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Home Expo Goes Virtual for 2021

The Builders Association of Central PA’s Everything Home Expo is going virtual this year. 

The long-standing event connects homeowners to the best industry experts in the central Pennsylvania region and its new virtual format provides a wealth of new opportunities to attendees.

This year’s edition will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at my.boothcentral.com.

According to Keri O’Shea, executive officer at the Builders Association of Central PA, when it came to holding the event virtually this year, it was an easy choice. 

“Obviously, safety is the greatest concern for everyone,” she says. “We wanted to make sure that we were still able to give the exhibitors, as well as the attendees, the experience that they’re used to, only… virtually.” 

She notes that many homeowners are particularly interested in home improvements and expansions at the moment. More families are spending more time than ever at home and wanting improved spaces indoors and out, or even create new spaces to address growing needs, such as home offices or home gyms. Additionally, it was important for O’Shea and her team to still be able to support regional businesses through the event during this time. 

The event’s new virtual format provides attendees with innovative ways to connect with the many participating exhibitors and vendors. 

“The way it’ll be set up is almost like a virtual, in-home consultation for attendees,” O’Shea says. “There’s a Zoom-like feature and they’ll be able to either video or text chat. It’s not face-to-face, but [attendees] do have the opportunity of actually showing [exhibitors] what their project is. If they’re deciding if a roof or window needs to be repaired, they can actually show what they’re talking about, or if they’re thinking about adding something outside to their patio, they could show them the landscaping… They’re actually able to show the vendors what they’re talking about, which is a really nice feature this year.”

Typically, the expo draws between 3,000 and 4,000 attendees. This year, even with the virtual format, there’s no cap on attendees, but pre-registering for the event does come with its perks. When attendees pre-register through www.centralpahomeexpo.com, they can receive updates on new vendors and vendor specials and see all of the exhibitors they can potentially chat with on the day of the event. Pre-registered attendees are also added into a drawing for a $100 cash prize. 

There’s no need to download any special software to attend the free event and, in addition to chatting with vendors, attendees can also tune in for seminars, such as special educational programming provided by Penn State’s Master Gardeners. 

Planning the virtual expo has come with its challenges. “It’s a lot of training,” O’Shea says. “We’ve done a lot of training with exhibitors, so they’re comfortable with the platform, so when attendees come to the event, they’re ready to go and they know exactly how things work.”

But O’Shea notes that the perks are plentiful enough that she and her team will consider offering a virtual component to the expo even when large-scale, in-person events are possible again. 

“I think moving forward, it’s something we’ll continue when we go back to the in-person,” she says. “We’ll look at hybrid events. It takes away the traffic problems and it takes away some of the barriers people experience…”

For those planning to attend the event who want to use the platform’s video- or photo-sharing functions, O’Shea says to have those videos or photos loaded up and ready on your device, and to ensure that you have a camera you can use on your laptop, tablet, desktop or phone. 

In addition to the $100 cash prize drawing for pre-registered attendees, there will also be a drawing for a $500 voucher for use with any of the vendors, which is open to attendees who visit at least five virtual booths during the event. 

All attendees will be eligible to win a gas grill from Pennwood Home and Hearth. Individual vendors will also be offering raffle items and specials, and that information can be found on the event website, www.centralpahomeexpo.com