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Virtual hybrid trade shows are the future of the industry

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The novel Covid-19 pandemic has drastically impacted the global economy and has changed the way events are now conducted. However, virtual hybrid trade shows were getting more and more popular even before the pandemic had hit.

A virtual hybrid trade fair is a mix of in-person events and virtual experiences. Such events are a great way to enhance the reach of the event. It is so because it gives people the flexibility to either physically attend the event, or remotely view it if they are not able to make it in person. Moreover, people from various countries and time zones can be part of the event which is not possible with an in-person event. 

A recent survey was conducted during the Global Meeting Industry Day. In the virtual event, 77% of the 12,500 participants agreed that virtual trade events will play a crucial role in events following the crisis.

How are virtual events integrating with trade shows?

The in-person meetings and events were forced to go online after the pandemic. It became mandatory to ensure health and safety restrictions and was a real eye-opener for most event professionals who hadn’t turned to video conferences already.

From an event organiser’s standpoint, an online event is a perfect medium for online courses and engagement between participants. The forced event will surely reflect in the course of future events.

The hybrid virtual trade shows bring the two effective components of in-person events and virtual events together to create an event that is the best of both worlds. 

The significance of virtual hybrid events

There is a wide range of event types and each event is affected by a virtual platform in a different way.

  • Seminars, conferences, and workshops– Such events provide educational content. The content, if provided online offers the flexibility to remotely and safely participate from anywhere. Video conferences and webinar tools allow event organisers to host seminars. Such platforms allow a seamless exchange of information and discussions between participants. 

People attending virtual workshops can learn things from the comfort of their homes, pitch questions, and clear queries through live chats.

  • Trade shows and exhibitions: Events in the B2C and B2B sectors are mainly conducted through in-person meetings between exhibitors and visitors. Such events allow for discussions and facilitate business endeavours.

The virtual trade fairs have gained immense popularity after the pandemic. The virtual platforms enable brands to showcase their products and services and generate leads through a virtual environment. Virtual exhibition booths offer first information to attendees, more detailed conversation upon request, and product demonstrations as well.

Event planners must switch to hybrid events soon!

Irrespective of a pandemic or not, there is a multitude of reasons that can determine the number of physical attendees to an event, such as:

  • An enterprise’s sustainability policy (CRS).
  • Travel restrictions as a result of political instability in the country.
  • The general expenses that a company has to bear while sending an employee to an event, such as travel, accommodation, food, etc.
  • The workload and factors arising from the personal life of the attendee.

The structure of your virtual hybrid event

A virtual hybrid event needs to be approached in the same ways as an in-person event. Ask yourself what you are trying to achieve through the event. Do you want to increase brand awareness, drive revenue, or engage customers?

The answer to your question will help you determine the structure or course of your event.

  • Do you want to showcase only a part of the event virtually or the entire event?
  • What is there in the event for physical attendees?
  • Should the virtual event be paid for or free?

Hybrid virtual fairs allow a brand to extend its reach to a wider audience in real-time. Your event can be viewed by people from various parts of the world who cannot attend your event physically. Offering such an option to your audience will help you record greater ticket sales, and increase your ROI as well.

The order and interaction between the various elements of the event play a crucial role in the event strategy. Attendees of virtual events need to know what they will miss by not attending the physical event. They should also be informed about the educational benefits of the paid program.

Be fearless while hosting a virtual hybrid event

If you are thinking that hosting hybrid trade fairs will make your in-person event a major flop, then you are far from the truth.

Virtual events have several benefits, but they cannot take away from the real experience. A recent survey found that there are two key components of an in-person event that cannot be substituted. 

As flexible as a virtual event may be, it cannot replace that sense of connection that people feel when they are in front of each other. One cannot sense another individual’s emotions and reactions through hybrid trade shows as a virtual attendee. Hence, it does impact the quality of networking opportunities.

One does not have the feature of touching or feeling a product in a virtual event. Say, you are at a car exhibition. The experience of touching, seeing, and sitting inside the car is a different experience altogether. 

Finally, as logical as business may seem, its foundation is based on trust. Hence, the emotional component of a meeting and bonding among individuals plays a key role in instilling trust. Hence, it is fair to say that hybrid trade fairs and in-person events fulfill their unique purposes. While, a virtual hybrid trade show might be the thing to do during the pandemic, and to connect with a global audience, an in-person event is the best for networking and feeling the pulse of the audience.

Hybrid events are not a threat to physical meetings or events, but an additional and highly useful component that will be readily accepted in the near future. People looking to invest their time and effort in an upcoming virtual event must be clear on the purpose of their event, to make it a success.

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