Nearly a year and a half since it was last held, The International Surface Event (TISE): SURFACES | StonExpo/Marmomac | TileExpo, is excited to return to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV, from June 16 to 18, 2021. Show management has been working feverishly to put together one of the first in-person U.S. tradeshows to take place since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of mid-May, more than 160 exhibitors were registered to display their products and services at the largest North American floor covering, stone and tile industry event, which is sponsored by the World Floor Covering Association, Natural Stone Institute, Natural Stone Council, Marmo+Mac, National Tile Contractors Association and Ceramic Tile Education Foundation.

Monday, June 14: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Tuesday, June 15: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Wednesday, June 16: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Thursday, June 17: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Friday, June 18: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Wednesday, June 16: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Thursday, June 17: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Friday, June 18: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The health and safety of its attendees and exhibitors are a top priority for TISE management, and as a result, the educational component was revamped to ensure social distancing and proper cleaning in between sessions. One of the most noticeable changes is that the sessions will be held on the expo floor instead of conference rooms – making it more convenient for people to attend. Stone World had the opportunity to talk with Paul Treanor, senior manager, content and community at Informa, to learn more details about the education program at TISE 2021.

Here is what he had to say:

SW: What should TISE 2021 attendees expect in regards to the education program?

PT: Attendees can expect a diverse line-up of speakers comprised of industry association leaders, executives from leading floor covering companies, provocative thought leaders and expert insight from some of our publication partners. The topics are diverse and cover the breadth of this industry, including recruiting employees, attracting talent to solve the installer challenge, niche marketing strategies, new technologies and products in stone and tile applications, and design effects in floor covering. 

SW: Obviously, this year is a little different in terms of planning and executing a large exposition such as TISE. What were some factors that had to be considered when planning the education sessions for the 2021 edition?

PT: Planning this year’s event is really like planning an entirely new event. All the customary practices are thrown out the window and each and every activation at TISE has to be examined with fresh eyes first and question every component. Spatial distancing is a significant challenge, coupled with having as few touchpoints (the literal kind) as possible. These two factors made education in the CONVERGE breakout rooms a no-go, so now we have to devise how to put education on the show floor while still maintaining distance requirements and leaving enough time between sessions to allow proper cleaning and safety. 

SW:Were there any particular challenges that you had to overcome? If so, please explain.

PT: CONVERGE has used a three-theater format the past couple years with audience segments broken out into each theater. This year, there is one Main Stage and there are no compartmentalizing the audience segments. The second challenge was examining the timing to give a broad spectrum of programming at the same time while ensuring the content is still meaty and not glossing over the subject matter.  

SW: What are you most excited to share about this year’s education sessions?

PT: The most exciting component is a new slate of programming focused on real estate professionals. First, a session for realtors to understand the importance of floor covering and developing relationships with retailers. On the flip side of this, there will be a session for floor covering retailers to understand the benefits of partnering with real estate professionals with case studies of companies doing exactly this and the powerful way it has impacted store sales and exposure.

SW: What measures is TISE taking to ensure all attendees attending the sessions are safe?

PT: Informa drafted a set of guidelines and best practices called AllSecure that is implemented into every show, in every country, serving every industry. Safety and Security is built into every facet of the show, and we understand we have to get this 100% right. Guests will find one-way entrance and exit points, mask requirements, digital badge scanning and thorough cleanings between each session.

SW: As you mentioned, the sessions will be held on the expo floor this year. What would you say are some benefits of this?

PT: It will make for a much more exciting expo floor. There is a level of energy that comes from stages like we have planned, and it will also mean a lot less foot travel for attendees moving from the usual breakout rooms to the expo floor. There is a benefit for exhibitors as well who enjoy attending sessions but can’t be that far away from their booth for too long. Now with 30-minute sessions, they can sneak away for a bit and catch the session that interests them and make it back to their booth with relative ease. 

SW: Are the sessions scheduled for every day?

PT: There are sessions every day, but the last day of TISE is geared toward the real estate professional sessions.

SW: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about the TISE 2021 education program?

PT: Barring calamity, the Main Stage and blown out education on the expo floor is a one-time only event to experience. Over and above FOMO, this will be the TISE everyone talks about for years to come, and when the conversation starts, you can be the one to say, “I was there. I got to see it.”