EDITOR'S NOTE SPRING 2014 | VOL. 39 NO. 1
It's Not the Products
After going through this issue's articles about new products and new exhibitors that will be appearing at this year's International Travel Goods Show, I'm overwhelmed. It's a dizzying array of new items — every one with some innovative feature, or an unconventional new spin, intended to make travel easier and safer. It really is amazing.
And dazzling. As airlines chip away at our personal space, working hard to squeeze more and more people on each flight, we have new items designed to enhance our in-flight comfort — there's even one that effectively doubles the useful room on a tray table (and who couldn't use that?).
There are luggage straps that also weigh luggage, simultaneously enhancing security and helping travelers avoid overweight fees.
A roll-up clothes washer that lets you do laundry any place there's water.
Portable water filters to provide better-tasting water anywhere — not to mention safe, potable water in the far-flung corners of the globe.
Power adapters for 150 foreign locales, or to fuel up our portable electronics when the nearest power outlet lies beyond the reach of an extension cord.
When you travel, you trade the confines of home for the freedom of the unknown. It's adventurous, but travel is also inherently uncomfortable — leaving the confines of home also means leaving the comforts of home. This is why travel goods exist — not so much to get you from place to place, but to do so with as little discomfort as possible. It's what makes this an exciting industry.
With all the hoopla surrounding new products it's easy to think that's what The Show is about. Buyers from all over the globe come to The Show in search of items like these. Exhibitors come to show off their wares and, hopefully, write a lot of orders. But if this is the reason you're at The Show you're missing the point, because it's really not about the products.
It's about the relationships.
Every item at The Show is the product of a relationship — it owes its physical existence to the relationship the designer (or designers) shares with manufacturers, vendors, distributors and marketers — nobody does this alone. And when you bring that item into your store, you're an extension of that network.
If The Show were just about products, it wouldn't need to exist. You could just peruse an online showcase, order up samples and do business that way. But the Internet, or a catalog, is no substitute for a real face-to-face. As it's been pointed out in this issue's feature on new exhibitors, a vendor relationship is a lot like dating. And like dating, at some point you have to break away from the phone, step out of the Web space, and into the real space. Which, in our case, is The Show.
I hope to see you there. Face-to-face.