Residential Lighting: Lightfair attendance has been up during a tough economy. Why is that?
Jeff Portman: Lightfair has been growing significantly and consistently every year since its inception in 1989. But the 2012 Las Vegas show was our largest show with over 216,000 net square feet. We had almost 25,000 appropriate folks registered. This year, Philadelphia’s pre-registration is ahead of last year’s.
IALD, IES and AMC have really worked together extraordinarily well. The relationship is better than it’s ever been. The greatest opportunity is still in front of us. We all see it. And we’re all working together to get there.
RL: What’s behind the move from Las Vegas to San Diego in 2016?
JP: We’ve had a Vegas model for a long time. It’s performed well for us. But everybody felt it might be a good idea to give San Diego a try. Our anecdotal research and actual independent research revealed that San Diego would be a very successful show opportunity. We gave our exhibitors and attendees a choice of five cities, and San Diego received more than half of the positive responses.
RL: What’s happening in 2015 for the East Coast show?
JP: We went to Philadelphia a couple of years ago for the first time. That was done through a tremendous amount of independent research.
With the Javits Center in New York undergoing renovation, we’re being a little bit more strategic in deciding our next East Coast show. We feel that it’s in our best interest to first focus on Philadelphia’s April show, see if it continues to draw increasing numbers. We will then decide which East Coast option would be in the best interest of our exhibitors and buyers.
When you have a show that’s growing like this and is this size, you have to think ahead quite a bit. Are we going to continue to grow like this? What puts us in the best position to continue to provide a great show for our audience?
RL: Any new pavilions planned?
JP: Yes, we’ve added the Exterior & Roadway Pavilion. That brings the total number of pavilions to six. We are also debuting a solar category.
Since our brand is “Lightfair — The Future Illuminated,” the big challenge is to continue to be out in front of where we think the industry is going. New and emerging products and technologies are major factors in how we prioritize our mission.
RL: Are more lighting showrooms attending Lightfair?
JP: Yes. But another increase in attendance is the government energy segments of people and educators. We face regulations coming in 2014 as it relates to incandescent lighting. These folks are having to plan five and seven years out for major renovations and retrofitting to become more energy-friendly and contribute to a more sustainable environment.
We used to get hospitality, commercial designers, specifiers and architects. We’re now seeing consultants, landscape guys, urban planners, government and educators. They’re making relationships. They’re talking big projects. It’s exciting.
We have a Decorative Pavilion. That was created to appeal to interior designers, retailers and office specifiers. It’s bringing a lot of designers and retailers to Lightfair to see what they should have and what they should consider offering to their customers. With the coming changes, a lot of people need the education. They need to see what’s next.