Opportunities and Challenges of IBSx 2021: A Participant’s Viewpoint

Each year after IBS we take a minute to exhale and reflect on what we’ve learned and who we met with during the week. We bask in our new knowledge and feel inspired for the year ahead. This year is no different. Well, let’s be honest, it’s completely different. However, different doesn’t necessarily mean bad. From this participant’s point of view, IBSx 2021 was full of opportunities and challenges.

From my perspective, as an IBS attendee and “assistant” to a person giving educational presentations, I experienced several challenges as well as some surprising benefits of an all virtual IBS. I wanted to hear what others were experiencing so I reached out to a few colleagues to get their input.


Virtual events are inherently different than in-person ones and provide their own set of challenges. There is the technical aspect which is no small feat considering the size and scope of IBS. However, the answer I kept hearing over and over was the lack of personal interaction. When posed with the question, “what will you miss most about IBS this year?” Overwhelmingly, it was the omission of in-person interactions.

What I am going to miss most about IBS is the networking, the impromptu encounters with old friends, and the design inspiration that I would get.  I am definitely going to miss walking the show floor and randomly seeing exciting new products and bumping into people I haven’t seen in a while.

~Jamie Goldman, KEPHART


I will miss the amazing parties and dinners with friends and colleagues. 

~Deborah Blake, Principal, The Ipsum Group


I will miss the energy! I don’t get the same energy from people remotely.

~Deryl Patterson, AIA, President, HOUSING DESIGN MATTERS



Despite the challenges of trying to connect with others via a virtual conference, there were some opportunities that arose from IBSx. The best thing being the educational opportunities.

Betsy Sheppard, founder of Gilbert & Sheppard Group reminded me of that fact. When I asked her what she will miss most, she had a similar reply as all of us about missing seeing friends and having those “organic meetings” while passing in the hallways. But she also reminded me that she was grateful for the opportunity to attend several educational sessions that she wouldn’t normally have time for.

I thought about it and realized I too would never have had the opportunity to sit in and learn so much if it were a “normal IBS.” I would be running around with Lita helping her to prepare for her various presentations, arranging networking meetings, dinners, and the like: basically, trying to be in a dozen places at once.

Another benefit of having a virtual IBS? Recordings. The majority of the educational sessions are available to watch online until the end of March. What a gift!


From a participant perspective, I only have great things to say about IBSx. A huge kudos goes out to NAHB. Pulling off a virtual version of the International Builder’s Show was no small endeavor. And sure, there were a myriad of issues, bumps, and glitches along the way, but all and all it was probably my favorite IBS to date. Or at least one I won’t soon forget.

Here’s to in-person next year!