Last August in her “On My Mind” column, editor Hannah Lee asked readers, “What’s the appeal?” regarding our industry trade shows. I personally believe that trade shows offer more value for your money than any other educational opportunity. I realize that to some the entry fee may seem high, but continuing education is a valuable resource that inevitably pays for itself. I feel that we need to consider what is offered for the entry fee and take a proactive approach to getting what we need.
With nail technicians’ attendance down, there are fewer exhibitors and educational classes offered at shows. The less shows have to offer nail techs, the less we will attend. The fewer nail technicians in attendance, the fewer exhibitors we will see at the shows until there is little left. It’s this snowball effect that we are already seeing that concerns me the most. Many show organizers express the opinion that, compared to the hair industry, nail techs are seemingly complacent — not interested in education, competitions, or investing in products.
Ask yourselves this: How are you measuring the value of our trade shows? Did you watch any product demonstrations? Test or sample any products? See any new products or techniques? Did you attend business classes? Meet other nail attendees and discuss the nail biz or get their contact info? Did you find a new supplier for your products of choice? Did you approach suppliers or manufacturers to voice your questions or concerns? Get any free samples or literature? Did you compete or at least watch the competitions or award ceremony? Did you view what winning nails look like? Are you in the know about the “who’s who” of our industry? Did you introduce yourself to any of them? Did you ask anyone to critique your nails? There is incredible value in all these things.
I would like to encourage a new mindset and ask nail professionals to see the bigger picture. If you believe it’s too expensive to attend a show or that there is no appeal left, consider this: Exhibitors pay enormous fees to rent the floor space, purchase display furnishings and banners, rent credit terminals, pay electrical hook-up fees, staff the show, fly in educators, ship product and equipment to the show, set it up and tear it down, not to mention the cost of their personal travel and accommodation fees. In all, it’s not uncommon for a show to cost the exhibitor well over $20,000 even after show sales. It is considerably less for us to take the first step and show up so we will continue to have this opportunity available to us in the future.
If nail tech attendance increased and we all spoke to the people who have the power to make changes, we would get what I hear you all wishing for: more nail instructional classes, hands-on training classes, and certification classes; more competition categories, non-product and nail business education, and inspirational guest speakers. More product lines, more demos on the show floor, more “top educators” demonstrating, and the list goes on. But it has to start with us. We have to attend, take advantage of what is offered, voice our concerns about what we would like to see, and show support for all things nails at the trade shows. The more of us and the more often we voice our wishes for upcoming shows, the more we will see.
A former NAILS’ Nail Technician of the Year and Salon Owner of the Year, Christine Turner is an independent educator and industry speaker on salon business, nail industry professionalism, and the value of continuing education.