It’s no secret that the tradeshow landscape has changed since March of 2020. When COVID shut down shows and offices worldwide, we pivoted to holding tradeshows, meetings, and conferences virtually. With in-person events making their comeback over this past year, some speculated that virtual events would disappear as people became comfortable with tradeshows again. However, it looks like virtual tradeshows are here to stay.
What makes virtual events so great for companies is their accessibility. They’re less expensive to host and require far fewer expenses of their attendees: there’s no travel, housing, setup fees, or incidentals to contend with. Attendees can log in to the show from their homes, offices, or wherever suits their fancy. But for some, virtual events just don’t cut it.
Thankfully, in-person events are returning – but those virtual events aren’t going anywhere.
Now, we’re seeing tradeshows take place in person with a virtual component available before or after the show for folks who can’t or would prefer not to attend physically. There are many benefits to hosting a hybrid (both in-person and virtual) tradeshow. In-person attendees can visit booths, shake hands, and schmooze like usual without worrying about making time to see every single booth because they can log on to the virtual show and catch up with what they missed later. Virtual attendees can continue to get their tradeshow fix from the comfort of their homes and offices, creating lasting connections with exhibitors.
With major tradeshows like The PPAI Expo holding both in-person and virtual components, how do you make the most of your tradeshow experience?
First, plan to attend both the in-person and virtual shows if you can. At a high level, that’s the way to get the most out of a hybrid tradeshow. But let’s break it down a little more and examine exactly what you need to do to really maximize your return at hybrid shows:
Don’t attend an in-person show without a game plan! It may have been years since you last attended a physical tradeshow, and it’s easy to forget just how overwhelming things can become with all the hustle and bustle.
Make a plan ahead of time by using SAGE Mobile to plot out your walk list. You can select the exhibitors you want to be sure to visit, and SAGE Mobile will create a walk list for you with the most efficient route possible. Doing this before the show gives you time to decide what is most worth your time during the limited show hours.
Be sure to take lots of photos, videos, and notes to keep track of everything you liked or found interesting, as well as your conversations with exhibitors. When you’re perusing the show floor, you can scan suppliers’ QR codes to pull up their information in SAGE Mobile, where you can then make as many notes as your heart desires. Then, you can easily download ALL your information after the show, so nothing gets lost in the shuffle!
Having a plan for the in-person show also comes into play for the virtual component. Because you want to get the most value out of attending both physically and virtually, you should use the virtual show as an opportunity to check out the things you didn’t get to see in-person or booths that didn’t make the cut for your walk list. If the virtual event takes place after the in-person, cross-reference the list of booths you visited against who’s exhibiting at the virtual show and visit the ones you didn’t see in person. If the online show is first, check your walk list and make a point to see some of the booths that aren’t on it.
You can also use the virtual show as an excellent opportunity to follow up on the connections you made in person. Stop by booths of exhibitors you already visited to say hi and chat about previously discussed products or promotions. It’s also worth checking out what show specials suppliers are running – they may have different offers for the in-person and virtual shows!
If that sounds like a lot to coordinate and handle, don’t worry. With the tradeshow planner in SAGE Mobile, you can make your tradeshow experience a breeze. Want to learn more about SAGE Mobile? Check out our blogs on getting the most out of tradeshows with SAGE Mobile and the most recent app updates.