From what I had heard, I knew my first ISPA EXPO, held March 9-12 in Orlando, Florida, was going to be big, maybe the biggest one yet. The early predictions proved correct in every way—more space (137,000 square feet), more exhibitors (242 total—73 new and 10 returning after a hiatus), more attendees (1,000 more than the 2014 show in New Orleans) and an increased international presence. Wow.
And yet, the space in the Orange County Convention Center felt welcoming. A happy buzz pervaded the hall as exhibitors showed off their latest innovations to receptive buyers. Many booths had a steady flow of people examining machinery, touching fabrics and getting a feel for foam and springs.
Amid the upbeat traffic, BedTimes editors noticed a number of trends.
This was the first ISPA EXPO where we saw a big focus on boxed beds. Exhibitors offered everything from super-fast, automated roll-pack machinery to turnkey services for implementing a complete
e-commerce mattress program.
Several people happily commented on the growing number of women in attendance, many of whom gathered for drinks and socializing at the ISPA Women’s Network cocktail party the night before the show opening. They attended as exhibitors and as buyers—and hopefully represent a growing trend in the mattress industry.
Once a rarity, 100% natural latex was easy to find at this show. Standard polyurethane foam and memory-foam were all about sleeping cool, and there were plenty of mechanical booth displays to prove just how much air can flow through these highly breathable foams.
Exhibitors found new ways to express themselves with booth design and show themes. Leggett & Platt Inc. carried a spring training theme— complete with giant baseball bobble-heads representing some key management figures—throughout its machinery and mattress components departments. Another “springs” company, Springs Creative Product Group, demonstrated the comfort and breathability of its spacer fabric collection by turning it into stylish dresses, modeled by product and account manager Caroline Reeves.
Overall, looking at component trends, we found the white panel with charcoal border continues to be a powerful color combo for today’s beds. Also, exhibitors offering sewn-cover solutions were a popular stop for showgoers.
Innerspring offerings were dominated by pocketed springs, which also are often roll-pack friendly. Spring suppliers have invested in the latest pocket-coil machinery, allowing them to customize and zone spring units.
Machinery makers sought to simplify equipment operation while, at the same time, speed up production. (The EXPO wrap-up offers highlights from machinery makers and fabric suppliers, with complete reports on these products coming in the next two issues of BedTimes.)
Exhibitors were thrilled with the traffic at this show. We got the most upbeat comments heard from exhibitors in recent memory. Too many to count said this was the best ISPA EXPO ever in terms of traffic and leads.
I, for one, enjoyed seeing familiar faces and meeting many people for the first time. I’m already marking my calendar for the next ISPA EXPO in Charlotte, North Carolina, March 14-17, 2018. I hope to see you there!