Business Management

What’s Your Take on Tradeshows?

We asked some seasoned tradeshow attendees to tell us what they like most — and least — about tradeshows. Here is what they had to say.

Lauryn Chechile, nail technician at Grace’s Nail Studio, Inc., Hicksville, N.Y.

I love the education, and my supplier is always there. Shows also offer you a chance to compete. I love to compete because it gives you a whole new outlook on your career. When there’s no more challenge to doing salon nails, you can challenge yourself by competing.

Kim Figueroa, owner of Absolutely Nails, Tucson, Ariz.

I love that competitors teach the competition classes because their techniques will help you in your everyday salon work Unfortunately, I think that some of the people doing hands-on demonstrations at the booths aren’t educated enough. You have to go to a class to really find out about a product. Also, many technicians who are just getting started can’t afford the show admission. I think students and new technicians should be admitted free so they can learn more. As for competitions, I think there should be a separate category for top competitors because it’s intimidating for those just starting to compete.

Lynne Gallo, owner of Salon Escada, Marlton, N.J.

At shows, I enjoy meeting the people I do business with over the phone so I can put the face with the name. Tradeshows are also a good opportunity for me to spend a couple of days with my employees. I pick up their expenses because it’s a great commitment on their part to attend.

I wish more shows would have a salon owner panel with a Q&A session. There’s a lot of interaction, it’s motivating and exciting, and the audience really values the information. For the shows that offer panel discussions, I wish they would allow more time because they always run over. I also wish there were more non-beauty-related products, such as jewellery and sunglasses, for salons to retail. Also, there should definitely be more ladies’ restrooms.

Aimee Ginsberg, nail technician at Salon 544, San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Show classes are very informative and they’re free. Although the show’s admission includes the education, it’s still a good deal because if you were to take a class elsewhere, it would cost you $25-$100. And at a show, the instructors don’t push the products. I also like the discounts and make a shopping list ahead of time so I can do my bulk shopping at the show.

What I’d like to see improved is the competition rules. I competed in a fantasy competition and the rules weren’t specific enough. For example, I wasn’t told that my model had to remain in costume until the awards ceremony, which was five hours later. As for the show itself, people need to be better informed about where things are taking place. I asked six people where the awards ceremony was being held and ended up finding it myself. It was very frustrating.

Sherri Goldman, owner of Real Looking Nails By Sherri, La Canada, Calif.

I love shopping and meeting new people at tradeshows, but the vendors are making money hand over fist so they can afford to give us better deals. Also, at the last show I attended, I waited 20 minutes at one booth to be waited on before I finally walked away.

Sherry Hernandez, nail technician at A French Connection, Grants Pass, Ore.

Shows are so much fun and a great learning experience. I love the big shows because there are so many products to try and so much to look at. I prefer to stay away from smaller distributor shows because they are limited to the products they carry. I’d like to start competing so I can learn what I can do better.

Kelly Lemaster, owner of Freckles Hair & Nail Salon, Ocala, Fla.

Shows keep you up-to-date on new techniques and products. I’m an educator, but I still walk away from a class learning something new.

What I find disappointing is when you travel far for a show and it turns out to be small with hardly any nail booths. Also, when I first started going to shows about six years ago, there were a lot of specials, such as buy one bottle of polish and get the second one free. Now the deals aren’t that great, so why bother?

Judy Michaels, co-owner of Malibutique, Malibu, Calif.

I like seeing new products that I’ve only read about, and they’re all in one place at a show. I also like the energy going on at a show and it gives me a little kick in the pants as far as my commitment to my work. And many times during a class, I’ll find out the answer to a technique problem I maybe having.

On the down side, at the last show I attended there were fewer exhibitors than the year before, and I don’t think they utilized the space well. I also didn’t like the fact that you couldn’t park dose to the site and had to lug your purchases back to your car. My real pet peeve is that we’re charged admission to the show knowing that we’re going to spend money inside. There aren’t any good show deals anymore and the majority of product samples are no longer free. I also don’t like it when an exhibitor grabs you from the aisle and starts massaging your hand with product.

Juli Miller, nail technician at Can/on Fitness Salon, Canyon Lake, Calif.

I like the fact that you can talk with the actual manufacturer at the show, which gives you the opportunity to speak to someone I knowledgeable. You can also compare products from different manufacturers and see which ones you like best. If s also fun to watch the hairstylists go to work on stage.

Ideas for improvement include bigger aisles and fewer booths with non-beauty-related items, such as purses. I come to see nail and hair care items. I can go to the swap meet to buy a purse.

Kim Morgan, nail technician at The Hair Force, Winter Haven, Fla.

It’s exciting to see how a product works and to try it out for yourself at a show. Shows also expose you to other types of nail services. For example, I saw an airbrush demonstration and now I’d like to practice airbrushing. I also love competing, which is one of my best teachers.

What I’d like to see happen at manufacturers’ classes is more of a focus on education in general, such as troubleshooting. Many of the instructors have a tendency to pump you with their products.

Lori Ribar, owner of Perfect 10 Nails, Mendota Heights, Minn.

Since I work alone, shows are a place for me to learn what’s new in the industry and to try different products. I always purchase samples and bring them back home to try on my clients. If they like the product, I’ll buy larger quantities.

As for how shows can be improved, sometimes it’s hard to see the actual nails during a demonstration. I’d like to see more presentations with big video screens, so you can see what’s going on. I’d like to see more nail classes and I wish more shows would offer nail competitions. Everyone learns something at a competition, even if they’re only observing. It would also be nice if there was a discount for those who travel far because of all the out- of-pocket expenses.

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