College Park, Here We Come
The International Window Coverings Expo is leaving Baltimore and
heading back to the Atlanta area for 2005 (see page 26). That’s
got to be a good move—sure, Baltimore has always been a good
location for the show (I can remember in 1998 when the show was
held at the same Baltimore Convention Center in March. There were
260 exhibitors and 9,000 reported attendees. See D&WC, May 1998),
but three years in a row and five out of the last seven years might
be a case of going to the well too often. As one person walking
the show said to me, “This market is played out.”
Officially, this year’s show drew attendees from 48 states
and 34 countries—34 countries! At the risk of sounding like
an idiot, I’m not sure I can name 34 countries. Yet, they were
there. OK, maybe exhibitor representatives with parent company headquarters
located in 34 countries, but attendees? Let’s face it, the
IWCE draws most heavily from the surrounding region in which it
is held. So after three years in Baltimore, this year’s show
had a “holding steady” feel to it: about the same number
attending and a bit fewer exhibitors (more on that later).
So imagine my surprise after returning from Baltimore this year
to learn that I had just attended the show with the “the highest
attendance numbers in five years.” According to the show’s
producers, “nearly 7,500” attended. If that’s true,
I’ll go one better. It was the best-attended show in six years—going
back to the previously mentioned 1998 show in Baltimore, which drew
9,000. I’ve been attending window coverings shows for 11 years,
now, and this year’s show might have been better attended than
last year’s, but by 1,000?
One undisputed fact is that there were fewer exhibitors this year
(230), and several notable booths were missing. You can name them
as well as I can—Hunter Douglas, Levolor Kirsch, Comfortex,
ADO, Springs . . . and there were others. These are big names in
this industry, and each had its own reasons for not participating.
Exhibitors face tough choices. They must consider the best use of
resources for presenting products and gaining market share. Some
just had other plans. Still, it makes you wonder.
There are lots of reasons for participating in a trade show as an
exhibitor or an attendee—looking for new products, equipment,
suppliers and customers is a huge part of it. Over the last five
years the IWCE has averaged just under 7,000 attendees and about
235 exhibitors a year. For many, that’s worth the effort and
expense; not so for others—at least, not every year. And that
is a point worth considering, too.
Another undisputed fact is that this industry will get the trade
show that it supports.