Are you someone who used to participate in exhibitions and now wondering how do I move to Virtual Exhibitions?
Are you also confused on what should be my first steps to participate in these virtual shows?
The questions I mentioned are keeping a lot of exhibitors worried, so here is a what I have to say about it.
First of all, virtual exhibitions are going to be the norm for some time and once the off-line exhibitions start, there will be a new normal where both off-line exhibitions and the virtual exhibitions will coexist. In fact, going forward most of the organisers are going to have a 3 to 4 day off-line exhibition and a much longer virtual exhibition to give more value to exhibitors. So, it is even more important for all of us to know what these virtual exhibitions are and how to make the most out of it.
So, lets dive right into it.
What are Virtual Exhibitions?
First of all, let me clear the air about the virtual exhibitions.
- A virtual exhibition is conducted exactly the same way as an exhibition happens in the off-line space, except for it is online.
- There is an organizer who will announce an exhibition and invite the exhibitors and visitors to participate in it.
- At the back-end they use a tech platform on which the entire exhibition will be conducted. The tech platform has the same role as a venue in an off-line space. You go to a venue to exhibit or you visit the exhibition to attend sessions or interact with exhibitors. Similarly, the tech platform is a place where you login to exhibit or to visit.
Will there be a different organiser from the shows I earlier attended, since it is moving on-line?
The organisers of the exhibitions will remain the same more or less. As I am writing this, the organisers who were dealing with you earlier for various exhibitions and your industry bodies are already in the process of launching the shows on a virtual platform or some of them have already launched a few. They are working hard so that you get a place which is seamless for you to do business. And they are trying to make the virtual environment as suitable for you as possible so that it is business as usual.
How does the Virtual exhibitions work?
Here is a simple description of how it works.
Post the login to the portal where the exhibition is hosted, you get several options to navigate.
- Main session, where a panel is talking about an important topic related to your industry
- Exhibition Halls – You could navigate into the exhibition area where you will be able to see the exhibition hall the same way as you see in off-line exhibition and further you will be to see the exhibition stalls.
- Exhibition Stalls – Once you click on these exhibition stalls, you will be able to look at one stall independently and can get to know more about it or decide to talk to the exhibitor on one-to-one basis.
- Netowrking / Lobby area – Many platforms also offer lobby areas or networking areas where you could grab a table and start networking with a person or a group of people. It is actually quite interesting.
How do I need to be prepared for the shows, as an exhibitor?
This is where the big difference comes in. Your organisers have done well to be virtual ready, but my question to you is, are you virtual ready?
If you are an exhibitor in this virtual exhibition, let’s see how a visitor reaches you. After navigating through the lobby, the exhibition stalls and once they click at your booth, they see several options before they get in touch with you.
- Your website
- Your product catalogues which you would have uploaded,
- Your product / corporate videos
- Your social media pages
It is only after looking at all of these, if the visitor wants, he or she decides to click on the button to have a chat with you or to initiate a video conference with you if you are available.
If they do not like all what you have posted, they may actually decide not to be in touch with you and browse another exhibitor in the same category.
Now this is where the real essence of being virtual ready comes in handy. You have to make sure that you present an awesome image in front of the visitors at all possible interaction points like a great website, your product catalogues and your videos as well as how well you have been updating your social pages like LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and many more.
To end this blog, all I would like to say is that virtual is here to stay and in times to come it is going to coexist with the offline Exhibitions. So you really need to start working on how you can be virtual ready for the shows because this is going to help you in months and years to come.
Have a great day.
Gagan Kapoor (Exhibition Consultant & Trainer)