The Winter TNNA (The National Needlearts Association) show felt completely different this year. But of course it would because the show happened in a new and different format from previous years. Instead of the traditional convention center / booth format, this year TNNA tried a hotel / suite format.
5th Floor Atrium View
Although this was a new format for the Winter TNNA show, it is a format that has been used in years past when TNNA hosted regional shows. It is also a format that is used regularly by the needlepoint and counted thread segments.
Instead of purchasing a booth space as part of a larger show floor, vendors rent a hotel room that is in a suite layout with a living area connected, but separate from a bedroom. The living room space can then be set-up as the vendor chooses to showcase their product.
This year’s event was held at the Embassy Suites in Las Vegas and filled most of the 2nd – 5th floors. Although some vendors chose to be near one another for a variety of reasons, each floor had a variety of segments represented.
In one hallway, several vendors were positioned next door to one another so they could promote their special product for Local Yarn Shop Day (a new initiative from the Yarn Group happening on April 21, 2018). Three vendors came together to produce a kit that will be made exclusively available to brick-and-mortar shop for the event.
Exclusive Local Yarn Shop Day Product – Photo courtesy of Heather Zoppetti Designs
In addition to living room showrooms, many took advantage of the hallway window and created a window display that highlighted their product or added twinkle lights to create a welcoming appearance.
For those that wanted a more traditional booth set up, a limited number of spaces were available in the small ballroom spaces on the first floor. The two ballroom spaces were directly across the lobby from each other and each had 6 – 8 vendors with what would be equivalent to 1 – 2 (possibly 3) 10’x10’ booth spaces.
Bryson Distributing – Booth in Ballroom
As with all changes reviews were mixed. Some liked it. Others hated it. And of course there were thoughts and opinions at every point in between. Because I attend as neither a vendor nor retailer (buyer), I believe I tend to have a unique and at least somewhat objective point of view.
On the positive side:
- A show in this format tends to be much more cost effective for both the vendors and the association, although retailer cost probably remains close to the same.
- The suite format provided an environment that felt more conducive to deeper conversations about product.
- Hotel rooms are “less regulated” than convention center show floors so vendors had the opportunity to be creative and offer additional “perks” for visiting their showroom such as product demos, snacks, beverages, and or other similar offerings.
Louet North America – Erica Loom
On the negative side:
- It was much harder to know who all was there. With people disbursed over five floors, I know I missed seeing some folks that I would have naturally run into on a convention floor.
- Lighting was a challenge for the vendors who did not bring extra lights. Hotel lighting is notoriously poor and without good supplements, colorful product does not look its best.
- Unless folks made a point to wander into each showroom, there is a good possibility that they might have missed something new. There is only so much that you can see through a doorway.
Purl & Loop – New Product
So was the new format and venue a success or a failure? I don’t think we will truly know until the numbers are run and the evaluations are reviewed. Without having actual access to attendance numbers (which won’t be available until later) it is hard to know how it compared to last year’s convention show in San Jose. But I am confident that this show was financially much better for the association. Whether that is true for the vendors remains to be seen. We may have to wait until the summer show in Cleveland before we know for sure.
Gwen Bortner is a business consultant focused on the craft industry. For more information on how she helps her clients build profitable businesses, and to get more down-to-earth, put-in-the-hard-work business advice visit http://gwenbortner.com/.