As modern technology evolves, people are becoming less inclined to leave the comfort of their homes. The Internet has made everything from shopping to entertainment a mere click away, and even substantial ventures like home remodeling projects can be planned in virtual space. However, while the information superhighway has certainly hastened the speed at which we learn, communicate and accomplish things, there remains much to be said for taking the scenic route—that is, seeing and experiencing things in person.
Take, for example, the longstanding convention of the home show: an event that assembles professionals from all walks of the home improvement industry to exhibit products, techniques and services for local consumers. In our digital age, some might question whether it’s worthwhile to attend such an event, since equivalent informational resources can be found online. To address this, we talked to Mike Spanton, marketing director for World Class Shows, who explains why the home show continues to be a vital and profitable resource for today’s consumers.
Mr. Spanton begins with the basics and underscores the significance of a home show’s central premise. “When we put on a home show, we invite vendors from all spheres of the home improvement industry, from kitchen and bathroom remodeling to flooring, windows, and landscaping,” he explains. “With all these specialties under one roof, it’s basically a one-stop shop of information and ideas for homeowners who are looking to renovate or remodel.”
Even though convenient consolidation doesn’t distinguish a home show from the Internet, Mr. Spanton points out a critical element that can’t be found at the virtual level: face-to-face interaction. “Whether you want to ask questions or get a feel for a contractor’s personality, there’s no substitute for one-on-one communication,” he says. “When you research online, it can be hard to find specific answers to your questions, whereas an experienced professional can inquire about further details and work with you to find a solution for your particular situation. Also, most of the vendors at these home shows are local, which means there’s a good chance you’ll be hiring one or more of them for your project. By having an opportunity to speak to several professionals, you can get a feel for who would be the right candidate, which you can’t do online.”
A home show also provides an opportunity to experience designs and products firsthand. “It’s one thing to look at a picture of something online, but it’s a totally different thing to see it in person and touch it with your hands,” says Mr. Spanton. “For instance, you may not understand why there’s such a price difference between a birch cabinet and an oak cabinet when you look at pictures, but when you encounter them in person, you can tell the difference.” In addition to checking out products you’re interested in, Mr. Spanton says you may come across some you didn’t even know existed. “All the latest and greatest innovations are at home shows, so you’re bound to see things that will broaden your horizons and give you new ideas for your project.”
The final reason Mr. Spanton gives for attending a home show may seem overly simple, but it may just be the best reason of all. “It’s fun!” he says. “You’re getting out of the house, interacting with people and products, and getting excited about your project. By the end of the day, you’ve had a lot of great conversations and perhaps even set some appointments. Suddenly, that vague idea you had about remodeling your bathroom is on track to become a reality. You simply can’t find that kind of excitement from browsing online.”
All criticisms aside, Mr. Spanton says online research certainly has its place, especially when it comes to preparing to attend a home show. “Thanks to the Internet, homeowners walk into our shows more knowledgeable than ever before. They’re familiar with the products, they’ve seen examples of what they’re looking for and they know what questions to ask. So, in advance of attending a home show, I recommend doing some independent research and having a rough idea of what you’re looking for.”
Mr. Spanton also suggests bringing things that will help you communicate more effectively with professionals. “It doesn’t hurt to bring some pictures or basic measurements of the space you’re planning to remodel,” he says. “If you can show a contactor a picture of your kitchen and provide some rough dimensions, he or she will be better equipped to offer insight and advice for your project.”
To find a home show in your area, visit World Class Shows’ website.