Kindly Avert Your Eyes
By Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, 10/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
It's beginning to be a competition as to who goes to markets, exhibitions or whatever the local term is for events that showcase new products. Ostensibly, new product showcases are for seller and buyer to meet and communicate and eventually buy some of the products on display.
No longer. The events are now a venue where the world can come and not only buy and be inspired — but also replicate what companies have spent huge amounts of money to develop.
As the intellectual property rights issue becomes a growing challenge around the world, it is changing the way exhibitions are being mounted.
In the last month, both Maison&Objet in Paris and Decosit in Brussels reflected the challenges that exhibitors have in communicating with show visitors.
At Maison&Objet, it was clear — especially in the high-end design sectors — that exhibitors were taking matters into their own hands. More stands than ever before were enclosed — not just a low side wall here and there, but full-blown, four-sided, walled-in stands. Not only were there these fortresses, but inside teams of company staff checked ID's before letting folks in, and giving out product info.
At Decosit, more and more exhibitors are concerned about widespread photography despite signs to the contrary.
In the Italian pavilion, for example, each company's stand was fully enclosed with a small entryway allowing visitors in. For most exhibitors in this section, outside walls were bare.
While some visitors are unabashed users of conventional cameras, it is the folks with the hidden cellphones who are the major problem. These folks are in fact quite open in what they are doing. There are the delicious examples such as the person "making a call" in front of a highly photogenic display, moving around to get all needed angles. Another person cased the target stand empty handed, and returned cellphone in hand, open and facing the stand from various angles.
The most outrageous examples are those shutterbugs who come into a stand as a group, one with a camera, the others as distraction.
Some exhibitors are taking matters into their own hands, while also pressuring management of the shows to enforce the no pictures dictum. It's not just these two shows that are involved — they're just the most recent examples of the situation. If the problem is not contained, trade shows will soon become large, cold boxes side by side with individual admission at the discretion of the exhibitor.
Perhaps the solution would be to hang all the "dogs" or closeouts on the outside of the stand in hopes that someone else would pay the price of a bad design or construction!
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