and not just concentrated on the ‘recharger’ market as we have traditionally known it."
Ames credits the change in marketing for bringing in a much larger contingent from the managed print industry than in previous years. "By almost all accounts, these changes had a noticeable and positive impact on the show," she says, adding, "It was incredibly rewarding for us to hear all the amazing feedback we were getting from our exhibitors."
There was a buzz in the event around managed print services (MPS), which was fuelled in part by the summit and a show floor pavilion devoted to MPS and no fewer than 10 educational sessions devoted to the subject. Other courses at this year’s show covered topics such as business management and sales and marketing and, of course, inks and toners and maintenance and repair.
Ames estimates that roughly 3,000 attendees visited World Expo 2009, making it one of the lightest attended shows since the 1990s. This was the fifth consecutive year that visitor numbers have fallen, and, in fact, attendance has tumbled nearly 50 percent since hitting its high-water mark of almost 6,000 in 2004.
Falling from its peak of 312 in 2005, exhibitor numbers have followed attendance levels in their steady decline. This year’s hall featured just 132 exhibitors, representing a decline of about 35 percent from the 204 exhibitors at the previous show. While total exhibitors were down, Ames says some 40 exhibitors hosted booths at World Expo 2009 that were not at the event in 2008.
In hindsight, the drop in overall numbers was inevitable. Travel budgets have been slashed and most industry tradeshows have seen fewer visitors this year. Firms that may have sent large contingents to World Expo – or other events – in the past are sending only key personnel to keep costs down when times are tough. Ironically, while this practice drives down overall numbers, it also made the quality of the participants at the event that much more valuable because they tended to be key decision-makers.
All the rave
MPS is undoubtedly the hot topic in the digital imaging industry and that was clear at World Expo. Some 300 attendees crowded into the Managed Print Summit. Many in the audience came to the summit to learn the fundamentals of MPS and how it can benefit their business. But this was not just an event for beginners, and there were plenty of other companies in the crowded hall that already offer some flavour of MPS and wanted to know where to go next with technology.
Presenters from the summit also taught classes, so attendees had an opportunity to get a full day of presentations at the forerunner event and then attend classes to build upon what they previously learned at the summit. Walking around the classrooms, Lyra spotted many people from the summit – presenters and attendees alike.
From the summit it soon became clear that current MPS programmes run the gamut from rather bare bones print volume-based programmes with a dash of printer fleet management to elaborate programmes that manage the fleet, provide break-fix services and analyse business processes.
Most OEMs, including HP, Lexmark, Ricoh and Xerox, provide a selection of managed print solutions and the list of programmes continues to grow. Many supplies vendors such as NER Data Products, Printer Essentials, Supplies Network and West Point Products also offer MPS programmes. Overall, market trends are with MPS, and the industry’s hallowed ‘razor and blade’ business model could soon change into one that is service-based.
Exhibitors at the show were eager to reveal what they are doing with MPS.
Matt McLeish, Director of Field Sales at MPS veteran Parts Now! says the company continues to invest in its MPS programmes. "We have expanded our sales force and consolidated and redefined our offerings."
Over the last year, the company has seen increases in dealers coming under contract, the number of devices monitored and the number of end-users, effectively growing the MPS programme by 400 percent. Moreover, McLeish says that channel interest continues to grow.
West Point’s Manager of Market Analysis, Scott MacKenzie, says that his firm’s Axess MPS
Programme has garnered a lot of interest. The company unveiled a groundbreaking new line of remanufactured cartridges with bio-based toners at World Expo, but MacKenzie adds he received more questions about the Axess programme than new toners. He says that it is "snowballing" as more West Point clients sell the solution to customers.
While there were success stories from some companies with MPS solutions, many third-party supplies vendors revealed that their clients are still not signing up.
Speaking off the record, most said that their channel partners still do not understand exactly how to sell MPS programmes. A representative from a large North American vendor told Lyra the disappointing tale that one of his major clients insisted the firm support MPS or risk losing the account. After working feverishly to implement a programme, the client was unable to sign up even one customer for a managed print solution.
With so many programmes now on the market from OEMs and third-party supplies vendors alike it is clear that MPS is more than just a fad. The overwhelming response to the MPS summit underscores that many in the digital supplies industry are clamouring for more information about MPS.
As the industry better understands the markets for these programmes and how to sell them, revenue is certain to grow. According to forecast numbers released in August by the Photizo Group, a research firm dedicated to MPS markets, the global market will grow from about $25.8 billion to just under $60 billion by 2013. Photizo estimates that by 2013 over 50 percent of all digital imaging devices will be under some managed print programme.
Reinventing the show
Although there was much enthusiasm around MPS and some of the new products at the show, it was tempered by genuine concern about the event itself.
Keith Ruehl, Marketing Manager at Azerty, describes the foot traffic at the show as much lower than in the past.
"I’m nervous about this show," he says of its long-term prospects. "Other wholesalers are nervous too."
Parts Now!’s McLeish is even more pessimistic about the long-term health of the event and concludes the show is dying. While he acknowledges that the economy played a role in low numbers at the show this year, McLeish says, "It has to re-invent itself."
He suggests that involving OEMs would drive numbers up, while other exhibitors who agreed offered other suggestions such as partnering with another event, such as the ITEX show, which was held in April and has also experienced consecutive years of declining participation.
Despite the lower attendance, many at the show said that it continues to be the must-see event for the remanufacturing industry in North America.
Steven Huang, VP of Strategic Marketing and Product Development for Cartridge Web, for example, says he noticed the number of exhibitors and attendees were down. Regardless, he was excited about the meetings he had at the event and all the new contacts he met.
West Point’s MacKenzie says that overall, the show remains important. "There is still value in coming here."
In general, most attendees shared his assessment and felt that the show remains valuable to the industry. In addition to providing a showcase for new products, it allows participants to network and it provides a single venue for meeting with clients from across North America and outside the region. As noted earlier, the participants this year also tended to be higher level executives and often were the key decision makers, which further enhanced the show’s value.
According to Recharger magazine’s publisher, the show has a healthy future and changed implemented will ensure it will remain strong.
"The format will be changing dramatically next year," says Ames. "World Expo will be a two-day show in 2010. This should make for an even more energetic, dynamic show."
While the venue will stay the same – Mandalay Bay – the dates of the show have been moved forward from August to 14-15 July. The exhibition hall at World Expo 2010 will include more concentrated areas devoted to a key market like the MPS pavilion in this year’s hall.
"Expect to see more use of pavilions, not only for managed print but also for other groups and categories," says Ames. Some of the show’s standard features will remain such as The Reader’s Choice Awards (RCA), which will continue to be an important part of the overall event, says Ames, "As we move to a two-day show, the RCAs will be more integrated into the World Expo programme."
Ames says that Recharger has other changes planned for next year. The magazine will hold its first event in Macau, the Las Vegas of Southern China near the remanufacturing centre of Zhuhai.
"ReMacau Expo, a brand new show, is generating a lot of interest and excitement," she says. It will be held 13-14 May at the Venetian in Macau. Next year the magazine is also hosting what Ames describes as "the South American standard", Reciclamais in Sao Paulo, Brazil from 8-10 June, and ReIndia Expo will celebrate its third year in 2010 when it is held in Mumbai from 29-30 January.
This year, ReChina Asia Expo will also experience some changes. This will be the sixth year for the Shanghai event, and it will be held from 2-4 December rather than its usual date in November.
It is encouraging to see Recharger implement changes to its events, especially its flagship World Expo. Lyra wonders, however, if reducing the number of days it runs and moving the show forward a few weeks will be enough to drive up exhibitor and attendee numbers. World Expo’s management ought to consider moving the dates from the summer, when so many people wind down, to another time in the calendar.
Attendees and exhibitors alike have long grumbled about attending a trade show in the summer. Also, with the contraction in participation, perhaps a venue change is in order.
Although rooms were cheaper this year, Mandalay Bay Resort and Convention Center is an expensive property, and it is tough to justify the expense. Management should also review the educational sessions and try to lure more of the industry’s technical experts, many of whom no longer come to the show. Although sales and marketing sessions are important, high-value, hands-on training labs will bring back some of the technicians who are now rare at the event.
The North American remanufacturing industry in 2009 is quite different from what it was back in World Expo’s heyday, so one should not expect to see the growth experienced in the past. Still, Lyra thinks that more will need to be done to grow the event. World Expo needs to be reinvented, and the best way to do that is to make it an event that provides enough value to draw a healthy crowd from a cost-conscious industry. Failing that, we should expect more of the same.
For more information about Lyra Research’s Hard Copy Supplies Journal contact: Ann Priede, VP Publications Group, Lyra Research Email: email@example.com