The International Housewares Association (IHA) and the Travel Goods Association (TGA) are partnering to bring the travel goods industry to The Inspired Home Show 2023, March 4-7 in Chicago.
The Inspired Home Show will present a new category — Travel Gear + Luggage — for luggage, travel goods and accessory brands manufactured and marketed by TGA members. This area will be located in the Clean + Contain Expo of The Inspired Home Show, adjacent to the Discover|Design Expo in the North Building of McCormick Place. Participation by TGA members at The Inspired Home Show 2023 will take the place of TGA’s 2023 event, previously scheduled for April 2-3 in Las Vegas.
TGA is the world’s largest trade association for travel goods, representing manufacturers, distributors and retailers of luggage and travel products, casual bags, business cases and travel accessories. The Travel Goods Show was last held in March 2020 before the pandemic caused its cancellation in 2021 and 2022.
IHA President and CEO Derek Miller, in announcing the collaboration with TGA, said, “As The Inspired Home Show continues to solidify its position as the premier face-to-face event for the home, expansion into travel goods and accessories is a logical enhancement of our Show floor offering. Bringing the Travel Goods Association to Chicago [at The Inspired Home Show 2023] enhances the scope of opportunity for our retail attendees by aligning with a category that has long been adjacent to the home department, and in fact, continues to fall within the home buying team’s responsibilities across many major retailers.”
HomePage News recently sat down with IHA’s Miller and TGA President Michele Marini Pittenger to discuss the IHA/TGA partnership and why the marketplace is well positioned for a trade show combining home, housewares and travel products.
HomePage News: What factors led to the partnership between the Travel Goods Association and the International Housewares Association at The Inspired Home Show 2023. Why do you believe The Inspired Home Show is a strong fit for the travel goods industry?
Derek Miller: Michele and I met four years ago, and we began talking about a wide variety of issues and opportunities. We could see many synergies between the industries. And if there was a way we could cooperate, that would be a win-win for each association and our members.
Michele Marini Pittenger: The crossover attendance potential was hugely compelling for TGA in making this decision to collaborate. Our categories overlap in so many ways that buyers will benefit from enhanced ‘one-stop shopping,’ and exhibitors will benefit from an even more robust show experience. Additionally, we have been very impressed with IHA’s show structure and marketing and event program, and we are delighted to be a part of this well-run, highly regarded show.
HPN: Michele, please provide some perspective on the history of the Travel Goods Association and its show.
MMP: The 84-year-old Travel Goods Association has held its annual trade show for over seven decades; the very first show was held in New York City in the summer of 1947. Since then, each year our industry gathering has grown in size and scope, with the exception of major world events like the recession of 2008, 9/11, and now, COVID-19. In recent years, we added new product categories and made modifications to our offerings to be as inclusive as possible. It’s been fun to watch our smallest, first-time exhibitors evolve into some of our most successful over the years. In our pre-pandemic heyday, The Travel Goods Show hosted hundreds of brands and thousands of attendees at its annual event. More innovative, new travel products have debuted at The Travel Goods Show than anywhere else in the world.
HPN: Michele, what is the state of the travel goods industry and retail marketplace? What is the outlook for 2023 and beyond?
MMP: Fortunately, travel is seeing its long-awaited return right now, and in a big way. The pandemic brought our industry to its knees. We rely almost exclusively on travel for our business, and on stores to sell our product. But during the pandemic, there was limited demand for our product (minimal travel) and no way to sell (because of the economic shutdown). When travel started to recover last summer, we saw light at the end of the tunnel. Today, the industry is thriving, travel is back, and travel goods manufacturers are energized and excited for the new chapter of travel ahead. Tremendous innovation has taken place in travel goods since our last Travel Goods Show in March 2020.
HPN: Michele, describe how the retail channels for the travel goods industry have evolved in recent years.
MMP: There’s no denying the evolution of the retail channel. For years, TGA championed small chains or single travel stores — and still does — yet we are also acutely aware of the larger online vendors and mass merchants that play a large role in customers’ buying habits. Through TGA’s programs and offerings at The Travel Goods Show, we try to accommodate the needs of individual retailers, big box stores, and e-commerce websites.
HPN: What are your expectations for the collaboration at The Inspired Home Show with regard to supplier participation and buyer attendance?
MMP: Our collaboration with IHA is a total boon to our exhibitors and attending buyers. For TGA, there is only an upside to this partnership; more manufacturers for buyers to meet, and a greater number of buyers from new verticals to experience. We anticipate that our exhibitors will enjoy a greater number of buyers. Ideally, we would be delighted for this year to be the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership.
HPN: Michele, what do TGA members and travel goods retailers tell you about the importance of in-person shows and what has been missing in the absence of such shows?
MMP: Retail buyers benefit from in-person tradeshows and buying events the same way consumers benefit from buying in a store vs. online. Not only does a physical show enable retailers to touch and feel products, but it also allows stronger relationships to form between brands and buyers. That kind of connection, that kind of energy, only happens in person.
HPN: Any other thoughts on the collaboration between IHA and TGA? Are there plans to continue the partnership beyond the 2023 Inspired Home Show?
MMP: The world’s current desire to travel and make up for lost time to COVID is clearly beneficial for our members. We are delighted that we will enjoy such a robust and enhanced experience for exhibitors and vendors at The Inspired Home Show. We know that this March will deliver an exciting new chapter for our members, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for us.
DM: Housewares saw significant growth during the pandemic, while the travel business had some difficult years. Housewares is past that pandemic peak, but it is still very strong, and travel is taking off again. The Inspired Home Show had a very successful return in March of 2022, and we are preparing for a bigger Show in March of this year. There is no better time to join forces with TGA. We want to make sure both industries and their customers understand travel goods are an important part of The Inspired Home Show 2023, and we expect the partnership with TGA to be very productive. Once through our inaugural year, there will be natural gravity to further develop the relationship with TGA and to expand upon the travel goods category.
Editor’s note: All attendees of The Inspired Home Show will have access to Travel Gear + Luggage. Admission to The Inspired Home Show is complimentary in advance of the Show for demonstrated retail buyers from around the world. For more information about The Inspired Home Show 2023, visit TheInspiredHomeShow.com. Questions may be directed to Cathy Trecartin at firstname.lastname@example.org at TGA or Michele Orto at email@example.com at IHA.