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Don't Get A Big Head

Well, it looks like there yet is another venue for the home textiles business — the World Market Center in Las Vegas.

The event, having just completed its fourth edition, now is home to an increasing number of home textiles suppliers ranging from mainstream to the super-duper luxury. This doesn't mean that Vegas is going to be a major home textiles venue, nor that it will replace an existing locale — anything can happen.

But Vegas certainly can teach other venues a thing or two about running an event — and at the same time those good folks could learn a thing or two about being so good, so fast, that they shouldn't forget about the basics.

I can't remember seeing so many folks so happy while working — and of course, playing — in a market environment, for eons. The energy and fun spirit was pervasive from floor to floor and even in the off-site pavilions.

And the order writing was no less impressive. How the sluggish business mentality of a few months ago turned so radically vibrant has many pundits scratching their heads.

But for the folks at the World Market Center, a note of caution. There are things to be changed, improved and built upon — mostly in terms of infrastructure. And these are the things that in the long run can make or break an event like this growing, dynamic home furnishings market.

The traffic flow and control last week bordered on the unacceptable. Considering that this was the fourth event, and even considering that the second building now is open, the lack of traffic control was deplorable. Add to that the chaos, experienced personally at the cab and shuttle stations, as well as the fact that the actual shuttle runs from the hotels were a far cry from the promised schedules, all made many relate this situation to other market venues that have been suffering similar challenges.

The bottom line is that to ignore these so-called problems — yes problems — and to let others add on, will become major deterrents to customer satisfaction and growth.

Amenities are critical. One of the biggest complaints heard was about the elimination of the shuttle service that went from the Building A to the pavilions. It's a long schlep, especially if you've been on your feet for hours. And in the July heat, it will be unacceptable.

And for this market's pavilion exhibitors, the sense is that they will be jettisoned to the off-site halls to be succeeded by those companies standing in the wings for the opening of Building C in July '08. Just another blip in a carefully wrought strategy that needs to be revisited.

The irony is that the growing pains here are merely quick takes on ling-simmering problems that emerged and were ignored in other venues over the years.

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