Al’s Column: Informational tours on tap for Surfaces 2017

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December 5/12, 2016: Volume 31, Number 13
By Lisbeth Calandrino

Floor covering retailers are invited to participate in several special events that will be held in conjunction with The International Surface Event (TISE) educational program, which is slated to take place Jan. 17-20 in Las Vegas.

One event involves a tour of the Zappos factory. (What woman wouldn’t love a place with an endless supply of shoes?) In my initial discussions with Informa Exhibitions—the organizer of Surfaces—regarding a potential off-site venue for retailers to visit, Zappos seemed logical. With almost no advertising, they produce in excess of $2 billion in revenue annually. While no one in our business sells shoes, we can still learn a lot about Zappos because what they’re really selling is great customer service.

Retailers can get a glimpse into the Zappos culture and learn from their hiring practices and customer loyalty program during the Retail Culture Tour Experience scheduled to take place Thursday, Jan. 19, from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. during Surfaces 2017 (off-site). The 90-minute presentation includes a Q&A session with Zappos representatives. Flooring retailers can get an inside look into everyday work life on the Zappos campus to learn how they can improve the culture in their own stores, many of which are small to medium-sized firms.

Zappos’ successful formula is based on CEO Tony Hsieh’s “happy people” philosophy. In his book, “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose,” Hsieh states that businesses focus on profits. But he stresses that happy people are more likely to make customers happy than unhappy ones. Floor covering retailers will have the opportunity to see this philosophy firsthand during the factory tour. Note: All attendees must have a valid state-issued photo ID to attend. Furthermore, retailers are encouraged to register early as space is limited.

While at Surfaces, retailers are also encouraged to sign up for the Speed Trending Tour: An Eye on the 2017 Trends as seen at TISE. Scheduled to take place on Wednesday, Jan. 18 from 9:45 a.m. to 11:15 a.m., the program—which includes breakfast (coffee and light pastries)—will bring the latest in variety surface products directly to retailers and designers looking for what’s hot in flooring and design. The program focuses on the process of creative design and aims to help retailers make informed decisions.

The product categories covered in the Speed Trending Tour presentation span soft and hard surfaces, color and technology. A bonus is the self-guided tour following the presentation in the Trends Hub. Here, participants may engage with the designer behind the Trend Home and join her for several mini-discussion sessions. See schedule online at for topics and times. Note: RSVP required for this event.

The Trends Chat in the Trends Hub will feature five different influences expected to shape design choices in 2017. Hear about the concepts and inspirations behind the trend selections directly from the designer. Each session will feature a different theme during scheduled times throughout show days. Participants are encouraged to visit each of the five chats in one day or over multiple days.


Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. Register for Surfaces at to hear her presentation, “10 Ways to Attract Customers,” on Tuesday, Jan. 17, from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at



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