Bringing businesses and buyers together while maintaining a safe distance is the task that lies ahead for the trade show industry, at least for the near future.

Online trade shows utilize new technologies that serve both marketers and our customers. While certainly worlds different from the lively face-to-face events we love, online trade shows solve our temporary challenges through innovative technology. 

While a virtual trade show can’t fully replicate an in-person experience, there are some unique benefits. 

Let’s break down the pros and cons of online trade shows:

 

The Positives

Here’s what online trade shows can do that a traditional event can’t:

  • Increase attendance:

With no travel or accommodations required, people can attend a trade show from anywhere in the world. Companies that once only attended few trade shows (or none at all) can now peruse the offerings at any online trade show.

Additionally, attendees that may not be able to attend the live date of a traditional trade show will enjoy the flexibility of being able to view materials and engage with exhibitors over a longer span of time.

With attendance barriers such as cost, location, and dates removed, exhibitors can connect with a greater number of attendees from a more diverse pool of potential buyers. 

This may especially benefit marketers whose prospects are small businesses, foreign businesses, or individual consumers.

 

  • Increase engagement:

Virtual events inspire meaningful engagement with leads, leading to valuable conversions. 84% of virtual event attendees take some kind of action, with 77% of those attendees downloading materials and information.

Using methods like live chats, Q&A sessions, surveys, and more, virtual exhibitors can interact with their leads to gather valuable information like contact information, customer challenges, and other helpful notes.

 

  • Make connections:

30% of people are more likely to speak to someone at a virtual booth as opposed to a physical booth. 

This could be due to several factors, ranging from shyness to the distracting environment of a live event. With more people reaching out to your team, you’ll have more opportunities to begin relationships and ultimately find new customers.

 

  • Gather analytics:

One key reason businesses love digital marketing is the juicy, plentiful data that comes along with it. The same is true for a digital trade show event. 

Marketers can track key metrics with ease, such as booth traffic, number of contacts initiated, time spent viewing presentations, etc. 

 

  • Help the environment:

In recent years, the carbon footprint of physical trade shows has been a growing area of attention. 

Things like reusable water bottles, green energy sources, and minimization of trash-producing handouts are some of the steps taken by trade shows and exhibitors to lessen the impact of live events on the environment.

Online trade shows solve this challenge by eliminating the need for travel, energy usage, and waste generation. 

 

The Challenges

Of course, a virtual trade show event has its drawbacks. Here are a few reasons we’re looking forward to a return to in-person events: 

  • Face-to-face is still the favorite: In all aspects of our lives, personal and professional, we need human connection. An in-person event inspires excitement, camaraderie, and new partnerships. 

One of the most important reasons for exhibiting is to add a tangible human element to your brand, especially for businesses that provide digital services or have no physical presence.

Face-to-face engagement is good for brands and good for PEOPLE. While new technology aims to make online events feel more human, we just aren’t quite there yet.

 

  • Tactile and multi-sensory limitations: The food and beverage industry is feeling this one particularly hard. You can do a lot with video, sound, and even with 3D booth rendering services, but you still can’t taste or smell a delicious food sample through a computer.

From beauty products to home furnishings and beyond, being able to physically experience a brand’s offerings is still one of the most valuable benefits of a traditional trade show. As creative as we get with technology, there are some aspects of products and services that can’t be demonstrated or experienced fully from afar.

 

  • Impacts to local business economies: The pandemic continues to pummel local economies around the world, but areas dependent on large events such as trade shows have been hit particularly hard. 

While virtual trade shows can help us meet our marketing objectives during social distancing, the local businesses that rely on live events are eagerly awaiting a return to normalcy.

 

Are you participating in an online trade show? We can help you render a 3D virtual booth. Don’t hesitate to contact us with your virtual trade show needs!

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