Varying city stops means event professionals are getting a unique community-building experience across state lines during the third annual Design and Inspire Nationwide Showcase and Networking Tour by AFR.
“Doing a tour gives our customers an opportunity to attend the events. Doing it in only one city really limits what customers we can connect with,” said Tricia Schmitt, vice president of Brand Management, AFR Furniture Rental & Event Furnishings.
Building on the diverse themes and furnishing displays of last year’s tour of 10 cities, which featured 200 sponsors and more than 3,000 attendees, this event furniture rental company is hitting 14 tour stops this time around with its all new design showcase. The 2013 traveling event is expected to reach between 3,500 to 4,000 event professionals across the U.S. Attendees can connect with suppliers and vendors while seeing how AFR highlights its furnishing collections.
AFR tailored the showcase and tour with different regions in mind, from its furnishings, caterers and entertainment to its suppliers and vendors.
“By the very nature of tailoring each stop to the local region and community it’s in, the suppliers are different and lend a different perspective and experience to each event. We also focus on new products that may be exclusive within a region,” added Schmitt.
Kicking off on Aug. 28, the Design and Inspire Nationwide Showcase and Networking Tour starts in Atlanta at the Tabernacle and ends in New York City’s Highline Ballroom on Nov. 25. In between those dates, the event will be hosted in Charlotte, N.C.; Miami; Los Angeles; Dallas; Orlando; Florida’s Broward/Palm Beach area; Las Vegas; New England; Hartford, Conn.; San Diego; Baltimore and Philadelphia.
“The locations we choose are strategic to where we have a larger presence. Additionally, we work to ensure that we are able to cover regions and let new markets know of our presence in their area,” explained Schmitt.
As the company’s major marketing initiative for the year, the showcase and networking tour is a collaboration among the various regional AFR offices.
“We work across [the] company to create event showcases that are of value and interest within each specific region. With a common goal in place, we all work together to create a showcase that puts our products in our customers’ hands as well as highlight vendors and suppliers within each region to build a tighter knit and dynamic event community,” said Schmitt.
Finding the perfect venue for each event community is also important to the AFR team.
“We look for venues that are new to the market, exclusive in nature or are of interest to the events community,” said Schmitt. “[The event] provides an experience at a venue [customers] may not have been to before. It allows them to sample the products and services that are showcased, including catering, lighting, products, entertainment, design and more.”
When it comes to entertainment, the specific region visited on the tour influences the activities AFR plans.
“In each location, [activities] are specific to what is available and what sponsor partners we have at each event. People really step up because the people who attend the events are great exposure for them,” said Schmitt. “Whether it’s a caterer or entertainment provider, the attendees are top notch and solid buyers of event-driven services and products.”
The 2012 Design and Inspire Nationwide Showcase and Networking Tour showed examples of how AFR tailors its events for customers. During its Washington, D.C. stop, AFR hosted the “Fifty Shades of AFR” themed event – its version of the book trilogy “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
AFR, with help from Yours Truly Lighting and Décor, staged different rooms of the Mead Center for American Theater to highlight the living and work spaces of the book’s lead character Christian Grey. Their rendition of Grey’s office included a table serving as his desk, black leather along with white leather from AFR’s furnishing collections.
The company used various themes in other regions: “Electric” for Las Vegas, “Shatter Your World with Color” for Dallas, “Countdown to Chaos” in Orlando, “Passport to Design” in New England and more.
With so many themes and designs under its belt, AFR isn’t worried about upstaging what it delivered last year.
“I’m not sure that it’s about topping last year but rather continually finding ways to generate interest and inspire our target customers as well as providing an opportunity for event communities to get to know each other and thrive and grow,” said Schmitt. “In addition, the social media aspect of the tour has grown this year. People who couldn’t attend followed what was happening on the tour through our blog, Facebook page and live conversations on Twitter.”
Twitter users can follow along with the traveling event by using the hash tag #AFRTOUR.
More information about the Design and Inspire Nationwide Showcase and Networking Tour can be found by visiting http://afrnationaltour.rentfurniture.com/.