October 14, 2020 by Dave Lutz
Nearly every conference and trade show professional is searching for that perfect virtual platform or pricing model for replacing lost expo revenue. I’ve got bad news for you. Virtual expos will never be able to come close to replacing the revenue generated from your face-to-face expo. Here’s some of our learnings:
In the good ole days, companies would hire a booth builder to design, build and maintain their displays. In the virtual world, we ask exhibitors to build out a custom booth on the platform the show organizer selects. They need to do this for every virtual show they participate in. We’re seeing companies take one of three roads – 1) opt out of participating 2) sign-up and give it a minimal effort or 3) build a digital showroom on their turf and use the virtual platform as the doorway to their showroom.
In the early going, most shows are actualizing paid exhibitor participation in the 25% range. The average amount paid per exhibiting company varies by show, but is always considerably less. While virtual platform solution providers tout improved behavioral data on attendees, booth visits and downloads, the quality of those interactions is not ringing the bell like the face-to-face experience. Virtual expos are more like commoditized digital advertising offerings than they are immersive deal-making spaces.
In the February 2019 issue of Convene, I wrote about Why the Sustainability of the Trade-Show Business Model is in Question. Reflecting on these thoughts through a post-COVID lens makes it nearly impossible for a new virtual platform to be trusted by both buyers and sellers out of the gate. It will be interesting to see how virtual CES 2021 addresses these challenges!
While these virtual expo predictions are sobering, conference organizers should be taking steps to diversify revenue by going all in with sponsorship. Next practices for creating your sponsorship program include:
Virtual sponsorship success is not going to be dependent on your platform, prospectus or sales skills. To make a short-term impact, you will need:
Adapted from Dave’s Forward Thinking column in PCMA’s Convene. Reprinted with permission of Convene, the magazine of the Professional Convention Management Association. ©2020.
What has worked, or not worked, for you with your virtual expo or sponsorship offerings?
Filed Under: Hybrid & Virtual, Sponsorship & Exhibits
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *