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Virtual Trade Shows: What Are They?

Although society is gradually regaining a sense of normalcy, many countries still observe strict travel restrictions. Several states in the U.S. don't even allow in-person gatherings yet. For this reason, sponsors had to cancel various upcoming expos, conventions, and trade shows.

Considering the lack of live events, companies started shifting to virtual conferencing platforms. Multiple brands have hosted virtual trade shows in the past year. Should you hop in on the trend? Before deciding to join or skip virtual events, objectively assess their pros and cons to see whether your business would benefit from them or not.

What Are Virtual Trade Shows

Virtual trade shows are exhibitions held via online platforms. Think of them as the digital equivalent of in-person trade shows. Any Small and Midsize Business (SMB) or global corporation can participate as long as they have the technological systems and network capacity to interact with thousands of virtual attendees.

Hosts approach this using various tools to recreate the activities and interactions found at in-person gatherings. Video conferencing platforms stream performances and talks, chatrooms support user-to-user conversations, dashboards take the place of concierge desks, and eCommerce shops replace booths.

Don't forget about semi-virtual events. Nowadays, many convention centers prohibit trade shows from taking more than 50% of the location's permitted occupancy load. As such, trade show hosts opt to stream their events. That way, they don't have to reduce paying attendees without violating any physical distancing guidelines.

Pros and Cons of Virtual Trade Shows

Shifting to the new alternative of virtual events can be overwhelming, but learning the pros and cons should help navigate the transition. 

Pro: Joining Virtual Events Has to Lower Overhead

Joining live events requires a significant investment. Even a small 10x10 booth will set you back by more than $10,000 to $20,000. Virtual events, on the other hand, are extremely cost-effective. Considering you wouldn't have to worry about gas, airfare, lodging, booth construction, and meals, most of your funds will go straight to marketing.

Con: Virtual Events Are Prone To Technological Disruptions

Virtual events rely heavily on technology. Companies hosting and participating in the trade show require collaboration to prevent software malfunctions or network connectivity issues that could cause downtime.

Pro: Virtual Events Enable Your Brand To Tap Into A Global Market

Trade shows seldom attract foreign attendees. Unless the event consists of recognized thought leaders and global industry innovators, attendees are unlikely to travel to attend. On the other hand, they have the option to participate in virtual events from the comfort of their homes. This convenience makes it easier for trade shows to target attendees from various parts of the globe.

Con: Face-To-Face Interaction Create Stronger Ties Than Video Calls

People bond over shared experiences. You might not notice it, but the post-seminar coffees, mid-day snacks, and lunch outs shared with fellow seminar attendees create strong ties. Sadly, virtual event attendees cannot perform these activities. The most you can do is hop on video calls and send invites on social media after the event.

Pro: Virtual Events Can Accommodate More Attendees

Although convention centers span millions of square feet, they can only hold many people. Remember that physical distancing guidelines also prohibit crowding. On the contrary, well-managed virtual events can accommodate thousands of attendees globally as long as they have a solid network.

Con: Virtual Events Get More No-Shows

Statistics show that virtual events have an average no-show rate of 35%. Attendees feel less enticed to push through with virtual trade shows, especially if they can access the pre-recorded seminars and talks afterward.

Promoting Your Brand At Virtual Events

Boosting your brand awareness on a countrywide or global scale is possible by considering virtual trade shows for your next event. However, organizations that want to network and connect with like-minded partners are encouraged to sign up for live events. Ultimately, the decision to join virtual events or wait for in-person gatherings depends entirely on your trade show marketing objectives.

Do you find yourself on the fence between virtual and in-person trade shows? Let Exhibit Display Systems shed some light on the topic! Please take a look at our trade show marketing resources for more information.

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