NEW ORLEANS — With the United States in the throes of economic recession, Clean Show organizers anticipated less show participation this year, both from attendees and exhibitors.
The final numbers released by show manager Riddle & Associates confirmed their outlook. There were 9,902 people officially registered for the four-day show, compared to 14,667 registered for Clean ’07, Las Vegas.
But it was the quality, not the quantity, of the attendees at this show that had many exhibitors — pardon the expression — jazzed.
“We were very pleased with the turnout,” says John Riddle, president of Riddle & Associates, which has managed the every-other-year event since 1993.
“The Clean Show was well received by our industry as one of the best shows in a long time,” says Roger Cocivera, show chairman and president/CEO of the Textile Rental Services Association of America (TRSA), one of the show’s six sponsors. “Exhibitors expressed that the quality of attendees and decision makers who made purchases were an added bonus to this year’s show.
“Attendees came with the intent to purchase equipment.”
The number of exhibitors (412) and amount of exhibit space (192,640 net square feet) were also down, not surprising given the state of the world economy.
“Much of this drop was because participating companies sent fewer people than in previous years,” Riddle says.
“Companies that only send a limited amount of people for a limited time are missing great opportunities to learn things that could help their companies avoid problems, unnecessary expenses or to even grow revenue,” Pellerin Milnor’s Rick Kelly, president of the Textile Care Allied Trades Association (TCATA), also a show sponsor, wrote in an e-mail to his association’s members.
Riddle called this year’s event “the smoothest Clean Show ever.”
“New Orleans was prepared and hospitable,” he says. “We couldn’t have asked for better cooperation from everyone involved, and it helped make the show a success.”
UNIQUE WAYS TO SPREAD MESSAGE
The World Educational Congress for Laundering and Drycleaning attracts every facet of textile care and textile services, from single-owner coin-operated laundry and drycleaning establishments to giant industrial and institutional laundries and textile rental companies.
Given the economic realities of today, some exhibitors tried unique ways to present their message or introduce new products.
In a departure from exhibiting several large pieces of equipment in an equally large booth, manufacturer G.A. Braun instead erected large, colorful displays featuring big-screen TVs to present information about its new and improved equipment. Company officials reported being pleased with the results.
Chicago Dryer Co. did its best to bring its corner of the show right to those in their office or home, no matter where they were. The company posted videos, photos and a blog on its website to keep customers informed about the happenings in its booth.
Online visitors could click on a diagram depicting several pieces of equipment that were on display in New Orleans. This opened a new page featuring product information and a gallery of photos and YouTube videos showing that specific piece of equipment in use at the show.
Chicago® anticipated a smaller attendance and wanted to find a way to quickly reach domestic and international customers who couldn’t be here, says Carol Tyler, the company’s marketing director.
In an unscientific Wire survey conducted by American Laundry News following the show, 70% of respondents said they are more likely to do business with a certain manufacturer, distributor or supplier because of their trip to the Clean Show. Ten percent said they aren’t, and 20% are unsure.
The Clean Show also tried something new, expanding its educational program to more than 40 hours and inviting international trade associations to present some of the sessions.
“Educational sessions are included in the modest show registration fee and are a real bargain because many are offered outside the Clean Show at a much higher cost,” Riddle says.
The Clean Show returns in June 2011 when Las Vegas will host the show for a record-tying fifth time. There are a limited number of venues — including New Orleans, Las Vegas and Orlando, Fla. — that can host Clean because of its size and unique utility requirements, Riddle & Associates says.