Builders and HBAs across the country are transitioning in-person parade of homes and home shows into dynamic online showcases. Executive Officer Bill Rauer of the Building Industry Associates of Southwest Idaho (BCA) and the Frederick County Building Industry Association (FCBIA) team shared their insights on the process.
Virtual Parade Exceeds Expectations in Boise
A virtual parade of homes was not in the cards for BCA this year but pivoting to an online showcase was the only choice, said Rauer. The HBA marshaled the resources of its staff and a member volunteered an online platform to host the virtual tours. "Without their support, we would not have been able to pull it off," said Rauer. He also credits the volunteers who worked tirelessly throughout the event transition, "I was really impressed how people lined up to show support for the virtual parade of homes."
BCA created a video featuring Board President Heather Hering to inform consumers about the new approach to the event: Enjoy the parade from the comfort of your own home. Additional event promotion included a parade of homes magazine distributed as a local newspaper insert, an interactive online flipbook and social media messages. The association also sponsored a segment on a local television station.
"Opening weekend almost broke the internet," said Rauer. On the first Saturday of the virtual parade, BCA's website nearly exceeded its capacity of 100,000 hits per minute for a brief period. Interest in new homes soared locally. Builders reported that houses were going under contract and home buyers asked how soon they can move-in. Requests flooded in for homes across every price range.
Rauer's advice for builders and HBAs thinking about hosting a virtual parade this year, "Go for it."
Virtual Home Show Garners Attention in Maryland
A few days shy of the FCBIA’s 45th Annual Home Show, in-person events in the state of Maryland were no longer permitted. FCBIA was determined to find a solution to help the more than 160 home show exhibitors develop leads in the absence of a live event. Moving the show online was a no-brainer for the association. FCBIA Board President Tracie Clabaugh said the association is always looking for ways to show member value and keep members engaged.
Without the help of an outside vendor and no budget for video production, FCBIA created twelve different videos using iMovie featuring exhibitors grouped by category. Sarah Harne, marketing & communications coordinator, and Donna Kraft, executive administrator and home show coordinator, created scripts for each exhibitor and used photos and previous home show footage for visuals. FCBIA developed a robust social media outreach strategy to attract home show viewers and reached out to partners, including the local chamber of commerce, to promote the videos.
FCBIA has seen a considerable increase in traffic to its website and social media channels as the virtual home show promotions continue. The herculean effort by the group paid off for the exhibitors and the association's reputation said Harne. "We have become the go-to resource in our community."