Orange County Convention Center Helps Design & Construction Week Make Impactful Donations to Support Affordable Housing

May 3, 2022

There is no doubt that when a trade show goes the extra mile to make a positive difference in its host community, the impacts can be incredibly meaningful. Case in point: the 9th annual Design & Construction Week (DCW), held at the Orange County Convention Center Feb. 8-10, which generously donated $13,300 in leftover kitchen, bathroom, living room and outdoor items to an Orlando-area nonprofit with support from the venue’s sustainability coordinator. 

As the largest in-person trade show to take place at the facility since the onset of the pandemic, the massive event consisted of two collocated trade shows: the NAHB International Builder’s Show (IBS), the world’s largest annual residential construction expo, and the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS), North America’s largest show for the kitchen and bath industry.

Via a collaboration Katerina Chagoya, the OCCC’s sustainability coordinator, show organizers were able to connect with West Orange Habitat for Humanity to ensure that the gently used furniture, household goods and building materials displayed by DCW exhibitors were sent to the organization’s ReStore in Winter Garden, where they would be sold to help support the Habitat’s mission of creating decent and affordable housing. 

“All of the sales from our ReStore go directly towards helping to build safe, decent, affordable homes for local families in need,” said Nicole Campbell, communications manager for West Orange Habitat for Humanity. “These donations are a huge part of our operation as a non-profit and allow us to further our mission here in Central Florida.” 

For nonprofit organizations like West Orange Habitat, trade shows and conventions can be a reliable source of donations. According to OCCC officials, shows held at the convention center this year have so far provided nearly $250,000 worth of donations to the organization. But to make that kind of massive-scale giving a reality, teamwork and coordination on the part of show organizers and the venue are essential parts of the equation. 

OCCC/ DCW donation team

In her role at the OCCC, Chagoya works with each client to coordinate donations with local non-profits, schools and charitable organizations in Orange County and Central Florida. During the donation process, she assists clients by providing an ever-growing resource list of local partners, from which point the client directly handles coordination of the donations. More frequently, the event will choose to leave the donations entirely in the hands of the OCCC and Chagoya herself.

“As a publicly owned and operated government facility, the OCCC provides information on which nonprofits can receive goods, however, the client makes the ultimate decision and occasionally a priority list of which organizations should receive the donation,” Chagoya explained. “If the event has no preference, the OCCC sends the items throughout Central Florida. In this case, the West Orange Habitat for Humanity ReStore staff and volunteers, as well as OCCC staff, coordinated the storage and transport of donations.” 

To help facilitate the process for event clients interested in donating post-show, Chagoya will compile a complete inventory of items that won’t be returning with the client or the vendors in each exhibit booth. She then takes photos of the items, documents the items, quantities, dimensions and locations on the floor, and sends this information to a variety of organizations that can then claim the items on a first-come, first-serve basis. Once the organizations have claimed the items, Chagoya assists with coordinating their transportation and provides a report of weight, approximate value and which organization has received each item.  

So how can more trade shows jump on board with post-show donation efforts? It all starts with pre-show planning and coordination, Chagoya said.  

For example, think about what items will be left behind after the event, from large fixtures and furniture all the way to small items like lanyards and fake plants, then ask the convention center if they have a donation process, she suggested. Additionally, ask them to assist with providing names of local non-profits, schools and charities, keeping in mind what types of items these entities accept, if they have transportation and if someone is available to unload large items, she added.

Many convention centers, like the OCCC, now offer customized green meeting services for clients, which should include a network of charities and partners to help facilitate post-show donations. 


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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.