The 2017 edition of Coverings, the annual international trade fair and expo dedicated exclusively to showcasing the newest in ceramic tile and natural stone, heads back to Orlando, FL, this spring with a fresh image and under new management. Taffy Event Strategies, LLC was appointed as show management for the upcoming event, which is slated for April 4 through 7 at the Orange County Convention Center.

“We are delighted to team up with Coverings to help drive its goals and add value for the thousands of show exhibitors and attendees,” said Jennifer Hoff, president at Taffy Event Strategies. “We are looking forward to supporting the industry, showcasing its truly remarkable tile and stone products, while also fostering business-building networking and education opportunities for today’s professionals.”

Co-sponsored by Ceramics of Italy/Confindustria Ceramica, Tile Council of North America, Inc. (TCNA), Tile of Spain/the Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturer’s Association (ASCER), the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA) and the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), Coverings will be filled with seemingly endless rows of exhibits displaying the newest in aesthetics and technology in both the stone and tile industries.

Orlando usually is synonymous with success for the international trade exhibition. The 2015 edition, which was the last time Coverings was held at the Orange County Convention Center, had attracted the show’s largest crowd since 2009, with approximately 23,000 attendees from more than 40 countries. It showed a 10% growth over the previous year. The 2017 event is expected to feature 1,100 exhibitors, promoting their products to thousands of distributors, retailers, fabricators, contractors, specifiers, architects, designers, builders and developers.

New show features

Coverings 2017 intends to “wow” visitors with an enhanced show experience chock filled with an assortment of new activations and experiences. The new elements, which include guided audio tours, a NASCAR Racing Experience and a reinvigorated social media lounge, seek to energize the show floor by allowing attendees opportunities to further interact, explore and engage.

“We are building on the show’s strengths and adding new aspects that make the show an incredible experience for today’s industry professionals,” said Hoff. “Beyond the immense show floor and robust conference program, these special components further make Coverings a draw for thousands of architects, designers, builders, remodelers, fabricators, installers, retailers and distributors.”

Show attendees will have the opportunity to receive a guided audio tour via the official Coverings mobile application. The pre-recorded tour provides attendees with insights into booths and pavilions, extending a thorough introduction to the show floor. With each tour operated through one’s mobile phone, show goers have the ability to move through the tour at their own pace or break up the tour across several days.

Also revving up the show floor will be a NASCAR Racing Experience providing attendees the opportunity to find out what it is like to be a NASCAR driver. Racers with the fastest simulator times each day will win two tickets to the NASCAR events of their choice.

Additionally, the social media lounge is receiving a makeover, as Coverings Connect. The space will enable attendees to relax, charge personal devices and network. Coverings Connect will present a series of educational seminars, called “Byte” sessions that have a digital focus. Moreover, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. every afternoon, a bar will be located in Coverings Connect, offering a happy hour for attendees to enjoy a beverage and make new connections.

Installation Design Showcase

Now in its eighth year, the Coverings Installation Design Showcase (IDS) will take on a new twist at the upcoming event. In a collaborative effort between leading designers and contractors, “tiny” houses will be built on the show floor. The live-action demonstration and exhibit will feature three tiny homes being installed with tile over the course of the show by master installers, incorporating material from industry-leading tile and stone manufacturers.

“The Installation Design Showcase is continually praised by show attendees for exemplifying design trends and the importance of proper installation techniques,” said Alena Capra, Coverings’ Industry Ambassador and alumna designer of the IDS program. “It is a huge draw for trade professionals. One of the best aspects of this year’s showcase is that the spaces will be actual houses, serving a purpose that will be appreciated well beyond the show dates.”

Adam Money, developer of Orlando Lakefront — the tiny homes community partnering with Coverings for the initiative — advised he plans to incorporate the spaces into a Lakefront Bed & Breakfast. The three houses will be enjoyed by guests for years to come.

“Tile is incredibly versatile, and we’re delighted to help promote the material as something that can cover the floor — and all four walls — of a residential space,” said Money. “We think that even in a tiny home, Coverings attendees will see expansive opportunities for tile and stone.”

Design teams led by principles from The Georgia Pear Interiors, Kim Lewis Designs and bluetreehome will be paired with installers who hold Five Star Recognition from the NTCA and certification from the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) to bring each design to life. John Cox, president of Cox Tile and technical consultant for the IDS, has helped with the collaboration between designers and installers. Materials sponsored by Ceramics of Italy, Crossville, Florim USA, Ardex, Laticrete and Mapei will be used for the project.

Educational opportunities

Complementing the exhibition floor will be an extensive education program, including 70+ seminars on a diverse range of topics to meet everyone’s interests and area of expertise. Through its program of notable and respected speakers, Coverings will provide cutting-edge sessions — free of charge to both attendees and exhibitors.

Free CEUs can be earned by attending Coverings 2017 conference sessions. The show is an AIA/CES Approved Provider and a NKBA CEU Provider Partner.