Tuesday, October 21 is the start date for online registration for Coverings 2009, the annual international tile and stone exposition and conference, which will be held April 21-24, at Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center. The advance registration is accessible at www.coverings.com.

More than 80 percent of show goers now take advantage of the Web-driven advance service, attracted by its sheer convenience and ease. There is no charge to register or attend Coverings, which features nearly 1,200 exhibitors from more than 50 countries. Attendance topped 37,000 when the show was in Chicago in 2007.

“For anyone planning to attend Coverings 2009, the advance online registration from one’s own desktop is the best way to sign up,” said Glenn Feder, president of client events for National Trade Productions, which manages and produces Coverings. “And, this year, we’ve added a great new incentive, not only for pre-registering online, but also for referring a colleague.” According to Feder, the newly created Refer A Colleague program is aimed at encouraging registered Coverings attendees to recommend the show to business associates or colleagues who have not attended in the past.

“When you register,” explained Feder, “you are given a Refer A Colleague code. For every additional new guest you refer who also registers-and actually attends-you are rewarded with 25 shopping points that are redeemable online with your choice of hundreds of top-flight merchants nationwide.” The range of 350 participating Refer A Colleague merchants includes major retail chains such as Target, Home Depot, Zales Jewelers and even food and entertainment favorites such as AMC Theatres, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, and Outback Steakhouse.

There are numerous other benefits to using the online registration. Updates on events, conference sessions and other programs of interest at the show are issued regularly from the time you register up until show week. Another helpful bonus is being able to directly access Coverings Connect, the online tool that helps you communicate with exhibitors you want to see at the show before you even arrive onsite.

“The online registration tool is completely user-friendly,” said Feder. “With so many international guests who come to Coverings, the service is especially helpful and is one less travel hassle. Even for those who are locally based, it’s appreciated as a huge time-saver, eliminating the need to wait in long lines and maximizing time that can be spent on the show floor.”

Though online increasingly is the preferred registration method, a toll-free registration hotline will also be available starting October 21; 866-285-3691 or, direct dial at 703-706-8257.