Revamped Conference Program, Strong Regional Outreach Leads to Successful Coverings Show in Las Vegas
Celebrating its 25th anniversary, Coverings, the trade show for tile and natural stone, boasted the largest showfloor since 2008.
“We’re up about 12 percent compared to 340,000 square feet last year,” said Karin Fendrich, Coverings' show director. “It’s representative of what’s happening in the industry and the fact that opportunities are coming back.”
Attendance was at about 20,000, slightly up, compared with last year. Exhibitor numbers were unavailable, but expected to be on par with 2013. The show, owned by National Trade Productions, took place April 29-May 2 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
To help drive attendance to a show with a strong Southeastern regional draw it was important to engage in grass-roots efforts with local organizations to let their members know about the free education and the opportunities to meet with the world’s top equipment and coverings manufacturers.
“We were pleasantly surprised to see an uptick in attendance,” Fendrich said.
Another step was to make it easy for return attendees to come back. “We worked with our registration company to send pre-populated emails to our attendees to entice them to register for next year,” Fendrich said. “It’s all about data management.”
On the floor, it was hard to fight the impulse to remodel when looking at the carved marble sinks, inlaid floors and entire replicated villas.
Glamour and elegance were everywhere. Granted, marble and mosaics are beautiful by definition, but making an exhibit where everything from architecture to lighting to mesh walls and ceilings sings an ode to the product is a special art.
When attendees where not gaping at exhibits, there was plenty of action to take in. In the Installation Design Showcase, they could witness in real-time how teams tackled four design challenges with materials and installation services provided by the show exhibitors.
At the Demo Stage, 20-minute presentations highlighted new products. Hands-on certification tests were also taking place on the floor.
To help connect attendees and exhibitors, the show recently introduced guided tours around the floor. The tours were arranged by industry segments and each showcased about 12 exhibitors.
If attendees mentioned during registration their interest in certain types of products, the registration system automatically prompted them to sign up for a guided tour that highlighted that industry segment.
“It has been working extremely well for our show,” Fendrich said. “Exhibitors love it because they have an audience who is specifically interested in their product and attendees can later come back and ask them specific questions based on the information they learnt during the tour.”
Another development this year was the revamping of the conference program that features more than 80 free sessions, as well as industry certification courses.
“We were looking for ways to refresh our program and had to micro-analyze every session,” Fendrich said. “We did a lot of surveys and read through pages and pages of feedback, much more than just statistics. Then, we took our findings to industry professionals and asked their opinion on how to enliven the sessions."
She added, "Sometimes, someone is a good speaker, but their presentation would be more valuable if it were on a different topic. We tried to figure all that out. The response has been very good.”
On the floor, contractors Robert Blackamore and Scott Vanden Berg were shopping for new tools. “It’s our first Coverings, and it’s pretty impressive,” Blackamore said. As the volume of jobs picks up, so does their need for tools. “Money is getting back in the market, and our budgets are growing,” he added.
In the Spanish pavilion, exhibitor Ursula De Vicente Egido with Togama was busy packaging up samples to ship by FedEx at the end of the show.
“We’ve made some spectacular contacts at this fair and expect good results,” she said, also noting that the show could be condensed to fewer days. “We’ve had fewer visits, but better quality of leads. Distributors are going back to buying.”