For the first time, the National Home Show co-located with Canada Blooms this year, forming what was billed as North America’s largest home-and-garden event. Although both shows still have separate operations and identities, they run side-by-side and one ticket gives guests access to both. The massive expos continue through Sunday, March 25, and take up the entire Direct Energy Centre with more than 600,000 square feet of exhibitions and features.
The co-location appears to be a success, with attendance figures for the National Home Show up 91 percent on March 16, the show’s first day. “We’re pretty excited about that,” said Denise Hayward, show manager for Marketplace Events, which runs the National Home Show. “Definitely having the co-location, the natural marriage of the two, just made sense.”
Just as attendance and show size have grown, so have the logistics. “It is the most complex operationally, and I’ve been doing this for 20 years,” Hayward said. “Logistically, the challenges are enormous.” The co-location sent ripples of change throughout the show, from the layout to the ticket structure. With 800 exhibitors and 65,000 square feet of gardens, the sheer size of the event made it a challenge to find space for storage and guest rest areas.
Parking was an equally difficult feat. “Parking is a huge challenge because we are expecting over 200,000 people over 10 days,” Hayward said. She secured Ontario Place for additional weekend parking and organized free parking at the Direct Energy Centre on weekday evenings as a draw for guests. “It’s all good problems to have,” Hayward said.
This being the first co-location year, Hayward admitted a bit of a learning curve. In between communicating with staffers via walkie-talkie, checking her email, and making calls, she mentioned that she’d like to bring on more staff next year.
By Carla Warrilow | Posted March 22, 2012, 5:20 PM EDT
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