On Thursday September 14th, Bosta held its autumn meeting in the magnificent setting of Tivoli Castle in Mechelen/Malines. While the weather was dreadful, it did not dampen the spirits at all. Indeed, Bosta once again lifted the mood with tons of good news. From great prospects for the Paper Show and Responsible Office updates to a new membership formula.

1. Paper Show 2018

In 2018, the Paper Show will take place in the Nekkerhal in Mechelen for the first time, because the infrastructure of the Brabanthal was becoming too cramped. Even now, 87 exhibitors have applied, and we have already sold more square footage of exhibition space than the Brabanthal could accommodate. The concept of the trade show remains untouched, other than a couple of new features:

· additional categories for the Paper Show Awards: hobby products and leather goods;

· Eco Awards: will exclusively feature products with at least one label acknowledged by Responsible Office.

We kindly ask our participants to:

· make particular efforts to attract more Dutch visitors;

· sponsor SOS Children’s Villages (a 300-euro contribution to the benefit of the Simba House);

· make maximum use of the promotional checks.

Exhibitors will soon be receiving an email that contains all the essentials to ensure their flawless participation in the trade show. From information about the Awards and promotional checks to technical booth specs, exhibitor and visitor registration, Novotel room rate discounts, and loads more.

Zetes: carefree registration

The registration of Paper Show participants and exhibitors will be managed efficiently by identification solutions expert Zetes. Jean-Marie Marinus zoomed in on the tool’s operation and benefits. Zetes provides the technology for:

· visitor registration and badging;

· registration of booth personnel (using a login sent by email);

· visitor follow-up.

Online registration is quick and easy, while exhibitors obtain crucial visitor data. Zetes invites you to register your booth personnel beforehand in order to not waste time during the trade show proper. Starting January 18th, exhibitor badges will be available from the exhibition secretariat. Exhibitors will receive detailed registration information by email.

SOS Children’s Villages: continuity pays off

Geertrui Declerck presented an overview of the projects realized with the support of Bosta and its members. For eight years running, Bosta has pledged its continuous support to the Simba House, a safe place for children raised in difficult circumstances. This past Summer, in Molenheide (Limburg), the children enjoyed a vacation for the first time. Bosta’s continued support ensures the Simba House’s daily operation. Geertrui proceeded to thank Turbel for their hard work: during a teambuilding at the Simba House, their employees really rolled up their sleeves.

Nekkerhal / Artexis: prime location for events

Jan Goditiabois and Farida Martens gave a presentation about the Nekkerhal and its parent company Artexis, a big player in the events industry. Artexis manages several event locations in Belgium, including Flanders Expo, Antwerp Expo and the Nekkerhal. The Paper Show’s new home base has been thoroughly renovated these past few years and is now a multifunctional hall with a host of benefits. Exhibitors will receive more information on the technical options soon, including floorplans and installation and dismantle dates.

2. Responsible Office: towards sustainability!

Carlo Bollen and Kathleen Bosteels presented an update of Responsible Office (RO): the website that promotes sustainability in the industry. The speakers shed some light on the origin and operation of RO and highlighted some of the innovations:

· technical adjustments to improve user-friendliness;

· investing in SEO to increase searchability (in three languages);

· clearer product descriptions;

· social media integration;

· clickable logo pointing to the manufacturer’s website;

· a current information and news section;

· the option to export product information in an Excel format.

Currently, RO contains ten certificates for products and two for companies. Our aim is to achieve at least twenty participating manufacturers and a thousand products, higher visitor numbers and more contacts in Wallonia.

PEFC: responsible products

PEFC, the world’s largest forest certification system, is a non-governmental organization dedicated to the cause of sustainable forest management – which is hardly a luxury considering more than ten million hectares of forest disappear every year. The PEFC certification system is reliable and transparent: it follows the forest supply chain from forest to consumer, via third-party assessment of management, storage, processing, transportation and sales.

Companies with a valid PEFC certificate may put the logo on their products. In doing so, they demonstrate their commitment to corporate social responsibility, attracting customers who are concerned about the environment, promoting the demand for PEFC products, and supporting the (local) foresters.

Cradle-to-cradle: good for people and the environment

Gil Stevens offered a detailed explanation of cradle-to-cradle: a new business model that aims to design products in a way that makes them safe and sustainable from start to finish. To achieve this, the focus is firmly  on three strategies: reuse, reduce and recycle, putting closed-loop material cycles front and centre. Fundamental principles:

· consider waste as a nutrient

· focus on renewable energy

· cherish diversity and strive for innovation

C2C certification is ambitious, requires effort and a long-term strategy. To increase the viability of C2C, certification has been split up into phases. The C2C website helps businesses implement the model, provides workshops and courses, and a support program to put the principles into practice.

3. GfK: insight inspires smart decisions

Thalia Demesmaeker of market research company GfK presented recent market developments and figures, including the relation between online and offline sales and the progress of e-commerce. Summary of conclusions:

· spending power in Belgium is higher than in the Netherlands, but lower than in France;

· the stationary market saw a sharp decline in the period from January to June 2017, and this in all major product categories;

· players who sell exclusively offline or online, are affected the most; companies employing a multichannel strategy, on the other hand, are thriving;

· the influence of social networks is on the rise;

· customers expect ‘convenience’: accessible and available always and anywhere;

· Belgium still has some catching up to do in terms of mobile shopping: computers remain the number one tool for online purchases;

· buyers expect uniform prices - regardless of channel - and a great experiential value: the store as an “amusement park”, personal shoppers, the nostalgia of the farmers’ market, ...;

· free delivery is e-commerce’s greatest asset;

· e-commerce in Belgium is the fastest growing in all of Europe.

4. New Membership Formulas

Finally, committee chairman Patrick Bivort introduced Bosta’s new membership formulas. To counter the fact that distribution companies are currently underrepresented, he proposed two new formulas tailored to the needs of that sector: the DIS and DIS+ memberships. The new DIS+ membership also gives distributors access to GfK’s indispensable quarterly figures and market analyses. In addition, DIS members can run for a seat on the Board of Directors, allowing them to put their stamp on policy.

In between the presentations, the booths for the Paper Show were allocated and members could catch up and exchange experiences. True to tradition, the Autumn Meeting was concluded with a networking drink and dinner.