Matchmaking, Geolocation and Virtual Experiences Highlight JCK Las Vegas Show

June 2, 2014

JCK Las Vegas,the world’s largest diamond and jewelry trade show, rolled out the red carpet May 30- June 2 at Mandalay Bay Convention Center, showing that diamonds are, indeed, forever. At the time of consolidation of the jewelry industry, the show boasted strong attendance and exhibitor numbers and took over just about every inch of available space.

“While it’s a healthy industry, jewelry industry is certainly not growing in terms of a number of stores opening,” said Yancy Weinrich, group vice president of Reed Exhibitions’ JCK Portfolio. “Since moving to Mandalay Bay four year ago, we’re up 43 percent. We are certainly back at pre-recession levels.”

Spanning 503,000 net square feet, the show featured about 2,500 exhibitors and attracted approximately 23,000 attendees.  The numbers are on par with last year. “We’re positive that there are more stores here,” Weinrich said.

The show is expected to grow, he added, by 2016, when Mandalay Bay is planning to open its 350,000 sq. ft. expansion, as well as more underground parking and carpeted ballroom space.

Among innovations this year are the JCK Match Program and the Geolocation function of the phone app. When registering, exhibitors provided information on their products and price ranges, and buyers were recommended up to 25 exhibitors based on their interests.

 “We surveyed 300 people during the show and found that over 90 were aware of the program and over 30 had at least one scheduled meeting with exhibitors that they were matched with,” Weinrich said. “For a first-year program, we feel we’re making good progress.”

The mobile app got a new functionality this year with “Personalized GPS” that offered real-time geolocation and “near me” exhibitor suggestions. The app automatically detects the phone’s position on the showfloor and will show it as a blue dot.

From there, it can create a route to an exhibitor and also show if any of exhibitors that were recommended by the match program are nearby. Tested, the functionality worked very well. The only suggestion from those spoiled by real GPS is that the map turn in real time too.

Overall, the show looked beautiful with all the splash signage, red carpets and product displays in the hallways and public areas of Mandalay Bay. The new required hard-wall package also is a nice departure from pipe and drape for smaller exhibitors.

Exhibit design usually is not the jewel of this show, with so much expensive creativity on display as is. But one different and engaging experience was offered by Rio Tinto that invited attendees to explore their Diavik diamond mine through a virtual flight in Oculus Rift glasses.

During the 2.5 minute experience, users flew over Canadian tundra and explored the mines with 360-degree view. “How are we going to evolve and compete with the Apples of the world?” said Brandee Dallow, head of the Rio Tinto U.S. representative office. “I would love to see this technology in jewelry retail store. It’s endless what you can teach the jewelry community.”

Retailer Amir Askari, with Best in Gold Guys in Delray Beach, Fla., came to find loose diamonds for bridal and was pleased with the selection. “Most of our customers are looking to spend under $5,000,” he added. “We found what we were looking for.”

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