Things have been a bit hectic since Felicia and I returned from our trade show, but here it is, the Trade Show blog I promised
On November 13, 2011, I boarded the plane to Nashville, Tennessee for my first real trade show, the 2011 Healthcare Design Conference at the Gaylord Opryland. It was spectacular. The show floor was enormous. The hotel was beautiful and it was all just wonderful.
Let’s start with the hotel. Being inside the Gaylord Opryland is like being in a small European city. You are surrounded by guestrooms reaching five stories high, at least. There were about 20 different places to eat, a multitude of shops and even a small waterway inside the hotel. It was spectacularly lovely. I was lucky enough to get to have breakfast at the Cascades American Café one morning, only to receive the greatest breakfast ever! The best fresh fruit I have ever had, delicious yogurt with perfect granola, sourdough toast! I would eat breakfast there any and every day if I could. Not to mention the view from my seat, which seemed to be in a shallow cave along the fringes, was stunning. There was natural sunlight throughout the resort that came in through the glass ceilings. It was so beautiful. Every day we made the walk from the front entrance to the exhibit hall going through the Cascades and Delta Island. This is the kind of resort that all resorts should aspire to be like. Everything inside was immaculate, and they made it clear that the happiness of the customer was the top priority.
The Convention Hall was constantly bustling with excited conference goers. The exhibit hall especially was full to the brim with fellow exhibitors and attendees hungry to learn and know more about the healthcare vendors. We were back in the 900s section but we seemed to be getting rather a lot of traffic. While this conference seemed to be geared more towards acute care (hospitals) we were consistently bombarded by people who were extremely excited to see our traditional wooden furnishings, and interested in learning more about what we could do to suit their needs. In fact, we were the only manufacturer of wooden furniture present.
While other furniture manufacturers present were laminate and melamine, or just too modern for what many representatives in attendance were looking for, our booth stood out from the crowd as something unique and comforting. It had the appearance of a home away from home with all the conveniences common to the most recent trends in Senior Living environments. With our booth partners, Pamela Stobart, and Ronna Farris of Inspire (a company just starting up that will provide furnishings and design solutions on a piece by piece basis from case goods to seating), and Matt Craghan of Bassett Furniture our homey booth dazzled many. Comfortable seating provided by Pamela, Ronna and Matt as well as a few tables and lovely accent pieces filled the left side of the booth under the Inspire Banner. Beneath the sky blue SMCO banner sat our Lake Highland collection: a 5-drawer chest, 2-drawer nightstand, a rich coco-bala desk and a headboard and footboard mounted to electronically controlled patient care bed. We handed out bags, catalogs and business cards aplenty.
The best thing about the conference was that it was a great learning experience for all of us. While I was there, I learned a lot about the healthcare industry. I was completely unaware of the many different facets of Healthcare and what the market is hungry for in ours. Our market would be “Environments for Aging,” also referred to as Senior Living, and is continuously growing and evolving. (Just a tip: the term “nursing home” is obsolete.) It was different for me to get out of the office and directly into the view of potential buyers, but once I got into the swing of things, telling visitors what our company was all about was as easy as pie. As I watched and listened to Felicia and Rodger I was able to pick out key points that all customers were excited to hear, such as our ability to customize, our adherence to ada standards and the fact that our furniture is just as functional as it is beautiful. I also learned that our product is one that people have had a great desire for. That information alone is priceless. This show may not have been precisely the type of healthcare show we needed to be attending, but for our first toe dip in the water it was a great learning experience about the market we want to break into.
Another thing that just can’t go unmentioned is all the free food. Oh the food. The show floor was littered (figuratively) with desserts and appetizers galore. There was one small chocolate dessert with a little creamy sauce that just melted in the mouth. This seemingly simple dessert summed up the delicious decadence of the entire experience, for the taste buds and the brain. I could go on, but I won’t. It was just too amazing.
But all-in-all, I was glad to board the plane ride home. It’s nice to go away sometimes, but I am rather fond of my desk in the front office with my phone and my trusty work computer confirming new jobs, which there will hopefully be more of.
The View from our little cave in the Cascades American Cafe with Mary Jo Cotner (with Healthcare Design Magazine) and Pamela Stobart of Stonegate Properties, the designer of our Lake Highland and Tulsa lines as well as our booth partner.
Rodger and Felicia chatting with a visitor at our booth
Our Booth at the 2011 Trade Show