Now, the World of Home Fashion umbrella will cover two distinct but associated international shows: The World of Window Coverings[TM] and Hometextil Americas. The Interiors Fashions University will offer more seminars with specific courses directed to retailer attendees and supplier staffs. The fair and seminar will move to the most-desired tourist destination, Orlando, FL.
None of the above information should be new. Orlando show brochures were mailed to all participants and prospects in late December. The elaborate full-color brochure covers in detail all necessary show and seminar information, including pre-registration and travel data. (If you need a copy or more details, please call (561) 627-3393 or see Shows: Orlando '97.
Our purpose here is to re-emphasize the memorable highlights of this major industry event. And to convince you that these shows and seminars can bring long-range benefits for both career and business.
Early Show Benefits
Everyone is doing lists these days, a la "Late Night with David Letterman." Here's my version. It has no particular order, and it's definitely not intended to be humorous or cynical in tone. It's simply the top 10 very serious reasons why your decision to attend the World of Home Fashion fair and Interior Fashions University seminars is a smart and sound investment in time and costs.
10 You start with a two-for-one admission bargain. Yes, your low registration fee includes admission to two big, international, fully coordinated shows -- both in the same magnificent setting.
That's not the only reason to attend. After all, you don't spend the many dollars needed for travel, lodging, meals etc. just because of a low registration fee. You attend because you realize the event will be a truly fine value with many benefits. Example: Your main interest is in window coverings. So, you attend the spectacular World of Window Coverings where you see and review all the product, design and support services from suppliers for this specialized home fashion area. Then, you also rate a free admission to the leading American textile trade show. You see all the latest concepts in home textile fabric, wall coverings, accessories and equipment.
Or vise versa. Either way, you will be exposed to new, related ideas, fashions, colors, products and trends. Who knows? Maybe you'll find an innovative best seller to augment your sales, profits and career.
9 You can get a head start at Interior Fashions University, a really fantastic bargain. Have you checked advances in education costs lately? They're almost out of sight, about like medical costs. But, that's not the case with Interior Fashions University seminars. You'll find the tuition charges for seminars and certification programs still are low-cost, super values.
Over the year, basic fees to cover all the planning, classrooms and instruction costs have risen much less than the rate of inflation. Yet, you still get the best available, down-to-earth, professional and practical schooling. Information and credits you can use right away in your work and business.
Face it, you just can't just get by anymore doing things the same old way. Customer communications, marketing concepts, administration procedures, data records -- all seem to change at race horse speed. And the competitive race never slows.
Keeping up with it all is not just desirable, it's an unquestionable necessity. Continuing personal education is vital, business procedure updates are a continuing essential. Over the years, thousands of industry newcomers and veteran professionals have found the help and answers they need in the courses and certification programs at Interior Fashions University.
There's no room here to list all the course categories and advanced studies. (29 are new this year!) Your show brochure lists them all, along with course descriptions, background and qualifications of the professional instructors.
Draperies and Window Coverings pioneered and developed the original training seminars and the special advanced course concepts now available at Interior Fashions University. The schooling seminars are a model, not only for the home fashions industry, but also for numerous other industry and professional trade shows in the United States and abroad.
Many individuals on the staff and faculty have labored long and zealously to create these learning opportunities. They've also worked with the Window Coverings Association of America (WCAA) to develop the intensive and highly regarded Certified Window Treatment Consultant courses.
So, be wise. Take advantage of this unique and continuing "university" training. You benefit and so will our industry.
8 Your "old gang" will all be there. You can meet and chat with your peers before, during and after show and seminar hours. Booths, classroom areas, hallways and byways all provide fine face-to-face discussion and learning places. As you know, word-of-mouth networking is still one of the best ways to find out what is hot and working for your peers in different locales.
Find out what your fellow retailers are doing to make a buck. Brag about your own efforts. Check out the competition's reports and rumors. You just might be able to find immediate answers for your problems and profits, if needed.
7 It's definitely a 10-rated, one-stop event. You'll find just about everything you need in fashion trends, product development, business expertise and marketing concepts. The facts and ideas are all there somewhere under the big top. For most attendees, the fair becomes their one-time yearly shopping, learning and entertainment occasion. They see no need to plan or invest time and budget to attend other expensive, secondary shows or special supplier presentations at inconvenient locations.
So, simplify and save. All you need in fashion, education and entertainment (personal and family) will be available from March 19 to 22 at the World of Home Fashions and in the famed Orlando, Florida "world" family fantasies. You can enjoy affordable and top-rate lodging, dining and facilities, too.
6 Wear comfortable shoes, improve your health. Exercise your heart, muscles and brain. Burn up those extra calories you've put on during the long winter months; also those you'll probably add at the show. After-hour parties and drinks at one of Orlando's many first-rate restaurants or pubs do add unneeded body fuel.
Conduct business as you walk the hallways "heart trail." But, don't get overly tired. Plan your itinerary of booth visits to save yourself some time and tired feet. There's so much to see, do and learn. You'll need to relax occasionally.
Remember to carry a tote bag or briefcase to lug around all those special premiums, folders and brochures to take home for reminder and review. Start your walk with your must-visit booths. Then, as time and body permit, head for other displays of interest and potential help.
Always carry a note pad to jot down appointments, ideas and thoughts you'll want to remember. For seminars, register first for those essential courses. Then, if room is available and your schedule permits, take other courses to assist you in your work and future.
5 You can rub elbows with the staff and brass of the big operators. This will be a must show for suppliers, too. Representatives from major companies will all be there. Your sales rep, his boss, the vice president of sales or marketing and his boss, the president or CEO will be manning the many booths. Already nearly 150 regional, national and international industry suppliers including manufacturers, fabricators, distribution and auxiliary companies, have reserved booth space. In addition, you can chat with VIPs from new companies, divisions or departments formed during the past year through mergers or acquisitions.
This show is your chance to let all of them know what you think about their products and marketing strategies. Negotiate pricing and marketing support ideas. The brass may not always agree with you, but they always want to know what you're thinking. It's a part of their job.
4 You get other business viewpoints too. The smaller supplier firms need your input, too. Most of these companies in various categories use the show for their major annual sales effort. They often specialize in unique product, fashion and communication niches that may provide new profit opportunities for you.
You have a captive audience. Their reps naturally desire to sell you their wares. But, even if you don't buy, they still want to meet you and discuss your opinions about their offerings. Again, who knows? The home fashions arena always needs new products and designs. Small firms grow, their product or fashion becomes hot, you may someday wish you had listened.
3 You can become a better decorator/designer. Fashion ideas are all-important in your business. All around you at the show and in seminars, you will see and marvel at the newest decorating concepts, product assortments, fabric colors and designs in window and wall coverings; bed, bath and linens; designer fabrics and associated accessory items. You will see a shopping mall of home fashion decorating products and ideas.
But, that's not all. You also can visit a model home showhouse. This dramatic new home features stylish window treatments and trend-setting textiles throughout including a 15- by 12-foot family room window. Nationally recognized interior designer, Kay Green, did the interiors. A door-to-door shuttle bus will take you to the home and back. Plan to visit this preview home for the 21st century.
2 You will enjoy extra curricular events and festivities. Love golf? Sign up for the Wednesday golf tournament. Tee off time is 8 a.m.
Love the sensual beat of authentic Latin American music? Rumba down Thursday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. for the opening night Viva El Hogar (Long Live the Home) fiesta sponsored by Comfortex Corp.! Enjoy exotic south-of-the-border food and cocktails. You could get lucky and win a raffle ticket drawing. The prize? A Caribbean cruise for two!
There's more. The WCAA breakfast symposium, Friday at 8 a.m. Also, three special and informative presentations on licensing opportunities, the global consumer and textile designs -- each to be held in a Convention Center meeting room. Finally, don't overlook the exhibitor workshops on Thursday and Friday afternoons, 4 to 5 p.m.
1 You can experience anew the exciting attractions of the magical Orlando area. There's no room here, or any need, to discuss the thrills and entertainment of the worlds favorite travel destination. Young or old, one never outgrows its many pleasures. Each year, too, there are major new attractions to visit. Orlando is alive, exciting and growing.
I could list many more reasons to attend next month's super fair and seminars. I didn't have room to mention the product mix and cross merchandising options available at the two major shows. Or, the fact that these will be working shows. The suppliers are there to show off their products and fashions. But, primarily they want to sell their products and plans. They want to profit from their major show investment, and most of them do.
Sure, the thousands of retail persons in attendance are there to view and learn, to preview and price. Primarily, though, they want to plan strategies and purchases for the selling seasons in 1997 and early 1998, until the next big World of Home Fashions in 1998.
John J. Lichty is a consultant and senior editor for Draperies & Window Coverings magazine. He has more than 30 years experience in the planning and administration of various consumer, trade and retail advertising programs.