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Counselor Senior Editor Michele Bell's slanted view of the world.

Hello from PSI Dusseldorf

Filed under: Travel

Hello Everyone —

Welcome to my first blog. Now, when I travel to every show — in the U.S. and abroad — you will be there with me, for the good, the bad, the wacky and the (really) weird.

I am here in Dusseldorf at the PSI Show — Europe’s largest show — which today, the opening, saw a 5% increase over last year’s attendance. The show, as always, is the epitome of appearance. From the booths (see photos) to the exhibitor staff, these people treat the event as if it were a fashion, design and hospitalty extravaganza. I don’t think it’s any secret for those of you who know me, that Europe is my happy place and this show is my favorite of the year.

With over 19,000 attendees, people come to not only solidify relationships, but to write orders for the coming selling year in the booths. One reason for this, of course, is the welcoming atmosphere of each booth. Rare is the booth that does not serve coffee, light snacks and cocktails, which is extremely conducive to sitting and solidifying relationships. Unlike shows in the States where distributors tend to go from booth to booth saying the ubiquitous “scan me, please,” people at this show stay in the booth for an hour at a clip, reconnecting with their sales reps and placing early orders for the year.

The booths themselves are amazing, and are not contrained by the restrictions that are put in place by most U.S. convention facilities. Many are built on platforms and multi-level, and the size and scale are amazing. For example, Polyconcept, Europe’s largest supplier and the parent company of Leed’s, Bullet Line and JournalBooks occupies space with a 20,000 square foot booth (and yes, I am sober — that is an accuarate number…), with the MidOcean and LM Accessories booths coming in not far behind.

Having attended this show in the past, one noticeable aspect is that there are far fewer North American attendees than in the past. Jonathan Isaacson from Gemline is here, as is Trevor Gnesin from Logomark, Jack Teague from BIC Graphic, Scott Siegel, owner from R.S. Owens, Jo-an Lantz from Geiger and Matt Bertram from Fields Manufacturing are those we saw. Perhaps this is because the PPAI Show is immediately after this show (unlike in previous years) or the pitiful state of the U.S. dollar.

Regardless, Sabine Geldermann (whose birthday is tomorrow, January 10th… Happy Birthday, Sabine!) is the director of the PSI Show and the woman who runs the PSI Shows like well-oiled machines, is the consummate host, making sure all us jetsetting North Americans are very well taken care of. As the economies in Europe are much healthier than the U.S.’s , you might want to consider visiting PSI’s Power Summit, which will be held in Barcelona in early may. For more information you can contact the birthday girl at sgeldermann@reedexpo.de.

As for us ASI troopers, Tim Andrews, CEO/president, Rich Fairfield, senior vice president of publishing, myself and Ron Ball (international incidents in the waiting… ASI’s in-house attorney with the extradition papers) are all here and doing well. Tim Andrews has always been the epitome of cool, calm, composure… except when he’s not. I’ve only seen the vein in Tim’s forehead pop out and throb like bass drum one other time (ask me about that!)  but his luggage was lost by Air France, and he had to speak at the welcome reception for the international press. Needless to say, he did a quick shopping spree run and Prada’d himself up so he looks presentable.

Now, here we sit, two days after arriving, he has yet to receive his bags. He called Air France, who assured Tim that his bags were indeed in Dusseldorf and would be delivered to his hotel YESTERDAY. Tim is sitting next to me now, at the bar at the SAS Radisson Waterfront in the same swanky Prada suit. He is not happy, to say the least. He tells me that his parting words with Air France were, less than cordial, shall we say. They told him, in an abrupt fashion, that he can look forward to his luggage in the next 48 hours. He will, of course, be back home in Princeton, NJ by then. After his dressing down towards Air France, I assured Tim that his luggage is floating luxuriously down the Rhine…

Tim was invited to address the international press at a welcome reception this morning with the Mayor of Dusseldorf, Hans-Joachim Erbel, the executive director of PSI, among others. During the Q&A period, one reporter asked Erbel why the dates of the Dusseldorf Show can’t be moved until a little later in the year. Erbel responded and said that the dates are dictated by the requests of its members, who are surveyed frequently. He also cited, “the moon phases” as a prominent reason because Easter and Carnivale don’t always fall at the same time each year. (And no, I was not under the influence of Amsterdam’s finest… .)

Upon hearing this, Tim leaned over and told me, “If Matthew Cohn ever said that about the choice of ASI show dates, I would have him medicated.”

As many of you know, I am adventurous in many areas, but certainly not food. I am THE pickiest eater ever, and do not normally deviate from filet mignon and pasta. My pal Jonathan Isaacson, however, has a singular talent for taking me to restaurants I would never normally go to (kicking, bitching, and screaming, I might add…).

Last night, he took me, his business colleague, Frederico to a Mongolian barbeque restaurant, where there was RAW KANGAROO served. Trust me, if you travel overseas, trust Jonathan, he will take you to the best places.

So, stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog which will feature photos and reports of all the fun, sloppy and excessive behavior at Polyconcept’s famed party on the boat it docks just for the show, where I’m staying incidentally (and haven’t taken a marinated tumbed into the Rhine with Tim’s luggage) thanks to the generosity of my pal, the always suave Philippe Varniner, number three on Counselor’s Power 50 list this year with his Glimmer Twin, Michael Bernstein.

And lest you think I only gush with postive comments about the PSI Show because it’s in Europe, there is one area where they need to take a page from our book in North America. They do not have shuttle buses and the cab lines are reminiscent of immigrants waiting to enter Ellis Island. My advice? Travel with Tim Andrews, who bribed a cab driver to get us the hell back to the Radisson….

More tomorrow!

Cheers!!! : )

Michele


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