5 Secrets to Fix Your Lackluster Virtual Trade Show

July 20, 2021

Muhammad Younas

Muhammad Younas is the CEO at vFairs, a leading global virtual events platform. With over 13 years of experience in the software space, Younas has conceptualized and grown multiple highly profitable B2B SaaS businesses reaching millions of users around the world.

What if you could recreate all the energy and excitement of a trade show without the pushing, shoving, booth bunnies or the trolls whose sole mission is to load their vendor logo bags with every piece of swag they can grab? Virtual events came of age in 2020 and are now dominating all discussions about the future of events. They are expected to grow at almost 23% annually until 2027, and this prediction came before the pandemic pulled the plug on every imaginable in-person event.

As more and more vaccines find willing arms, trade shows are making a huge pivot. So, what does that future look like? Numerous studies indicate that even when in-person events resume full force, hybrid events will be preferred. Attendees will have a choice to attend virtually or in person. Event technology facilitating hybrid events will be sought after and will help drive participation and community. 

With last March marking the one-year anniversary for people working from home across the globe, the excitement at the prospect of working and attending events remotely has long gone. Organizers are struggling to keep their audiences engaged, trying to boost participation however they can.

Every company is expected to have a virtual event strategy in place in the coming years because of scalability and the ease of measuring data, right from engagement to leads to networking. But how do you keep things interesting and engaging for someone trapped in front of a screen, with numerous distractions preventing them from being present in your virtual event?

Keep in mind that participants are complaining about attending an increasing number of virtual events. People get bored or distracted thanks to chores, pets, kids or even other open tabs on their screens. They also don’t feel the same connection with other attendees.

So how do we address these complaints? With virtual events here to stay, there has to be a fix to otherwise “boring” virtual trade shows.

Interact and Include

The webinars hosted in your virtual trade show must aim to engage with the participants. A pre-recorded webinar will fail to create that level of engagement. Listening to a person speak without being able to contribute falls flat. Make them feel an active part of the event. Live, or semi-live webinars can help attendees feel included in the conversation. Live Q&As and polls can also help attendees of a virtual trade show interact. You get their opinions, and they get to voice their opinion, thus generating greater interest in the event.

Arrange Breakout Groups

Stuck in front of a screen, attendees can feel isolated. A lack of connection could lead to being distracted. To prevent this, breakout groups, such as those in an in-person event could be arranged within the virtual platform. A small group setting, workshops or even small scale panel discussions with fewer attendees can help attendees connect with one another. Ten to 20 people versus 100 or more people in one session can increase attention levels.

Content Matters

Don’t underestimate the ability of powerful content to draw in audiences by the flock. If you put up a 50-60 minute webinar session or video, people will quickly lose interest. Cut the length. A 20-minute session is short and sweet, and will help keep attendees interested. They won’t feel the burden of having to commit an hour to one session. Attendees have the power to leave the session at the click of a button, so be mindful of this and design content accordingly. You want audiences to find value in the content, so focus on quality rather than quantity.

Entertain Audiences

Keeping your audiences entertained is also a big responsibility during a virtual trade show. To build excitement, organize games, quizzes or scavenger hunts. Incentivize action by advertising the winning prize. Go a step further and host a short virtual concert, or invite celebrities, athletes or musicians during break time. This will break the monotony of the virtual trade show.

Appealing Designs

Attendees have complained about not having a sense of space. Granted they are attending the virtual trade show via a screen from their lounge. However, animated 3D designs, virtual avatars and life-like settings reflecting the actual event can help them better relate to the event. The welcome lobby must hook them from the first moment they step into it. Add in agenda, programs, speaker lists, etc. to instantly grab attention.

As events evolve, so are event audiences. To keep up with the times, embrace the change and follow these steps to further engage your audiences. Now you have all the secrets to turn a boring virtual trade show into an exciting opportunity!

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Partner Voices

Now, you’ll be able to seamlessly connect your virtual and in-person audiences and deliver enterprise-grade, fully integrated hybrid events - without the need to manage multiple vendors. The return of face-to-face experiences will raise questions about how to create the best blended event that combines in-person and virtual elements.