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Neocon '92: undergoing time, size and program changes.

Merchandise Mart management and BIFMA officials are working together again to bring some major format changes to the world's largest contract furniture show.

At a June 14 breakfast meeting, Stephen Channer, then executive director of the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Assn. (BIFMA), caused quite a stir when he announced that BIFMA was investigating the feasibility of sponsoring a trade show that could "replace our current method of using permanent marts and design centers for product representation."

In other words, Channer said BIFMA members were considering pulling out of their permanent showroom space in Chicago's Merchandise Mart and NEOCON, the world's largest contract furniture show held annually there.

More than 10 months later, Channer has resigned from his position and BIFMA officials have toned down their rhetoric to secede from NEOCON '92. In fact, in February, BIFMA announced a renewed industry partnership with Chicago's Merchandise Mart. According to Tom Reardon, BIFMA manager of research and management, "The Merchandise Mart has become more open and responsive to our suggestions and some of the emphasis of looking at alternative ways of performing shows has been taken off by the agreement. But looking at alternative ways is still an option," he said.

Making changes

Officials reported that last year's NEOCON attendance was 30,000 but added they are hoping to maintain or surpass that number by placing heavier emphasis on attracting corporate end users and facility managers, groups that have been secondary target markets of past shows. "We want to expand our primary target audiences beyond the traditional NEOCON core audience of architects and designers," said Angela Krzyko, communication liaison for the Merchandise Mart.

Major changes are planned for this year's program as a result of separate surveys conducted by BIFMA of members and by the Merchandise Mart of its tenants. Both groups are hoping that the new dates set for the show, expanded programs and increased exhibitor space will improve attendance.

Probably most noticeable to veteran attendees are the changes in this year's show dates. Lasting three days instead of the traditional four days of past shows, the show will run from Monday, June 8 through Wednesday, June 10. "The shorter show starting at the beginning of the week will benefit exhibitors because it gives them the weekend to set up and attendees have the rest of the work week to finish up business or make contacts," said Reardon.

"One reason that the show was changed was because our survey told us the change would help to stretch employee training budgets," said Krzysko. "The advantages of the shorter show can be translated into cheaper airfares and additional savings in other areas."

In addition to the Mart's five floors that house about 250 contract furniture manufacturers, product pavilions have been added so that manufacturers not currently represented in Mart showrooms are given the opportunity to display their newest products for CAD/FM, commercial architectural building and health care-related industries.

The CAD/FM pavilion will house hardware and software systems for interior architecture, architecture design, space planning and inventorying, furniture and equipment specification and other uses. The commercial architectural building products pavilion will house new introductions in the glass, doors, windows, marble, stone, flooring systems and other industries. The health care pavilion will preview the latest introductions for health care interiors as well as traditional interiors.

A variety of free hands-on educational programs broken down into six areas will be offered at this year's show. For the first time, the 54 one-hour programs can be applied as continuing education unit (CEU) credits by the Institute of Business Designers (IBD) and the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID).

How to get there

Show officials are offering the one-call-does-it-all Mart Travel Service to show attendees that will make hotel and airfare reservations as well as pre-registration for the event, educational programs and special events. Written confirmation of travel arrangements and pre-registration will be provided by Mart Travel Service representatives within 48 hours, according to press release, and reservations can be made by calling (800) 528-8700.

For more information or a brochure complete with program details, contact The Merchandise Mart at (800) 677-MART.
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Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:National Exposition of Interior Contract Furnishings' contract furniture show
Author:Derning, Sean
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:May 1, 1992
Words:686
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