Marketplace Events Gears Up to Launch New Home Shows In Houston
Consumer show producer Marketplace Events is growing its Texas footprint with the launch of two annual home and garden shows in Houston. Set to debut Feb. 11-13 and Oct. 21-23, 2022 at NRG Park, the new Houston Home + Garden Shows will join MPE’s three Austin and two San Antonio home improvement events as the company continues a multi-year effort to become the preeminent home show producer in the Lone Star State.
“As we begin to see light at the end of a dark COVID tunnel, the time is now for our industry to look forward to what can be gained, not backward to what was lost,” said Tom Baugh, CEO of Marketplace Events. “Our commitment to launching new, upgraded home shows at NRG Park in 2022 is the first of many steps Marketplace Events is taking across North America to do exactly that.”
Both shows will be managed by Dave Maughan, MPE group manager, who also oversees home shows in Salt Lake City and Denver.
The announcement comes as MPE initiates the restart of its extensive show portfolio, beginning with the Johnson County Home + Garden Show, which was held March 5-7 at the Overland Park Convention Center in Kansas City and marked MPE’s first show since March 2020.
Since that time, the company has been forced to cancel or postpone 77 shows – 37 in 2020 and 40 so far in 2021, including 2021 Indianapolis Home Show, 2021 Great Big Home + Garden Show and 2021 Minneapolis Home + Garden Show.
“Running the first MPE show in a year was stressful but invigorating,” Baugh said. “It was important to provide solid ROI to our exhibitors and I believe we delivered on that. Homeowners came in larger numbers than anticipated and were definitely ready to buy.”
The event’s quality of attendance, sales and customer satisfaction metrics all exceeded MPE’s expectations, with more than 9,000 attendees and 214 exhibitors spanning more than 26,000 square feet of expo space, according to MPE officials.
The announcement of the new Houston Home + Garden Shows follows significant changes happening in Texas that will likely result in a surge of group business. On March 2, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order lifting the state’s mask mandate and allowing businesses of all types to open to 100 percent of capacity as of March 10.
Although businesses are still encouraged to follow state health recommendations and can choose to implement sanitation protocols, require employees and customers to wear masks and adopt other COVID-related measures, they can’t be required to operate under 50% capacity. Additionally, individuals can’t be penalized for not wearing face coverings, among other limitations.
In addition, Houston’s hospitality and tourism community sees far better times ahead. According to Michael Heckman, acting president and CEO of Houston First Corporation, the CVB’s sales team has successfully rebooked 92% of canceled citywide conventions into future years and is forecasting a record-breaking six-month stretch of conventions for the second half of 2021.
“This success is due in large part to our strategic, nimble and innovative response to the pandemic,” Heckman said. “We are one of the first tourism destinations to implement an ongoing citywide program, Houston Clean, and also the first convention center in the country to deploy the new IVP biodefense air filtration system.”
He continued, “These efforts, combined with our new virtual studio, demonstrate the city’s unwavering commitment to cleanliness, safety and providing versatile hybrid event options that allow planners to rebook with confidence.”
More for MPE
Meanwhile, MPE is gearing up to run 11 shows in cities including Des Moines, Oklahoma City, Raleigh and San Antonio through early June, with hopes for a full slate of events in the Fall. However, the shows will only move forward as long as they can be executed safely and MPE is confident that the resulting show experiences will provide significant value, Baugh asserted.
“Local, state and provincial safety requirements vary across our North American markets,” he explained. “The returning shows are where protocols and common sense align. We know from our homeowner and exhibitor surveys that both groups are enthusiastic for shows to safely restart. We’re not going to rush it, but we are ready to get back to business where conditions allow.”
And getting back to business will be key to restoring MPE’s vibrant workforce, which was reduced significantly due to layoffs last year.
“Losing so many talented and loyal people through no fault of their own was unbearable,” Baugh said. “But we kept 100% intact our entire management core, protecting our promise and obligation to our customers that our shows will not only continue, but grow post-pandemic.”
He added, “Our intent is to rehire as quickly as possible to aggressively rebuild our business. We are looking forward to re-engaging with our customers.”
Once able to fully restart, MPE’s portfolio will include more than 70 events in 33 markets, including the two new additions in Houston.
“Houston is a huge market and deserving of dynamic home shows reflecting the city’s influence and importance,” Baugh said. “It’s an exciting opportunity for MPE. We’re ready to deliver great shows to our customers and the Houston community for many years to come.”
Marketplace Events produces 57 consumer shows annually in the U.S. and 16 in Canada, including 65 home shows, six holiday shows and two wedding shows. During “normal” years, the 73 combined events, in 34 markets, attract approximately 22,000 exhibitors, 1.9 million attendees and another three million unique web visitors annually.