20 top tips to make your Drupa useful - The Noel D'Cunha Sunday Column

Drupa is exhilarating but it is also very very energy sapping. A strategy in place will make your 11 days, from 31 May to 10 June, useful and the experience fruitful or else the trip is a blur and a vacation to Dusseldorf (and of course Amsterdam, if you're so inclined). The Drupa veteran, Noel D’Cunha provides simple common sense tips about how to prepare and plan your action at Drupa

24 Mar 2016 | By Noel D'Cunha

1. Some of you are Drupa veterans but with the technology shifts at Drupa 2016 (heavy metal is out; digital is in. HP is the biggest stall, after all) spend two hours of day one in acclimatising. Figure out the location of the cloakrooms and water coolers.

Then track down the list of companies you want to see, and keep a timeline to do it quickly. Also make it a point of going to the small halls, because that’s where the really interesting innovations can be discovered. 

2. Get your Drupa entry passes in advance. These entry passes permit you to free travel on public transport and discounts at museums / cafes in Dusseldorf. Procure the Drupa directory in advance, which is available onlineso that you can plan.

3. There are fifty plus inkjet suppliers at Drupa. Don’t let that intimidate you. The kit specs, purchase prices and cost benefits are simpler to quantify than an offset press. Get one person in your team to study the devices in order to understand the benefits and strengths which could make your business more efficient.

May be not in 2016. But at least 12 months later you may own one of these beauties. 

4. More than 50% of Indian printers do not use a workflow software. More than 60% do not use an ERP software. More than 80% do not use colour management software. More than 90% do not use web-to-print software.

This could be the edge your company seeks. Look at what you need to cut down on manual processes as well as integration, for example W2P, scheduling or data collection. 

5. Look for the new Holy Grail. If you are a traditional offset press company for four decades, no point spending all your six days at the Heidelberg or KBA stand. It’s better to visit a stall with a unique machine or technology.

Sometime it could be a retro-fitted conveyor belt part or gripper bar coating. Think out of the box. Keep an eye for end of the line finishing.

6. Sorry to sound pompous but read the Drupa previews we are putting out. It will help. Work the internet and social media (Twitter, Facebook, Twitter, Google alerts) for background information on the show.

Hot tip: Keep an eye on paper. Carry swatch books which your designer or your client will love.

7. Put "managing director" or "director" or "Boss" on your badge and visiting card. The plain and simple fact is: You will get better service and will be offered posh drinks.

Bear in mind, there are many India events. From the AIFMP to IPAMA. From Canon to Xerox. The decision you have to make is, whether you want to spend time with the boys from the homeland, or network anew? Whatever party you attend, do behave. Remember you represent India. Being polite and non-boorish is not a crime.

8. Attend machine demos and product presentations. Most stalls will have an Indian representative. Exchange cards.

The unfortunate truth is: Indians tend to respect others Indian only overseas. Good time to seal deals. But do bargain hard. You may not get a discount but you could get an extra year’s warranty as part of the final negotiation.

9. Seek early morning appointments. Some of the best work transpires one hour before the official show opening. You get quality attention. Likewise, after the show closes. Watch out for half-day closing; often the show’s last day.

10. Instead of a family member, travel with one operator or shopfloor manager. You will be surprised how much more hungrier they are about print than you are. Remember: Drupa is a hot spot to network and forge business relationships. Face-to-face contact will help the man in your team to try new ideas.

11. Inform your customers about your Drupa. This could be a simple WhatsApp message or customised eMail.

Is there something specific they need? Remember: You need great and talented customers if you truly want to grow our business. Talent is 1% creativity and the rest is knowledge and expertise.

Technology (at Drupa) is easier to buy, but people are more important. You may have the best system in the world but it is nothing if you haven’t grown your customers fast enough.

12. A lot of people will grab you - and waste your time. (Typical questions are: When did you come? When do you go back? Where are you staying? Anything interesting? Have you met so-and-so?) Avoid such persons. Above all, please prioritise. Find out in advance who will be at the stall you plan to visit. Jot down your notes and seek appointments in advance.

13. PrintWeek has a stall at the show. If you want a genuine pit stop sans a sales person badgering you, please drop in. There is a round-the-clock kitchen in addition to a full-fledged news room.

14. Don’t carry brochures and catalogues and print samples back to India. It is very sexy stuff. But air freight is expensive. Request companies to send you emails or courier it to India. Also don’t overdo it; too much information can be as counterproductive as too little, so be realistic on what you want and how much you can absorb.

There is a wonderful post office in the Messe grounds which can courier your stuff. But it will take a hour or two to complete the formalities.


15. Two pairs of shoes. Preferably semi-formal but comfy. Lots of walking to do. Therefore pace your Drupa. Don’t burn out on day one. Comfy doesn’t mean shabby. Stall owners take you seriously if you dress appropriately, so be comfortable and be suave. Along with your two pairs of shoes; also a back up spectacle case.

16. Make copies of the passport, air tickets, hotel address, etc. Keep spare copies in Mumbai, too. There are pickpockets at work (yes, even in Germany!) when you disembark from flights.

Be most vigilant, since at that time when you’re dozing and disoriented and nursing a mini hang-over, a missing passport in a stolen bag can ruin your entire trip.

17. Check the temperature. Carry thermals and woollen socks and monkey caps, and sweaters, etc. Carry a bottle of water in your handbag. Please drink water at every stall.

Remember: Water is expensive (and scarce) in Dusseldorf. And you get “only” gas water in cafes. Of course you get home-brewed alt bier. But that is another story.

18. Carry your medicine and toiletries. If you’ve diabetes, heart trouble, asthma, BP or allergy, please carry medical prescription. I recall a printer from Kolhapur in deep trouble in Bochum. His medical hassle plus bills were steep. Just because he didn’t have the prescriptions. He had to be flown back to Kolhapur.

19. A simple thing to do is to research where to stay. You can skip an Indian meal cooked by an Indian maharaj from Birmingham for a few days. Instead look at hotels associated with the event often have most of the retailers and buyers staying – ideal for networking in the cocktail bar. Most of them must be booked up; so move fast.

20. PrintWeek India is a cooperating media partner at the show. The team led by Noel D'cunha, Rushikesh Aravkar and Monica Rohra will be present on all days of the show.

We will be publishing "live" eBulletins on all days of the show. To receive the Special Drupa eBulletins, please ensure you and your team members register here.

See you there! 


A pictorial tour of the previous Drupa edition