Jan 18/25; Volume 30/Number 15
By Reginald Tucker
“Know before you go.” Those are the words of wisdom that Informa Exhibitions, the organizer of The International Surface Event (TISE), is imparting on pre-registrants as well as potential attendees in what is being billed as the largest domestic surface finishing conference and convention in North America. While the advice seems rudimentary on a certain level, it’s especially applicable for this year’s event, given all the logistical changes and programming upgrades that show management has made compared to past editions of Surfaces.
FCNews rounded up a few retailers—including a few Surfaces veterans—to get their recommendations on how to squeeze the most value out of the trade show experience.
Carpeting by Mike
In years past I made pre-scheduled appointments, but these days I just like to walk around and research some of the new products myself. I view Surfaces as more of a preview of style trends for the year. But even more important than product, we look for tips that help us with planning for the showroom. Our showroom space is limited, so we don’t like to have a lot of clutter. We’re pretty picky in terms of what goes into our store; I don’t like to have too many displays. We try to keep that in mind when we’re scouting out new products and display systems.
Also, sometimes we hear about events from our suppliers that take place at Surfaces, such as distributor meetings and receptions. Those are all great for networking, so we keep our eyes out for that.
Fitz Flooring & Window Fashions
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
We prearrange appointments with the manufacturers that we see long before we go down there; this way we utilize our time effectively. We meet with the vendors to talk to them about things that don’t work for us vs. what’s working to see what they can do about that. Without the show we wouldn’t have the relationships with the manufacturers we do now.
In addition, we attend the show just out of curiosity—to see the new technologies, whether that’s software for financial reports or other computer systems for scheduling and operations.
I think the biggest and most important thing for Surfaces is to go in with an agenda. Go with appointments and go with questions vs. winging it. There is so much to see in such a short period of time that I think you can get lost in all of the products and not really accomplish much at all. If your objective is to buy, then focus on the buying. If your goal is to expand a showroom or a product line, then keep with your objective. To me securing appointments and allowing yourself ample time for those appointments is what makes Surfaces a success.
Our objective this year relates to our recent membership with the National Floorcovering Alliance (NFA). For us that will be our biggest focus, getting to know all those vendor partners. It is an opportunity to continue to develop relationships.
American Carpet One
In preparation for Surfaces, we start making appointments two months in advance. We set up meetings from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, and we even meet with suppliers for breakfast and lunch. On the last day of the show, we focus our time on research and development. Specifically, we look for opportunities to grow sales with tools or sundries. We try to partner with those that can help us grow or learn new installation techniques.
We really don’t spend any time taking classes anymore because of the importance of spending quality time looking at products and checking pricing. For us, the most important part is to schedule your dinners with your reps. Dinners are the best time to strengthen your relationships, and you can’t pass up on dinner in Vegas.
Surfaces is the show of the year for us and sets the tone for our purchases.