Virtual fairs and the new commercial normality
In early February, as the new Covid-19 coronavirus spread to other countries, numerous trade fairs and events began to be cancelled and postponed until further notice. During that period of maximum uncertainty, more than a hundred fairs were cancelled in Spain, which, according to the Association of Spanish Fairs (AFE, in Spanish), would paralyse the fair activity of different industrial sectors from March to June.
The Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, which should have been held between February 24 and 27, Alimentaria, also in Barcelona, or the International Naval Industry Fair (Navalia), which should have been held in Vigo on May 19-21, are just some examples of large commercial events that take place annually in our territory and had to be cancelled or postponed to prevent the spread of the pandemic. Internationally, the Berlin International Tourism Fair (ITB) or the Geneva Motor Show are two of the more than 3,300 events that had to be cancelled for the same reasons.
The economic debacle that the pandemic has brought to the industry has challenged companies from all sectors to react quickly to guarantee the continuity of their commercial activity. To adapt to the new normality, companies must now focus their efforts on implementing new business methods such as virtual fairs, meetings through digital communication tools such as Skype or Zoom and other corporate virtual events such as webinars and seminars on different online platforms.
The virtual fair as an alternative to trade fairs
The integration of digital tools in all areas of society has been moving forward for years now, but everything points to the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic is going to be a dizzying boost to its definitive expansion. Companies are likely to reduce their travel and meetings, and many formalities and procedures that were previously face-to-face will take advantage of the full potential of new technologies to improve the safety of their health and, incidentally, costs and effectiveness.
Trade fairs will be no stranger to this paradigm shift. Virtual fairs are a more economical and ecological alternative that saves on personnel, travel costs, accommodation, installation and dismantling. Now, many companies with limited budgets that struggled to be present at the main fairs will have the opportunity to participate in more events.
The operation of a virtual fair is similar to that of a face-to-face trade fair: participants access the different pavilions, visit their stands and interact with other attendees through avatars. The goal is to always create an experience as relevant as possible for both exhibitors and visitors.
The companies have a virtual stand personalised with their corporate brand where their sales representatives can attend to the participants on request. Visitors can also view and save videos, documents and online presentations to their profile for later review. In a virtual environment you can also organise talks, chat rooms, seminars or presentations, networking sessions, product showrooms, etc.
In addition, virtual fairs offer advantages such as their much broader reach, since they allow a global audience to be reached, without space and time restrictions.
Another key is the ease offered by online platforms to measure in detail the success of the investment made in an event. Thanks to the different analytical tools, attendance and participation can be tracked in real time, and exhibitors can easily know the ROI and thus evaluate their performance in the virtual fair.
Zoom and other commercial tools
Modern professionals already use messaging and video conferencing apps as commercial tools on a daily basis, making this mode of interaction natural to them. Zoom, Skype and Google Meet have become the standards for organising face-to-face meetings, meetings with few people and a lot of interactivity.
LinkedIn also offers its events, which allow first-degree contacts to be invited to participate in online events in real time.
Virtual events, alternatives to your new corporate event
Before the cancellation of some fairs, such as the Geneva Motor Show, we had already seen how major brands such as Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz have presented their latest news to journalists and industry experts through their own online platforms through live streaming.
Virtual events are clearly a rising option, and proof of this is the increased demand for corporate live video platforms such as Run The World, Wowza, Switcher Studio, Redstream and Hopin.
What is a webinar?
E-learning or online training has become an excellent tool for promotion and loyalty. One of the most successful formats are webinars: conferences, courses, seminars or online workshops in video format with which brands invite consumers to try their products. Its main advantage is the interaction in relatively small groups.
If you are looking for a partner to help you maximise your fairs and events marketing in this new virtual era, at BCM Marketing we are ready to help you.