Surfaces 2012, which will be held in conjunction with StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, is on pace to exceed last year’s attendance with a broader range of products and about 50 new exhibiting companies. Most attendees will probably welcome the news that among the new features for the Jan. 24-26 event (with pre-conference education sessions beginning Jan. 23) is new signage and an app to help showgoers navigate the exhibits at Mandalay Bay.

“We did receive feedback that attendees were a little confused with the multi-level layout of Mandalay Bay,” acknowledged Dana Teague, the show’s group director. “We will have more prominent directional signage in the lobbies and on the show floor, indicating there are exhibits on both levels. We’re also launching a new mobile app that will allow attendees access to the floor plan, along with exhibitor product information and the education schedule, all searchable.”

Additionally, attendees will receive a map in advance of the show, to familiarize themselves with the Mandalay Bay layout.

Also new this year is Cash Attack, daily events where attendees will randomly be selected to win cash prizes at the show. Teague said the new event is designed to “add fun and a buzz factor to the show.”

“No one will know when or where the attacks will happen. You could be sitting in a classroom, be in line at registration, visiting with an exhibitor or walking the show floor. It could happen anywhere at anytime. That’s part of the surprise.”

Featured on the show floor will be: Connections Cleaning & Restoration, a pavilion featuring companies catering to the cleaning and restoration side of the industry. As a complement to the pavilion, Surfaces will again offer the two-day Floor Covering Inspectors Symposium, on Jan. 24. Attendees can earn two IICRC CEC credits.

Also featured are: Artisan Avenue, an area featuring specialty and handcrafted items including items like tiles, sinks, cabinets and window coverings.

A showgoer at Surfaces 2011 browses hard surface flooring. Photos courtesy of Hanley Wood.

• The brand-new Tool Alley, showcasing the latest tools and offering tool demonstration;ns. Chris Grundy, host of DIY Network’s “Cool Tools,” will also be on hand to meet attendees.

• The return of the Trends Hub, which will be “bigger and more prominently located on the upper floor,” according to Teague. The Hub will include products designed to represent “the newest, hottest and trendiest products,” she noted.

• S2 Main Stage, sponsored by Bona, a centrally located theater on the lower level providing live, hands-on educational events taught by industry experts and suppliers.

The New Product Marketplace will return as a display area of actual products. Awards including Best New Product will return, as well as the debut of Best of Surfaces, a new competition for the 2012 show. Best of Surfaces will be judged in the following categories: Innovation, Style/Design, Sustainability, Technology and Best Booth Design. All exhibiting companies are encouraged to enter the competition, and no entry fee is required, Teague said.

The International Pavilions will also return, with new products from countries including China, India, Italy, Mexico, Pakistan and Turkey.

The 2012 show will mark the launch of S2 Masters Certification. The certification is earned after eight hours of course work are completed, and in 2013, attendees who have earned the certification will receive a special ribbon for their badge noting the achievement.

“It’s a good way to acknowledge their commitment and dedication to professional development,” Teague stated. The certification includes a printed certificate and  recognition on the Surfaces website.

Attendees watch a live demonstration during Surfaces 2011.

On Jan. 24, Surfaces will offer Designing with Natural Stone, a full-day event from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Attendees can earn 5.5 LUs (all HSW, including one SD credit). It will include an off-site tour of Cadillac Stone Works and The Gallery Nightclub at Planet Hollywood, an educational luncheon called “ANSI to ISO: Improvements in Performance Evaluation,” a “Natural Stone and Sustainability: Exploring Trends and Advancements to Achieve High Performance” presentation, and a guided walking tour of StonExpo and the Stone Pavilion led by Vince Marazita, followed by a reception and dinner.

The 2012 Designer Day will also offer a full day of education, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Jan 25. Attendees can earn up to 7.5 AIA LUs and 0.6 IDCEC CEUs. The day includes a 2012-2013 Design and Color Trends session led by Victoria Redshaw of Scarlet Opus, a guided tour of the showroom, a luncheon keynote by Antonio Ballatore of HGTV’s “The Antonio Treatment,” an off-site tour of the Cosmopolitan Hotel, and an International Trends session with Mark Woodman. Attendees can register either for the full day or just the luncheon.

The 2012 show will not include a general session as it has for the past few years. Teague said this is because show organizers wanted to open the exhibit hall at 9 a.m., which left no time for a general session. Instead, Surfaces is offering eight featured sessions on topics ranging from marketing to residential countertop fabrication to ceramic tile inspection, and more, with seating to all sessions limited. “Attendees should register early if they want to get a ticket to one of these sessions,” Teague noted.

Showgoers attend one of the many educational sessions at last year’s show.

Exhibitors offer a sneak peak
Several exhibitors shared their Surfaces plans withNFT.Both Armstrong and sister company HomerWood will be exhibiting at the show.

“Armstrong will host a Product Showroom. The Armstrong Room will be located in the Product Showcase Area within The Mandalay Hotel and open to all show attendees where customers can see products and merchandising displays and discuss how we can work together to build their business,” noted Joseph DeZarn, Armstrong marketing communications creative dir.

“HomerWood has been extremely focused on creating the flooring styles and quality that meet and exceed customer expectations, and the company will capitalize on the opportunity at Surfaces 2012 to focus on products and programs aimed at helping dealers sell more and improve profitability,” added Wendy Wescoat, HomerWood marketing mgr.

Jeff Meadows, Beaulieu of America’s chief marketing and sales officer, said the company is finalizing products for the show. “We will have a slightly smaller footprint on the show floor than in years past, but we will still be among the largest exhibitors there,” he stated.

MAPEI will be celebrating its global 75th anniversary at the show. “This milestone will be central theme to our booth and our plans throughout Surfaces,” said Diane Choate, MAPEI Corp. public relations specialist.

She added, “Our Tile & Stone Installation Systems category will once again be introducing new and innovative products in the area of mortars and grouts as well as surface preparation products. In the Floor Covering Installation Systems category, we will also be introducing new surface preparation products, plus highlighting new resilient adhesives and continued advancements in wood adhesives.”

Cindy Mansfield, Tarkett Group marketing communication mgr., noted, “Our plans are to ensure that we maximize our return on investment based on the strategies we have for 2012 and the significant investment that is required for full Surfaces participation. We are still in the process of defining our activity for the Surfaces program since the value we find is so tied to the number of attendees.”

NFT, FCI, TILE columnists to share their wisdom at Surfaces
Columnists forNational Floor Trends, Floor Covering InstallerandTILE Magazinewill once again be on hand at Surfaces to impart their knowledge and experiences in the flooring industry. Presentations include:

NFTcolumnist Sam Allman, presenting “The Selling Begins When the Customer Says No,” 8 to 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24; and “Marketing Your Business on a Beer Budget,” 4 to 5:30 p.m. the same day.

FCIcolumnist Jon Namba, presenting “Proper Substrate Preparation for Hardwood, Bamboo and Laminate,” 8 to 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24.

NFTcolumnist Annette Callari, presenting “Increasing Sales Through the Psychology of Color,” 8 to 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25.

NFT, FCIandTILEcolumnist Dave Gobis, presenting “Ceramic Tile Inspection Forensics,” 8 to 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 26.

• Also be sure to meet the staffs ofNFT, FCIandTILEat booths #S6408 and B2816, and around the show floor.