No location is better suited than Mechelen to allocate the booths for the Paper Show. So, Bosta invited its members to the remarkable Lamot Conference and Heritage Centre for its autumn meeting on 20 September. The location, the weather, the atmosphere, the food, … everything was top-notch, as always. Here’s an overview of the highlights!

1. PAPER SHOW

Looking back at the Paper Show

Secretary Bea Wollaert briefly looked back on the 2018 Paper Show: a record-breaking edition, by all accounts. In terms of Belgian visitors, there is little room for improvement. For our Dutch colleagues, on the other hand, the potential for growth is still considerable. Considering the Paper Show is the only trade show of its kind in the Benelux, Bosta urges its members to pull out all the stops to attract visitors from the Netherlands. Another consideration would be to capitalize on the strengths of the promotional checks and PS Awards.

Looking forward to the Paper Show

Currently, over 80 exhibitors have registered and nearly 82 percent of available booth space has been sold, which is more than during the same period last year. The trade show’s organization, promotion and concept remain unchanged. Here are some of the innovations and/or working points:

• A fresh new look for the promotional checks.

• Visitors receive the promotional checks digitally. This way they can plan their visit in advance.

• Exhibitors may compete for a PS Award in several categories but are limited to submitting one product per category. To be eligible, products should arrive at PMG by 27 November, at the latest.

• The PS Award jury consists of a diverse group of professionals, with representatives from the trade press, retail trade etc.

• Beware of fraudulent ad sales: Script produces the only real trade show catalogue.

• The dismantling of booths is only allowed from 6.30 p.m. (after the trade show shuts its doors).

Over the coming weeks, exhibitors will receive all necessary information to ensure their participation runs smoothly and organized. This will include promotional materials and links for digital registration as well as PS Award submission forms.

Advanced Fair

Gaëtane Ingels of service provider Advanced Fair briefly shed a light one some of the procedures concerning registration and badges. Registration of crew and visitors will be done digitally using Advanced Fair’s intuitive online tool, which incorporates a privacy notification in accordance with new GDPR guidelines. From now on, the e-ticket will double up as access badge. You print the form, fold it and will be given a plastic sleeve at the entrance. If you have any questions about the procedure, mail them to gi@advancedfair.com

Boabee

Gert Stalmans demonstrated the lead retrieval app which allows exhibitors to quickly, easily and efficiently collect and follow up leads via their smartphone or tablet. The app lets users save time and money and make the most from their trade show time. The app forgoes time-consuming manual paper trails to ensure the follow-up of leads happens whilst they are 'hot'.

The app lets you:

1.    scan your business cards;

2.    fill out a questionnaire (standard or personalized);

3.    digitally share information (folders, links, …).

Reports additionally provide insight into your leads: who opened the emails they received, who clicked the links, you name it.

The app is sold to individual exhibitors using a license formula. It will cost you 85 euros all-in (each exhibitor can use the app on up to three devices).

Simba House

Véronique from SOS Children's Villages presented an update on the Simba House and emphasized the importance of sponsoring. The donations from Bosta and its members not only ensure the children receive the care they deserve, but also lets them be kids again.

A second Simba House for babies and toddlers up to three years will be opened soon. This is vital, because it proves especially difficult to find foster homes for very young children, who often end up in hospitals out of necessity. Of course, they are cared for and have a roof over their heads there. But the absence of personal relationships often leads to attachment disorders in later life.

Booth allocation

After the Simba House presentation, the Paper Show booths were allocated on a first come, first served basis. Next up was a coffee break slash networking moment, the perfect lead-in for Frank Schelkens to kickstart the second part of the programme. In typical fashion, he launched it with a joke and an ode to the former Lamot brewery and its legendary beer.

2. RESPONSIBLE OFFICE

Kathleen Bosteels and Carlo Bollen went on to highlight the most important achievements of Responsible Office. The hard work of the past few years is beginning to pay off. For starters, almost 140 new products have recently been put into the system, bringing the total number to 535. Some new product categories were added as well, such as mailing tubes, storage boxes and binding systems. And Rausch is henceforth featured as a responsible manufacturer.

The number of website visitors is on the rise, offering proof, if any were needed, of the relevance and necessity of Responsible Office.

Going forward, Responsible Office now also has RO dealers in various Flemish provinces. Dealers must meet a number of strict requirements:

• be a member of Bosta;

• work with instances, administrations, ... with a concern for sustainability;

• offer the complete RO range ànd possess sufficient knowledge on the subject;

• refrain from greenwashing;

• receive RO training;

• pay a contribution depending on turnover;

• …

The dealers benefit too, of course, capitalizing on the advantages of RO’s knowhow and network, promotional materials, and much more besides.

Finally, RO received some positive feedback from the Flemish Government, which itself is very keen on more sustainable manufacturers. RO is setting ambitious targets, aiming at around twenty manufacturers and a thousand products.

More information on Responsible Office and the RO dealers via Kathleen Bosteels.

3. GFK

Thalia De Mesmaeker of market research company GfK treated Bosta members to some general trends and specific figures about the stationery market. She briefly explained some of the internal changes going on at GfK, and the new direction the company is headed to provide customers with even more insight and better recommendations.

Unfortunately, the numbers weren’t very positive. Consumer confidence in Belgium is still below par, especially when compared to its neighbours the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

In the non-food sector, categories such as consumer electronics, telecom and DIY are showing good results, whereas fashion, entertainment, photo and stationery products are caught in a downward spiral.

In terms of online sales, Belgium is still lagging behind, while our neighbours to the north are leading the pack. The main reasons why people buy online are saving money, speed and convenience. Things that prevent people from making purchases digitally are delivery costs, the absence of a shopping experience and the lack of a tactile experience: seeing, feeling the products, ...

Thalia also zoomed in on the Belgians’ favourite media, which yielded some surprising results about the popularity of radio, TV and the internet.

The biggest losers in Bosta members’ market segments are cartridges, covers / archiving and writing utensils. Consumables such as memory cards and USB sticks are in decline as well. Devices for games, portable printers and notepads, on the other hand, are doing quite well.

Bosta members will be sent the presentation and detailed market figures.

4. A STYLISH AND TASTEFUL CONCLUSION

The meeting ended with a detailed explanation about Bosta and Bosta DIS and DIS+: the membership for distributors. Finally, Frank Schelkens was presented with a gift basket to celebrate his four years as Bosta chairman. He passes the presidency to Bert Lippens. Tom Smet will join Karina Steyaert as vice-president.

The day was concluded with an invigorating reception and a delicious dinner in the inspiring setting of the renovated Lamot building.

However, Bea still had a surprise in store for all members: a little bag of mouth-watering chocolate nibbles to celebrate ten years of loyal commitment to Bosta. Congratulations, Bea!