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Trade Show Troubles

Carole Sloan, Staff Staff -- Home Textiles Today, September 20, 2004

How many shows or markets does the home textiles world need?

This question is being asked with more intensity as the business — from fabrics to manufactured products — changes dramatically on an almost daily basis.

At Decosit in Brussels last week, exhibitors were beginning to ask this question with more intensity, partly as a result of the apparent decline in attendance.

A similar situation existed at Maison & Objet in Paris the previous week, and attendance levels at home textiles market events were questioned all through the year from Germany's Heimtextil in January to North Carolina's Showtime in July.

There are reports that even more shows for home textiles suppliers are in the future, not just the existing regional events like Dubai but a possible new event in Shanghai late this year and others that are being mulled over by potential sponsors.

From the exhibitors' perspective, there is not just the wear and tear on the people involved but also the expense factor that many believe cannot be justified with the proliferation of events.

As events proliferate, visitors also apparently are evaluating the number and character of the shows they will attend in the future.

One change in the way many exhibitors present their wares is increasingly evident this year. The knockoff problem — called intellectual property infringement in legalese — is becoming more acute.

The solution for some exhibitors is to wall up their stands, putting minimal amounts of product on the outside — a major change from the typically artful and creative presentations that are a signature of European shows.

The proliferation of electronic photographic devices is the major reason for the shift. While many exhibitors post “do not photograph” signs on their stands, the new devices allow passersby to surreptitiously snap a shot.

At Decosit, a number of exhibitors reported confiscating phone cameras and deleting the shots of their products. Others reported that they confiscated the film in non-digital cameras. But they admit these efforts caught but a fraction of the offenders throughout the show.

At Decosit, ACID — the British-based anti-copying organization — was in evidence, perhaps creating an aura of oversight. But walking through the show, it was clear from the number of phone cameras being used for activities other than phone calls, that this was not sufficient.

A shame, since one of the assets of these shows is the drama and creativity of the presentation.

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