By Reginald Tucker In show business, there’s an expression that says: “The show must go on.” Borne out of the early days of film and theater, it was generally applied to circumstances in which a mishap occurred live on the set or when, unfortunately, some misfortune sidelined a lead actor in the production.
In the flooring business, however, the phrase has taken on a whole new meaning in an era where many traditional in-person events have been postponed or canceled altogether due to the coronavirus pandemic. The situation has forced many trade show organizers to get more creative in terms of how they attempt to bridge the gap between the legions of vendor partners and their target audiences and members.
Informa Exhibitions, which manages The International Surface Event (TISE), a.k.a Surfaces, is no exception. After months of deliberations, Informa opted to move the physical show to June but still offer its vendor partners a way to connect—if only virtually—with retailers, distributors and other industry members. So with that, the group kicked off TISE Live 2021, ironically on the same three-day stretch that was originally reserved for Surfaces.
Expectations and outcomes
FCNews caught up with Informa management on the second day of the event to get a feel for how things were going. “Being the first virtual event for The International Surface Event, it has been so interesting for the team to watch the program launch and watch from the backhouse as the industry is utilizing the virtual platform and connecting with one another,” said Dana Hicks, TISE show director. “As we look at just one of the key ROI metric points for the event, TISE is pleased with the results of the event so far. As of the morning on day two, we viewed over 3,200 meeting requests between exhibiting vendors and the attendee audience. That is a key indicator of business and connections happening in the system.”
At the start of TISE Live day one, management clocked 2,000 users in the system, with daily spikes in new registrations heading into days two and three. More telling than the numbers, however, is the level of interaction between attendees and vendors. “We can gauge activity levels within the program and we showed approximately 70% ‘very active’ users in our system currently at the start of day two,” Hicks explained. “In addition, we are fully aware from our data that the quality of buying attendee is in the system with the audience mix mirroring the quality and level of our in-person events from a business and career segment standpoint.”
Several exhibitors FCNews polled shared their experiences using the TISE Live format. These included Mannington, a main event sponsor. “We’ve been in contact with a number of our retailers and we’re excited to be able to still share our new 2021 introductions with the Surfaces community,” said Lori Keith, director of marketing, residential, Mannington. “Our overall message is to build awareness of the new Adura Max, Adura Rigid and Adura Flex floors coming out that will feature Microban. For Phenix, we’re featuring our new 2021 intros and reminding everyone that the entire Phenix line of carpet features Microban protection.”
Välinge Innovation, another exhibitor, reported success using the invitation module that was built into the virtual meeting rooms. “The invitation module has been great, we have been able to schedule many good meetings,” said Lennart Thålin, regional manager, North and South America. “Although we have had many meetings during the exhibition, we see that this format has limited usefulness to generate new leads, etc. But it is cost effective, compared to a physical exhibition.”