Despite Smaller Size, HD Boutique Boosts Sales With Exotic Animals, Live Music

By Brendan Spiegel September 16, 2011, 9:40 AM EDT

Photo: Matt Horton/Artist Group Photography for BizBash

The HD Boutique Exhibition and Conference, a product design and industry trade show presented by Hospitality Design magazine, returned to the Miami Beach Convention Center for a two-day run Tuesday and Wednesday. In an industry still struggling from the effects of the recession, it's no surprise that this year's show was slightly smaller, with 30 fewer exhibitors than the last outing. However, show organizers still managed to boost attendance and significantly increase sales, attracting more than 4,500 attendees to peruse the latest offerings from 450 manufacturers showcasing everything form furniture and flooring to appliances and lighting.

“We totally revamped the whole look and feel of the show,” said show director Liz Sommerville. “We wanted to bring back a level of excitement by adding more music, live bands, new areas, and just more going on. That seemed to resonate throughout the crowd; there was a buzz on the floor.”

The centerpiece of the revamp was a 40- by 80-foot plexiglass pavilion built for Boutique & Lifestyle Lodging Association. In the middle of the 70,000-square-foot show floor, the pavilion housed tabletop displays from an array of new exhibitors, and attracted crowds with exotic touches like flamingos and baby animals.

“This year [B.L.L.A.] wanted to have a presence on the floor,” said Sommerville. “They're a fairly young organization, so getting that presence and a chance to build membership was important to them. Generally, we limit the booths to 10 by 20 feet, so this was a huge change for us. It was great for [B.L.L.A.], but it also really boosted the dynamic of the whole show.”

Of course, adding these new elements presented quite a few challenges. “We haven't usually had animals on the show floor before,” said Sommerville. “Just getting approval from the wildlife department was challenging, but all the extra work was worth it.”

While final attendance and sales numbers were not available yet, preshow numbers estimated attendance would jump by 12 percent or more, and Sommerville reports that exhibitors were very happy with sales numbers. “All of the exhibitors said they did more business in the first morning than they usually do in a full trade show.”

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