Business of Design

Why The Virtual Edition of KBIS Catastrophically Failed

"Unresolvable” technical difficulties plagued the virtual edition of the annual trade show put on by NKBA.

What’s Happening: Last week, a “catastrophic server failure” caused most of the virtual edition of the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) to crash with no warning. The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), which puts on the annual trade show with Emerald Expositions, announced it suspended all exhibitors and issued them refunds. Meanwhile, the programming—including the NKBA Voices From the Industry events, the Design + Industry Awards, and the KBISNeXT Stage and Pavilions programming—continued as scheduled and will be available to ticket holders on the NKBA website through June.

The Download: The industry trade show, whose physical edition enjoyed 500 exhibitors last year, intended to offer an exhibition floor function through a platform called KBIS Connect, where attendees could visit digital “booths.” When the show kicked off last Tuesday, that function failed with unexpected intermittent crashing. Nearly everyone trying to access the platform was locked out, with some exhibitors claiming they couldn’t access their own booths.

In Their Own Words: “After a deep dive into the exact sequence of events and consequences that occurred, we have learned that these are unresolvable technical difficulties,” said Brian Pagel, an EVP at Emerald. “We understand the gravity of the situation for our exhibitors and attendees, as the KBIS platform is critical to accelerate business for the year.”

Surface Says: This fiasco goes to show that trade shows haven’t been quick enough to embrace technology—and perhaps most importantly that stress testing new systems is always worth the extra time.

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