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Trade Shows-
Here are the results of our poll based on the repsonses from our visitors

    Trade Shows are a vital part of any industry, especially the natural stone industry. They can be a great opportunity to meet thousands of decision makers over a period of just a few days. New products, new machinery, new techniques, and new materials are showcased at trade shows each year.

The cost of the booth, stand displays and furnishings, shipping costs, hotel and transportation costs for staff can make exhibiting a very costly experience. Northwood Machine Manufacturing Company recently spent $40,000 on their last show, and they only showed one machine. A large booth can run as high as $100,000. In some cities, dealing with Teamsters and the hassles of setting up one's booth is enough to make an exhibitor think twice about participating. The question becomes, is enough business generated from the trade show to make it worthwhile? With 6 shows a year diluting the market, but not the costs of participating at each venue, one has to be selective, or simply refrain until we are down to one or two effective trade shows a year.

We asked some attendees and exhibitors to comment on the current state of the Stone Industry's trade shows, and there were several common themes:

  • Who will win the War of the Trade Shows?
    The answer was unanimous: The Promoters of the venues.
    Whether attendees show up or not, the promoters have collected their fees from the exhibitors and proclaim what a great success the show was like a politician with memorized talking points. Even the ITSS New York Show, which has been officially declared a bona fide joke, touted rave reviews from its own promoters. How much lipstick can you put on a pig?
  • "I enjoy seeing my friends and business associates every year at StonExpo."
    StonExpo has a great reputation for quality attendees, and while not a very large show it has survived because its venue is chummy and oftentimes like a reunion. The problem is that the show tends to be a repeat of the same ol' same ol', and has a tendency to take care of its members, but ignore the bigger picture of gaining exposure to the outside world and attracting new stone industry members.
  • Bigger is better
    Is this true in all cases? Coverings and Surfaces are huge shows and by their nature address the issue of exposing the stone industry to new markets, new clients, new business opportunities. These shows do not have the familiarity of a family gathering like StonExpo, and many of their attendees are not even interested in stone as they come for ceramic tile, hardwood floors, etc. Few stone machinery companies exhibit at Surfaces and Coverings and have preferred to use StonExpo and ITSS as their venue of choice. With 1/10th the number of people in attendance, there are benefits like more one-on-one discussions with prospective clients and more quality time with more serious customers. So there is a trade-off: Surfaces and Coverings have more attendees, offer greater exposure, are more expensive to exhibit at, and do not have support of the technological/machinery aspect of the stone industry. ITSS and StonExpo have smaller crowds which allows for more quality visits with the exhibitors.
  • StonExpo vs. ITSS
    Is it even fair to put ITSS in the same class as StonExpo? I think it might be. StonExpo has been around for 16 years. ITSS for 3. ITSS brings some fresh ideas, new visitors, and competition, but at the same time they have rubbed people the wrong way by embellishing their exhibitors list and attendance records. StonExpo (like Surfaces and Coverings) makes available the list of attendees data base which documents it show attendance. ITSS refuses to make available the list of attendees, which would, of course, confirm their alleged attendance figures. The very thought of trying to start a trade show from scratch portends a tremendous task, so maybe it's OK to view ITSS's indiscretions lightly. They seem to be attracting people who have never been to a stone show before, and most newbies I have talked to are impressed with their show, but then they have nothing to compare it to. For attendees or exhibitors who have been to StonExpo or other shows, they seem unimpressed with ITSS. But the fact is that ITSS has reached new people and the competition they bring to the table has caused StonExpo to take notice. The consensus indicates that StonExpo is by far the better show, but if ITSS can cause StonExpo to change and be a better show, or if ITSS can change its ways and become the show the industry needs, then the stone industry will emerge the winner. Until that point, we flounder in mediocrity.
  • Which venue is best serving the Stone Industry?
    Coverings, Surfaces, StonExpo and ITSS offer many services and benefits, and at the same time they miss the mark as well. Are there too many trade shows?...well yes...but then maybe there aren't enough since there is not one show that really hits a home run. There is not a single US show that serves the stone industry like the Verona Show in Italy or Stonetech in Germany. A hybrid show with the diversity and attraction of Surfaces and Coverings, and the technical/machinery element and traditions of StonExpo, and the challenge of the newcomer ITSS to bring in new blood, would fit the mark. Yes, there are too many shows right now. Stonetech in Germany is once every two years and is the best show in the world. Verona is annual and is right up there....the idea of having 6 US shows (ITSS has 3 shows a year now) is ridiculous. As long as the promoters are receiving checks from exhibitors to rent booth space, the situation will fester like a sore that will not heal. Will Hanley Wood's takeover of StonExpo be the answer we are all hoping for...?..don't hold your breath.... It would make too much sense to have a StonExpo Pavilion at Surfaces, Coverings or the World of Concrete Show. StonExpo is small enough to be incorporated into a larger venue, and, if allowed to co-exist in a larger show as a separate entity (i.e. Stone Pavilion), it could still keep its familiarity with its members and gain the exposure of the larger venue. But I guess the promoters feel they make more money with separate shows, and if the exhibitors keep paying for the booths, there is validation for this trend to continue.

  • Trade Show Comments- What's been said
    For a more detailed list of comments from both sides... click here

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