If you haven’t attended a virtual trade show yet, but have been considering it, this post is for you. Virtual trade shows have grown exponentially and achieved unprecedented success over the past year, but not everyone who was used to the traditional trade show experience feels comfortable in this new environment. This is not surprising: change is always difficult, especially when it occurs out of necessity rather than choice. In this case, however, the benefits we have discovered thanks to new technologies in the events sector have exceeded all expectations. But what are the real advantages of attending a virtual trade show? Is this format really convenient for visitors and exhibitors? Today we will try to answer these and other questions, analysing one specific case that inspired us: GECO, the first fully virtual sustainability trade show.
Attending a virtual trade show can help your business grow
1. Lower entry costs = higher ROI
Of all the advantages of attending a virtual trade show, saving on admission fees is undoubtedly the most obvious and the one that has made the biggest difference for visitors and exhibitors this past year. The cost of tickets is lower on average, but, above all, attending a virtual trade show means cutting all logistics- and transport-related costs. From air travel to hotel bookings, from restaurant bills to insurance, from shippings to booth set-up. This means that any leads generated will automatically result in higher ROI than they would have in the context of a traditional trade show. In the case of GECO, for instance, it was even possible to offer free entry not only to visitors but also to buyers, which exponentially increased the participation of professionals and SMEs.
2. Access to a much wider network of contacts
This is an advantage that is usually mainly appreciated by organisers, but whose positive effects also extend to participants and exhibitors. Not having to travel to attend the event completely removes geographical and some economic obstacles, automatically turning any virtual trade show into a potentially international event that anyone can attend regardless of distance. The ease of access automatically translates into a much wider network of potential contacts for those attending, with the possibility of interacting with potential customers, partners, and suppliers who would probably not be present at a traditional trade show. As a result, our experience with GECO was boosted by thousands of interactions, made possible by the ease and convenience of accessing the event. This gave all participants access to a much wider network of contacts than at an in-person exhibition.
3. Possibility of organising longer events, with greater visibility for exhibitors
The cost of an in-person trade show can be prohibitive, so the duration of these events does not normally extend beyond two or three days. A virtual trade show can offer a series of events and micro-events over a longer period of time, but also make a lot of extra content available after the event. This gives participants and exhibitors much more visibility and continues to maximise ROI and marketing opportunities many weeks after the ‘official’ trade show has ended. The fact that you can achieve all this without leaving the comfort of your own home has won over many professionals from all industries. This is why we firmly believe that these types of events will continue to be successful, perhaps in new “hybrid” formats, until they completely change the way we network and promote our businesses.