In January I wrote this reply to a customer's inquiry as to why we didn't exhibit at Surfaces:
"Our company started going to Surfaces in Las Vegas in the early days and took part in it for ten consecutive years. The first few years we enjoyed good locations on the main floor with all of the big mills and major events. Then a show "genius" determined that we were in a peripheral industry and decided that we should be relegated to the basement level with its crowded conditions and low ceilings.
"They argued that anyone who was interested in carpet cleaning would come down to the lower level to find us. My contention was that we got to see a lot of people on the upper level who weren't necessarily thinking about carpet cleaning when they stumbled on to us. Some of our very best contacts were made at those early shows on the upper level.
"The cleaning industry has always been treated like the proverbial stepchild by the carpet industry. They tolerate us, but they feed us in the kitchen while the rest of the family is in the dining room. My son Don says the only thing that really gets someone's attention is to close the check book. Our complaints fell on deaf ears so we simply stopped going to Surfaces."
Here's an excerpt from an e-mail on that answer:
"I read with interest your degrading article about Surfaces. As a carpet retailer I was offended and think you owe the management of the Surfaces show an apology. Attendance this year was up 4% and it's the biggest show in the floor covering industry."
No apology forthcoming! The last year we attended there were 898 exhibitors on 516,553 Sq. Ft., of floor space at the Sands and nearly 40,000 people came through the turnstiles.
In 2012 there were only 546 exhibitors, on 295,000 Sq. Ft., of floor space at Mandalay Bay and 27,000 attendees showed up. My question is 4% of what?
Apparently 352 exhibitors and 13,000 attendees felt the same way I did or perhaps for a different reason did not attend. You're right, it is a big show and I do like Las Vegas, but management didn't treat us like customers so we just don't go back. There's a lesson in this for anyone in the service business. Listen to your customers.
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