After months of close observation, deliberation, and admittedly hopeful thinking, the National Association of Home Builders and the National Kitchen & Bath Association today announced that the 8th annual Design & Construction Week (DCW) featuring IBS/KBIS will be a totally virtual event.
“Disappointed as we are—and we are disappointed—with travel restrictions and the recent spikes, we can’t do it,” says Suzie Williford, chief strategy officer and executive vice president of industry relations for NKBA. “We’re working in lockstep with NAHB to make sure people still have a single point of entry, can still see both floors, go to different events—still do all the things they want to do at our event.”
In a statement released earlier today, both NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke and NKBA CEO Bill Darcy weigh in on the decision, describing it as one coming from a place of “caution” and “safety.” The two though are still looking forward to a not only robust but now more broad-reaching event in 2021.
“An all-virtual Design & Construction Week will be a different experience, but with it comes new opportunities to reach an even larger audience that would not have been able to participate on-site,” said NKBA head Darcy. “We pledge to transform KBIS into an exceptional show experience for everyone.”
Maintaining The Experience For Attendees
As Williford explains, NKBA and NAHB have been anticipating the possibility of an all-virtual IBS/KBIS for some time. “We had three plans early on: one for an all in-person; one for a hybrid part in-person, part virtual event; and another for an all-virtual event,” she says. “We were hopeful but we kind of knew it was going to happen.”
The foresight has positioned the groups well, she adds, saying that Design & Construction Week will still include its marquee programs like the KBIS Design Awards, 30 Under 30, and its NeXT Stage, among others still to be named.
In the joint statement, the groups reassure that through the new virtual format attendees will still have the ability to explore product launches and new innovations, get insights from industry leaders and experts, and take part in education programs and workshops.
“We’re also extending free registration for all NKBA and NAHB members to the day of the show,” says NKBA CSO Williford.
Similarly, NKBA and NAHB are promising that exhibitors, who have been instrumental in the discussions leading up to the decision to go all-virtual, will still have a platform to get what they come to the show for: to generate leads, introduce and teach specifiers about new products, and network with industry professionals, Williford says.
Because of how particularly important DCW is for small exhibitors, who may spend the majority of their yearly marketing budget on the show, NKBA and NAHB are working especially hard to make sure their virtual platform emphasizes connectedness. She adds, "We want to provide all we can for them."