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Going Virtual

January 05, 2021

Not Every Virtual Event is the Same

Sooooo, by what percentage in 2020 did you increase your usage of the words cancelled, rescheduled, and postponed (not to mention VIRTUAL)? We are all pivoting in this brave new world, and our flexibility is being tested. For the trade show industry, which thrives on in-person events and face time with people, this can present a challenge. So, who’s up for a challenge?!

Some good news is that online events, as they become more and more normal, are becoming more and more expected and well-attended and effective. Case in point: United Fresh Live pulled off a hugely successful digital event, and that means you can, too.

We are 9 months into this transition to online events and technology continues to improve, production companies are becoming more experienced at managing these events, and attendees are realizing that online events offer a ton of benefits and solutions.

We are no longer scrambling to come up with ideas and answers, but can offer solid events to our clients and prospects.

Here’s how: do your homework. Check with the online events you’re wanting to exhibit with and see what they’re offering and if it’s worth it. Does their splash page look inviting and exciting? Is your time, money, and manpower investment worth what you’ll get from it?

After that, ask some initial questions of the show organizers (or gather it from their website):

  1. What platform will they be using to host the virtual show?
  2. How do they plan on audience acquisition?
  3. What are they going to do to attract attendees?
  4. How do they plan to acquire exhibitor buy-in?
  5. How long will the trade show be “live”? Days, weeks, months?
  6. What is the plan for keynote speakers? (Hint: You want them to be short, pre-recorded and available on-demand to achieve the most visibility with visitors.)
  7. What does the cost to exhibit compare to the original in-person event?
  8. What is the cost for attendees to attend the show?

Once you know the answers to these questions, you’ll better know your next steps. If there’s an idea you have for the virtual event that show management isn’t offering, you can ask:

  1. What if I want to redirect the links from the virtual exhibit to a more robust virtual exhibit that my partner hosts?
  2. Can I have an online ad on the event site?
  3. Are there sponsorship opportunities?
  4. Can I be included in the pre-show emails?

With digital events, there are as many options and choices as there are with live events. And no one way is the right way -- everyone is doing everything! The trick is to find the virtual events that suit your needs, the same way you had to with live shows.

Do your homework, embrace the challenge, and have a great VIRTUAL trade show!

This article was inspired by "Not Every Virtual Event is the Same" by Valerie Kliskey and first appeared at skyline.com

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