Falguni Jain is a business development professional turned content marketer for Hubilo, a virtual event platform with notable global clients that include the UN, Siemens, GITEX, NYU, AWS and Tech In Asia.
As you consider shifting your next trade show online, make sure to focus on your exhibitors. While virtual events are a new format for almost all the stakeholders involved, exhibitors in particular may be apprehensive about this change. It is important you convey to them, that regardless of where you host the event, they will get the same return on investment.
Here’s how you can live up to that promise:
Enable your exhibitors to create highly personalized professional profiles on your virtual event platform. In the absence of physical stalls, they need a dedicated space to showcase themselves. For this, you can give them a variety of opportunities. In their respective booths, exhibitors can put up image or autoplay video banners, share their contact details, add information about themselves in the description box, showcase their products and offerings through videos and images, provide their social links, upload brochures and other downloadable content, and even add profiles of team members that visitors can meet or chat with.
Exhibitors may want to increase their visibility further. Make sure you are prepared for the same. Give them the option to enhance their visibility by letting them pick a booth size (small, medium or large) or via featured slots on the website landing page, reception/homepage and the exhibitors’ page or through a banner displayed across the event. Similarly, give them the option to get highlighted in event-related communication, such as in emails and push notifications sent to attendees (e.g. send out a notification saying “Have you checked out xyz exhibitor yet?”, that will appear on attendees’ side pane). Also, let exhibitors sponsor sessions and get a clickable logo displayed on the agenda page, which will directly take visitors to their booths.
Another interesting way is hosting branded contests. Attendees are always enthusiastic about participating in virtual contests and it is unlikely they will miss seeing the name and logo of who sponsored the contest. To take this a step further, host exhibitor-oriented contests like an exhibitor hall scavenger hunt, where attendees will be motivated to visit the exhibitors’ booths and interact with them, to get answers to questions asked in the task. As a complement to such contests, allow exhibitors to sponsor prizes in the form of gift cards or even a free annual subscription to a service they offer.
Let attendees engage with the exhibitors’ team members (and vice versa) through the virtual event platform’s networking feature. They can send chats to ask queries or display their interest in the exhibitor’s offering or even schedule meetings with any team member.
Similarly, exhibitors can reach out to attendees who are their hot leads and initiate a conversation. The best part is that using the in-built matchmaking functionality of the platform, both the attendees and exhibitors can receive smart recommendations of who they should connect with.
Give exhibitors the opportunity to host a mid-day session where they can introduce themselves to the attendees and talk about a topic related to their product or service. The sessions’ length may vary depending on what the exhibitor wants to talk about. Another option is to set up a breakout room with open access, where attendees can join in to receive an exclusive product demonstration from the exhibitor or participate in some activity arranged by him.
Provide your exhibitors useful insights on leads by giving them access to the analytics dashboard. This can include information such as:
Furthermore, use the virtual event platform’s functionality to auto-assign engagement points to each attendee and mark them as hot or cold leads, so that exhibitors know who to approach first. Finally, allow them to download a detailed report of this data, to view it even after the event is over.
Exhibitors are why trade shows exist in the first place. Whether in-person or virtual, make sure you craft an event that is oriented around fulfilling their needs.
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