Virtual Trade Shows & Events – Viable or Not?

Virtual Tradeshows

COVID, Zoom meetings, pivoting, PPE equipment and Virtual Trade Shows. Wait, I understand all of those recently used terms except for Virtual Tradeshows. What exactly is a virtual trade show? Is there a future? What are the pros and cons?

With Face to Face marketing (also known as traditional tradeshows) being a recent fond memory for many sales and marketing departments,
the new world we sell in has introduced something called a Virtual Trade Show, along with many platforms available to accommodate such events.

All manufacturers, dealers, distributors and sales based organizations must now find a way of educating their customer base on the products and services they offer.

With the limitations on face to face gatherings in convention centers globally, companies are now combining face to face efforts with an online event presence designed to educate, keep in touch with existing customers, meet new customers and showcase their wares without face to face interaction..

But what does a Virtual Tradeshow include ?

  • Video streaming of product demonstrations.
  • Webcasts.
  • Live commentary with audience participation.
  • Online chat.
  • Live blogs.
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • Youtube videos.

This new virtual world is an uncharted territory.

Budgets need to be reallocated to include this type of sales and marketing.There are fixed, recurring, fluctuating and static costs to hosting online trade show. Navigating the development can be confusing enough but predicting and budgeting for future needs in terms of management can also be an elusive and evolving animal.

DollarWhat if face to face live events such as tradeshows suddenly or gradually return?

Do budgets reinstate themselves to their previous levels, do budgets get shifted, cut, increased or eliminated?

Just as uncertain as the future is, the budgeting process remains an unpredictable mystery. New money does not magically appear and at some point tougher decisions will need to be made.

Do we return to the old ways and participate in tradeshows or keep pushing the virtual presence?

The answer lies in what has worked in the past.

  • The physical presence on the show floor meeting your customers works.
  • There is no evidence that virtual shows work.

Statistically exhibitors are seeing little to no return on their virtual investment. Attendees want to get back into the convention center to touch and feel.

If you stick with the virtual ways will you be missing future opportunities? If you abandon virtual and go back to the show floor will you be left behind
in a changing world?

Almost everyone agrees that as wonderful as technology is, it doesn’t replace trade show participation.

Trade shows have been around since the beginning of time and there are industries and associations built around understanding them with many years of data to assist in planning.

Virtual trade shows have no such valid historical data on costs, ROI or impact from which to base strategy on. Unfortunately, virtual shows are truly a hopeful shot in the dark.

Furthermore, when developing a virtual booth design, you will most definitely need to be extremely creative when generating virtual booth ideas.

Experienced marketers are working their way through this labyrinth hoping that normalcy will return and predictability will once again rule. It is inevitable that tradeshows will return but until such time virtual shows will become a major force in the sales process.

The question Marketing Managers must ask themselves is if they want to invest precious marketing dollars in an unproven, and possibly very temporary virtual booth or use those dollars to invest in building a better physical trade show booth to be used when face to face trade shows return.

Afterall, shows will likely return during your current budget year and you don’t want to have to pull out of a show because you don’t have the
marketing dollars to participate.

Contact us to discuss your options. At Archex Display, we have a full team of exhibit professionals at your call during every phase of the tradeshow process.

Including booth design, tradeshow management, exhibit transport, installation and dismantle services as well as coordinating show services with every major convention centre in North America and overseas.