Behind the Curtains of a Great Virtual Tradeshow
19-Nov-2018 Author : Category : Event Technology
It is a long dream of the human race to teleport people anywhere in the world, and the recent advancement in virtual technology like HaptX virtual gloves has pegged one more star to shape the impossible. The gloves let users move through virtual environments and feel virtual objects with their hands. The breakthrough like this paves the way for event planners to think beyond physical structures and dissolve the hard bricks into virtual nodes for tradeshows and events.
With the introduction of virtual tradeshow, the days of planning an event, booking airline flights, hotel stays, staging it and filing it away are gone. The tradeshow shrunk from walking big aisles to a few inches browser. See below how virtual tradeshow operates.
According to survey, done by MarketingProfs and Trendline Interactive, Trade shows are the most attended type of virtual event form. While in one of the recent survey , it was estimated that the virtual event market will grow from $14 Bln in 2018 to $18 Bln in 2023.
Similar to 3D virtual trade-show dedicated conference, meetings, webcasts, webinars, virtual demo areas, and other kinds of activities can also be held in a virtual environment. (See video below)
Case –Study Virtual Tradeshow
Here is the case-study of the first ever virtual food-show to give an overall view of how virtual tradeshow is transforming the dynamics of traditional trade-shows.
- Jake’s Finer Foods (JFF): It is a leading foodservice distributor and restaurant supply company in U.S.A.
- Restricting venues and consolidating exhibitors in one setting
- To reach a larger audience, amplify branding, and build sales volume rapidly at minimum cost
- Prepared a First-of-its-kind Virtual Food Show
- Jake’s Finer Foods choose vFairs, as a virtual tradeshow platform. vFair provided a custom solution to host one-of-its-kind Virtual Food Show
- vFairs mimicked the feel of a traditional trade show online and reduced the cost incurred over a traditional trade show
- 53 distinct vendors participated with customized booths
- Accomplished 1,258 total booth visits
- The 13-day virtual event allowed customers to not be time bound
How to activate your Virtual Tradeshow
Virtual tradeshow is like any ordinary tradeshow but unlike the physical venue it is held in a cyberspace through an online tradeshow platform. Some known platforms for virtual tradeshows include, eZ-XPO, InXpoLive, Communique, Bobni, etc.
On these tradeshow platforms, exhibitors can manage booth, webcast videos, invite & promote, and even track report.
All of these sessions take place in a hosted microsite, which is brought to users through an online platform. In same way attendees regardless of their geographical locations can visit booth in real time and experience same as physical tradeshow. See video below.
Further, attendees can visit the virtual Auditorium to attend live and on-demand webinar presentations and even participate in live Q&A.
Clear the cloud- Hybrid Events Vs Virtual Show
There is a quite confusion over virtual trade show and hybrid event. A hybrid event could be a trade show, seminar, conference or other meeting that combines a “live” in-person event at a physical location with a “virtual” online component for remote attendees. It will have both physical attendees as well as virtual attendees remotely attending the event.
Whereas, the Virtual Tradeshow is completely hosted over a vendors micro-site and there is no physical venue involved, everything on the cloud. Hope this help to clear the cloud of doubts.
Advantages of Virtual Tradeshow
- You can market your product globally and generate leads 3 times more than a physical place
- You can collect attendees data in real time, for instance, booths they visited, total time spent in the booth, presentations they attended, etc.
- Attendees can have on-demand webcast session which includes audio, video, slides, webcam and screen share presentation
- Broadcast live video feeds straight from the physical conference floor
- Can invite and target a specific audience
- Flexibility in placing logo, signage, and call to action
How to Optimize Virtual Tradeshow
For any tradeshow physical or virtual, there are minor details that could leave a big impact on an event and help optimize your ROI.
- Select a high-demand trade show that will interest and attract your target audience
- Virtual tradeshow should pay detail attention to the content, networking and product specifications
- Ensure that your logo is in a prominent place with colorful, high contrast and visually appealing. If needed take inputs from graphic designer
- Encourage attendees to explore Facebook or LinkedIn, and offer them to win random prizes to advanced games
- Set up a YouTube live for virtual expo and summit
- Ensure that virtual booth staff is equipped with the proper knowledge to give logistic support to attendees
- Launch live video feeds from the social media networks in the virtual booth and connect with visitors through social media
- Integrate CRM to your virtual tradeshow to capture qualified leads from a virtual booth
Things to know about Virtual Event Sponsorship
Registration fees could be a viable revenue source for some event organizers, but in case of virtual events, sponsorships bring more revenue than registrations. It is recommended not to charge for registration to attract maximum traction and focus more on sponsorship.
There are lot of things you should know for your Virtual Event Sponsorship.
- Sponsors are more inclined towards sponsorship packages with different price points. Try to offer a mixture of large sponsorship packages.
- Similar to a physical venue, virtual tradeshow sponsors can leverage benefits as per their membership viz platinum, gold and silver. To attract more sponsors mention advantages clearly for each membership, for instance, the platinum member will have large signage and display content space than a silver member.
- Virtual event bags have a high open rate of 70-75% on average. It is the best opportunity to attract sponsors; you can show them how you will place their logos or service details on a virtual bag. See case-study how to attract sponsors for your virtual tradeshow with a virtual bag
- For top sponsors, some exhibitors give provision to schedule follow-up live activity, maybe a few weeks after the live day. As an exhibitor, choose an online platform for your virtual tradeshow that has excess features for follow-up activity.
- Smaller sponsors get chance to host an open public chat, whereas the largest sponsors schedule moderated expert chat sessions, live demos or even live webcasts. Plan your virtual tradeshow speaker session accordingly
- Give opportunity to your sponsors to connect with their audience quickly, like offering a role of event moderators, chat facilitators, help desk volunteers, or registration volunteers
Overcoming Virtual-Tradeshow Networking Challenges
There will be always some bottlenecks whenever a new technology or trend tries to float themselves in the mainstream. Few think there is a hype created around the Virtual Tradeshow and it has few limitations compared to physical tradeshow experience and among them, one bothers them most is networking.
Here are few strategies to overcome the online Networking obstacles
- Try interviewing an attendee and letting them be the star during a streamed session, or get a large group involved in a dynamic chat room
- Set alerts to follow up on any questions asked while watching on-demand Q&A session
- Include your social media links or email address when attendees register for a virtual seminar
- The 3D virtual tradeshows give liberty to expo supervisors to interact with attendees and exchange their virtual business cards
- Provide a clear call to action for your website or product buying portal
- Make a set-up that when a visitor enters a booth, reps receive an alert and attendees can chat live with a booth rep or optionally by Webcam
- Consider sponsoring a session that allows experts from the same domain to provide a presentation, later you can build contacts with them
Questions to Ask Before Trying Virtual Tradeshow
For few event organizers Virtual tradeshow stand in the same league as traditional tradeshow. According to them, it requires equal staff training and quite a bit of coordinating - which many exhibitors aren’t resourced for. So every event organizers should ask these questions before organizing virtual tradeshow
- As an exhibitor, do you have a dedicated internet bandwidth to support virtual tradeshow?
- Will you be able to collect all important data like attendees time spent on booth?
- Does it support multilingual live chat for a global audience?
- Does it support broadcasting live seminar for your trade show?
- Does your virtual trade show have the technical personnel to fix technical glitch as well as Virtual Emcee and Camera Crew for better presentation?
- Will you be able to propagate content in different digital format instance producing bite-size videos for YouTube, recap blog posts, sharable slides, and audio content for iTunes or other podcast outlets?
- Will hosting site allows you to try a demo of your virtual tradeshow before going live?
There is a mix feeling about virtual Tradeshow success and few are skeptical about the orientation but all survey data and metrics point towards a promising path. Considering all the attributes of virtual tradeshow, the tradeshow spotlight should be soon repurposed from physical show to a virtual one. Before the curtains pull off, let know, what’s your thought on this.