Guest blog: Why organizations are increasingly moving to virtual trade shows

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Virtual Trade Shows are quickly gaining popularity among exhibitors and event marketing professionals due to their relatively low cost and high rate of return. The ability to generate leads directly from your office without having to incur the cost of travel and lodging is appealing for many companies, which allows for a wider range of diversity among exhibitors and attendees.

According to the American Express 2016 Global Meetings & Events Survey, the average cost per attendee for a physical conference is $457.

Time for a new approach?

Virtual trade shows are becoming one of the most popular ways for companies to communicate their message quickly and effectively, exhibiting their innovations to a mass online audience. According to Forrester’s research, “Virtual Events rank as the 2nd most important source of information when business decision makers evaluate technologies or services to purchase.”

One third of the respondents to 2016 Successful Meetings’ trends survey said they planned to hold more virtual meetings in the coming year, compared to just 2 percent who will plan fewer. This was by far the largest increase in any type of meeting reported. Hybrid events were second, with nearly 17 percent planning more, and 2 percent planning fewer.

More Less Unchanged N/A
Virtual meetings 33% 2% 26% 39%
Training meetings 18% 16% 46% 20%
Hybrid meetings 17% 2% 23% 58%
Association meetings 11% 14% 50% 25%
Trade shows 10% 17% 49% 24%
Consumer/marketing events 9% 11% 32% 48%
Sales meetings 9% 8% 45% 38%
Incentives 3% 14% 33% 50%

 

Virtual Trade Show Benefits and Advantages

  • The first and most obvious advantage of virtual trade shows is that event hosts and/or exhibitors can save a lot of money on travel, lodging, promotional items, and other costly expenses typically associated with trade shows. The reduced cost of virtual exhibiting allows many more exhibitors to participate, which increases the value of the trade show on the whole.
  • Increased attendance – Virtual conferences are easier for attendees to join because no travel involved (particularly international).
  • Increased exposure – The event “lives on”. A physical conference lasts for the one or two days, then it is done. A virtual conference can have as many live days you’d like. Then, you can leave it up on-demand for 30, 60, 90 days or permanently so that attendees can access booths, presentations, documents, videos, etc. anytime.
  • Virtual trade shows are interactive – Just because you’re not there in person doesn’t mean you don’t get to interact with other attendees. Virtual trade shows allow attendees to visit booths, chat with booth reps, attend seminars and keynote speeches, and even chat, network or talk live to other attendees. Attendees can swap electronic business cards with a keystroke and save that data instantly in your database.
  • Reporting and analytics – You just get an attendance report with a physical conference. However, with a virtual conference, every single thing the attendee does is tracked and reported. You know how they came, where they went, what they did, chats, tweets, videos watched, etc. You can even run analytics on content located in the event. For example, how many attendees viewed and/or downloaded a piece of collateral. Virtual trade shows also help exhibitors and attendees overcome another challenge traditionally associated with trade shows – the collection and distribution of lead information. Since virtual trade shows take place online, data is readily available to everyone involved, which allows for smooth lead capture.
  • The fundamental goal of virtual trade shows is to allow for the same type of interaction that is available at traditional trade shows without the high costs of travel and purchasing a trade show booth. Virtual trade shows often integrate instant messaging, seminar technologies, podcasting, and other means of communication into a single, smooth operating environment.

Chalifour, a leading hardware, lumber, and building material distribution company in Canada, held its first virtual trade show, which doubled the attendance of their prior physical trade shows, and the virtual event booked over $46 million in sales. Click here to view a case study.

Virtual trade shows are becoming one of the most popular ways for companies to communicate their message quickly and effectively, exhibiting their innovations to a mass online audience. According to Forrester’s research, “Virtual Events rank as the 2nd most important source of information when business decision makers evaluate technologies or services to purchase.”

The virtual trade show may never completely replace the in-person meetings, however, it is a growing tool in the marketing and training arsenal, and you can use it effectively to improve your company’s bottom line.

Communique Conferencing, Inc.

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United Kingdom: 0808 238 0649

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www.virtualtradeshowhosting.com

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