What is a virtual trade show?
A virtual trade-show is simply a trade event run online. To an extent they mimic the traditional trade show style, right down to the entrance into the exhibition hall. Exhibitors and visitors can connect from anywhere across the globe, which dramatically reduces the costs for those participating.
Can virtual trade shows ever really take over from traditional face-to-face events?
Virtual trade shows are becoming increasingly popular, as businesses strive to make their budgets stretch further and reduce time away from desks. Another major aspect that’s caused a rise in virtual trade shows is the global Coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic caused many face-to-face trade shows around the world to be cancelled, resulting in may shows being moved online. However, how do virtual shows stack up against the traditional face-to-face format?
Virtual vs. face-to face-trade shows
Virtual trade shows are better suited to certain industries over others. Take the gaming industry, virtual trade shows are already highly established and likely to further grow in popularity. However, for industries like manufacturing and engineering research shows that customers need and want the full sensory experience which is difficult to achieve in a virtual environment. Traditional face-to-face shows provide exhibitors with the opportunity to demonstrate the functional benefits of their products and/or services. In turn, facilitating a networking element of building a face-to-face relationship with potential customers which is crucial in building brand trust in many industries.
Also with virtual trade shows there’s more room for distractions. Face-to-face events are the best option for capturing attention, as visitors have fewer distractions on an exhibition stand and are less tempted to check e-mails or other work related tasks they would do when sat at a desk. Furthermore, stands can be easily missed online as visitors are used to walking around the halls and stop at any booth that interests them which isn’t as easy online.
Research indicates that virtual trade shows generate far fewer leads than traditional trade-show stands. However, for virtual trade shows all attendee’s information is stored in a central online database making it easier to follow up with prospective customers after the event. Attendees can also download exhibitors’ services too, making it easier to come back to in the future.
While virtual trade shows have their pros and cons, it’s unlikely that they will ever fully replace the traditional face-to-face shows in some sectors. However, it’s likely that show organisers will begin to integrate more virtual aspects into events. The virtual trade show may never entirely replace face-to-face shows, but it is a growing trend in industries.
Industries across the globe faced lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak. Trade shows were one of the many casualties as all but essential travel was stopped. Therefore, for many organisers it has been a chance to offer a digital alternative to physical shows such as Farnborough International Air show. However, for such industries like manufacturing and engineering it’s difficult to get the full experience online. Going forward, virtual trade shows are unlikely to replace physical shows post-pandemic, but rather complement them.
We are excited to continue to both attend and exhibit at face-to-face trade shows in 2021. In the meantime you can contact our team on (+44) 02890 271 001 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.