International Builders' Show Brings Education, Networking Out of Meeting Rooms and Onto Show Floor

By Mitra Sorrells February 13, 2012, 11:02 AM EST

Photo: Mitra Sorrells/BizBash

National Association of Home Builders International Builders' Show
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A new open-air theater on the floor of the National Association of Home Builders International Builders’ Show attracted a steady stream of attendees during the event Wednesday through Saturday at the Orange County Convention Center. Dubbed “I.B.S. Live,” the 6,300-square-foot area in the middle of the floor did exactly what organizers hoped it would do: create a new reason for some of the nearly 50,000 attendees to spend time on the show floor.

“We wanted to take some of the education and networking out of meeting rooms and put it right in the middle of the show, to create a destination for the attendees, the buyers, the builders, to come see what’s happening,” said Mark Pursell, the association’s senior vice president of exhibitions, marketing, and sales. “It’s a different program every hour. Anything we can do to draw people to the floor is healthier for the show and makes it interesting for the attendees.”

Banners suspended from the ceiling marked the four corners of the I.B.S. Live area and allowed attendees throughout the 410,000-square-foot trade show to easily see its location. A large stage hosted speakers such as television personality Bob Vila and J.R. Martinez, an Iraq war veteran and Season 13 winner of Dancing With the Stars, along with presentations on topics such as green construction. A mix of chairs and lounge furniture from Cort Event Furnishings filled the middle of the carpeted area to “create a space where people could spontaneously gather,” Pursell said. Two 10- by -10-foot enclosed rooms on the perimeter provided a quiet place for attendees to hold meetings.  

Show organizers also moved the Finance Pavilion into I.B.S. Live—giving it a more prominent location in recognition of the fact that financing issues are a hot topic for attendees. Throughout the four days, builders and developers gathered in this area to hear presentations from financial industry representatives and to participate in group discussions. In the afternoons, the association hosted networking receptions in I.B.S. Live.

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