Last month, I had the pleasure of attending the NAHB International Builders Show in Orlando. Since this wasn’t my first trip to IBS, I was sure I knew exactly what to expect, but the show presenters and attendees continued to surprise me with both new products and services, as well as new marketing and sales approaches.
First, as someone actively involved in the 55+ homebuilder industry, I knew that I wanted to connect with others in this sector of the housing market; however, effectively navigating a show this size (85,000 attendees) required planning like that of a shuttle launch. Luckily, NAHB developed an app that allowed me to view all of the educational sessions, scope out the expo floor, and access a map of the convention center all from my phone. The IBS app became my best friend. Yet what surprises me is that, even though the attendees were all walking around staring at their cell phones, many of our property development prospects still haven’t upgraded their own websites to be mobile friendly—despite the fact that over 50% of their leads initially come from mobile.
My week began on Sunday, well before the actual show opened, when NAHB held their annual meeting. I personally participate in committee meetings for the 55+ Housing, Sales and Marketing, and Professional Women in Building Councils. I always find these meetings a great opportunity to connect with other folks who share my passion for marketing and sales in the housing industry.
The show officially began on Tuesday and it was all hands-on deck. As a council member, I spent much of the day in the 55+ Housing Central manning the Membership table (Hopefully a few of you got to pop by and say hi!) which afforded me the opportunity to listen to all the speakers. And here came my second surprise…
Even though I was impressed with the logistics of the event, I was particularly in awe of the quality and quantity of speakers. The diversity of speakers discussed topics ranging from:
- Modular building applications for baby boomers
- Aging in place and universal design products
- Enticing floor plans
- Lifestyle amenities
- And even how to help prospective residents finance their homes
On Wednesday, Immersion Active’s Senior Strategist, Lisa Bade-McElwain presented a session titled, “Leverage Social Media to Market to 50+ Consumers” and Kathi Scharf, Director of Property Development Solutions shared “Why Remodelers Need to Connect to the Family Caregiver.” Then on Thursday, Kathi discussed “55+ Homebuyers Motivations”.
One size certainly does not fit all when it comes to today’s 50+ homebuyer. Between the speakers and the breadth of products on the expo floor, it’s obvious that today’s successful builders must recognize the changing face of the mature buyer. To emphasize this diversity, the 55+ Housing Council lead a tour of two communities in the Orlando area where builders, designers, remodelers and marketing professionals had the opportunity to experience firsthand the latest community trends. Our tours included The Four Seasons At Orlando by K Hovnanian and Twin Lakes by Jones Homes USA. Beautiful open spaces, universal designs, and gorgeous amenities including upgrades like wine rooms and optional water features such as fountains and infinity pools all showed that today’s 50+ homebuyer isn’t ready to settle in to a rocker on the front porch. Personally, I was ready to relocate and move in!
I didn’t want to miss any new products or trends in the exhibit hall, so I walked the show a bit, which was an enormous challenge given there were over 20+ miles of carpet on the show floor and attendees were easily exceeding their fitness tracker goals. I especially enjoyed visiting the Tiny homes exhibit set up on the back lot of the convention center. Again, I was surprised with the ever growing popularity of this niche building segment that emphasizes new ideas and structures to live smart in a small space.
Each year that I attend IBS, I am amazed at the latest innovations and trends within the building industry and what I learn from those individuals who spend their days in the trenches building and selling homes. I can’t wait till IBS 2019 in Las Vegas!