Innovative Meetings

Live From the Booth

DuPont found that many building professionals didn't know how to use its new products, so it started providing live, in-booth education sessions — some for CE credit — at the International Builders’ Show.

Cheryl Lewis is very familiar with trade-show education. In fact, the vice president of Learning Solutions Winstanley — a Lennox, Mass.- and East Greenbrush, N.Y.-based company that specializes in helping clients present engaging educational content — has been involved in producing shows for “many, many years,” and has helped bring interactive education to the exhibit hall at most of them.

For the last six years, Lewis has worked with DuPont to create the science and engineering company’s in-booth demonstrations at the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) International Builders’ Show, which this year took place at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Jan. 22-24.

“DuPont provides products and systems in order to seal the whole building envelope,” Lewis said. “[It] used to just have a static, regular booth where people would come in and look at the product,” but they now provide demonstrations, including tips and tricks for installing products like DuPont’s flashing system — which complements its Tyvek Home Wrap product — as it pertains to window and door installations.

Working with DuPont’s decorator, Lewis and her team use a 20- to 30-foot stretch of booth space to set up wooden models of building sides and windows that serve to demonstrate the product installation, along with PowerPoint presentations from people like building scientist Mark LaLiberte. They also put out several rows of chairs for NAHB attendees who want to sit for the 40-minute presentations, which run throughout the day. So that they don’t come across as sales pitches for DuPont products, booth demonstrations — or “live events,” as Lewis calls them — are performed by professional builders, as opposed to DuPont salespeople or distributors.

“We don’t just talk about our products, we show our products in conjunction with building science,” said Jim Kearns, DuPont’s communications manager for building innovations. “[W]e feel it’s vital that our builders understand the correct installation techniques, so these live events at trade shows have become a normal way that we conduct business.”

Drawing more attendees into the booth far outweighs the cost of putting together these kinds of demonstrations, according to Lewis. “[A]ll of those people who come into your booth because you’re doing something, making some noise … you have the opportunity, if your sales force works a booth correctly, to engage with each and every one of them.”

She added: “Everyone always [has] this idea that PowerPoint presentations don’t belong in a booth setting. And I always prove them wrong.”

Getting Credit

Attracting attendees for live events in DuPont’s booth at NAHB’s International Builders’ Show doesn’t just benefit the company. This year, Learning Solutions Winstanley’s Cheryl Lewis worked with NAHB to put together a test program through which attendees could earn one of the continuing-education credits NAHB requires for its builder designations each year by attending in-booth educational sessions like the ones provided by DuPont.

“[O]ne credit while going to a trade show – that’s pretty valuable,” Lewis said. “So those are the longer sessions… an hour long, and we typically had about 25 people that took advantage of it every time…. Many states [also require] continuing-ed credits for their builders, so hopefully NAHB becomes the place to go to not only see the latest products in the building industry, but also the place to learn how to install them while gaining valuable accreditation at the same time.”

Katie Kervin

Katie Kervin was formerly assistant editor of Convene.