Countdown to Collocation

(Editor’s note: Over the next month Emerald Expositions’ Brian Pagel will report weekly as his show, KBIS, collocates for the first time with IBS in Las Vegas.)

Nearly a year ago we announced our plans to collocate the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) and the International Builders Shows (IBS) this February at the Las Vegas Convention Center. This was a significant move for both events and we view this as a game changer for our industry.

At the time, we knew we would have an incredibly consolidated show cycle as we were moving KBIS from May to February. Still, at this time last year, it seemed like an eternity to Feb. 4, 2014. But today, with just over three weeks and counting, things just got real.

Over the next few weeks I will share some of my experiences as we quickly approach the opening of KBIS 2014 and our inaugural collocation with IBS. I hope you will find this valuable, or at least intriguing, as more events are looking to strategic collocations as a way to add value to their respective markets.

As with any event, over the last 30 to 45 days of the show cycle, your focus becomes attendee registration, onsite signage and last-minute communications. This is still very much the case but, with a large collocation like ours, there is an extra emphasis on the little things that are so critical to making this successful: exterior branding, registration flow, directional signage, calling out of specialty areas, etc. This now takes on added meaning as there are literally two of everything—two registrations areas, two show offices and two distinct conferences.

Here is some of what we are doing to keep it simple and move bodies efficiently through the process.

Communication is key—While probably overkill, we have been making it a priority to message the basics of navigating the show: How to register, where to pick up badges, where the KBIS showfloor is vs. IBS showfloor and, generally, what to expect. However, we have taken this a step further and are leveraging all of our social media platforms to help get these details out. We have a dedicated plan for Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Google+ and our smartphone app.

Onsite signage—Trying to direct more than 70,000 attendees, exhibitor personnel and press from two different trade associations can present some significant challenges. That said, onsite signage and live bodies to help direct traffic is of significant importance. We have visited and revisited the plan a number of times to make certain that we are doing everything we can to clearly and effectively drive traffic to the opening ceremonies, both showfloors, special events and the 200-plus education sessions.

Navigating the unknown—So much of the show business is based on past experiences and overall trending. This ultimately helps us to establish a baseline so that we can change our tactics as needed heading into the physical event. However, in 2014 we are literally facing the unknown. Our market, like many of yours, is coming out of several depressed years and the habits of our attendees have changed. We have also shifted our show dates, the show location and registration fees, in addition to partnering with another large event.

All of this has forced us to pay close attention to how the market is reacting to this enhanced experience. This is why we have placed a huge emphasis on staying engaged with our stakeholders, both large and small, to get a sense of what we can expect next.

With 25 days and counting, we feel great about our progress and have exceeded all of our expectation to this point. However, we still have to execute.

Brian Pagel is a vice president at Emerald Expositions, where he runs The Kitchen and Bath Industry Show. Since re-joining Emerald Expositions (formerly Nielsen) in 2001, Pagel has also served as a vice president in the Decorated Apparel Group. A 15-year veteran of the publishing, convention and exposition industries, Pagel has produced over 75 events, championed several strategic co-locations and is a frequent industry speaker. He can be reached at Brian.Pagel@Emeraldexpo.com.

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