Q&A: 10 Minutes With Aaron Conk of Delta Faucet Co.

Aaron Conk, Senior Merchandising & Trade Show Manager, Delta Faucet Co.

You have to be comfortable with ambiguity and always be coachable, says Aaron Conk, senior merchandising and trade show manager for Delta Faucet Co. After 25 years with the company, including 17 in trade shows, he still has “the bug” and loves that fact that his job is always fresh and challenging, and the payout is tangible.

Conk says he’s just as excited about a successful 10×20 that helps local sales teams as about a 14,000-square-foot booth that the brand is bringing to the 2024 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) next week in Las Vegas to celebrate the company’s 70th anniversary and roll out the newest products across its brands. Pre-show, EM caught up with Conk for a 10-minute chat about what’s top of mind for him in trade shows.


Event Marketer: How is your exhibit design strategy changing post-pandemic?

Aaron Conk: Coming into the 2023 shows, we were pretty conservative with the exhibitry, because we were not sure what to expect and what the attendance was going to be like. The message we got loud and clear: they wanted to get hands-on, to feel the products and functionality, to experience what that would be like in their own home.

For the first time last year, we did an exit survey on-site and followed up post-show with our lead retrieval list to help us understand the attendee experience in our booth as well as their reasons for coming, and that informed much of our exhibit design strategy going forward.

This year, there will be a lot more running water in our booth and opportunities for people to touch and feel things as well as sneak previews and engagement points with actual product users who’ve been testing the products for a while. Another takeaway was that attendees love the stories behind the inspiration for products and the choice of design and materials, so there’s a lot more storytelling in our Brezo booth. People like to understand the story behind the story.


Zooming out, what trade show trend has your attention?

One of the biggest differences between exhibiting in the U.S. and in Europe is that in Europe, there’s a lot more hospitality and relationship-building, while in the U.S. it’s product, product, product. Oh, and here’s a bottle of water. But I’m starting to see that shift, which informs a lot of what we’re doing in terms of providing food and beverages as well as soft seating to make spaces more inviting, almost lounge-like. Have your meetings in our space, set up around our kitchen counter, make yourself at home.


Are you starting to use AI? 

For our exhibits, I don’t think AI is going to be an immediate element, but I can see it powering informed conversations when our experts need additional information. We still find that people want to talk to people. They want to talk to a designer, a product manager, someone who works in their part of the country and knows their challenges. I don’t know if AI is robust enough to deal with that right now, but it’s coming. Maybe it will generate design ideas and they will be handed off to R&D.


How do you see the future of trade shows? 

As we start to see technology permeate everything we do, it broadens the opportunity to reach many more people. At CES 2024, the hot topics were AI and the metaverse. Apple has just launched its Vision Pro. Meta has its Quest virtual reality headset, and people are starting to do interesting things with that. You can take an aircraft engine and blow this out into a million individual parts during a virtual training session and you can understand how they fit together, start to develop some mental muscle memory so that when the time comes to physically do it, you know how it works. I think in-person face-to-face communication is still best for things like that, and right now people don’t want to be constricted with headsets and it’s still clunky, but it wouldn’t surprise me that as technology develops, trade shows could be boundless.


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