Virtual trade shows have been the most significant breakthrough in the events industry in 2020. The Covid crisis accelerated a process of innovation that would otherwise have taken years to unfold, allowing this kind of event to achieve enormous popularity in a very short time. The real surprise, however, was not so much the possibility of continuing to gather to create new professional relationships and make deals, but the discovery that this format, for many, works even better than traditional ones. The advantages are many: reduced costs, the ability to reach a global audience, interaction tracking, easy lead- and feedback-management, and much more. How do you organise a virtual trade show? How does it really work? If you have never attended one of these events, this is what you need to know.
What is a virtual trade show?
A virtual trade show, just like a traditional one, is an event designed to meet the needs of a particular industry and the companies operating within it. Its purpose is to create connections between people in the industry, to raise awareness of new trends, to allow companies to promote their products, and to foster commercial and professional agreements that ensure the prosperity of the industry itself. Compared to a traditional in-person event, a virtual trade show offers participants several additional tools designed to help them achieve their goals. At present, of course, virtual trade shows are also the only way to nurture and develop professional relationships of this kind, while ensuring the safety of all participants.
How do virtual trade shows work?
Virtual trade shows are held in 3D environments, which each user can explore using their own computer, moving around as a customised avatar. The exhibition halls are organised in a way that resembles traditional venues: each exhibitor has their own booth, where attendees can find information and make connections. Then there are the shared spaces, where panels, conferences, and workshops take place. Besides, members can interact with each other publicly or privately, using chat and instant-messaging tools. For companies, there is also the possibility to present themselves to customers with multimedia materials.
What does a virtual trade show offer that cannot be found in a traditional event?
One of the aspects of virtual trade shows that companies have shown to value the most is the tracking of interactions and the ease of collecting and organising data. While a traditional event only tracks certain aspects of the customer experience (e.g. registration or panel attendance), virtual trade shows record an unprecedented amount of data. At the end of the event, both organisers and participants will have vital analytics to evaluate the experience. As an exhibitor, for instance, you will be able to check which functions were used the most at your booth, track user journeys, analyse leads one by one, collect feedback in real-time and automate some re-marketing operations. This way, you can improve the customer experience at future events and better understand the needs of your target audience.