What's the appeal of attending tradeshows when the experience can be quite frustrating?
As the tradeshow season slows down (all the “big ones” are over until next year), I have been wondering what’s the appeal of tradeshows these days? I got to thinking about shows after trying to do some of my own shopping at a recent tradeshow and found myself frustrated in the process.
First of all, salon professionals pay what seem to me exorbitant fees to get in — upwards of $75 for some shows, plus parking, overpriced convention center meals, and coat and bag check. Those are just for the privilege of coming to the show. Although many shows offer no-cost education, many charge per class or require that you purchase product to take a class. All this before you even start to think about shopping for products. If I had to pay to get into a grocery store to shop, I’d hope to find lots of deals, free education, and a lot of free tastes!
Then there’s shopping for products. Many shows limit the size of the bags you can bring onto the show floor. Isn’t the idea for you to stock up on products while attending the show? Why can’t you bring a suitcase or shopping cart? I know how crowded the aisles can get, but that’s better than poor souls dragging shopping bags on the ground because they’re too heavy to carry.
You know what else drives me crazy? “Junk” stands — all of those non-salon items that grace the show floor. At one recent show I couldn’t help but notice how many knock-off handbags, “designer” corsets, and crystal-encrusted hair accessories there were. These are supposed to be professional salon shows where you can buy professional salon products. All of these junk stands make it look like we’re at a swap meet. (I should mention that those booths are often the busiest.)
Plus, the way manufacturers package their “show deals” can frustrate the bargain-hunter. A nail tech might want to buy a dozen of a specific color without having to buy the prepackaged kit with the giveaway gimmick. (While this is especially true with the hair care companies, I’ve also seen it from some nail manufacturers.) I urge manufacturers to please offer open stock at all shows.
It seems like there are fewer manufacturers exhibiting at the shows. As companies have gotten bigger, many have reduced their show presence in favor of other selling methods. So many nail techs stop by our booth asking where this company or that company is. Sometimes the manufacturer is actually there, but not in the directory because they came in with a distributor. Why is it so confusing for the attendees? Can’t we list all the manufacturers even if they’re under a dealer?
And one more thing about education — can’t we get more non-product-specific education at these events? Nail techs need generic technical education. Nail techs also need more business education. (Most of the business classes are geared toward hairstylists.) I’d like to see show organizers come up with some fresh faces for classes instead of the same topics and teachers from year to year.
Bottom line, our shows need some reinvigorating, and I welcome calls from everyone (attendees, manufacturers, and tradeshow organizers) to hear your thoughts. The burden is on both attendee and organizer to raise the professionalism and enhance the show experience for all. (If attendees weren’t buying so many knock-off purses, we wouldn’t see so many purse vendors at the show.)
I don’t think you should stop going to shows. Quite the contrary: Beauty shows have so much potential and they’re an invaluable element in ongoing education, networking, and staying on top of your game. I’d just like to see some fresh blood and energy pumped into them.