And details on some virtual alternatives to in-person attendance.
As the summer Las Vegas market approaches, it’s becoming quite clear that, at least for the bedding industry, this market will offer a stark contrast to the experience of attending the winter market. With numerous shuttered showrooms, limited staffing and appointment-only shopping, this event will likely feel safe but also scarce. That said, buyers will have many more options than normal when it comes to summer shopping. Rather than enduring the typical packed schedules and long back-to-back appointments in crowded showrooms, in-person attendees will likely have a very thoughtful experience as most manufacturers will have much more time and attention to offer each appointment. And, those who do not plan to attend the summer market have the option of tuning in online, taking virtual tours or coordinating with manufacturing partners outside of the market to learn more about their products and services—on a case by case basis of course.
Because there are so many unknowns when it comes to the industry’s largest summer event, we thought it would be helpful to walk you through some details about what you can expect should you attend. These updates include: precautions the International Market Centers (IMC) are taking to ensure health and safety for those in attendance and what attendees will be asked to do in order to enter the market. We are also providing a sense for which brands will be there. However, it’s important to note that many are still deciding.
So here’s what we know so far:
IMC Precautions + Resources For Preparing To Attend Market
IMC has laid out detailed information around how each market it manages will operate to maintain health and safety protocols in the coming months. A combination of building access control to manage traffic flow, social distancing reminders and markers in elevators and showrooms, mandatory PPE, sanitizer stations and limits on space capacity are just a few of the measures the organization has put in place.
Here are some more specifics on what the market center is doing to minimize spread at market and keep participants safe:
Hand sanitizing stations will be located throughout campus and attendees will also be requested to wash their hands every hour.
Physical Distancing Will Be Mandated
Physical distancing measures for foot traffic, lines, restroom access and otherwise will be implemented as needed or mandated.
No Self-Service Food
Attendees can get food from contracted national providers only. Pre-wrapped grab-and-go options will be the primary offering.
No In-Person Events
IMC is switching its in-person gatherings to virtual experiences. Lounges and other gathering areas will be closed.
Here are some ways you can prepare to go:
Register Ahead Of Time
IMC requires that attendees pre-register to cut down on lines. If you do not pre-register, you will be asked to step out of the queue and complete the registration process on a mobile device.
Expect To Have Your Temperature Taken
Touch-less temperature checks, either by thermometer or thermal imaging equipment, will be administered each time you enter a building
Wear Personal Protective Equipment
IMC asks that appropriate masks or face shields as approved by the CDC be properly worn by visitors at all times inside or around the building. This means your mask must cover your nose AND mouth the entire time and be of a three-ply thickness (whether reusable or disposable). Face shields can be used sans mask if needed for a medical reason, but they must cover the face fully from forehead to below the wearer’s chin and wrap around the sides of the wearer's face. If you somehow manage to forget your mask, you’ll be provided with a disposable mask, along with sanitizer and an info sheet outlining measures you’ll need to take to be in any given IMC building.
You can find even more detail here, including information around how IMC is mitigating spread via enhanced housekeeping, protective measures relating to freight as well as more information on requirements for tenants and exhibitors.
What Are Manufacturers Doing?
So far, the jury is still out on which exhibitors will be in attendance. What we know so far is that Malouf and Corsicana plan to have open showrooms but ask that retailers make appointments. They’ve also both developed options for retailers who are staying home in the form of virtual tours. King Koil, Eclipse, Magniflex and MLily plan to open their showrooms (so far) but will require appointments and limit staffing. Serta Simmons, Spring Air, Symbol, Englander and Southerland are keeping their showrooms closed. Serta Simmons has plans to host a virtual trade show of its own at the end of September. And Southerland is offering a new program called “Southerland Connects” giving its staff and partners several safe options to meet including - mailed samples, private showroom tours and factory meetings.
While summer Las Vegas market will look and feel much different than the markets of yore, we see some of the updates and the innovative alternatives being developed by manufacturers as exciting opportunities to re-think the retail buying process and ultimately, how sleep retailers and manufacturers alike do business. On the positive side of this, many of the in-person alternatives, like 3D virtual tours, virtual lounges and events offered by IMC as well as virtual live appointments are all options that make market more accessible to a much wider audience. This inclusivity could very well engage individuals who haven’t been able to participate in the past. The same sorts of alternatives might be valuable for retailers to implement on the consumer side—not just for the moment, but also beyond the pandemic.
As we learn more about which companies will be at market as well as the alternatives offered by those who will not, we will continue to provide updates and coverage to help retailers connect with current partners and explore new partnerships in the coming months. If you are a manufacturer and have updates to share with us, feel free to email us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story originally appeared in eNews. Click here to get Sleep Retailer eNews delivered straight to your inbox.