Are In-Person Trade-Shows & Events a Thing of the Past?

Lauren Follett's picture
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Lauren Follett
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Lauren Follett wrote:

I read an interesting Software Advice article written by Dayna Rothman, Content Marketing Manager at Marketo that examined the planning & execution of Marketo’s virtual event “Good to Great—A Marketing Virtual Event” that took place in November 2012. The event was one of the largest virtual events in ON24 history, with more than 10,000 registrants and almost 3,500 attendees.

After reading this case study I was left wondering if in-person trade-shows & events are a thing of the past?

Virtual events seem to accomplish everything that in-person events do: lead generation, promoting your company & brand, selling a product, interacting with attendees, giving out prizes, designing a booth, etc. But, here’s the big difference & major plus in my opinion; you’re conducting this event in virtual reality. No need to order & assemble a physical booth, coordinate transportation to & from the event, rent a venue, get hotel rooms for staff, pay for all staff meals & drinks during the event, create & print collateral, etc. Similar to eWorkshops & online webinars, the event is completely executed online.

In this digital day & age many activities that used to require human contact (in-person or over the phone) can now be completed online without any human interaction:

  • Shopping
  • Customer Service (live online chat)
  • House Hunting
  • Seminars (now webinars)
  • School (online courses)
  • Grocery Shopping 
     

I’m sure there are more examples, but the point is that most activities can now be accomplished without having to physically see or speak to anyone.

I was amazed at the technology we have available today where we can actually host an event with 3,500 people without having to leave the office. In a world where speed & efficiency is king this is a dream come true.

On the other hand, is there still value in human interaction? Can we form the same type of relationships virtually as we can in-person? If not, are advancements in technology simply going to create a new type of virtual relationship? And are we ok with this? Considering these questions, do you think in-person tradeshows & events a thing of past?

Click Here to read Dayna's article

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4 Responses

Adrian Hargreaves's picture
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Adrian Hargreaves
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Adrian Hargreaves wrote:

I have observed increasing apathy in the UK concerning B2B trade shows, on the part of potential visitors and exhibitors, (both of course need each other).  A trend has been for some exhibitions to merge, but whilst this creates a large event, the exhibitors may not be as relevant to many visitors. 

There are exceptions.  Cities with large numbers of both resident and communting skilled people within certain industries still offer good exhibitions.  Examples would include London for fashion, media and advertising, where exhibitions and social activities can be combined.  Also the oil and offshore energy exhibitions in Aberdeen, Scotland, traditionally tend to be very well attended, with some local hotels booked up almost a year in advance.  Similarly B2C trade shows which focus on activities of high current interest, represent on opportunity to research and maybe purchase as well as a fun day out.

Trade shows and exhibitions need to work hard to firstly create events which are not inferior duplicates of existing events, as well as adding value by offering more opportunities for face to face interaction through networking, award events and social activities.  Otherwise, many exhibitors and visitors will find it harder to justify giving up their time and money.  

I would agree that the relevance, convenience, availability and immediacy of relevant digital content and online events and presentations will, as more people get familiar with producing and accessing them, put real pressure on all but the strongest live events.

 

Lauren Follett's picture
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Lauren Follett
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Lauren Follett wrote:

Hi Adrian, thank you for sharing these insights. There are definitely exceptions, but I agree with you - traditional trade-shows & events are going to have to step up their game in order to keep up attendance as the convenience of hosting virutal events is tempting.

Tim Beevers's picture
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Tim Beevers
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Tim Beevers wrote:

You can't beat the hands-on learning experience, ability instantly to walk away with new technology, multi-sense bombardment of new information, speed-meeting of like-minded people, the downtime experiences of a separate physical location, change-up in access to food, theater, parks, friends who live in another city, or other pleasures - yet.

Lauren Follett's picture
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Lauren Follett
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Lauren Follett wrote:

Hi Tim, those are good points! In-person trade-shows & events have perks & experiences that virtual events don't. I guess it all comes down to time & efficiency vs. the experience.