IBSx Goes Virtual, But Without a Digital Expo—For Now

February 11th, 2021 by Tara Taffera

The 2021 International Builders’ Show virtual experience (IBSx) launched on Tuesday, and it wasn’t without a few hiccups—and we mean more than how COVID-19 turned the trade show industry on its ear, and left suppliers scrambling to get their new products in the hands of current and potential customers. IBSx, continuing through Friday, offered an online experience including keynote speakers, seminars and access to a virtual trade show floor. Technical glitches however, prevented the exhibitor platform from ever launching, leaving show organizers to announce Tuesday night that, “Due to ongoing technical issues with the IBSx platform, access to all exhibitors within the Expo Hall is inaccessible. We are investigating alternative solutions that may allow the Expo Hall to open in the future.”

Then around 4 p.m. on Wednesday, they came back with the following: “It is with deep regret we announce that the technology issues pertaining to the IBSx exhibitor platform could not be resolved. The situation evolved rapidly and rectifying these challenges proved more complex than anticipated. As a result the show floor featuring IBSx exhibitor booths will not be moving forward as planned this week, but will be postponed to a later date. We are investigating alternative solutions to allow the exhibit experience and virtual booths to open in the near future.”

The message went on to say that registration fees will be automatically refunded and “the IBSx educational content will continue as planned.”

And it did just that. On Tuesday, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) named the winning products in its inaugural Best of IBSx Awards. Over 200 product entries in six categories were judged by 18 industry and media representatives. Awards were given to exhibitors with a product or line that shows the best combination of design, functionality and innovation, as well as its usefulness to consumers and/or homebuilders.

The Best Window and Door Product went to Pella Corp. for its Easy Slide Operator, which offers a new way to open and close casement and awning windows. The new hardware solution allows homeowners to easily slide the operator up to open and down to close the window, offering a much smoother operation than continuously cranking.

The company says it was the first to introduce the fold-away style crank for casement and awning windows in 2000. Now, 20 years later, Pella has developed an even simpler and aesthetically pleasing way to operate casement and awning windows.

“We listened and worked carefully with our customers for feedback on how we could design something better for them. We quickly discovered that homeowners need hardware that is easier to use, and designers want an option that achieves a minimalist, low profile look. The Easy-Slide Operator delivers on both form and function for the modern consumer,” said Nicolle Picray, brand communications and public relations manager, Pella Corp.

Therma-Tru launched its Virtual Experience on February 2, an interactive virtual site that includes product information, photos, trends and much more.

Even without a “show floor,” [DWM] met with a few exhibitors to learn about some of the latest trends and products (for more on trends, look to the March issue of [DWM], From the Publisher column). Fortunately, Therma-Tru already crafted a virtual experience that debuted on February 2, dubbed the 2021 Therma-Tru Virtual Experience. The interactive platform explores the company’s collection of products including the reimagined Classic Craft premium series of doors.

Brad Loveless, marketing and product development manager for Simpson Door Company, said the company has found other ways to educate its customers as well. “We do regular webinars with our channel customers,” he said. “We were all-in as soon as the shut-down happened last March,” he said. “Nothing stopped for us. Everything kept going.”

He said with homeowners “sitting at home looking at their front doors,” online searches skyrocketed and just kept going. “We haven’t seen metrics like we did in January 2021 for a very long time,” he said.

As is customary since COVID-19, it seems suppliers, and customers, are once again adapting to a changing marketplace, trade shows or not.

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