Combine The Power Of A Virtual Trade Show With A Live Event To Drive Up Attendee Engagement
Virtual events have come into their own, and companies have mastered the ability to turn conferences, trade shows, and even happy hours into online events.
And it seems like virtual options are here to stay. In fact, 46% of respondents to a recent survey reported attending at least ten online events in the past year, as opposed to 12.6% who reported attending a similar amount of in-person trade shows.
This means that your company needs to harness the power of virtual events to drive registrations. But in-person events never really went away, and many people still look to attend real-time events.
So how can you bring the two together to maximize ROI and generate more qualified leads? The answer is hybrid trade shows. Let’s look at what a virtual trade show is, how it can benefit your company, and some essential virtual event platform features you need to look for to plan a memorable, successful virtual trade show.
What is a Virtual Trade Show?
A traditional trade show takes place on a show floor in an expo hall, offering a combination of exhibitor booths and engaging demonstrations.
A virtual trade show looks a lot like an in-person one because it offers tools that engage a global audience, making exhibitors and their virtual booths accessible to anyone in attendance. Organizers can offer appointments, sponsorship levels, and lead tracking through a virtual event platform to provide an experience comparable to a live event.
Hybrid events offer trade show components both virtually and in an expo hall. They may run simultaneously in real-time or provide virtual components that are pre-recorded.
Let’s look at the benefits of hosting a virtual trade show.
Photo by Christina Morillo
Benefits of a Virtual Trade Show
A virtual trade show allows sponsors, attendees, and exhibitors to connect, gather leads, and network.
And since traditional face-to-face trade shows may not be possible in some areas of the world, offering a way to accommodate all interested parties can drive up registrations since it provides the best of both worlds.
Here are some benefits of hosting a virtual trade show for your company.
Reach A Wider Audience
Since they are incredibly accessible, virtual trade shows allow for a more significant number of registrations with unlimited capacity. They are much more convenient since participants and exhibitors don’t need to worry about traveling costs, accommodations, and other factors that may prevent them from attending your event.
Additionally, with lower registration pricing and minimal time required away from the offer, significantly higher attendance numbers will increase brand visibility and more leads for your exhibitors and sponsors.
Virtual trade shows mean you have the ability to interact with your global audience at the same time. Your audience can interact with industry specialists and keynote speakers through live webinars.
Interactions in real-time allow for collaboration that spans whatever distance is between your participants. So people in your field who may never meet will have the opportunity to interact and share ideas, which can develop into new leads for your industry.
Your exhibitors and sponsors can interact with attendees during a Q&A session at the end of each webinar to maximize engagement and nurture leads. This is a great way to connect attendees and industry leaders and increase brand exposure for your company.
Hosting an online trade show allows you to access real-time data that you can use to measure the success of your event and make adjustments before your next one.
Virtual trade shows, which are hosted by a high-quality virtual event platform, provide you with detailed reports after each session to help you measure ROI and lead generation and see what works well and what needs work.
This also benefits your exhibitors and sponsors. They can closely monitor and regulate specific booths to measure event success if they want.
Basic Features Needed for a Successful Trade Show?
Hybrid trade shows offer the best of both worlds. The online components of a virtual expo allow event planners to break down barriers that may prevent participants from attending your trade fair.
Additionally, in-person components can engage people who wish to visit the exhibition hall and can be recorded and shared on-demand with virtual attendees.
But to host a successful hybrid trade show, you need a virtual platform that will be able to live up to your expectations.
Let’s look at what essential features you need to look for when choosing providers for virtual event management.
While interacting with a virtual environment is excellent, there is always the possibility of technical difficulties.
Event organizers have a lot on their plate. Opt for a virtual event platform that offers 24/7 live technical support for both hosts and attendees. This means dedicated staff members can assist with everything from log-in issues to audio problems and everything in between.
To host a successful virtual event, you need to ensure attendees can interact with exhibitors and other event participants.
Your platform should offer a live chat option that allows attendees to connect and ask questions while visiting virtual trade show booths.
Video chat capabilities and breakout rooms also allow event participants to connect and swap contact information to further their networking efforts. This will enable you to mimic in-person networking in a virtual environment.
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk
Ensure your virtual event platform offers customizable branding to ensure attendees know which brands are hosting the product demos or educational sessions. This means unique avatars, branded web design, and other features that instantly allow users to know which company is behind the virtual exhibit.
Both event hosts and exhibitors need the ability to customize their platform or virtual trade show booth to increase brand exposure. This helps with the presentation of your company and goes a long way to make a lasting impression on visitors.
Live and Pre-Recorded Content
When engaging a global audience, time zones will inevitably become an issue for some. To avoid this and ensure value for all attendees, make sure your virtual platform can record live sessions for on-demand viewing.
Additionally, your platform should host pre-recorded content and your recorded sessions to allow you to share your virtual trade show content after the event has concluded.
How to Plan A Memorable Virtual Trade Show?
Virtual conferences are often well attended. Since they are so accessible and offer value to your target audience, it’s easy for attendees to register and see what your trade show offers.
But with so many companies trying their hand at hybrid trade shows, what can you do to make yours stand out?
Let’s look at some things you can do to play a memorable virtual trade show that increases brand awareness and generates ROI.
Define the Focus
Before you start marketing your hybrid event, decide on a theme for your hybrid trade show. This will help pull together the virtual and in-person components. It also ensures that your attendees will find value in your virtual event.
Give Attendees Ample Notice
It takes about three to six weeks to promote a virtual event properly. So you must offer a generous registration window to ensure your target audience has time to sign up and prepare.
Social media is your friend when it comes to hybrid trade show marketing. Create shareable posts and content that will build hype around your event. Send notifications at specific intervals to ensure virtual event attendees remember your event is coming up.
Consider hosting a contest to drive registration and offer prizes or pricing discounts to followers who refer a certain amount of attendees.
Plan Engagement Opportunities
While your hybrid trade show’s primary purpose is to showcase trade show booths and offer live demos, don’t forget to provide participants with opportunities to engage with each other.
Consider offering elements of gamification during your virtual event. You could even incorporate unique challenges and maintain an event leaderboard to inspire competition and engagement amongst attendees.
Leave time for networking and offer dedicated times where participants can arrange a meetup or network with others in their field. This will ensure your attendees will gain a lot of value from your hybrid trade show and sign up for your next one.
Send a Post-Virtual Event Survey
In addition to the presentations and recorded content from your event, include a link to a survey in your online trade show follow-up correspondence.
This will allow attendees to give you praise and suggestions, which is valuable data for event organizers to use when planning their next virtual event.
Photo by Brooke Cagle
Use Hybrid Events To Allow Your Organization To Reach A Global Audience
The event landscape has certainly broadened in recent years. As event planners, you must ensure you make your mark in virtual, in-person, and hybrid formats.
With the right technology, your trade shows will successfully attract your target audience, offer value to sponsors and exhibitors, and increase ROI for your company.
Looking for a virtual event platform with live 24/7 support and experienced event hosts ready to help with your hybrid event? Contact BeaconLive for more information on our scalable, cloud-based solutions.