Geco Expo: how we built the largest virtual sustainability event in Europe

What does a virtual event look like? Does it look like a digital event? Is it just a premium version of a Zoom call? No, that’s not what a virtual event looks like. There’s much more to it than just getting two, three, or fifty people to connect to a chat-room at the same time. In this post, we’ll provide a practical example, and tell you about one of the most ambitious projects implemented in Italy in recent years. We’re talking, of course, about GECO Expo, the first major online sustainability tradeshow, which took place from 28 to 30 January in an entirely virtual, 3D environment, built and maintained entirely by Hypersmarter. Why is this project so revolutionary? Because until now the leading Italian trade shows have hesitated to take up the challenge of new technologies and adopt hybrid or entirely web-based formats. GECO has shown that this formula not only works but that it offers enormous advantages to both organisers and participants, encouraging the creation of new connections and leads, which are essential for the development of all the industries involved.

Sustainable, economical, effective: a grand event with a user-friendly, flexible platform

We have created an innovative platform for exhibitors and visitors that provides a user experience unlike any other. The user’s feeling when logging in is more akin to that of a gamer than a trade show attendee. Visitors can customise their own 3D avatar and move around using simple controls, exploring the event venue, which is carefully designed down to the last detail. There is plenty of advertising space for the event’s sponsors and partners, there are stylish booths designed according to each exhibitors’ choices and budget and, above all, there are endless opportunities to meet and network, which can be managed using dedicated calendars. But perhaps the most interesting aspect of this whole organisational system is its sustainability: to take part in GECO our guests did not have to travel, ship materials, physically assemble booths, print out brochures, take taxis and shuttles, and so on. This not only means significant savings for exhibitors, but also a substantial reduction in emissions for such a large event.

GECO’s figures

One of the things that our customers are most excited about when we organise events like this is our effective data tracking. Collecting data on attendance, feature usage, interactions, and audience behaviour at a trade show like GECO is easy, thanks to Hypersmarter technologies. In a context where everything is managed and recorded via our online platform, at the end of the event the organiser already has all the information needed to evaluate its success and effectiveness. For instance, GECO registered 3920 participants, including 562 buyers and 57 exhibitors, and 7570 accesses to the platform. Participants had 9662 conversations and exchanged 7086 business cards. 5460 people logged on to the panels and round tables and, of course, we were able to monitor the number and duration of connections for each panel in order to identify the event’s highlights, take note of the topics that sparked the greatest interest, and study the most engaging moments in order to maximise the efficacy of future performances.

The future of the event industry is virtual and sustainable

The most inspiring aspect of our job is the privilege of bringing together thousands of people from different countries, small companies that would not normally be able to afford a trade show like this with large industry players and institutions, all in a sustainable way and without damaging the planet with emissions and waste. An extra detail? The energy consumption needed to run the event was balanced with an offsetting programme, making GECO a zero-emission event!