Combined Strength of Two Home Design and Construction Industry Trade Shows Delivers Strong Turnout in Orlando

April 14, 2022

The NAHB International Builder’s Show (IBS) and the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) recently joined forces once again for the 9th annual Design & Construction Week (DCW), staging the first and one of the largest in-person shows to serve the home-building, design and construction industries since the start of the pandemic. Held Feb. 8-10 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, the connected events drew more than 70,000 attendees and 1,200 exhibitors occupying approximately 725,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor exhibit space. 

Together, the blended IBS and KBIS showfloor experience fostered increased crossover traffic, as custom builders, remodelers and project builders discovered new products, trends and technologies; conducted face-to-face business with exhibitors; attended more than 110 leading-edge education sessions and panels led by industry experts; networked with peers and enjoyed awards presentations and special programming.

At IBS, the world’s largest annual residential construction show, more than 800 exhibitors spanned 425,000 sq. ft. of expo space showcasing the latest in home-building products and technology. 

“The attendance at this year’s show exceeded our expectations and reflects the enthusiasm of the home-building industry to collaborate and discover the latest products and technology solutions for their customers,” said Geoff Cassidy, senior vice president of exhibitions and meetings for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), producer of IBS. “Our top priority remained the safety of attendees and exhibitors throughout the show, [and] we implemented a series of health measures that helped to ensure a safe and productive show.” 

Owned by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) and produced by Emerald, KBIS is North America’s largest trade show for the kitchen and bath industry. The 2022 edition featured 350 exhibitors, including 85 first-timers, with the ratio of attendees to exhibitors up 9% over 2020the last and one of the strongest in-person KBIS events pre-pandemic. Additionally, 48% of KBIS attendees were new to the show, according to KBIS officials. 

KBIS 2022

“There is no question DCW surpassed all of our expectations,” said Jason McGraw, group vice president and KBIS show director. “We knew we had put everything in place to create a safe event. We knew the exhibitors committed to the show would bring their ‘A’ game. We expected a strong showing of attendees. But when we beat our attendance plan, we knew we had a winner.”

He added, “The business done at this show will drive the industry for the balance of 2022 and beyond, and we are poised for a super 2023 event, with 83% of exhibit space already sold.”  

Out on an energetic showfloor, exhibitors noted the strong foot traffic with enthusiasm.

“We’re really pleased with the turnout,” said Nicole LeBlanc, shopper marketing manager for Builder Channel at Whirlpool Corporation. “We’re excited to have in-person meetings with our clients and be able to walk them around and show them our products. We did a lot of product research leading up to the show and are excited to showcase that here.”

Rebuilding in-Person Participation

But after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, deploying a successful industry trade show with robust participation required show organizers to go above and beyond typical pre-show marketing efforts to lure audiences back to their in-person events. 

According to Denise Miller, vice president of event, product and brand marketing at NAHB, adopting a strategic, data-driven strategy played a key role in helping the organization drive attendance back to IBS. Leading up to the show, the association’s marketing team relied heavily on event data from its longtime vendor Bear Analytics to enable the organization to better analyze its marketing engagement and fine-tune its approach leading up to the show. 

“We always look at the data, but this year we were obsessed with the data because on a daily basis, the minute that you could get that report, it was like, ‘Did this actually work the day before?’” Miller explained. “So we spent more time than ever looking at ‘Okay, we went after this group, they’re biting after it, let’s go after that group again.’”

Although the IBS team retained core elements of its previous marketing strategies, including its registration launch, new features highlights and pricing promotions, it was also able to capitalize on shifts in audience engagement, including a longer nationwide targeting effort up until the weekend prior to the show, in part because of less-expensive travel options to Florida, she added.

This ability to remain nimble in its marketing efforts, coupled with its ability to successfully communicate the show’s value to exhibitors through a number of channels, enabled NAHB to host one of its most successful trade show events in recent years, Miller said.

Three Shows in One for 2023

Next year in Las Vegas, Design Construction Week will expand from two leading trade shows to three with the addition of the National Hardware Show (NHS), set to collocate alongside IBS and KBIS Jan. 31-Feb 2 at the Las Vegas Convention Center

According to IBS and KBIS officials, the addition of this legacy show for the hardware and home improvement industry will not only create a nice synergy with IBS and KBIS but will also allow attendees to explore additional products, services, trends and opportunities to grow their businesses and maintain a competitive edge in the marketplace.

“Our customers benefit from more value and opportunity during their time in Las Vegas by aligning with two other industry-leading events,” said Beth Casson, NHS event vice president. “NHS, IBS and KBIS events have complementary product offerings that will broaden buying and selling opportunities. Hosting the show earlier in the year gives buyers an opportunity to kick off the year with discovery and connection, while allowing more time for critical decisions before big buying events.”

She added, “We’ve heard that this timing and an NHS collaboration with these events would be a great benefit to our customers, so we are thrilled to make this happen for our NHS community.”


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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.