Wanna Get Away? Try a Trade Show

Plan on attending a trade show in the next few months – specifically, either Marmomacc in Verona, Italy, or StoneExpo Marmomacc Americas in Las Vegas? No?

Think again. This may be the best time yet to go.

OK, so business is more than a little slow in the stone trade. You think you’re alone in the boat? It’s certainly not hats-and-horns time either for suppliers, distributors and everyone else you buy from to operate your business.

They’re hungry, too, and they don’t get a better shot to sell and create new accounts than at the face-to-face venue of a trade show. You’ll find yourself in a sea of vendors who’ll want – no, crave – your business.

You’ll also find yourself in less-crowded exhibit halls. Frankly, it would take a miracle to see major expansions in attendance at business-to-business trade events, and the obvious sugarcoating of reporting “almost” or “in the ballpark” from show organizers recently when citing turnout numbers is just plain embarrassing. The PCBC® construction show in San Francisco came clean and cited a real attendance number of 19,925 for its June show, down 25 percent from 2007 (and a big slide from the 33,000+ of 2006).

The numbers game for trade shows are one thing, but the events are successful for buyers and sellers only if, to be painfully redundant, they buy and sell. Fewer people on the floor means more face time, more ability to look over the goods and an eagerness to sell goods. It’s an ideal buyer’s market, and you’re the buyer.

Sure, it costs more to get to a show … if all your guidance comes from the talking sock puppets and increasingly vacuous sources on cable-TV news. Start looking at the Internet travel sites and airline online ticketing, and you’ll see that the aviation industry succeeded in cutting capacity and increasing fares … to a point.

Their biggest victory was to chase customers away, so now they need to fill empty seats with lower fares; you won’t find anything close to $100 round trips anymore, but you may get less sticker shock than you’d expect.

And that’s not just for fares to Las Vegas. The recent fares (as of last week) I found for traveling to Verona are 10-percent less than what I paid as a cautious early-bird some five months ago. (Now, I’m out $115, plus the cost of drywall compound to fix the wall I cracked with my head last week.)

Housing may be tight in Verona for a last-minute booking, but there’s plenty of room in Las Vegas, where the shrinking U.S. consumer economy and the credit crunch are hitting hard. Even at two months out from StonExpo, the official housing Website shows rooms available for all but the big-shot suites – and, the Luxor actually cut rates by $40 for midweek nights.

Going to a fall trade show for the stone industry may not fit in the bargain category, but there’s an incredible amount of value on the table. Make your play.

• An added note for Las Vegas: The Marble Institute of America (MIA) will present “Granite and Radon – An Industry Update” at StonExpo on Oct. 16 at 4:15 p.m. The new session, featuring speakers from the MIA, will be on the show floor at the StonExchange area, and is offered at no charge to all attendees.

Emerson Schwartzkopf

You can read up-to-the-minute news on the dimensional-stone trade and search the archives at www.stonebusiness.net, where you can also find this blog at the top of the home page under the clever title of “Editor’s Blog.”



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