Information technologies have inverted our reality upside down. Instant messaging apps, email clients, video broadcasting software, social media have revolutionized communications to the extent that it is now our preferred medium of daily correspondence and business development, education, government, and healthcare.
As Louis Rossetto, founder of Wired magazine sums up: “No product is made today, no person moves today, nothing is collected, analyzed or communicated without some ‘digital technology’ being an integral part of it”.
So, what do we assume? Global information networks are vital infrastructure in our world, and they are not going to overlook the worldwide event and expo industry.
The purpose of today’s expos
The earlier expos were strongly shaped by the industrial revolution of the time. Material progress based on technological innovation was at the core of the exhibitions. During this age of progress, the expos are, as the great German philosopher and cultural critic Walter Benjamin said -"probably the most important event of cultural exchange.”
Currently, expos have taken a major role in raising awareness of the importance of sustainable development and addressing the fundamental challenges of our time, by providing a unique space for the network, discussions, and cooperation, expos target being efficient instruments of progress in all areas linked to human development such as health, environment, or education.
Attending an expo, each exhibiting unit achieves different goals depending on their development stage, size, market share, and business strategy. For instance, start-ups’ cold emails are more likely to be overlooked, however, an attractive stand, both virtual and land-based, can get them to be noticed and target a prequalified customer. Industry decision-making large companies participate in trade shows to meet their clients face-to-face, stay ahead of the competitors’ pack, generate or close sales processes and get direct feedback from their audience.
Virtual vs. Land-based Exhibitions
Can virtual expos replace the real-live experience of expos, or is this just a matter of fantasy?
Digitalization! It’s estimated that over 1.7 billion websites exist, but this number alternates daily. An essential advantage of an online event with dedicated event space is that once people are in, they’re focused on the event. They’re watching presentations, ‘visiting’ exhibits’ 3D futuristic stands, participating in conferences, instantly networking with other attendees. There are no other roads pulling their focus away, so their attention is ultimately yours.
On the other hand, if people attend a virtual event from home, they might have other things contesting for their attention. Whether it’s childcare or a knock at the door, anyone who’s ‘attending’ at home will have moments to step away. It can, thus, be challenging for organizers and exhibitors to provide content that keeps people focused. That’s not necessarily the fault of people who are actually providing the content. It’s just a matter of life that sometimes gets in the way.
Another potential pro is that an online event gives a possibility of intervals for the most who naturally want to take breaks every so often. Online content needs to be designed in a way to fit into the natural attention span. It also needs to offer enough captivating content to make sure people come back after taking breaks.
Regardless of the circumstances, today, business needs to be communicated and stay in touch with people. With so many social distancing orders around the world, global crisis, and lack of stability, virtual and hybrid or mixed events tend to be on a winning side in terms of cost-effectiveness, flexibility, data trackability, impact on ROI, and virtual merchandise offerings.
Virtual or Hybrid Event Pros and Cons
There is not an either/or question! Virtual events are growing rapidly in both quantity & quality. In-person events will always have their own value, however, now they can be augmented with the virtual version that provides a broader experience & reach. Understanding the pros and cons of virtual events is essential and will help in making an informed choice.
The “Wow” factor. It can be hard to reproduce. For many, another part of it is the eagerness to see what’s new and making a splash in their industry. Online events can sometimes lack that sense of amazement. But it’s not all bad. Thanks to virtual technology, there is a flip side and the chance to turn this con into a pro.
Lack of face-to-face interactions. One of the biggest advantages of live industry events isn’t the content but the simple human interactions. At live events, networking is usually partly planned, but much of it is organic. At the same time, the experience of meeting or chatting with someone online is qualitatively different than doing it in person.
Technical problems. If you aren’t closely confident with technology, the thought of hosting an online event may be terrifying. Technical problems can (and possibly will) occur, but the most important is how to handle them. Prior to the event, make sure to be as clued up on the technology and platform as possible.
Reduced risk is obviously the first on the list at the moment; hosting an event online completely exterminates the risk of infection or outbreak, still allowing to get the message to the audience. Maintaining the relationship is more than necessary. If an audience sees you as a viable resource of information and communicative despite the circumstances, it is more likely to return.
Expanded reach. Deem your audience for a physical event. These people will probably be within a certain radius of either the business or the event venue. Take an event online, and you have a worldwide reach. This is a great advantage of virtual events.
Similarly to the reach of the audience, you can now expand the reach of your potential collaborators or speakers. With location no longer being a point, any number of speakers can be included in the schedule and ‘log in’ to make live talks or provide over pre-recorded content to be used during the event.
Time effectiveness saves time by reducing the need for travel time and event preparation. Virtual events, if organized appropriately, can also be more time-efficient in terms of the duration.
Marketing in Virtual Environment
Once the land-based event is over, the focus turns to the next one. The fact is that once the virtual event has passed, all of the content - such as keynotes and the booths themselves can still be accessed and visited months after and the content sits online for a much longer period of time, which is great for exhibitors as well as attendees.
Planning, promoting, and hosting a virtual event requires the same level of attention to detail as in real-life. For virtual events, however, specific event advertising strategies need to ensure the online program won’t get lost in the digital ruffle.
Create an attention-grabbing event page, including all of the essentials such as event dates, agenda, speaker’s bios, sign-up links and secure payment options. Use keywords to boost your search potential. Make the most of email marketing, To boost the interest, pepper your newsletters with lively visionary that conveys engagement even in an online format, and even offer special discount codes. Show people a peek at what is to come.
There are a lot of ways to promote your virtual event through social media. Make a vlog to show it off, send out a press release, and of course, use your imagination in limitless virtual environment ad spaces, digital hanging banners, running lanes etc to showcase your brand and product during the event.
The Future of Virtual Events
The real-life events may not be back as quickly as we had expected. The virtual attendance and participation is something that will give event organizers a strategic advantage, especially when it comes to audience encouragement and sponsor reach. In addition, hybrid digital and physical events are going to be conviction form over the coming years.
Remember! The main factor of hosting a successful virtual event is choice of the right kind of hosting platform. Workshops, tradeshows, career fairs and meetups all require a higher extent of networking and interactive experience. PandaMR is such a platform that offers both virtual flexibility and a human-touch to build real connections.