INSIGHT: There is a good reason why that chair is so cheap!

Have you ever felt that someone is trying to get you to pay more for your banquet and conference chairs than you really should?  All chairs have a seat and back and in most cases 4 legs; so how much could the price variation be – Right?

Well, design and fabrication techniques will have an impact on the dollars, but we’re not talking about designer, custom made one off pieces. We’re referring to the significant range of banquet and conference style chairs similar to those depicted below. I’m talking those chairs in the $40-$150 price range.


One factor that will make a significant difference to the price is the construction of the foam – it’s what you can’t see. I often repeat the adage, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”, and it very much applies in this case.

If a chair is really cheap, there is going to be a good reason for that. One factor that is going to contribute to low manufacturing cost is the use of “cut” foam compared to “moulded” foam. Cut foam comes from large blocks like you would have seen in Clark Rubber and with continuing rubbing of the fabric on the foam it will deteriorate over time – sometimes this deterioration will be visible in as little as 18 months. It will be evident as you see foam dust particle coming through the weave of the fabric and the foam will quickly lose its shape.

On the other hand; “moulded” foam is made by pouring liquid foam into a mould which then expands into the desired shape. As it fills the steel mould 2 things happen. 1. It creates the desired shape and 2. It creates a crust, sealing the foam therefore lasting many times longer and resisting deterioration.

When applied to the chair frame the moulded foam conforms to the shape of the body providing maximum comfort for long periods. You don’t want your conferences to be memorable for all the wrong reasons – comfort is a factor you’d be wise not to ignore.

The next time you have an investment to make in banquet and conference chairs be mindful of the things you’re not seeing. Your questions about cut and moulded foam will provide insights that will help you make the right decision for your venue. We are always happy to help you with other insightful ideas that will protect your FF&E investment. You may also like to view the link on this article.

To see the difference between cut and moulded foam for yourself, have a look at our latest video here.

Graham Smith
CEO – Innova Group

INSIGHT: Green initiatives and clothless tables

There are 2 ideas relevant to the hospitality industry that are getting significant airtime from GMs and F&B Managers. At first appearance they are mutually exclusive – green initiatives and clothless tables. The hospitality industry in general is moving towards various “green” initiatives driven by customer demand, social responsibility and a bottom line factor, which strangely enough is not often spoken of publicly as if it’s a taboo subject. Personally we don’t  apologise for making a profit. If we don’t make a profit, we cease to exist, and as a leader in your industry the market will suffer as a result of our demise.

MityLite Reveal Duo & Elite ChairThe second discussion point mentioned is clothless sometime called linenless or naked tables, which by definition don’t require table cloths, conference cloths or skirting. This style of table is trending fast as it creates a much cleaner, contemporary look in conference or meeting rooms. Dark laminate tops, chrome legs with a durable finish around the table edges creates quite an impact. The link here is that a reduction in use of tables cloth etc does have a dramatic impact on the carbon foot print and greenhouse gasses emitted through the use of industrial washers and dryer required to maintain the linen. The other huge benefit to the business is seen in the bottom line with a reduction in linen costs. Some properties have reported savings of up to 80%. The savings are seen in the costs of cleaning and maintaining the linen and in setup and take down labour.

So this is a *good news story, Green is good – for everyone. Cloth-less tables look fantastic and lift the room which is appealing to your conference  and event clients and the reduced use of table cloths minimise emissions and improving the bottom line.

If you would like to gain any further insights into the trend of clothless table I would be happy to share ideas.

Graham Smith
CEO – Innova Group

*Disclaimer – This story might not be so good for companies manufacturing table cloths etc however I’m confident they will reinvigorate their businesses by turning to a new up and coming product to manufacture.

INSIGHT: Getting the right furniture to maximise your floor space

INSIGHT: Getting the right furniture to maximise your floor space

One way of thinking about your floor space is to equate it to revenue. The more floor space the greater your revenue opportunity. Nothing new there. But floor space is rarely a flexible commodity. Sometimes you can convert a meeting room or knock down a wall to create a larger space but that option is the exception rather than the rule. So what alternatives do you have if your space is fixed. Well one aspect you should consider is the furniture you’re using. For example some table sizes produce a better seating outcome than others ie. ovals may fit better than rounds and a smaller 1675mm diam table may give you more seats in a room than an 1830mm diam table. This is likely when a room is not square or if you have pillars situated in a conference/banquet space.

Another piece of furniture that impacts the number of seats at a table is the chair itself. Much discussion and time is given over to the style and aesthetics of the chair forgetting that the wider the chair the few people will be comfortably seated at the table – less covers, less revenue.

To understand how to best maximise the space you have, you need to be able to see exactly, the dimensions and shape of the tables and consider what the width of the various chairs options will do to either increase or decrease the seating capacity of your room.

We can assist you with this by taking your floor plan and inserting furniture that will provide the best results. We can also customise chairs to give you the desired outcome. You will see below a couple of examples of plans that have assisted other customers to achieve maximum revenue results with the right furniture. Each of these floor plans has been enhanced by us creating a 3D image including the walls and stages to provide an accurate rendering of the room in question.

Please give us a call if you would like some further insights on your space and revenue concerns.

Graham Smith
CEO – Innova Group

INSIGHT: Sure you can buy direct from China!

Keeping costs low and profits high has always been a fundamental in business. One source of low cost furniture items is buying from China.

Importing direct from China is an option for anyone who meets the order capacity of a least 1 container. The numbers stack up more in your favour if you can fill a 40’container. Most of the importing charges are bases on the container not the size. It is therefore approximately the same cost to land a 40’ as it is a 20’ container but let’s not get side tracked with those numbers.

How do you import from China? All you have to do is, find the right factory, get comfortable with their quality, don’t believe that what you see in the showroom is what you are going to get, arrange the freighter to collect and ship your container, then arrange for it to get through customs to your venue. Sounds easy. Why isn’t everyone doing it?

I have recently had discussions with a few clubs who have imported gaming stools and a reputable hotel that imported a few hundred banquet chairs that have found that the “import direct” strategy has become very costly. In all cases the end result was that the furniture isn’t standing up to the test of time. I’m not talking about a long time either. In each case not more than 12 months has passed and the venues are now looking to replace the furniture they thought would be a cost effective solution to their needs. So what went wrong??

  1. Each of these venues relied on the factory to appropriately QA all the products – they never do. You must get an independent company that you employ to do the quality checks.
  2. They under estimated the life of the product. The life of the product is consistent with the warranty. 12 month warranty – 12 month life.
  3. They also believed that they could get the factory to replace any defective products. The factory knows that you are an end user and your propensity to place ongoing large orders is minimal so keeping you happy isn’t a priority.
  4. The language barrier works in their favour.
  5. I haven’t heard of one example of the end user who has imported direct from China and is happy with the experience. When the product doesn’t stand up after a short period most businesses don’t have the cash to go through the exercise again so they have to keep non-functional furniture on the floor or make do with less chairs as the damaged ones pile up in the store room.

It might seem like added unnecessary cost to buy locally however there are some solid reassurances that are included in the price you pay. Let me quickly outline the factors that should give you comfort when you buy from Innova Group.

  1. While most of the products we sell are made in Malaysia not China we do a 1 or 2 very capable factories in China. We have credibility with them and they know the standards we expect from them.
  2. Our staff speak the language and all communication is clear and documented
  3. We employ staff to do QA checks on all shipments before they are packed. Nothing gets through that check. Anything that isn’t right gets replaced. This can’t be done effectively by sharing pictures via email.
  4. Products we get manufactured are warranted by us.  What this means is that if you have a problem then you deal with us and we will make good.

Does this cost you a little more? Sure it does but as I have seen on numerous occasions, the cost of getting wrong is far more than the little extra you will pay from a local supplier. It’s the price you pay for peace of mind.

Can you buy direct from China, of course you can but just be aware of the risk that you take on your own shoulders and the dollar value of that risk. Should you decide that you are willing to take on that risk then feel free to call me. There are some other valuable tips I can share with you before you embark on the journey.

Graham Smith

CEO Innova Group