Despite the spate of cancellations of industry events, some events were held showing the resilience of the industry and the value of in-person meetings. Recently, the Independent Photo Imagers (IPI) and Photographic Research Organization (PRO) successfully convened their annual conferences. Also, last week, the inaugural Imaging Executives @ Photopia conference was held. Industry executives agree the need for networking events is as great as it ever was.
“In July, IPI members and vendors gathered in-person for the first time in 28 months at our International Print + Imaging Conference (IPIC),” says Brenda DiVincenzo, vice president, member success, IPI. “While in-person attendance was down slightly, overall attendance (including virtual attendees) was up 21% from our typical annual event. (The percentage of our overall membership attending in person was only down by 2% from the last time we met in July.) What could not be measured (and definitely not tamed!) was the incredible energy that reverberated throughout the conference center. At every online gathering that we’ve had since IPIC attendees cannot stop remarking at how the best part was just being able to be together in person. Hearing each other’s successes motivated everyone to keep the momentum going, with a renewed passion from networking with their peers.”
The PRO convention, held in Dallas (and the first without long-time chairman Mike Worswick), also had a good showing, according to Mike Mitchell, executive director, business development, PRO. After changing locations from Portland, Ore., to Denver, Colo., Mitchell said the in-person attendance was about three-quarters of its customary level but buying activity and networking were at a high level. This was despite some vendors still maintaining pandemic-related travel restrictions.
Mitchell noted the convention programming was adapted to accommodate greater interaction between PRO members and the vendors, including vendor-led sessions and scheduled one-on-one briefings. This recognizes the realities of the current marketplace, with vendors and dealers seeking common ground.
“[Vendors and retailers] making better relationships to survive,” he said. “With the supply shortages from the last 12-19 months, it’s more of a challenge. Retailers have to have a good working relationship with vendors. They need to work together.”
IPIC 2021 photo album photos courtesy of IPI
First-time exhibitor Liz Boettcher, U.S. Channel Accounts Manager, CaptureOne agreed.
“CaptureOne was primarily known as a photo tethering solution and we need to communicate that it’s more than that,” she said. Positioning the CaptureOne software as an accessory sale to a camera opens it up to a new sales channel, and the PRO convention was an ideal opportunity to have meaningful discussions with retailers.
“It was a relief to just talk to people; you can’t duplicate that connection in a phone call or a zoom call,” she added.
Today’s tough retail climate means suppliers and retailers will have to find common ground, according to Mitchell. In both cases, it means checking egos and working together.
“The two groups are making better relationships to survive,” he says. ”It’s a challenge for everyone. These last 12-18 months of supply shortages meant the retailers have to have a good working relationship with vendors. They need to work together. It’s humbled everybody.“
A new European event
PHOTOPIA Hamburg was a new consumer photo event held Sept. 23-26 at the Hamburg Messe and Congress. The event was characterized as a “classic photo show” with the additional component of a festival. The event attracted, despite the pandemic, about 10,000 people. As part of the proceedings, an executive conference, Industry Executives @ Photopia, was held on Sept. 24, bringing together some of Europe’s top names for networking, fellowship, and education.
Conference organizer Thomas Bloemer, of leading European trade publication International Contact, noted, “In view of the ongoing COVID-19 situation, our conference ImagingExecutives@PHOTOPIA was well accepted. Attendees took the opportunity to gather ideas about the feelings and attitudes of German consumers after the pandemic, the challenges for retailers and print service providers and some really new views on how innovative technologies including AI can be leveraged to create new business opportunities. The program was very well received indeed; despite restrictions on travel from some of the major companies, seven countries were represented: Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden.”
Despite launching a new event during COVID, organizers are bullish on revisiting it next year
“What we experienced here with exhibitors and visitors was really a feast for the eyes,” said Bernd Aufderheide, CEO of Hamburg Messe und Congress. “The concept of celebrating an imaging festival not just on the exhibition grounds but throughout the city has won over the industry, the city of Hamburg and, last but not least, the public. We want PHOTOPIA Hamburg, our heart project, to continue growing together with partners and the industry. We are already looking forward to the continuation next year. “
According to a post-show press release, the exhibitors included leading camera manufacturers such as Canon, Leica, Nikon, Panasonic and Sony. Rainer Führes, CEO Canon Germany, said: “We need a festival in Germany that is all about imaging. We have definitely experienced something historical here and want to make this PHOTOPIA the central anchor point for professional photographers in the future, for those interested in the subject of imaging. Hamburg is a great city, a lot happens here. We pitched with a large footprint in the first year of the event, and we intend to expand that in the future. “
Special thanks to Martin Wagner of United Imaging Group for providing the photos from Photopia