Virtual trade shows have made the dreams of business persons a feasible reality. To attend a trade show earlier, one had to fly across states and even countries at times. A costly and time-consuming affair indeed. Now, imagine logging in to a virtual trade show platform and participating in a live event from your office desk. Or, better still, from the safety and comfort of your home. Virtual trade show platform offers suitable digital space to host an online trade show.
Market forecasts also indicate an upward trend for virtual trade shows. 67% of businesses are already relying on virtual events to complement the in-person events. Evidently, they are filling the covid-induced void in the event industry. Heading forward, the prospect of online events like virtual trade shows appears very promising.
However, no need to panic if you are not quite familiar with the idea of a virtual trade show. In our ultimate guide to a virtual trade show platform, we will cover everything- from hosting the event to leveraging the key features of the platform- step by step. Stick to us till the end-
First thing first, a trade show is a large gathering of brands, companies, business professionals from a specific industry to highlight flagship products, showcase new features, and expand the brand presence. Simply put, a virtual trade show is exactly that. The only difference is the entire trade show is hosted on an online event-hosting platform.
So, similar to a physical trade show, you have the exhibition hall, trade show booth, networking lounge in a virtual trade show. Just like in physical events, an attendee can strike up a conversation with another attendee, or get in a personal interaction with the brand representatives.
An exhibitor can showcase a product with a video demonstration and detailed resource materials. The best virtual trade show platform will also allow the exhibitors to personalise the booths, let the audience connect with the social media pages, and schedule a meeting with the representatives.
You might be wondering, how far it is possible to translate the real-life experience into a digital space. Let us assure you, it is very much possible to host a scalable, interactive and engaging trade show online and get better results than a physical event. But, more on that later.
First, let’s look at the opportunities that virtual trade shows offer-
– Going virtual allows anyone from any part of the world to access the event. Virtual trades shows are truly global in every front. Since they draw in more participants, virtual trade shows have the potential to catapult your brand presence.
– Virtual trade shows not only bring in more participants but also more qualified leads to the exhibitor booth. People who interact with you regarding a product are more likely to contact you in future.
– In a physical event it is not possible to gather accurate data of the attendees, visitors and leads. The best virtual trade show platforms offer an in-built analytics dashboard feature, which gives you the opportunity to collate the event-data.
Traditional platforms like google meet, teams or zoom are not suitable for hosting large events. Features such as a customizable virtual trade show booth, the capacity to host large traffic, 360-degree customization are necessary for an immersive experience. That’s why you need a platform that meets all the requirements needed for a virtual trade show.
Virtual exhibition platform provides a cost-effective and scalable solution on that front. A highly customizable trade show platform will work in accordance with your requirements and brand image. Obviously, this begs the question: what are the key features that you should look for before selecting one? Let’s move onto the next part for that-
So, what makes the best virtual trade show platforms stand out from the rest? In short, every little detail. Does your platform allow the exhibitors to customise their booths, or let the attendees talk directly with the representatives? Furthermore, do they have an in-built analytics dashboard? Regardless of how you define it, RoI depends on factors like these.
Here are five features that we believe are of foremost importance for organisers, exhibitors and attendees alike-
1. Virtual Exhibition Hall
Virtual exhibition hall is the first space that attendees will visit after logging in. Therefore, as an organiser you must look into two things. Firstly, it must be easily navigable by the attendees. They should be able to pick which place they want to visit first- virtual conference rooms, exhibitor booths, networking lounge or the breakout rooms. Make sure that all the information and resources are available at the info desk.
Secondly, since a significant portion of the event revenue comes from the sponsors, it must have dedicated places for the major sponsors of your event. Does your platform have in-built 3D spaces where you can display your sponsors? Furthermore, does it offer you the opportunity of unlimited branding? These are the questions you should ask before deciding on a virtual exhibition platform.
In addition to that, it is prudent to choose a platform that offers you the customization opportunity. So, if you have a specific 3D template in mind, they won’t hesitate to integrate it into their platform.
Also Read: 5 Features of a Virtual Trade Show Platform
2. Virtual Trade Show Booth
Have you ever wondered what is it in for the exhibitors to showcase at a virtual trade show? Lesser hassle? More saving? Definitely. But that’s not all.
An exhibitor looks forward to directly talking to the interested attendees. They prefer to have one one-one conversations, chats, and meetings with the audience. Why? Because, it’s a better way to understand their sentiment, respond to particular queries and address individual concerns. Features such as chat box, meeting scheduler, resource centre, product gallery, social media integrations increase the chances of lead generation too.
A virtual trade show booth must have a chat box through which the attendees can interact with the representatives directly. Not just that, exhibitors should be allowed to customise and personalise the booth as they wish. The best virtual exhibition platform will offer the opportunity to upload video demonstrations and 3D models of their products.
3. Analytics Dashboard
Data analytics is quickly making its headway into the business world. The benefit is you can capitalise on the data to identify the loopholes and come up with a better business plan. Same goes for virtual events too.
It is very likely that on a virtual trade show you’ll receive footfalls from all over the world, people from diverse sectors with diverse interests. So, what are we looking at here?
A broad set of data with different metrics- demography, employment status, industry specific status, their activity. By analysing and comparing different datasets, you will get a very thorough report of the event. A robust trade show platform, will allow to accurately measure, track and also connect with potential leads generated during the event.
Read Our Blog On Importance Of Data Analytics In Hybrid Events
Networking is the second most important reason for attendees to participate in a trade show. To top that, a virtual trade show offers the opportunity to expand professional networks beyond geographical borders.
To meet their expectations, the best virtual trade show platforms offer live chat features, video chat features, breakout rooms and dedicated networking lounges. Attendees should be able to check the list of people present at a certain virtual space, and be allowed to send connection requests to someone they deem fit.
Samaaro, the best virtual trade show platform, also offers a dedicated networking lounge with agenda specific chat rooms. Attendees should have the option to exchange business cards with others.
Human attention span has significantly decreased over the time. It is not very surprising that audiences at a virtual trade show can be distracted and leave the trade show given that they just have to shift to a different tab. So, it is essential that the virtual trade show platform has features to engage the audience.
Incorporating very basic gaming features such as badges (“Most Active Attendee”, “Best Question”) levelling-up, showing names on leaderboards increases engagement significantly. Earning points for visiting a virtual trade show booth has shown to increase participation rate and lead generation.
A survey report reveals that 81.8% of virtual event organisers and 71% of marketers use polling to keep the audiences engaged to the event. Furthermore, rewarding with prizes has proven to be a great incentive to retain attendees’ attention.
Before you plan to host a virtual trade show, chalk out a detailed plan how you’ll go about it. It should cover every aspect of the trade show- the attendees, exhibitors, sponsors, conference sessions, keynote speakers, panellists and most importantly finding the right platform. For our benefit let’s divide it into two parts-
A lot of your success depends on how much buzz you can create for your tradeshow. Here are a few ways that’ll increase registration numbers-
– Send out pre-event emails, notifications to your existing leads, clients. Tap on social media to drive in more people. You can create a short teaser video for the event to make it more appealing.
– Check whether the virtual exhibition platform also design a customised landing page specifically for the event. Make sure every important information related to the virtual trade show is available on the page.
– Allow your sponsors and exhibitors to schedule meetings a few days before the event. This will allow them early networking opportunities with potential leads.
– Use pre-event surveys to gather accurate data about the attendees. This will allow the exhibitors to filter their leads and also give you as an organiser a comprehensive overview of your attendee demographics.
After the event is over, leverage on the analytics to drive in more sales, generate more leads and hold on to the qualified leads. Here are some ideas-
– Follow up with personalised emails, thanking the visitors for attending. If you have an upcoming event planned, keep them updated with the information.
– Some organisers send their attendees discount vouchers, coupons as a token of appreciation. Furthermore, as an exhibitor you can send the qualified leads a thank you gift. To nurture potential leads or high-scoring participants, you can send product vouchers.
– Post event sales is a key factor that is often overlooked. Expand your social media presence, connect with your attendees and create a brand page. Utilize your platform’s social media wall or virtual photo booths to connect with attendees on social media.
What makes virtual trade shows so very popular? For exhibitors it is the higher lead-generating potential; for event professionals more attendee participation, whereas the business owners, sponsors look at higher ROI, an accurate data collection opportunity, enhanced brand presence and increased profit. On the other hand, attendees get better networking opportunities and better chances of having one-on-one conversations with the business representatives.
In this blog, we have covered every aspect of a virtual trade show platform and also offered you insights into virtual trade shows. Before hosting your next virtual trade show or exhibiting at a tradeshow, keep these points in mind.
Want to get a better understanding of what other opportunities a virtual trade show platform offers? Check out our website for a free demo. Samaaro is an award-winning virtual events platform aiming to deliver a seamless virtual events experience. In the past two years we have teamed up with major national and international business organisations, pharmaceutical companies and financial institutions. You can find our projects here.