Posted by

Barry Siskind

UFI’s Community Manager

The common belief is that virtual trade shows will never replace face to face events. Whether this statement is true or not, waits to be seen. While some organizations are turning to hosting their events virtually with varying degrees of success, industry watchers are scrambling for methods of integrating virtual components into their live exhibitions.

Mitra Sorrells, a blogger for posted an interesting piece called, “What to Know about Hosting a Virtual Trade Show.” I liked her eleven ideas. They are valuable  whether you are creating something entirely virtual or a hybrid.

Here are her eleven:

1. Think strategically.

Before investing in technology it is important to establish the metrics for success.

2. Try the technology.

You and your staff should experience the technology first-hand to understand how it feels from your visitor’s point of view.

3. Develop a marketing plan.

Having the right technology then hoping that people will use it is a “field of dreams.” Everything, including the virtual component of your exhibition needs a well thought-out marketing plan.

4. Educate your audience.

When a technology vendor tells you that navigating their system is simple – watch out. It may seem simple on paper but not all of your visitors are equal in their technological abilities. Spend time and resources training visitors.

4. Explain benefits to exhibitors.

Being easy to use and a time saver may not be enough to motivate users. Part of your marketing needs to address how the virtual component of your exhibition will you’re your visitors and exhibitor’s lives and businesses better.

6. Include relevant content.

Everyone has a different need so provide a well mixed agenda of content such as key-notes, exhibitor’s presentations or break-out sessions.

7. Create an effective schedule.

If you are attracting an international audience allow for time-zones in your planning. Also keep the content archived so visitors can browse at their leisure.

8. Add gamification.

Contest, games, prize draws should be used to add the element of fun.

9. Encourage networking.

Just as in a live event on-line, visitors need to network. Include chat rooms, messaging and information exchanges.

10. Use the data.

Your virtual component contains a wealth of information that can be used for future events. Develop a strategy for mining this information.

11. Extend the life of the event.

Long after the live event has ended, visitors can still see what they missed and connect with colleagues and visitors. But as in tip #3, you need an ongoing marketing plan to remind visitors that this resource is available.

This is a shortened version of the post. If you are considering any on-line activities reading the entire article will be very helpful.