6 Tips for a Successful Housewares Show Experience – What to know when planning to attend the International Home and Housewares Show including where to stay for an easy commute and other valuable suggestions.
For housewares brands and fans, it’s all about those 4 days in March that we look forward to each year. The International Home and Housewares Show puts on a spectacular four-day extravaganza in Chicago with more than 2,200 vendors and 60,000 attendees. Held at McCormick Place, it is a vast assortment of new to global housewares brands, manufacturers, retailers, designers and media all looking to get the word out on the latest trends and perennial favorites.
If you have never been to McCormick Place and IHHS, the show takes over three plus halls where walking 19,000 steps a day is not uncommon. Having attended this show for many years, I know strategy is the key to successfully accomplishing all that I want to see. Here are 6 of my tips for having a rewarding show.
Tip 1: Where to Stay
Staying fresh and well rested is the first step for getting through this massive show. While transportation in Chicago is offered through the show with buses from select hotels and Metra Electric train tickets to/from the loop, there is nothing more convenient than actually staying at the McCormick Place complex.
Two years ago, I was invited to judge the Hyatt Chef Competition. As a thank you for doing this “tough” job; I was awarded a stay at the McCormick Place property.
I took advantage of this kindness by staying at the Hyatt during the Housewares Show in 2017. It was the best decision to make! As a local, it was also something I had not considered doing before. Yet, it is exactly why I chose to stay there again this year.
A few logistic details for you about the hotel: the Hyatt is attached to McCormick Place making the “commute” between the show and the hotel effortless. No coat needed. And remember, this is Chicago in March. Which could mean winter is still here. So this is a major advantage. Just on the other side of those doors is McCormick Place and housewares galore.
Until you have walked this show for four solid days, you don’t know how truly valuable that is. What I found the first time is completely true for my second stay at the property. The rooms are newly remodeled with a contemporary design. What really stands out when it comes to the room besides the comfy and plush, Hyatt Grand Beds (something you are so grateful for during this show), are the views.
City and lake views are breathtaking. Day and night shots showcase how truly beautiful Chicago is even if overcast. If you are interested in visiting downtown Chicago from the hotel/McCormick Place, the Metra Electric train line is an easy choice. In 7 minutes, you will be on the north end of the business district right on Michigan Avenue close to everything.
This hotel may be connected to McCormick Place and its continual stream of trade shows and events, but it is also a full service hotel with more than 1200 rooms that welcomes guests in town to visit friends, family, and business or for staycation purposes. Dining is definitely an important factor especially for someone who is surrounded by the culinary world. With all the events going on with the show, I was only able to enjoy one relaxing evening at Third Star restaurant. With its design and lighting effects, it was a peaceful place to be in the heart of all the energy of the show.
The hotel has done a recent remodel including their three new restaurants. If ramen or pho is what you are craving, then try Sixes & Eights or a cocktail at Arc Bar. The main dining room, Third Star, serves artisan cuisine with international flavors that will please everyone. Fresh ingredients and attentive service makes for such a nice evening.
For anyone looking to escape the outdoor temperatures but still get some exercise, you will find a variety of equipment as well as indoor pool to get your heart rate up. By the way, that treadmill is looking out on the main entrance to McCormick Place.
Tip 2: IHHS App
With the size of this show, planning ahead the education seminars, chef demos and exhibitors you want to see is important to a successful show. Thankfully, the show’s app is easy to use. I use it as the foundation for my schedule. Once I have the dates and times located on the calendar in the app, I can then begin adding my appointments with exhibitors.
One tip to be aware of when scheduling appointments is to confirm the meeting location so you aren’t running around from hall to hall. That is a marathon all by itself! Generally speaking, each hall has its own theme. Keep that in mind as you plan your show experience.
Tip 3: Collateral
IHHS sends out newsletters with information on the show. I review it looking for subject matter of interest and brands to visit. Once the show is in session, you will find many magazines strategically placed to introduce new subject matter or brands to see. Some of the magazines are published on a daily basis.
Tip 4: Initiative
Reach out to brands you are interested in on your own. Let them know you will be at the show and would love to meet with them.
Tip 5: Electronic chargers
If you are like me, your phone is in constant use. Using the IHHS app requires your phone to be charged. If you register as a Buyer, there are charging stations in each hall’s Buyer’s room. If you are not a Buyer or it is not convenient to get to one, I highly recommend you bring charging banks. There are very few electrical outlets in the convention center available for the public’s use.
Tip 6: Women, save your feet
Seriously. This may be the most important one! You are doing some intense walking on concrete (carpet covered in some cases) floors. And walking miles and miles. Be comfortable. I see women wearing spiked heels. No idea how they do it beyond a five foot radius. Comfortable shoes win over high fashion.
In the end, the International Home and Housewares Show is all about showcasing each brand’s most interesting products. The assortment is vast. Creativity endless. Wishlist long. Planning your show in advance will be a big advantage for you – especially if you decide to stay at the Hyatt as they book up fast. Hopefully, these tips will give you some suggestions on how to make the most of the show. Watch for my 2018 Favorite Finds article coming out next.
Thanks for stopping by.