DALLAS—One of the enduring qualities of Surfaces is its educational conference program. Over the market’s 21-year history some of the best and brightest businesspeople from within and outside the industry have shared their knowledge with attendees and the 2011 edition promises to be no different.
But there is a major change—actually two—for the upcoming show. People who register for the exhibits prior to Dec. 16 ($15) will have free access to the conference program. After the date, the cost for exhibits plus education is $125. Also, because Surfaces is being held in the same venue— Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Jan. 24 to 27—as StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas and they are both owned by Hanley Wood, attendees will have more offerings from which to choose—75 in total.
This is the first time Hanley Wood has offered the courses for free with paid admission to the exhibit hall, noted Dana Teague, director of the two shows. With the economy still not clicking on all cylinders attending a trade show can be difficult in and of itself due to limited budgets. So taking advantage of the education being offered is even tougher. “We hope that offering our education program to registered attendees at no additional expense provides an added value and makes the trip out to Las Vegas more worthwhile.”
The free offer is good for all three components of the educational program—the three-hour pre-show workshops on Jan. 24, the 90-minute seminars held before and during the market and the 60-minute mini sessions held on Tuesday and Wednesday of the shows.
Chelsie Thornton, conference program manager, added the general session, scheduled for Tuesday morning prior to the exhibit floor opening, is complimentary with registration until Oct. 28, then $35 until Dec. 16 and $45 thereafter. And, as with the general program, “A person must be registered for the exhibits to attend the education sessions.”
She noted, of the 75 classes, there are 23 flooring-specific courses, 23 stone-specific courses and 26 that are applicable to both audiences. There are also three sessions created specifically for Designer Day on Wednesday. In other words, this year, there are 49 courses specifically for Surfaces attendees and 49 for StonExpo attendees. Also, 49 of the 72 non-courses are new to both audiences this year.”
Thornton added only eight of the sessions from this past Surfaces are being repeated. “The entire program has been carefully developed to cover a wide array of the most relevant topics in the floor covering and stone industries.”
As in previous years, she said courses are placed into tracks to make it easier for people to find the ones most appropriate for them. This year’s format is a little different due to the two shows being held together. As such, the tracks are Business, Sales, Marketing, Building Design & Trends, Flooring Installation, Stone Fabrication/Installation, Care/Maintenance/Restoration and Concrete (focused on countertops). The final three are primarily geared toward StonExpo attendees.
The new courses being offered cover a wide range of topics and are scattered throughout the various tracks, she explained.
Some examples of the new offerings include a session in the Installation track by Lew Migliore, author of FCNews’ “Claim File” column. His class, “New Green Floor Covering Backings and Installation Technology” will be held Tuesday at noon. In describing the class, he said, most of the new technology in flooring materials exists in the product backings and installation. “With concerns for moisture issues, installation failures and socially responsible flooring products, whatever position a person occupies in the industry he must know about the changes and paradigm shifts that are here now.”
Also, Scott Perron, president of Big Bob’s Flooring Outlets of America and author of FCNews’ “Retailer2Retailer” column will present, “Wartime Retail: Strategies for Planning and Executing Success” in the Business track on Wednesday. Perron said the class will address the need for retailers to embrace changes in technology, consumer buying habits and effective marketing in today’s economy. It will also go over ways to measure employee performance and to hold everyone in the company—especially the owner—accountable for its overall success.
There will also be a panel discussion in the Business track on the “State of the Industry.” Led by Chris Davis, president and CEO of the World Floor Covering Association, this high-powered panel features the heads of the leading organizations representing the various flooring categories: Werner Braun of the Carpet & Rug Institute, Dean Thompson of the Resilient Floor Covering Institute, Ed Korczak of the National Wood Flooring Association, Eric Astrachan from the Tile Council of North America and Bill Dearing of the North American Laminate Flooring Association.
In addition to discussing the current state of the industry the group will look at some of the major trends, challenges and opportunities affecting retailers. And, attendees are encouraged to come to the session armed with questions.
Teague added the entire program is registered with the leading organizations and associates that offer continuing education credits, including AIA/CES, ASID, AIBD, IDEC, IICRC, IIDA and NKBA.
For more on the Surfaces ’11 educational program, visit surfaces.com.