Business Management

What Has Happened to Our Trade Shows?

Trade shows used to seem bigger, brighter, and shinier and I wasn’t familiar with all the product lines. Every booth had something undiscovered to show me, and I couldn’t wait till the next big trade show. Where did that feeling go?

It seems to me that back in the days, trade shows had more to offer nail technicians than they do today. I suppose it is possible that I was younger then and had not been in the industry very long, and perhaps trade shows only seemed bigger brighter, and shinier I wasn’t familiar with all the product lines, every booth had something undiscovered to show me, and I couldn’t wait till the next big trade show.

The last few shows I have attended have been huge beauty industry extravaganzas. The brochures promised all the latest in products and education. Once the brochure was opened it revealed a plethora of exhibitors, platform artists, and classes available — for hairstylists. While this is not a problem if you happen to do hair; it is a bit disappointing to those of us who specialize in other disciplines, such as nails.

We get enticed to attend a major trade show, spend the money for the tickets, the travel costs, the accommodations, then walk onto the showroom floor and begin searching frantically for our favourite companies — and keep our eyes open for anything new.

All too often nail exhibitors are hidden in secondary rooms, or overshadowed by glittering platform performers boasting bright lights, loud music, and scantily clad dancers. Woe be to the individual hoping to get some one-on-one advice or demonstration time with one of these ill-placed companies. You cannot hear over the din of the elaborately constructed spectacle going on next door.

Which begs the question: Why do so many hair companies invest so much money, time, and effort into their trade show exhibits while so many nail companies stand meekly in the shadows letting their customers pass them by unnoticed? Are we not worthy of the same investment? Do mere nail technicians not account for high enough profit margins to warrant such glamorous marketing strategies?

Even more disturbing, however; is that fewer and fewer nail companies are bothering to make an appearance at some of the larger trade shows. I understand the expenses involved with renting the space, toting the booths and the products from town to town, and paying educators to man the booths. But I have a difficult time believing that having a presence at these events is not profitable for a company, whether it is a new one seeking visibility in the industry, or a well- established one seeking to reach new clients and reinforce its position in the industry. As a businesswoman, I know you can never afford to stop advertising, so why does it appear that so many companies are choosing to do exactly that by not attending trade shows!

One reason I have been given for this situation is that attendance at major trade shows has dwindled. Could that be a direct result of the lack of exhibitors available for us? I know I will be picking and choosing my trade shows more carefully next yean I will be opting for more nails- only shows, shows that offer competitions, and shows that offer networking events specializing in the nail industry, As a result, there are a few “big” shows that will have to go on without me, decreasing the attendance and possibly costing someone else the opportunity to discover a great nail company that just couldn’t justify the cost of being there without me.

Moggie Franklin is a nail tech and salon owner in Visalia, Calif

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