Orlando, Fla.—Anyone heading to Coverings 2012 will find the greatest business payoffs if they come armed with a plan of attack. For all that the annual tile and stone show offers when the doors open at the Orange County Convention Center here April 17—with more than 800 exhibitors representing 50-plus countries, nearly 70 educational seminars, live demonstrations and countless networking opportunities—the four-day event can put even the most seasoned show attendee into sensory overload.
“The show is a great place to see so many tile trends all coming together,” said Sean Cilona, director of marketing, Florida Tile. “The big domestic manufacturers will let you see what is hot and trendy right now and what Main Street is doing; the smaller niche companies and European manufacturers are always a good place to see what is coming in the short term and what is popular on the other side of the pond.”
But a successful Coverings experience is one that’s managed with an advanced game plan. “Know what you need and have a plan,” said Scott Levy, executive vice president of operations, Scranton, Pa.-based distributor Arley Wholesale. “Everything is split up by sections, so if you tackle things one by one, you will come out of the show successful.”
Jack Knies, director of East Coast Tile Imports in New Haven, Conn., and a Coverings attendee since the show’s start in 1989, also suggested having a game plan before hitting the show floor. “Before even setting off for the show, my team and I utilize the online floor plan and exhibitor list to locate those we want to visit and meet with, which saves us precious at-show time and keeps everyone from feeling overwhelmed.”
For designers, staying on top of today’s trends is essential for outpacing the competition. To give herself an edge, Betsy Godfrey, a Winter Park, Fla.-based interior designer, has made Coverings a can’t-miss event for the past decade. “Coverings is my favorite of all the trade shows I attend. It’s inspiring to see the gorgeous materials that come from the ground, as well as the innovative new porcelains and quartz products. My clients are always in awe of my findings from Coverings. How could you not be?”
Speaking to the vast array of tile and stone that’s spotlighted at the show, Godfrey continued, “I have made some life-long connections with vendors from all around the world that I’ve met at Coverings and this year, I plan on expanding my network, spending many hours talking to exhibitors and taking it all in.”
When it comes to trends, David Lowe, vice president of sales for Arley Wholesale, said to keep your eyes open. “Look out for inkjet wood looks in larger formats like 8 x 36 that are starting to become affordable as well as sandstone travertine hyper blends with clean edges and soft colors. Shop for quality as well as value pricing.”
Interior designer Gladys Heuer from Maitland, Fla. and 15-year attendee, likes to take advantage of the educational seminars at the show and makes sure she is prepared. “Year after year, the show’s educational offerings always prove positive for me both personally and professionally.” Since Coverings offers scores of seminars that yield CEU credits, Heuer makes sure to check the speaker schedule ahead of time so she doesn’t miss out on the credited courses catering to her expertise. And, to make the most of her time, she always pre-registers and reviews the online list of exhibitors to locate her favorites. “Coverings.com is the ultimate tool to use for tailoring your trip and optimizing your time,” she said.
Hector Narvaez, executive vice president of sales and marketing, Marazzi USA, also had a tip for distributors. “Most major distributors make appointments ahead of time to view the factory’s new introductions. My tip for them is to stay on schedule and bring plenty of P.O.s.”