Incorporating Buyer and Exhibitor Feedback to Create a Better Show

Trade Show Q&A

Johnny Was

Johnny Was

As of Friday, May 17, 2024

Perfecting the trade-show formula to attract the appropriate buyers and secure the ideal exhibitors is a never-ending process. Successful trade-show producers know that their work is never done as planning is a constant process built on a keen awareness of and talent for identifying attendee and exhibitor needs.

Seasoned event organizers also know that their best resource for planning visitor experiences and brand partnerships is the feedback provided by the attendees and exhibitors who have participated in their shows. Every event during each season serves as an opportunity to learn more about the changing needs, expectations and priorities of attendees and exhibitors.

To identify the amenities and offerings that attendees and exhibiting brands value most, California Apparel News asked trade-show leaders: What is the most insightful piece of exhibitor or buyer feedback you have received that you are incorporating into the remainder of 2024?

  


Jennifer Bacon

Vice President of Fashion and Apparel Shows

Messe Frankfurt, Inc.

texworldnewyorkcity.com

apparelsourcingnewyorkcity.com

 Both attendees and exhibitors alike have expressed a growing interest in facilitated networking and matchmaking. In response, we are expanding our matchmaking services to offer more personalized experiences and implementing new initiatives and digital tools to facilitate meaningful connections.

Through advanced algorithms and enhanced attendee profiles, we’re creating tailored networking opportunities based on individual preferences, interests and business objectives. By prioritizing face-to-face networking and relationship building and leveraging technology to personalize the experience, we aim to enhance our Texworld NYC and Apparel Sourcing NYC events and drive greater value and success for all involved.

  


Tricia Barglof

Executive Director

OffPrice Show

offpriceshow.com

 In the ever-evolving landscape of retail sourcing, exhibitors can no longer rely solely on the traditional show-up-and-sell approach. The modern exhibitor understands that to be successful they must have a strategic marketing plan.

In light of this exhibitor feedback, OffPrice has revamped its promotional strategy by introducing a value-added program that includes free marketing assets for the exhibitor to self-promote, such as social-media posts and digital ads, and the incorporation of our new Buyer Team to uncover new attendee streams and create hosted buyer programs. Our aim is to ensure that exhibitors have every opportunity to engage with buyers before, during and after the show.

This shift underscores the importance of working as a partner with exhibitors. OffPrice understands that success in today’s retail-sourcing landscape requires a collaborative approach. By providing exhibitors with the tools and support they need to showcase their products effectively, OffPrice is not just a venue but also a partner in their success.

This proactive marketing approach has significantly benefited exhibitors, enhancing their visibility and engagement with buyers throughout the trade-show process. By providing exhibitors with comprehensive marketing support, OffPrice is ensuring that they are well equipped to navigate the evolving landscape of retail sourcing.

  


Linda J. Browne

Executive Director and Show Producer

Northwest Market Association

northwestmarket.org

 Northwest Market, held twice a year near Portland, Ore., has grown from being an all-footwear show to becoming the leading regional trade show featuring women’s, men’s and children’s apparel and footwear, accessories, handbags, jewelry, lingerie and gift lines. It attracts top brands and established stores from the Pacific Northwest—Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Idaho, Montana and southwest British Columbia—as well as Northern California.

We frequently get much insightful feedback from our exhibitors and buyers so it is difficult to say which is the most significant. However, I believe this sums it up: Keep the professional exhibitors and buyers coming—and the special amenities. We delight both with gifts, drawings, surprises, and creative food and beverages. In fact, we hear repeatedly that the show is the best regional show in the United States.

One of the most important elements of our show is the community we have created. It is not just a trade show but also a gathering of people who genuinely want to be together for common goals and a true sense of belonging.

  


Trish Concannon

Show Director

Outdoor Design + Innovation

outdoorretailer.com/outdoor-design-and-innovation

 The launch of Outdoor Design + Innovation as a co-located sourcing show aligns with Outdoor Retailer’s commitment to enhancing the event experience for both exhibitors and attendees. We’re creating an ecosystem where private-label retailers and brand-product-development teams can seamlessly navigate the entire supply chain.

We have implemented a strategic plan designed to enhance attendance. This includes a hosted buyer program with substantial travel perks for top-tier companies. Our goal is to bring an elevated experience to both exhibitors and attendees, providing a platform for valuable connections to be made, and driving growth and innovation in the outdoor-products industry.

  


Chantal Danguillaume

Show Director

Playtime New York

iloveplaytime.com

 The most insightful piece of exhibitor feedback we’ve received and will incorporate into the rest of 2024 is the story of a collaboration between the brands Bonmot and Sticky Lemon. I find their collab and analysis relevant in a market that needs to move, to be fun and creative.

By working together, they found an opportunity to explore new methods, discover new techniques and grow their own brands as they saw how one another worked. In this collaboration they brought together two distinct universes to create products that are unique and beautiful.

  


Quratulain Fatima

Trade and Investment Counsellor

Consulate General of Pakistan

pakconsulatela.org

 Pakistani exhibitors come to exhibit at prominent textile and technology shows in the U.S.A. Exhibitors and buyers of our products have pointed out that there is a need to be updated about the trends and fashion styles of the season, especially for the exhibitors coming from countries outside of the U.S. We will be sharing trend reports as a regular feature with our incoming exhibitors.

  


Hillary France

Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer

Brand Assembly

brandassembly.com

 At the Brand Assembly show we have a close community of retailers and brands who always provide us with industry insights and show feedback. What we heard coming out of this season is that both retailers and brands are looking for “ease.” This idea of needing “ease,” which retailers and brands experience in Los Angeles, is resounding for the New York City market.

Both parties are extremely excited that the NYC market is on its way to pre-pandemic levels of excitement, and they are beyond thrilled to have Brand Assembly back in full swing in New York, bringing the ease retailers need to discover new brands and buy existing brands in one place and all in a well-produced and merchandised show that provides them with plenty of amenities, a stress-free environment and a community that has been described as “a party with friends.”

  


Kelly Helfman

President

MMGNET Group

magicfashionevents.com

 Now more than ever both brands and retailers are looking for more connections, inspiration and resources to make better-informed business decisions. MMGNET Group’s portfolio of events provides these in-person opportunities, and we will be enhancing much of our programming to better serve these needs including our matchmaking program.

Through our newly launched fashion ecosystem, MMGNET, we can provide these resources year-round and especially during key moments in the fashion calendar. MMGNET was created to be the industry’s resource, providing insights such as trend forecasting that extends beyond seasonal fashion trends to business resources like the 2024 Consumer Outlook Report.

We take the feedback from our exhibitors and attendees very seriously. They are our priority, and we will continue to evolve so that we can provide the best experience possible to all of our customers.

  


Jim Iwasaki

Founder and President

OC Apparel Show

ocapparelshow.com

 Our buyers are stretched in so many different directions, and great employees are hard for them to find. This seems to cause a need for them to stay local, so buying from regional shows is a must. Shows that are curated for their stores are becoming more and more important because of this.

With a plethora of regional shows popping up, they believe that a show must be convenient, with lines that they’re already buying as well as new and exciting things that make their stores unique. This is what will separate them from the boutiques down the street, and this is exactly why we spend countless hours searching for vendors with perfect merchandise for our shows. We also listen to our buyers—who are actually partners to us—and their feedback helps us continue to grow as a show and, more importantly, grow to keep them happy and coming back show after show.

  


Tom Keefer

General Manager

Ben Eisenberg Properties/

The New Mart

newmart.net

 The positive feedback we’ve received from the most recent LA Market Week and comments about future market weeks is that the most important consideration for buyers is to see the best brands and their latest offerings. Buyers reinforce what we already know—the quality of the brands seen in The New Mart is excellent, and the tenants and brand managers who represent them are extremely professional and helpful.

When the dust settles on any given market week, either here or in smaller regional shows, they know that they can return to The New Mart throughout the year to connect with some of the finest brands in the apparel industry and see the full collections in a comfortable and welcoming environment. We pride ourselves on offering 24/7 security, so no matter when the buyers arrive they feel welcome and comfortable to make their all-important next-season selections.

  


Mikey Koffman

Executive Producer and

Chief Executive Officer

Endless Road Entertainment, Inc.

erelainc.com

 One particularly insightful piece of feedback we received from fashion buyers was the desire for more sustainable and eco-friendly options across fashion lines. This feedback has prompted us for the remainder of 2024 to prioritize the incorporation of sustainable-fashion brands that focus on ethical production practices and environmentally friendly processes in their designs and manufacturing. We’re actively seeking out innovative partnerships that align with these values to ensure that our clients not only meet the demands of retailers but also contribute positively to the planet.

  


Bob Maricich

Chief Executive Officer

ANDMORE

Owner and Operator

Atlanta Apparel, Formal Markets,

Las Vegas Apparel

andmore.com

 Feedback from buyers and exhibitors at ANDMORE’s 10 apparel and formal markets consistently reinforces the importance of new and the wish for more. This need aligns perfectly with our rebranding as ANDMORE mirrors our mission to enhance connectivity between buyers and exhibitors while fostering business expansion.

In line with this, ANDMORE has focused on increasing new resources and attracting new attendees as well as on delivering more—whether commerce, community or connections—to buyers and exhibitors alike. For buyers, emerging resources are presented alongside best-selling brands in both temporary exhibits and permanent showrooms, offering consistent access to products for all of their customer needs. For exhibitors, new buyers consistently make up about 20 percent of the total attendance at each of our markets in Atlanta and Las Vegas, creating a reliable pipeline for business expansion.

Three at-market programs spotlight new products and create more buyer and exhibitor engagement. Our signature New and Now display showcases the diverse range of new apparel, accessories, shoes and gift items at each of our markets, and our daily hands-on activations directly engage buyers and brands in a tactile and immersive manner through fun activities and popular giveaways. Additionally, ANDMORE’s in-house buyer-services team includes a dedicated apparel-and-formal-markets specialist who presents daily new-buyer-at-market orientations to engage first-time attendees.

ANDMORE is dedicated to meeting evolving buyer and supplier needs by prioritizing innovation and expansion. We value our customers and use their feedback to produce markets that best serve apparel and formal markets.

  


Matthew Mathiasen

Event Director

NY NOW

nynow.com

 In our centennial year, NY NOW’s primary focus as the leading gift, home and accessories trade show is mastering intimacy at scale, ensuring that, even as we expand, we continue to provide the intimate interactions and key networking our partners value. Responding to exhibitor feedback is instrumental in shaping our approach, revealing a significant demand for enhanced educational resources. We’ve enriched our Exhibitor Education portal, which serves all exhibitors, and specifically curated a dedicated syllabus for our Incubator Program. This program supports emerging brands in their first five years, offering targeted content from industry experts that covers areas such as discovering your unique selling proposition, crafting compelling brand narratives and mastering follow-through.

Buyer feedback has emphasized the importance of facilitating meaningful connections with aligned brands. To improve, we’ve optimized our show layout and incorporated strategic merchandising, including brand values on signage, simplifying navigation and helping buyers effortlessly discover exhibitors that resonate with their mission. Through Matchmaking Roundtables, our facilitated “speed dating” meetings program, we offer key buyers the opportunity to have one-on-one time with recommended brands. And, finally, we’ve introduced NY NOW Online, a powerful integrated wholesale platform that allows buyers to connect with brands 24/7/365, transcending the confines of physical events. This innovation offers a continuous, holistic experience for networking and exploration.

These enhancements, rooted in feedback, are designed to enrich the NY NOW experience, ensuring it remains a pivotal event for both exhibitors and buyers as we move forward in 2024.

  


Laure Merat-Calderon

Sales Manager

Comexposium US | Curve

curve-connect.com

 One of the most insightful pieces of feedback we’ve consistently received is the irreplaceable value of face-to-face interactions at Curve. Exhibitors and buyers crave the energy, relationship building and real-time product engagement that a physical show provides.

In response to this strong sentiment, we’re thrilled to reintroduce our highly successful speed-dating format for our August show. This program allows for focused, prescheduled meetings that maximize efficiency and connection. We believe this, alongside the core strengths of the Curve show, will deliver an unmatched experience for both exhibitors and buyers.

  


Melissa K. Montes 

Vice President

AXN and WWIN

Diversity & Inclusion

Business Partner Lead

Clarion Events

wwinshow.com

 The standout feedback we’ve received centers on the imperative of efficiency for both buyers and exhibitors. Recognizing that buyers face increasingly packed schedules, we’re dedicated to streamlining their experiences. We’re extending complimentary breakfast, lunch and beverage breaks to save buyers time.

Partnering with Las Vegas Apparel allows us to offer a broader array of product categories catering to diverse interests. Our new venue at the Expo at World Market Center provides a seamless move-in experience for our exhibitors and an easily navigable space for buyers. Furthermore, we’re meticulously planning our venue layout to ensure attendees can navigate effortlessly. By prioritizing efficiency, we’re committed to elevating the buyer experience throughout 2024.

  


Cindy Morris

President and Chief Executive Officer

Dallas Market Center

dallasmarketcenter.com

 Listening to customers and meeting their needs is in our company DNA. As we welcome more buyers from coast to coast, it becomes more important for us to focus on and add to features that add value to the buyers and exhibitors who come to Dallas Market Center.

Dallas Market Center is the only one-stop lifestyle market in North America. We know that every minute counts at market, which is why our buyers always tell us the cross-category products they can find in gift, men’s and children’s, without having to leave the building, are perfect complements to their apparel and accessories.

For trends, no other marketplace delivers like Dallas, especially when it comes to the hottest trend of Western. We host the largest Western market in the country, with a full floor of authentic and artisan brands that give retailers the ability to add Western flair to their boutiques.

Each market we are adding more young contemporary, accessories and Immediate goods to our temp floors in addition to vast product selections from our permanent showrooms. We have a full spectrum of merchandise to match all price points, which allows for higher markups and profit margins for the retailer.

  


Finn Murtagh

Vice President of Operations

CALA Shows Inc.

calashows.com

 Buyer feedback has always been something we take very seriously at CALA Shows because retailers make or break our events. We value and love working alongside them to tailor our shows to fit their needs.

One primary way we seek feedback from our buyers is requesting their personal input on scheduling. Each territory is different. Whether it’s spring break, ski season or harsh weather, we truly do try and accommodate their needs.

Another piece of feedback we get is to keep hosting regional shows in buyers’ territories. Many buyers love having shows in their backyards not only for the convenience but also so they can consistently order and build strong relationships with their reps.

As a family business, we understand that these relationships are integral to our industry and ultimately drive repeat sales over the years. We are committed to supporting retailers of all sizes, especially small stores, and we take their feedback just as seriously as we do our larger retailers. One of our goals this year is to actively build new relationships while rekindling old ones to bring positivity and optimism to the industry.

A big request we have been getting from our buyers and reps alike is to bring back our Fort Mason show in San Francisco. We are excited to announce that we are holding our August show at the newly remodeled Fort Mason Gateway Pavilion overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. It will be complete with high-end catering, a barista, a bar and music.

  


Susan Power

Founder and Show Producer

The Fabric Shows

TheFabricShows.com

 The Fabric Shows has focused on the Americas since we began in 2012 as DG Expo. At our shows, buyers meet sellers who speak their language, know their needs and offer them globally sourced fabrics—with many collections stocked in the U.S.A. and Canada. Some fabrics are made in America, and attendees continue to express their desire to work locally.

At The Fabric Shows—we’ve produced more than 50 shows in cities across the U.S.—we bring together many of the best U.S. and Canadian suppliers including mills, converters, importers and agents for European mills. The sales manager of Zinman Textiles, who has been with us since our very first show, is one of many exhibitors who acknowledges the value of our shows.


At the request of exhibitors, we launched our newest show in Los Angeles. One reason exhibitors love our new home at The New Mart is the fabulous overhead lighting and natural light provided by the large windows throughout the space. No exhibitor is ever in the dark at The New Mart! Good lighting is very important to many of our exhibitors, especially those who are showing fine collections of novelty and embellished fabrics.

  


Jason Prescott

Chief Executive Officer

Apparel Textile Sourcing

appareltextilesourcing.com

 More and more, reciprocation into 360-degree transparency is needed. Exhibitors are simply tired of spending time on the show floor educating attendees who are still in the early-idea or planning phase.

The cost to exhibit has skyrocketed ever since the COVID-19 pandemic. An average booth costs $6,000–$10,000 in 2024, and that does not include the cost of designing the exhibit, travel and lodging, food and entertainment. It can easily cost $20,000 or more to participate at a convention. Exhibitors want insight into attendees way before the show. They want appointments and buyer quality guaranteed by the producers.

Attendees are demanding a complete peek under the hood of an exhibitor prior to and during meetings. They are tired of hearing a “Yes we can,” “We do,” “We have” response to every question without proof. There are many tiers of attendees. Regardless of the tier, the exhibitor needs to be ready to provide total transparency into their manufacturing processes before and during a convention.

As a trade-show producer, our goal is to enhance those elements by investing in ways that provide greater transparency, ease of interaction and ways to reduce costs. Costs are by far the No. 1 challenge all sides now face. There is no slowdown. It is no secret in the industry that all of the costs to produce an event have risen. If we are going to pass those on successfully, we need to listen now to all sides.

  


Devon Ranger

Show Director

Collective Shows

collectiveshows.com

 The phrase that has been top of mind for us this year is the tagline “Better Together.” Both buyers and brands agree that the Collective Shows are stronger and busier than ever when Active Collective and Swim Collective are co-located under one roof in an intimate, aspirational space.

As trade-show producers, a major aspect of our job is to create an environment where buyers and brands can do business effectively, efficiently and leave feeling inspired. Incorporating our now highly anticipated Runway Show into the Evening Reception has added an insightful, memorable element where buyers can make more meaningful connections with brands than ever before.

  


Moriah Robinson

Show Director

The Textile Show

thetextileshow.com

 The attendee feedback we’ve received has emphasized a preference for smaller regional shows. In response to this growing interest, we’ve shifted toward a more intimate and accessible approach by embracing the boutique-show model. We aim to create environments that are welcoming, easy to navigate and conducive to meaningful interactions.

To further enhance the attendee experience, we have introduced a range of hospitality offerings including handcrafted-espresso bars, lunch options, happy hours, lounge areas and interactive activations. These amenities not only provide moments of relaxation but also serve as valuable networking opportunities, fostering connections among industry professionals.

Additionally, we have received overwhelming enthusiasm for crafted conversations. In response, we are expanding our seminar program to include more open-forum discussions and Q&A sessions with qualified industry experts. These sessions offer attendees the chance to engage in interactive learning experiences, exchange insights and gain valuable knowledge from leaders in the field.

Our goal remains to create memorable experiences that inspire, educate and connect, ultimately contributing to professional growth and success for all.

  


Erik Rosete

President

Art Hearts Fashion

artheartsfashion.com

 The most insightful feedback we’ve received from exhibitors and buyers is their desire for more social consciousness in the brands they choose to work with. This means they are seeking out companies that prioritize ethical practices, sustainability and social responsibility.

In response to this feedback, we are incorporating these values into our selection process for 2024, actively seeking out brands that demonstrate a commitment to making a positive impact on society and the environment. This focus on social consciousness will not only resonate with buyers but also align with the growing global movement toward ethical consumerism.

  


Ashley Sabo

General Manager

California Market Center

californiamarketcenter.com

 Aside from quality showroom and exhibitor collections, we’ve established that exhibitors and buyers truly notice, appreciate and desire the extra details our team painstakingly plans for and provides at each of our events. One LA Textile exhibitor recently shared that the shows the CMC presents are not typical trade shows but rather a holistic event experience. This was a recurring high point among the feedback we received during LA Textile and LA Market Week earlier this year. And so, attention to detail and overall experience will continue to be a focus for the remainder of our shows this year.

Whether our exhibitor and buyer community is receiving personalized client service from us before an event, attending one of our rooftop receptions, enjoying a hand-delivered charcuterie and wine tray, participating in one of our curated DIY creativity breaks, or opening one of our thank-you gifts, our goal is to present exhibitors and buyers with an elevated, creative and stimulating event experience that enhances their business trip and keeps them coming back.

  


Judy Stein

Executive Director

SwimShow

swimshow.com

 Many of our exhibitors have participated at SwimShow for years on end, have seen the industry shape and shift over the years, and have been part of our evolution as we grew through our social-media channels and made changes to the show floor ranging from our show layout and programming to sustainability efforts. Our participating exhibitors always value our social media and SwimStories on our SwimShow blog. We love to share these fantastic designer stories and highlight the brands that are evolving in their own worlds.

In an effort to supply a seamless experience to brands that are traveling to Miami from abroad, we have increased our turnkey booth experiences, offering more of a “plug-n-play” opportunity for brands that don’t have the bandwidth to customize their booths. Additionally, both our exhibitors and buyers have positively reviewed our SwimShow app, where they can communicate with one another and easily navigate the show floor, review line sheets, book appointments and more.

  


Mark J. Subers

President

PRINTING United Expo

printingunited.com

 PRINTING United Expo is always looking for feedback and ways in which to improve the overall experience for both exhibitors and attendees from around the world. Our event continues to grow and gain traction each year, which is garnering more and more engagement based on our continuous feedback loop.

One such way we’ve ensured that we are incorporating this feedback is the investment in and partnership with a third-party research firm that provides insight into every aspect of the event from show-floor experiences and educational sessions to registration and more.

We additionally provide comprehensive post-show survey opportunities to both exhibitors and attendees and also elicit feedback on education and show-floor experiences so that we can continue to tweak and stay at the forefront of what it is they are looking to see.

One of our biggest takeaways from third-party data was that our Apparel Zone with on-site training was one of the biggest hits of the show. Hands-on training for the apparel community is clearly sought after, and we will continue to grow and brand this exciting show-floor activation.

This year we’ve created a themed overall experience for a training area that will incorporate live sessions as well as training in areas such as screen printing, sublimation, digital printing, embroidery and more, which truly creates a realistic and applicable learning environment.

We will continue to add and finalize unique experiences all the way up to the event this September.

  


Mary Taft

Executive Director

Fashion Market Northern California

fashionmarketnorcal.com

 FMNC welcomes and appreciates feedback from both buyers and exhibitors, which helps us to run a productive and great show five times a year. Our buyers comment on the welcome feeling they receive when they attend our shows. They appreciate the intimacy and attention they get viewing products in the suites and booths in a professional yet relaxing atmosphere. They also comment on the exclusive touches we offer, such as complimentary valet parking, free lunch and daily special events. All of these things help make their shopping objective casual yet efficient. Our exhibitors also comment on the welcoming atmosphere. They appreciate their helpful and friendly suite neighbors as well as our staff, all while getting business done.

FMNC looks forward to the remainder of 2024 putting on enjoyable, relaxing yet productive shows that showcase a wide range of great product brands.

  


Roy Turner

Show Director

Surf Expo

Senior Vice President

Emerald Expositions

surfexpo.com

emeraldx.com

 Exhibitors are looking for trackable ROI, and new leads are often the key to success. At Surf Expo, we are offering tools that allow brands and buyers to connect before, during and after our events. Our upcoming events offer all exhibitors access to our matchmaking tools as well as lead retrieval. The tools are integrated into our show app and make connecting buyers and sellers as easy as possible.

  


Vivian Wang

Managing Director and

Global Sales Manager

Kingpins Show

kingpinsshow.com

 One of the initiatives at Kingpins that I’m especially proud of is our partnership with the United Nations on women’s empowerment. There certainly are more women in leadership in the business than when I got my start in the denim industry, but men remain the majority among owners and executives, and denim remains largely a male-dominated field. I would like to see that change, and I would like to encourage more opportunities for women throughout this business.

For years we have worked with the UN helping to educate the denim community on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Sustainability issues are an important cornerstone of our relationship. SDG 5, Gender Equity, is dedicated to empowering women and girls and implementing practices that promote equality, fair pay and safety.

That inspired Kingpins to organize a seminar, “Denim Industry Driving Progress on Women Equality and Equity,” at the New York show in January, and we plan to continue the conversation at future shows.

Just as Kingpins was an early proponent of sustainable practices and transparency throughout the supply chain, we want to use our platform to lead the denim business in acknowledging the inequality that persists in our business and find ways to work together to effect meaningful change. Never content with the status quo, our community continually looks for ways to make our products more responsibly. Women are an important part of this community, and I want to see them recognized and rewarded for their talents, their knowledge and their ambition.