Now that the dust has settled on another round of International Converting Exhibition (ICE) trade shows this spring, I thought it was important to review the outcomes and comment, at least, on what may lie ahead.
The 11th ICE Europe 2019, held back in March in Munich, Germany, set new records for visitors, exhibitors and display space. About 7,150 visitors from 75 countries (a 4% gain) came to see 463 exhibitors (an 8% increase) on a show floor that grew about 6,000 net sq ft larger (another 4% boost). These positives may lead to ICE Europe needing to expand into a third hall at the Bavarian Trade Fair Centre next time around.
On the flip side, the fifth ICE USA 2019, making its premiere run at the new Kentucky International Convention Ctr. in Louisville this month, went in a different direction. While exhibitor numbers were on par with 2017, verified registrants dropped by almost 900 to only about 2,500, and (by my estimate) display space fell by about 5% to roughly 53,000 sq ft this year.
Of course, these numbers tell only one side of the story for ICE USA. AIMCAL was very pleased with the 100+ attendees at its popular “Fundamentals” courses, and that two dozen member companies participated in the AIMCAL Pavilion. And there was plenty of running machinery for customers to see “up close and personal” with lots of demonstrations throughout the three days.
Pretty much every exhibitor we talked with was happy with the quality of the attendees. They didn’t care about quantity, but that the right people came and talked with them. They also liked the Louisville venue as a change of pace or that it’s a nice facility. On a personal note, I liked the new location. It’s really convenient from the hotels and airport, although getting to Louisville itself can be somewhat problematic.
You may know that Richmond, UK-based Reed Exhibitions, Ltd., recently wrapped up its acquisition of ICE organizer Mack Brooks Exhibitions. What they do with the shows for 2021, and especially ICE USA, will be telling for the long haul. I’m biased, of course, but the web-processing and converting industries are too important to have their largest event in North America go the way of CMM International.