January 17th, 2017
IBS Orlando: It Was Big. Maybe a Little Too Big …
The International Builders’ Show (IBS) ended last week in Orlando, Fla., and its sheer size provided compelling evidence that the housing rebound continues to grow.
The show was huge. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), which puts on IBS, said about 80,000 people attended this year, up from 60,000 last year in Las Vegas. Exhibit space grew from about 500,000 square feet in Las Vegas in 2016 to 569,000 square feet this year, and the number of exhibitors grew from 1,400 to more than 1,500.
People in the construction industries clearly wanted to be there, and those stats make a case that the economy is heading in the right direction.
However, the vast show also offered solid proof of something more mundane — the need to make this growing behemoth a little more user-friendly for attendees and exhibitors.
The beautiful, modern Orange County Convention Center is gigantic – and that was part of the problem with last week’s successful show. It’s the second-largest such facility in North America after Chicago’s McCormick Place, and for reasons that were unclear to most attendees, the two main exhibition halls for IBS were separated by at least a 15-minute walk. Every single person I spoke to said it was a problem, not only for all the walking, but also because it could prevent attendees – and possible leads – from exploring all the booths.
Additionally, the convention center is located near Sea World and other popular vacation spots, which made for nightmarish traffic in the mornings and afternoons. And while parking wasn’t a problem for me (I used Uber to get around), attendees I spoke to described half-hour walks to the venue from nearby garages.
Fortunately, these problems didn’t appear to be dealbreakers. While everyone we spoke to mentioned the distances and the traffic, they also emphasized that they were getting lots of quality leads and great energy in their booths.
Still, it’s important to remember that the home construction industry is currently made up of people who are getting older (including this reporter). Unless it’s part of some experimental wellness program for aging salespeople and writers, it would be great if IBS organizers could try to consolidate the Orlando show into a tighter space.
Our feet would greatly appreciate it.