The Future of Trade Shows? It Won’t Require a Venue to Have an Event

The coronavirus pandemic has changed all aspects of sales and marketing, perhaps none more than trade shows and other types of in-person events.

No one can predict when people will be ready to get together again in groups.

However, it’s not all bad news. 

There are alternatives to in-person trade shows that will provide you with opportunities to introduce your products and services to people in the industries you serve.

What’s important is that you think outside the box. Go beyond what you’ve experienced before and consider what a trade show or event could possibly be. 

Here are some ideas to spark your imagination.

Virtual trade shows.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, trade shows and events were using technology to expand their reach. 

  • Remote panelists were beamed in to participate in discussions.
  • People all over the world were able to watch keynote speeches and break out events and ask questions.
  • Reporters could conduct interviews with industry insiders from anywhere in the United States or the world.

Trade shows were already becoming networks housed at a conference venue, convention center, or hotel space, linked virtually to locations all over the globe.

The question: Is the central in-person hub really necessary for the success of an event?

The answer: Probably not.

Rather than viewing the pandemic as a limitation, the crisis could provide opportunities to expand on the virtual trade show trend. It might make it possible to attract higher caliber speakers and panelists if they don’t have to travel and only need to give an hour or two of their time to participate. 

Companies could recreate their booths as virtual experiences that transition from group interactions to one-on-one meetings. Imagine a sales rep presenting your latest products and services, while people break off into their own chat spaces to meet individually and in smaller groups with other reps. 

Cocktail receptions could be recreated as zoom meetings that allow participants to enjoy a glass of wine with peers and industry experts all over the United States and globe from the comfort of their living rooms.

Your imagination is the only limit. 

Think about it: As people continue to work from home, there will be a pent-up desire to meet with others in their industry at virtual events. The first companies and industry groups that jump on this concept will be leaders in a trend that could last long into the future.

Webinars, webcasts, and special events.

Why not showcase your company’s expertise by inviting journalists, consumers and industry insiders to intriguing online events where they get to experience something new? People will be more willing to attend if the concept is attention-grabbing and the time commitment is only an hour or two.

When coming up with themes, don’t focus exclusively on the products or services you want to feature. Instead, find intriguing ways to position the benefits they provide. Instead of a webinar on the latest advancements in plexiglass, package it as a session revealing a proven way to keep cashiers and customers safe and secure during the pandemic. It will help drive interest and attendance and generate sales.

Tip: In the future, contingency planning will be more important than ever, even for virtual events. Who knows when the coronavirus could resurface, preventing panelists or speakers from being able to participate? Think through all eventualities and have backups and contingencies for anything that could happen. Make sure you have clauses in your contracts to handle cancellations and other eventualities.

Remote games.

During times like these, everyone is looking for a little fun. Why not engage prospective customers with a digital group scavenger hunt, trivia contest, or another type of game? If you plan it right, people can learn about your offerings step-by-step in an enjoyable way. Sometimes the best way to learn about something new is to not realize you’re learning at all.

Tip: Don’t limit your thinking about virtual events by turning to traditional event managers to plan them. Leverage people who have experience in social media, digital technology, webcasting, marketing, and communications to help envision new ways to deliver virtual industry experiences.

For the foreseeable future, businesses will likely scale back on travel and not allow employees to attend mass gatherings. Why not get ahead of the trend and be the first in your market space to plan — or participate in — virtual events? Contact a friendly and helpful Mobile Locker representative to find out how our easy-to-use software can help make your next virtual experience truly memorable.

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