"Off On the Road to Salone… Part 2!"
03/19/23 Edition Stephen Says Column

Dear Stephen,

After reading your column in January in this space about #SalonedelMobile, you inspired me to attend and I’m very excited to say that I will be there!
I did find out, as you suggested, that several of my key A&D clients are attending because specific contract products that they are specifying for major clients will be showing there. #Salone is as much a contract show as it is residential and design… and all the major American manufacturers like #Steelcase, #Haworth and #MillerKnoll have an imprint on the show. I’ve made dinner reservations in advance, per your suggestion, for my clients and I. Now, I’m blowing through my contact list to be sure I’m going to be invited to all the parties. Let me say, it’s a lot of work and preparation to attend Salone. (For #Neocon and #DesignDays, all I have to do is show up!)

I work for a #Haworth dealer and as I talk with my clients, colleagues, and industry friends about seeing them at Salone, I’ve noticed an interesting side effect – there’s been a positive impact on my customer relationships, and I can feel it has already elevated my reputation within the group of manufacturers that I sell. Attending Salone is like an elite fraternity of people who will be going to #Italy and we’re already bonding. As you know, not all sales reps from the United States are able to attend and I feel so fortunate to be able to be there in person, sharing the experience and energy with my top clients. I am paying for most if it myself, but I consider it an investment in my future career and existing business with my clients.

The point of my writing today is to say, Thank You Stephen for inspiring and encouraging me to explore this exciting event. I wouldn’t be going if I hadn’t read your column in January about Salone. The second reason I’m writing is because I need to know, what’s next? What do I need to hit while I’m in Milan?

Ci Vediamo a Milano!
Ciao a Milano,

First of all, congratulations on going to Salone! I know you won’t regret it. Your customers and colleagues will appreciate your commitment to our industry, and you will be able to talk about your experience for years to come. It is an investment in your career for sure.  It’s very important to plan and read about the show and Milan. Here are some of my suggestions and tips to prepare for you for your trip.

Register today for the show, (it is critical to register in advance) and make a complete list of exhibitors that you want to see. Believe it or not, my number one tip is to wear comfortable shoes, because you’ll be walking everywhere. And another - to take public transportation to get to the fair ground. The M1 (red line) is your lifeline. And I know you’ll bring your device chargers but buy a converter beforehand and bring it with you! (Trust me, I've learned the hard way).

Remember, Salone is one of the largest trade fairs and can be overwhelming, so ask anyone you know who has attended in the past, hearing for yourself the experience of people who have gone is most helpful.  If there are specific companies that you want to see I suggest you make appointments in advance. You can use #LinkedIn InMail or go through company’s websites to identify emails to make appointments. Here’s an example of where this applies - if you are an independent rep and you’re looking for a new Italian line to represent in the U.S., contact the export manager from that company in advance for an appointment, I’m sure they would love to see you.

And the parties and the food! Yes, most manufacturers and luxury brands have a party. Even all the American companies. So, start asking around now, even the rep’s and people who are not going to get to know if their companies are having a party, and where it is. Invitations are usually a must, and coveted, so start calling around and go online, get the invites! (Did I mention the scrumptious food?)
If you are a sales rep, like you are, from a dealer or a manufacturer, and are going with a customer such as a designer or an end-user, you don’t want to lose sight of them for a minute! If they’re attending a party, you want to go with them. If they have a particular manufacturer that they want to see, even if you don’t sell that particular line, tag along! Specifiers are, of course, who everyone that exhibits at the show wants to see, so try to be everywhere that your client will be, while respectfully giving them some breathing room. Have your expense account ready because your client should always be your guest. This is a bonding opportunity for you and your clients in Milan, this is your opportunity to make a customer for life!

Remember – furniture is just part of the Salone show. Some of the exciting highlights that you must see are kitchens, appliances, bathroom fixtures… everything in home design! And even if you don’t sell these products, you should go and be inspired by what you see, this is all part of the Salone experience.

Meanwhile, don’t forget about #Fuorisalone, it’s part of #MilanDesignWeek. (Fuori means “outside.”) The Fuori events are taking place off of the fairgrounds, in shops and showrooms all around Milan. One of my favorite places to go to is the Brera district where over 200 events are taking place. Also, the Isola district is a must see. These are not the design district, but they are just as involved in the Salone festivities, and I recommend that you check them out.

Also, don’t forget that some manufacturers may be having events near Milan, at their factories, and if it feasible and especially if your design clients want to go, you should go as well. But please be mindful that you usually have to be “on the list.”

Here are my choices for the hot manufacturers that the designers tell me they want to see most and should be on your “must see” list – all of the companies under Haworth’s Lifestyle Design brand, these companies include #PoltronaFrau, #Cappellini, #Cassina, #JanusetCie, #Luminaire, #Ceccotti, #Karakter, #LuxuryLivingGroup, #Interni, and #Zanotta. For an American company, Haworth’s name is all over this show!

Other favorites of mine are #Moroso, #Multani, #Promemoria, #Dedar, and any of the companies owned by #DesignHoldings S.p.A. including: #Flos, #LouisPoulsen, #Arclinea, #Maxalto, and #Lumens.

You are welcome to write to me directly if you have any questions about the show, stephen@viscusigroup.com. Afterall, with a name like VISCUSI, you know I know Salone!

You’ll have a great trip and I know I will too. It’s going to be a great way to motivate yourself and bond with clients. For me, I will have great food, see all my wonderful clients, and meet new customers but it is extra special for me because I get to see my Zia (Aunt) who lives in Milan, and I know she will be cooking for me!


Stephen Viscusi is the CEO of www.viscusigroup.com, an executive search firm that specializes in the interior furnishings industry. Hires made through The Viscusi Group are guaranteed a one-year free replacement. Please share your story or comment on this article and send your workplace questions to stephen@viscusigroup.com. Or give us a call at (212) 979-5700 ext. 101.

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