Tradeshow organizers and exhibitors are leveraging virtual technologies for their benefit.
Virtual events are helping them reduce costs, increase lead generation, improve ROI for the exhibitor and attract future buyers. At IAEE’s 2010 Expo! Expo! Nicole Buraglio and I presented a sesson on Virtual Trade Show Business Plans. We explored several business and go-to-market strategies for leveraging the buzz from the show floor to a wider audience.
Here is the PPT slide deck from that presentation.
Michelle Harman (aka: ExpoQueenUSA) says
I attended this class and thought that Dave and Nicole brought up many strong points. It was very interesting how our group had such conflicting points of view, hence why there is not one “right way” or “blueprint” yet existing that would work for everyone.
What we did learn was that a “virtual event” is not a website full of videos that buyers can watch 24/7. A virtual event requires interaction between buyers and sellers, at a specific time and place. Each event does require careful analysis, planning, and training to educate the exhibitors and buyers on 1) What is a virtual event? 2) What is the benefit of participating? 3) How to participate.
A virtual event may, or may not, coincide with an actual live event…and not all exhibitors will participate in both. Strategically, one model I did like was the idea of having the live event with a simple news broadcast sending updates by video, and then two weeks later doing an actual virtual event. For the association and event planner it will allow those who attended your live event to participate again virtually while bringing their co-workers who did not attend. I also liked the Hybrid event concept that Emilie Barta provides which allows a live virtual audience to engage (via twitter) with the live onsite audience. Between these two concepts…it is apparent that we need to explore virtual and hybrid events to engage the majority of our members who cannot attend onsite.
One of the biggest challenges we face is in educating exhibitors in how to engage their audience and attract buyers virtually. Online attendees do not want to attend to get a sales pitch, they want to attend to learn, and discover new ways to solve their problems or enhance their own business using the products and services offered.
If done right, exhibitors benefit by reaching the 80% to 90% of association members that do not get to attend the trade show onsite…but it also opens the door to the association event planners to motivate them to attend next year.
In the slideshow above, Dave and Nicole presented many key factors that go into evaluating the type of virtual event you need for your specific market audience. It will be very interesting to see where virtual and hybrid events take us in the future.
Dave Lutz says
Michelle, thanks for adding your perspectives as a participant in this session! Those organizations that view virtual as an accelerator or incubator are going to receive greater long term benefits than those that view it as a fast track to making money.
Your comment about serving and reaching the 80 or 90% attendees that don’t or will never attend the live show is where the real opportunity exists. Putting your industry first and aligning your virtual strategy with the organizations mission is a critical initial starting point.