Hannover Fairs USA recently announced that it will launch Domotex USA, a trade show focused on the American residential floor covering industry, February 28 to March 2, 2019, in Atlanta, Ga. Deutsche Messe launched the first Domotex in Hannover, Germany, in 1988. Since then, the group has launched shows in China and Turkey.
The three-day U.S. trade show, held at the Georgia World Congress Center, will consist of exhibition space, conferences and education. Exhibitors will display carpets, rugs, resilient floor coverings, luxury vinyl tile (LVT), laminate flooring, parquet and wood flooring, as well as application and installation technologies.
The show will target North American-based professionals, including wholesalers and retailers flooring, home builders, developers, floor installers and home improvement and buying groups. We recently spoke with Raymond Bianchi, vice president, events and business development, Hannover Fairs USA, to learn more about the event.
FT: Tell us about your vision for the show.
Bianchi: Thanks, just to give you some background, I have launched about 18 trade shows in my career in different industries. Hannover recruited me a couple of years ago to come work for them to launch various of our brands in the United States. I work through a systematic approach to evaluate whether or not a Domotex would work in the United States. Would it be the right thing? As we went through the process and looked at the market, the existing shows, where population centers are, where the major customers are, who the major customers are, what they are looking for in a show and what a show should look like, we found out that what we’re trying to do doesn’t really exist in the United States. There are some great trade shows, but we are trying to create something different.
As a result, we interviewed 50 companies on the buying side and 45 or 50 companies on the supplier side and at the end of those interviews we came back with a very strong yes. So that’s why we decided to launch.
FT: It’s a residential show?
Bianchi: The one difference is we are not just focusing on retailers, which is an important community, but we are also focused on other large buyers of flooring in the residential market. So, we are looking at remodeling companies, housing developers and developers developing houses and subdivisions and we are also focused in on other types of buying groups that are not your traditional retailer. We found that that’s a group that traditionally doesn’t travel to many of the shows.
FT: Is that why you chose Atlanta?
Bianchi: We chose Atlanta because it’s the eastern half of the United States. And it’s very close to a lot of major markets. We are two hours by air to 70 percent of the U.S. population. But the second reason we chose it was that a lot of the attendees said in surveys is that we don’t just want to go to a show, we want to go see factories, we want to visit with the sales people, and being in Atlanta gives us the ability to coordinate with exhibitors and have people visit factories and other people and do education during the week. It gives them the chance to have a whole week and really a good use of their time.
FT: Why is it important for Domotex to launch a U.S. show?
Bianchi: What it does, I think, it gives us a global platform. We have a show in Germany, our marquis show and our biggest show. We have a show in Asia and a show in Turkey. Having a show in the United States enables us to make it easy for marketers in the flooring space. Marketers can look at our portfolio and in a three-month period visit the three major markets, Europe, Asia and North America, with a comprehensive show. They can work with one set of sales people, they can work with one set of show people. It gives them a global solution, which hasn’t existed up to this point.
FT: How will the U.S. show compare to the other Domotex shows globally?
Bianchi: I don’t think our show will be as designy as Hannover. Hannover really is more of a trends show and more of a design show and more of a cutting-edge show, and that’s important to us, too, but what we really want to do is build a show that is by the industry and for the industry.
One of the biggest complaints we heard about the existing model of events in the United States was that there needs to be an event that is focused on the United States and the Southeast and the East Coast and the different communities. We will be a little bit different. Hannover tends to be very global. That is not our objective. Our objective is to serve the U.S., maybe Canada and Mexico to some degree, and it’s also to serve the complex buying environment in the United States.
FT: Why was 2019 the right year for the launch?
Bianchi: We needed over a year to do the work. In future years, the show will be earlier in the year. It will be in the middle of February rather than the end. The only reason why we are at the end of February this coming year is because of the Super Bowl is in Atlanta and we had to go later. We feel that ’19 is a good start for us and it gives us a year to build into our show and fit into our schedule really well.
FT: What are you hearing from the manufacturers and buyers you interviewed?
Bianchi:They want a show that is on the eastern half of the U.S. They want a show that is buyer focused, so it also has an education that is focused on different types of buyers. One of the things we heard from some of the very big companies, they would like to see show consolidation. One of the thing we are going to try to do is listen; we’re not in the business of hurting anybody else’s show, but we are hoping to build the show in the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. that will bring together the whole community. There won’t be a need for as many corporate events or as many larger events and we can make this an efficient use of their marketing dollar.
FT: What companies are on board so far?
Bianchi: We have three or four that we’ve contracted. The contracts are not completed yet, and I don’t want to release anything until we have signed, sealed and delivered.
FT: What is the conference an education component of the show going to look like?
Bianchi: We would like to do various things. One thing that came out of our research is that the buyers are looking for innovation. Innovative products basically everyone says their products are innovative but they really want to see the innovative products, materials, all of that. We will focus on innovative products, innovative techniques, new products, and also on products that are tao to the American market. We wanted to focus on innovation.
FT: What else would you like our readers to know about Domotex USA?
Bianchi: We will be populating the site, domotexusa.com, with more information. We will be in Domotex in Germany at the end of this week. We are excited about it. I think it’s going to bring something new and different to the U.S. market and I think we will be able to launch something that is going to make a big difference for the industry.
For more information, see upcoming stories on Talk Floor and in upcoming issues of Floor Trends.