Ready to attend a trade show? The first major beauty show since the pandemic gives us hope, but makes us realize how far we have to go. We review the experience at IBS Las Vegas, including a strange encounter with breast implants.
Ready to attend a trade show? The first major beauty show since the pandemic gives us hope, but makes us realize how far we have to go. We review the experience at IBS Las Vegas, including a strange encounter with breast implants.
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JAIME: Welcome to Outgrowth: A Slice of Pro Beauty with your hosts Jaime Schrabeck.
ASHLEY: And Ashley Gregory Hackett. Show season looks different this year, but at least it’s happening.
JAIME: Based on a recent show experience in Las Vegas, there’s cause for optimism and also a dose of reality that the industry has more recovery ahead. Let’s grow together.
ASHLEY: Well, I have been anxiously awaiting your take on everything that happened at IBS Las Vegas and, Jaime, I can’t wait to get into it.
JAIME: It’s been two weeks and we really haven’t talked about this offline, saving this conversation for this episode.
ASHLEY: I can’t wait for you to spill the tea on everything that happened at the show and everything that didn’t happen at the show in order to help us all color our expectations for what we can look forward to or avoid later on this year.
JAIME: My advice overall would be to lower your expectations so as not to be disappointed when you attend a show this year.
ASHLEY: Okay. Well, it sounds like we’re getting, we’re getting right into it, but just for our listeners who haven’t tuned in the last couple of weeks, tell us a little bit about what you were doing in Vegas, and what kinds of classes you were teaching, and all of that.
JAIME: Well, as normal, I was scheduled to teach at the show. That’s to be expected because I have done that for a number of years, but rather than teach nail classes, I was teaching business classes in that specific track. And, in fact, there were no nail classes available at this show.
ASHLEY: That is so interesting. And I know that I saw some of that feedback from others online that they were disappointed about it. Did you get any direct feedback from any attendees about that?
JAIME: No, I did not and that may be a function of the fact that I actually did not encounter too many people that I knew, nor did I spend a lot of time hanging out at any particular exhibitor booth trying to engage with people or see if I recognize their faces behind their masks if they happen to be wearing them. So no, the feedback wasn’t really there, in my mind, during the show itself.
ASHLEY: So let’s compare and contrast between a typical show experience and that’s hard to do, and I’ll kind of put this disclaimer out in the beginning, that every show is different and every year of every show is different. This is just an example of what you may be able to expect if you are planning to attend a show this year, but let’s talk about the registration process, Jaime, because as educators, exhibitors, we have a slightly different process than an attendee would have, but in general, we tend to go through the same motions.
JAIME: Right. As an educator, we’re given a complimentary pass to the show and we actually retrieve our badges from the same space where exhibitors would pick up their badges. And this year as I saw the email announcements promoting the show and trying to sell tickets, I noticed only a short time before the show that there was an announcement, although it was somewhat buried, that they would not be selling tickets on site, but I’m not quite sure what that meant and I never did really get a clear answer.
ASHLEY: Hmm, and you would think that would be information that would be relatively well communicated if it would affect potentially hundreds of people showing up on the day.
JAIME: We’re used to walking past lines of people waiting to get into the show when the show opens, waiting to actually pay for a ticket so they can get their badge to get into the show, and we didn’t see long lines this year at all.
JAIME: Or lines of really, of any kind.
ASHLEY: Okay, well, being the first show back, I have a feeling that this was the big litmus test of what shows will be like moving forward for an indeterminate amount of time really. We don’t know how much longer any of this is going to go, but I feel like that’s the growing refrain on our show is, well, we don’t know how much longer, but let’s be prepared. So were they doing any sort of vaccination card checking or mask enforcement, like what did it look like to actually be able to get in?
JAIME: Not much different from past shows actually. There was no mask requirement. There was a text message that was sent to us each morning having us fill out a health screening, but no one ever checked it. In fact, when we walked into the show, our badges weren’t scanned. So they wouldn’t know whether I showed up to the show or not in terms of my being on the show floor or being around the classrooms. They just glanced at your badge and let you walk through the door which, I mean, that’s pretty common at a lot of shows. Other shows are much more stringent and actually scan a code, a barcode, or a QR code on your name badge, but they were just waving you in. And while the people working at the venue or working at exhibitor booths may have been wearing masks, overall, the sense was it was completely optional and it was a matter of personal choice, which is reflective of where the state of Nevada is right now in this process.
ASHLEY: Yeah. When you said that there was no mask requirement, I was initially surprised, but just knowing that Vegas is open, and the push to open it as soon as possible has been happening for a long time. So I guess I understand, you know, if the rest of the city is masks optional or it’s being set per venue, I guess it’s not super surprising that the show, you know what? I am, I am surprised. I’m surprised that the show wasn’t enforcing masks or at least requiring them, and then to your point, if there’s a health screening via text message, yet there’s no followup of that, it’s really, I guess, just an empty exercise.
JAIME: It’s hard to know how much of this was in place beforehand and how much they might’ve adjusted right before, and I don’t have that insight right now. But I did look back on an email that was sent out back in March that was reassuring everyone that the show would be safe. And we’ll link that in the show notes, the promises that were made and how that compares to what actually happened. And when I go back and look specifically at the mask requirements, it’s obvious that they did hedge their bets by saying that it would be reflective of what the state requires which we know at this point really is nothing. And to say that Vegas is open doesn’t mean Vegas is back because it’s like half open. So when you have a routine where you stay at the same hotel, and you go to the same restaurants, and you engage in the same activities, whether it’s going to the fitness center or whatever, or the pool, which I don’t do, it’s not the same. Things are closed. Hours have changed. The behavior of people in those spaces is different. I saw a group of people who were obviously drunk and too rambunctious in a cafe mid day that they had to be cut off and they were being rude to the wait staff. And I just thought, really?
ASHLEY: Wow, wow.
JAIME: You know, here we are doing our best, tipping more than I normally would, trying to make up for the fact and you could just sort of see the looks in the eyes of those who were serving you, or those who were checking you in at the front desk, or whatever. It was just, it wasn’t smiling eyes.
ASHLEY: What a great perspective on, on the whole situation, because I love the delineation you made between Vegas being open and Vegas, being back. And I, I think you could probably expand that and apply it to just everything whether it’s our beauty businesses, or our states, or our cities, or just our mindsets. A lot of the things you were explaining about what the show was requiring or not requiring, I’m really curious to know how many of the things that were in place were put there by the show, or by their insurance policy, or by the venue and what those three entities had to come up with to scramble and make this happen. I know the show floor is not your favorite place because it can be a bit overwhelming. And especially when you’re at a show to teach, you want to be in the right mindset of not having blasting music and tons of people around you, but what was the show floor like versus past years?
JAIME: It was underwhelming even going in with low expectations, significantly smaller. The first thing I noticed right away, that there was no carpeting on the floor.
JAIME: No carpeting in the aisles and the aisles were extra, extra wide. So for the number of booths that were there, they were spread out even more to take up space.
ASHLEY: I’m, I’m in shock about that. Not that it makes a show any better or worse to have carpeting and the window dressing of that whole experience, but I do know that it is definitely a sound dampener and as an attendee, I prefer even if it’s the shortest of low pile carpeting to stand on while I’m walking through a show just for physical comfort reasons. That to me is shocking. Was there any explanation?
JAIME: I didn’t ask directly, but I did mention it to one of the AV persons who was assigned to my room, and he made a strange comment, and I will paraphrase what he said. One of the comments he made was that, and I don’t know this for a fact, but he said that when convention centers use carpet, they can only use that carpet a number of times, he said three to four, before they have to replace it, which I thought, wow, like what happens to that carpet? That seems like a huge waste and I can imagine it going into some landfill.
JAIME: After a short period of time, but then he made the comment that essentially this is what you get with a month’s notice.
ASHLEY: Oh, okay. AV person.
JAIME: And I thought, I thought to myself, I didn’t do the follow up question because I was actually getting ready to head off to my classroom. Was he trying to indicate to me that they had only been contracted to provide the AV within the last month and that this only really came together as actually happening within the last month?
ASHLEY: Hmm, or was the official call made in a month in advance that the entire show was happening?
JAIME: I don’t know. I don’t know. It was the oddest thing. Now I have to make this comment about the classrooms. They looked most different because when you walked in, those chairs were widely spaced. I posted a photo of myself in the room. I always check out the room before the show even starts. So the day before I’ll go pick up my badge so I don’t have to wait in a line. In this case, what line, but in a line. And I can just go directly to my classroom knowing exactly where it is and what the setup is. And when I walked in there, it looked really strange because the room was huge. But of course, because the chairs were not side by side like they normally would be in a theater-style set up, the number of individuals who could sit in there would be limited. Not that I was expecting that many people anyway, but it was a strange sense that you’d be projecting to the back of the room, except that you wouldn’t be interacting with that many people within that room.
JAIME: And I did not wear my mic, like I usually don’t. I used my outdoor voice inside with my mask on. I did wear my mask the entire time, I will say. On the show floor, I did. And for the most part, when I was out and about. I had to leave the casino to eat most of my meals.
JAIME: Yeah and the monorail which runs amongst some of the casinos, not all of them, of course. The platform announcement which is recorded talks about how, because this is a transportation system, masks are required. Right.
JAIME: Sure they are. You’re in this little tube. You’re not in there that long, but people were not following that requirement when they were on the monorail.
ASHLEY: That’s disappointing.
JAIME: I’m not surprised at all.
ASHLEY: No, I, no, but disappointing.
JAIME: Yeah, no.
ASHLEY: It must’ve been a bit of a culture shock, honestly, from we are both in places that are pretty mask compliant even after people are vaccinated. So to me, that would weird me out to just see that many people unmasked.
JAIME: It’s by far the most people I’ve been around, even though I chose to spend most of the weekend somewhat isolated. It’s more meals out than I have eaten during the entire pandemic.
ASHLEY: Oh, sure.
JAIME: Combined because we were eating at home, and we weren’t doing takeout and we weren’t doing anything like that. It was a different experience. Now, you know me at a show. I tend to be somewhat insular anyway because our focus is to work and it can be pretty exhausting and draining to teach classes, and to be up, and to essentially like deliver a performance, if we can call it that, and then be mindful of the time because of course, we’re trying to make sure that if we were on the show floor, that we don’t get distracted and somehow look down and realize, oh my gosh. My class starts in four minutes.
JAIME: That would be a nightmare.
JAIME: So, yeah, it was, it was very strange in that sense. Now I want to give some kudos. The show went off. There didn’t seem to be too much going on. I didn’t see any conflicts or things like that. And I often will see things where someone’s trying to get past security or someone is otherwise having an issue. The only thing I did notice, and there’s that escalator that goes up to the second floor and as it goes up, you can look down over the show office. I did once see a woman with, I think, two other women with a stroller, and having a conversation with show management, and we know better. Strollers and children are not allowed on the show floor so I’m sure that that was the conversation.
ASHLEY: Oh, okay. Hmm. Well, I need to know if all of my favorite places at the Las Vegas convention center were open, number one, the American Express lounge.
JAIME: Absolutely not.
ASHLEY: Oh, Jaime.
JAIME: That, well, in a way I wasn’t expecting it to. Okay, so here’s the issue with the American Express lounge. It’s fabulous. I mean, it is wonderful when it’s open, when we’re at New York, when we’re at Las Vegas, to have access, to eat snacks, to have a place to rest, and plug in our devices, and actually hear ourselves speak. I mean that’s wonderful, but it was not open. I don’t know if they’re open ever for any of the conventions and if they were going to be open for a convention, ours would not be the first one they’d be open for.
ASHLEY: Okay. I can see that. Were there any other shows happening at the same time in the center? Like usually, I think last time I was there, it was a Comicon.
JAIME: Not that I could see, no. There was the chess tournament that was happening in the hotel adjacent that we walked past on our way to the convention center. But no. And what was so strange is, Ashley, this is going to floor you walking down those hallways once you’ve crossed the alleyway between the hotel and the convention center, I was completely alone in that hallway.
ASHLEY: Oh, no.
JAIME: It’s like you know it’s going to be quiet when there are no other people around you walking towards the convention center.
ASHLEY: I have fond memories of that hallway as well as hustling down that hallway on my way to teach a couple of years ago when I had discovered that housekeeping had inadvertently stolen my shoe.
JAIME: Oh, my gosh. I remember that.
ASHLEY: I had to teach in sneakers because I couldn’t find my, like, cute D’Orsay flats that I had brought, which is still, my mom and I still laugh about that because that was our, our big like mother/daughter trip. And then my shoe gets stolen out of my room.
JAIME: Ashley, that would not have happened this year. There was no housekeeping.
ASHLEY: See? And it’s like, that’s the way I like it. But when you travel with someone who is persnickety, this is what happens. I would love to know, kind of swinging it more towards the attendees’ side cause I think that’s something that our listeners would identify with possibly a little bit more than being there to educate, but were you hearing anything in your classes about what was happening at the show, or what wasn’t happening at the show, or any kind of feedback on their experience?
JAIME: I think for the most part attendees were appreciative and understanding of the circumstances, and what I hope they did was to be grateful for those who were there, and not focus so much on who wasn’t.
ASHLEY: Okay. I enjoy the positive spin on that, but if you’re looking at extra wide aisles with no carpet, did you get a sense that the attendees found the experience to have value?
JAIME: That’s hard to say. And I will add that as you’re meeting with attendees, as they’re coming into your classroom, and you’re getting some sense of whether they were on the show floor or not by virtue of the fact that they have bags, maybe they’ve, they’ve done some shopping. People were not rolling into the room with bags full of merchandise. So I’m not sure how well the exhibitors did or how they would review their experience. It’s, it’s hard to say. When I was on the show floor, I did stop specifically at five or six booths. And normally it would be, you know, 15 to 20 at a trade show that I would find worth looking at. The one thing I did not do, and probably because there was no carpeting in the aisles, was I did not walk aisle by aisle to see everything that was there.
JAIME: I didn’t even bother. You know, when you have psychics on the show floor and things like that, it’s like, yeah, no.
JAIME: I don’t need to walk past some of this stuff.
ASHLEY: I’m sorry. Go back.
JAIME: But you know, a booth, a booth selling wine bottle openers. Like I, when you see stuff like that at a show, you can judge a show by who’s taking up the first rows, and what’s taking up the last rows, and how many rows are in between. So.
ASHLEY: I mean, okay.
JAIME: If you have a super large show and you end up with what we kindly refer to as junk booths at the back of the show that have nothing to do with our industry, yeah, we’ll give it to them because they’re giving us so much upfront. They’re giving us brands that we’re expecting to see. And in between that and the back of the show floor, there’s so much more. But when you’re getting brands that you don’t recognize at the front of the show, and then there’s not much beyond that, and then not too soon after you see these booths that have nothing to do with us, it’s disappointing.
ASHLEY: Well, I mean, at least the psychic saw it coming, um, terrible joke. Don’t laugh at that. That’s terrible.
JAIME: Okay, well and here’s the other thing. What we don’t know, because again, I did not walk the show floor. We don’t know how many of those vendors were committed to this last year and stuck with it or only jumped in more recently because I can imagine that up until maybe a week before the show, if you wanted to become an exhibitor, you would have very likely been able to.
ASHLEY: Sure. Yeah, that was kind of my, my inkling is that whether it’s for this specific show that they bought into both Vegas and New York, or if the show was honoring exhibitor contracts from New York that got canceled in 2020 and I don’t think is happening in 2021. Correct me if I’m wrong on that. I did not pay attention to the New York date this year, but that to me would make sense that it is a little bit of a hodgepodge. I’m hoping that this show specifically bounces back a little better next year. This was always going to be the most painful show, right? The first one back was always, at least in my mind, expected to be a little bit rough around the edges, I guess, to put it nicely. I’d love to know so if people weren’t shopping and there were less booths, then most people were in classrooms, right?
JAIME: Yeah, that’s hard to say too because obviously the number of booths was limited. The number of attendees was significantly reduced. And I don’t know by how many because I don’t do the math on that. That’s something that the show management would know and we don’t. But I will say that there were some classes that were full and I can’t judge which ones they were necessarily because I wasn’t like peeking my head into each room as I walked past. So it’s hard to say what was hitting. Was it those things we talked about previously where people would go back to the same kinds of classes that made them feel good before? They may not have been very substantive, but maybe it was a class that was meant to support your particular brand that they’re very attached to, to put it mildly, right? So, yes, that’s, that’s hard to know. And you mentioned the show being rough, I will say that alcohol helps smooth that out a little bit when the show offers you a free cocktail at an event that was essentially in the lobby where they had set up bars, and that was on Sunday, and so that was nice. I mean, I’d love to get a free cocktail like that at every show. So that was something that was, I don’t know that it’ll ever happen again or anywhere else at any other show, but it was greatly appreciated and that it gave people the chance at the end of the show to sort of come out and mingle in a large area.
ASHLEY: That’s nice. I think the comradery side of it, and you and I have talked about what kind of an activation we could potentially do at a show as Outgrowth, and to acknowledge the fact that we’ve lost so much time just with each other, with a, with other members of our industry. And whether the show floor is great or not, whether the classes are the ones we need or not, when you strip that stuff away, you still have the experience of being with other beauty professionals who no one knows your situation better than someone else in the same situation, and you can connect, and network, and commiserate a bit over the year we’ve had. So hopefully those attendees were able to walk away with at least that experience. I love the idea of creating a more social aspect to these shows, not necessarily centered around cocktails and drinking, but that just kind of comes along with it. But instead of, you know, looking in the show book and seeing that there’s a nightclub nearby that’s offering reduced admission or whatever, I would love to see brands step up in a way where they are supporting more networking events and just more ways for us to connect as beauty professionals instead of come to our class. Hear a sales pitch for our products. Come to the booth, buy the product, and get outta here. So hopefully we’ll see maybe just more creative ways that can play out at shows in the future.
JAIME: I think that would be worthwhile and should have been the direction we were going in before. Because we know that it’s so easy, even if you were traveling with a group of your colleagues from the salon, or you decided to meet up with some friends at the show, it’s so easy to have an experience that’s shaped by who you attend the show with as opposed to attending solo.
JAIME: And the chances for, for interacting with other people are somewhat limited. And on the show floor, if you are going booth to booth, and trying to get demos, and that sort of thing, there weren’t people gathered around you know like we’re used to seeing and there weren’t the roller bags in the aisles. I didn’t see that like I’ve seen at other shows and that may just be a function of the fact that there were fewer people, and it wouldn’t be as obvious, and I didn’t get run over by one of them. So it did look different, but I think there is an energy there. There’s still that, I think, pent up demand, that desire to have the kind of experience that people remember, and I’m not sure how much of it we want to bring back. Like I don’t miss the roller bags. I miss the carpet, but I don’t miss roller bags.
ASHLEY: Yeah, I will never miss a roller bag on the show floor unless it’s me hauling my projector around, running to a booth quickly, going, hey, I need to talk to you quickly before my class. But I’m glad that you’ve had the experience in that you’re able to share it with us through this medium because I’m sure there was a lot of curiosity. And I think that it’s a little bit of like being in high school and going, okay, well, who’s all going to be at the party and I’ll decide if I want to come or not to the party. Some attendees who are a little bit hesitant about going to, or about finalizing their plans for a show in the future, this was a good way to have everybody sort of dip their toe in and go, okay. You know what? It’s okay. Everything’s fine. It’s not what we’re used to, but we’re going to build it back. So I’m just looking forward to the shows that we’re going to be at together. And I’m hoping that Outgrowth listeners will come out in full force, and at least introduce themselves, and, and come and hang out with us. But I do know that you had a highlight of the show weekend that I am really interested to hear more about. You walked away with a grand prize.
JAIME: Well, and it hasn’t arrived yet, but what I found strange was walking onto the show floor. This is on day two and I had some time to kill because my class was not until the afternoon. And I thought, okay, this is strange. Johnson and Johnson had a booth at the trade show. And my first instinct was, okay. What do I know about Johnson and Johnson? It happens to be the brand of vaccine that I got, but they were not promoting vaccines. They were actually doing market research on breast implants.
ASHLEY: All right.
JAIME: So I will say that at a trade show, I don’t normally spend any money and no, I did not spend any money there either, but I spend usually a significant amount of time at a booth if I know the exhibitor. And we’ve got something to talk about. You know, it’s not unusual for me to spend, you know, 15 minutes at a booth. This is the first time in a long time that I spent time at a booth that I had no interest in whatsoever. But I thought, sure, I’ll play along. And what they had was a display of implants and they wanted you to answer a series of questions, like implant A or implant B, which feels more like a natural breast.
ASHLEY: Oh, my.
JAIME: So you went down the line and then one of the questions was they had you hold one in your hand and they wanted you to gauge how confident you would be that if you were to have this implant or someone you loved had this implant, how confident would you be that this implant would not rupture?
ASHLEY: Oh, interesting.
JAIME: I did not throw it on the floor, or stomp on it, or anything like that. But I mean, it was, it was a funny thing. So I just, I went, I thought, what the heck and what was so interesting was that as far as I could see, there was only one woman working this booth and all the rest were men standing around in suits. And it was the woman who walked me through this. And mind you, no one else was around, like there weren’t like a bunch of people chatting up the other men working the booth, or waiting their turn to go through this gauntlet of breast implants. It was just the one. And so, we just chatted back and forth a bit. And then at the end, she said, well, you know, here. Fill this out. And they were doing a drawing for a set of AirPods, and days later I was contacted, and was told that I had won some AirPods.
JAIME: Yeah, so I went to Vegas and I felt up breast implants. That’s my story and I won some AirPods.
ASHLEY: It’s a major award.
JAIME: So don’t say that you never get anything out of traveling to a show, that you leave empty handed. I was not empty handed. I’ve, now, they’re not in hand yet so when they actually arrive, then I’ll know. And.
ASHLEY: Well, and you weren’t empty handed because your hands were full of breast implants so.
JAIME: Exactly. So that’s my story about Las Vegas and you know me. I’m generally an optimist. And even if I have a really bad time, I’ll usually find something redeeming from the weekend to say, you know, it was worth going and, again, I don’t regret going at all. I had a good experience. It was not exactly the experience I expected nor was it as good as past shows in Vegas, but kudos to show management for doing what they did.
ASHLEY: I think that’s a great synopsis of what you can expect potentially at shows in the future, and I am very interested to see what transpires, and what other show organizers take from this experience that others had in Las Vegas, and use it to inform and color the way that they approach their shows coming up this year. So we’re going to be in Orlando for sure, potentially other places, but I don’t know if those have been finalized, but I’m really looking forward to that. I feel like there isn’t any way in my mind that the Orlando show could be bad. I will take all the restrictions. I will take all of the limitations and I’m still, I’m champing at the bit to get to a show. So looking forward to that, and if you attended the Las Vegas show, and you want to provide some feedback to us or just sound off in the comment section on our Instagram, I would encourage you to do so. We love talking to you and hearing about your personal experiences as a member of our industry. So you can always connect with us on Instagram at @outgrowthpodcast.
ASHLEY: Fabulous. Well, looking forward to seeing you in person, Jaime, when we finally meet up in Orlando.
JAIME: Yes, if not sooner. Hint, hint.
ASHLEY: Exactly. Hint, hint. Okay. All right, everybody. Until next week, thank you so much for listening. Be smart.
JAIME: Be safe.
Described as the best beauty podcast in 2020, Outgrowth Podcast is for hairstylists, nail techs, estheticians, massage therapists and lash technicians. Hosted by beauty industry experts Ashley Gregory Hackett and Jaime Schrabeck, PhD, this salon industry podcast has helpful interviews with guests that teach topics from increasing salon clientele, salon marketing, covid guidelines, beauty industry insights, starting a salon, renting a salon suite, salon Instagram tips, and how to run a successful salon. Join us for weekly episodes of hair podcasts, nail podcasts, esty podcast, and more.