19,000 Attendees Pack Sold-out National Hardware Show at Las Vegas CC

May 12, 2014
19,000 Attendees Pack Sold-out National Hardware Show at Las Vegas CC alt

With confetti in the morning and burgers in the afternoon, The National Hardware Show that took place May 6-8 at the Las Vegas Convention Center had an impressive performance and is gearing up for even more growth.

Spanning 559,000 square feet, the show featured 2,675 exhibitors and attracted about 19,000 attendees.

“We’re seeing growth across all segments,” said Tracy Scarfi, marketing director for Reed Exhibitions’ National Hardware Show. “Lawn and Garden continues to stay strong and now takes up the entire North Hall. Hardware is as strong as ever. Black and Decker is back, and Stanley is here with a top products pavilion. We have a sold-out show.”

Scarfi said that it’s likely that next year the show will be expanding into South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center and bringing the Lancaster Buying Show on site.

“Innovation drives business,” Scarfi said. “People are looking to remodel rather than move, to make better use of their space, a more interesting use of their space. The outdoor living is huge, as people want to have a vacation close to home with all their familiar amenities. There’s now even a word for it – ‘glamping’. Glamor camping.”

So what was different at the show this year?

Every morning started with a grand opening ceremony celebrating a different category of exhibitors: World of Home Improvement featuring international exhibitors, Made in USA with more than 425 U.S. exhibitor, and Innovation with new products around the floor.

Every afternoon closed with a reception at the North American Retail Hardware Association’s (NRHA) stage in the grand lobby of the convention center.

To help drive attendance to the featured categories, each day had a passport program, where attendees had to collect stamps by participating exhibitors.

The completed passport could be exchanged for a t-shirt and a drink coupon. The program was particularly popular with first-time attendees.

The show app got a major upgrade with a new GPS routing feature. Linked to the show map, it made it easy for attendees to find their way to exhibits they were looking for. T

he feature also has a Near Me button that allows exhibitors to offer deals to attendees that had selected their product as a category of interest during registration.

“We’ve had the highest download rate of the app this year,” Scarfi said. “Over 5,000 people hit the Near Me button during the first two days.”

To engage attendees through social media, select exhibitors were invited to get a free video made about their products. “Not everyone accepted the invitation, which was surprising,” Scarfi said. “but we’ll probably have about 54 videos by the end of the show.”

Another feature that helped connect exhibitors and attendees was the product review and vetting area, where manufacturers had chance to drop off their products to be reviewed by some of the industry’s leading buyers, including Sears, Distribution America, Ace Hardware and SkyMall, which provided the manufacturers with feedback about how they might best be able to move these products into the marketplace. It was a win-win.

“The new product vetting program provides a great opportunity for our members’ entire buying group to preview new merchandise as its being introduced to our industry, in one location,” said Dave Christmas, president and CEO of Distribution America.

He added, “One of the challenges to bring new items to market in our channel is the time it takes to make the right connections. The vetting program can shorten the process by facilitating those connections, providing manufacturers the chance to obtain immediate feedback from leading buying influencers.”

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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.