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Big Learnings as Trade Shows Go Virtual

by aleran
22 January, 2021

Touted as the most influential tech event in the world, for the last 50 years CES has been a showcase for breakthrough technologies and global innovation in every part of the tech sector. This January, in the face of a still-raging global pandemic, CES went fully digital, allowing the entire tech community to participate in the year’s events safely — from wherever they were. CES plans to be back to an in-person event in Las Vegas 2022, but they have already signalled that moving forward the event will be a hybrid of an in-person and digital experience, apparently offering the best of both worlds to attendees.


While CES may be the trade show with the most global name recognition, it’s far from the only trade show or mart that’s had to reimagine itself in the wake of the global pandemic. Now, industry experts are cautioning against an approach which merely substitutes video presentations and conference calls for in-person trade show experiences. For the most effective adaptations, organizers are being encouraged to use tools and technology that opportunize digital formats to create richer, interactive trade show experiences. For example, virtual booths, live product demos, personalized digital showrooms and B2B e-commerce, and other digitally-augmented experiences.


3 tips for a great virtual trade show

Using the right tech platform is just one piece of the puzzle. Here are a few other tips for running a successful virtual trade show or digital showroom experience:

Determine the highest-value components
Think about what aspects of the showroom and trade show experience your customers value most, then work back from there, making sure the most high-value parts of the in-person experience are being represented online — whether that’s offering live product demos, creating unique networking opportunities, or personalizing and streamlining the shopping experience per vendor.

Find tools and tech that enrich the remote experience
Depending on the type of event you’re hosting, different digital tools will likely be required. Whether that means using a live streaming or video conferencing platform or finding a partner to facilitate interactive experiences like live shopping, polls or live questions, product demos or giveaways, look for platforms that help you enrich the online experience with technology that augments rather than stands in.

Engage customers before and after the event
Executing a virtual trade show or event is one thing, but engaging your audience before and after will help guarantee ROI for your efforts. Use social media and email to build buzz for your event, engaging your audience beforehand to contribute ideas and share what they’d like to see from a live, virtual event (online surveys or polls are a great tool for this). Communicate clearly about the value proposition for attending (are there special discounts and promotions?) And once an event is over, continue to offer access to digital content or repurpose content developed for the day in other ways.

At Aleran, we’ve created a wholesale marketplace builder to support digital trade shows, showrooms, and other event-based marketplaces which are now operating remotely and virtually. Our cloud-based, multi-agency, multi-vendor platform, MarketPlace, gives you all the tools you need to quickly and effectively recreate the wholesale showroom or trade show experience online — no cost-prohibitive builds, no months-long integration cycles, and no IT headaches. For more information on MarketPlace, or to schedule a live demo, contact us today.

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