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Virtual Trade Shows
Virtual Trade Shows
our ever-changing world of technology, a new vehicle has arrived – the Virtual
formal definition of a Virtual Trade show might be: An entire convention center
full of people, products, and informational materials made available to
participants via their computers and the web.
simpler version would be: The Home Shopping Network® for Business.
the first time in history, convention participants no longer have to physically
travel to a convention center, battle traffic and smog, pay for parking, stand
in registration lines, and scurry to food stands and rest rooms. Instead, they
can sit at their computers tour the show, print out desirable material, request
written quotations, and place orders from the comfort of their cubicle.
all sounds very chic but does this signal the end of the meetings business and
trade shows, as we know it?
be wary – to ignore progress is to invite disaster.
shows exist, to make it convenient for a targeted customer base to get lots of
information about their specific area of interest, all in one convenient
virtual trade show exists for the same purpose – to pull together related
goods and services that are appropriate for a particular targeted group, and
make it easy for them to review and purchase from their computer – sort of an
electronic catalog of related items.
difference is that one requires attendees to congregate in a specific physical
locale while the other allows participants to stay put and have the mountains of
information brought to them.
the virtual trade show can be left in place and updated on a continual basis for
very little money or it can be used to selectively market to targeted groups or
individuals on a customized basis.
concluding conventional trade shows are dead, don’t forget that not everyone
is comfortable or interested in doing business exclusively on the computer.
people still like to travel, mingle with other real people who have the same
needs and interests, play touchy-feely with the products, and speak face to face
with the vendors.
does this mean for meeting planners? Simple – we now have to learn how to
conduct virtual trade shows as well as physical trade shows and in some cases,
do both simultaneously.
good news - Technology is NOT replacing the meeting planner and you do NOT have
to become a total techno-geek to stay viable as a meeting planner.
bad news – If meeting planners do NOT acquire the skills to understand and
implement virtual trade shows, they, and the organizations that they work with,
will be left behind.
reality: In order to remain competitive and fully responsive to the needs of
their clients, meeting planners need to do two (2) things immediately:
The Current Technology
The Current Technology
a brief overview of the currently available technology. Assume that it will get
better, faster, and easier to use over the next 5 years and you’ll understand
why it’s becoming so popular. First, the 8 realities:
exhibitors will want to offer color brochures to the visitors – These
brochures represent an inexpensive replacement for mailing materials, a basic
element of a web site and easy to do.
But there are 8 new and exciting areas that meeting planners need to experience in order to satisfy the needs of all of their clients:
technology for this medium is growing like kudzu and more than ever,
professional meeting planners are needed bring a sense of organization and
usefulness to the equation.
web sites do “techno-flashy” things because they can, rather than because
adding superfluous “stuff” to a trade show exhibit, we confuse and dilute
the visitors’ focus on what’s really important – the sale of the offerings
virtual trade shows are far less expensive to implement than physical booth
displays, restricting the client’s use of ineffective but flashy elements
becomes more challenging.
meeting planning addresses this need by bringing a sense of organization and
focus to the virtual trade show that ensures that the participant’s objectives
are met rather than providing a platform for technological nonsense.
“Virtual meeting planners” are not replacing today’s meeting planners but today’s planners must update their technological skills to support the industries they serve.
Rounds is an international trainer/speaker and consultant in the areas of
Internet marketing, marketing research, marketing development, advertising,
public relations, project management, and planning. Learn more at