Tips & Insights

The High Point (Hospitality) Market

Gary Inman shows hospitality buyers how to navigate this invaluable resource

Growing up near High Point as an aspiring designer (I redesigned my first room at age 10), I fell under the spell of Market early. The legendary twice yearly event brought designers and store buyers to our region from exotic cultures and thriving cities around the world. It gave me the sense of living in the center of American furniture design, in the same way residents of New York and Paris feel they’re in an epicenter of fashion. Years later, when I began my own practice doing high-end residential interior design in New York City, High Point became a nirvana for finding exciting products and creating relationships that I still value more than twenty years later. When I added hospitality to my design services ten years ago, I naturally continued to see High Point as an invaluable resource. However, for many hospitality designers, High Point is an undiscovered country.

“This is what the hospitality designer needs to know: High Point has the largest collection of furniture, lighting, and accessories of any trade show in the United States."

The depth of collections on display far surpasses what you’ll find at any hospitality trade show. Add to this the opportunity to create meaningful relationships with the owners and senior management of the industry’s top manufacturers, as well as their marketing teams and sales force, and this becomes an unsurpassed experience.

Also, many High Point exhibitors need to know that the opportunity represented by hotel, club, restaurant, and spa designers totals billions of dollars each year. Exhibitors who are not yet serving the hospitality buyer, are leaving substantial sums of potential revenue on the table.

There are many wonderful companies that have sales reps dedicated to the hospitality industry. The short list of showrooms you won’t want to miss includes Bernhardt, Century, Mitchell Gold, E.J. Victor, Janus et Cie, Baker, Kravet, Hickory Chair, American Leather, Visual Comfort, Global Views, and Currey & Company.

In addition, many companies work with hotel designers on custom specifications for boutique and luxury properties. Kindel, Councill, Karges, CR Laine, Legacy Home, and Robert Abbey, are among the standouts in this category. Kalisher Fine Art not only supports hospitality designers with bespoke specifications, their curatorial team can draw from a catalog of more than 500 artists - including the international photography of Jesse Kalisher - to develop entire art programs for hotels and resorts.

“The key is to do your homework before Market, and plan an itinerary that matches your needs with the companies that serve the contract industry."

To assist your initial product hunt, our Find Exhibitors section offers an option to list only contract/hospitality showrooms. It is still critical, though, to research and determine which resources have the expertise to address the myriad code and performance specifications your projects require.

Once you have identified a group of manufacturers that may meet your needs, reach out to them before you come to Market. Confirm that they have contract/hospitality sales reps. If they do, book a showroom visit with that individual. Many sales associates have no knowledge of commercial design, so setting up an appointment with the right rep is critical.

NEWH, the Network of the Hospitality Industry, is also a great planning resource. Over the past two years, NEWH has hosted a “Hospitality Designers Day” at Market. Karen Appert of the Appert Marketing Group has been instrumental in forging this new connection between High Point exhibitors and hospitality designers. Consider joining the NEWH chapter in your region and participate in their Market-sponsored events. Be sure to get involved with the exceptional opportunities afforded by groups such as WithIt (Women’s Leadership Development Network), ASID (American Society of Interior Designers), and ASFD (American Society of Furniture Designers), not to mention the huge number of industry and showroom parties.

“Organize your schedule by location to avoid losing significant time traveling from showroom to showroom."

While High Point is certainly a networking mecca, the products are the stars of the show. When you visit manufacturers that you may have seen at HD Expo and BDNY, you will be instantly aware that you have only seen a tiny fraction of their total product offering. High Point is the only place where you can experience the full power of their brands, and unquestionably the best possible place to see all of the newest design trends.

Gary Inman is a nationally recognized, award-winning interior designer, author, and public speaker. His work has been published in The Washington Post, Traditional Home, Southern Accents, Veranda, Elle Décor, House Beautiful, Hotel Design, Boutique Design, and many other design and lifestyle publications.

He is Vice President of Hospitality with Baskervill, an International Giant of Hospitality, serving four-star and five-star luxury hotels and resorts. His design métier has included handbags, women’s evening wear, textiles, lighting, rugs, and furniture, including his acclaimed Home Couture collections for Moore Councill. He is a former High Point Market Style Spotter, editor of The Art of Fine Living, and serves on the boards of Southern Innkeepers, America’s first lodging association, as well as the Bienenstock Furniture Library.