Exhibition World Issue 3 – 2021 | Page 31


Trade shows 2.0 : How do we revive the art of networking ?

Vaibhav Jain , CEO at virtual event platform Hubilo , looks at how tradeshows can breathe new life into the online format and revive the art of networking
hen the pandemic hit , a new era of online events emerged . While Covid-19 restrictions are beginning to lift across some global regions , organisers will still have to consider hosting their events online rather than in person , not least because virtual events have proved their long-term value by allowing attendees from around the globe to gather online without traditional constrictions such as travel time and costs .
However , for tradeshows , traditional networking , and social interaction – a significant draw at in-person events – has all too often given way to Zoom fatigue and staid one-way communications . Organisers and exhibitors will be looking for ways to inject the excitement and engagement associated with attending an event in person into virtual events . This requires a step-change in technical innovation to place interactivity at the heart of each event , providing delegates and exhibitors with a uniquely personalised experience . A new generation of platforms that enable virtual and hybrid events seamlessly integrates this .
According to a Grandview Research report , the virtual events sector is expected to grow nearly tenfold to more than $ 700bn over the next decade .
Creating engagement There is one-on-one engagement and mass engagement and a platform that encourages both will provide the amplest networking opportunities .
One-on-one engagement can be encouraged by deploying events on a platform with AI , natural language processing , and machine learning to match delegates based on what kind of connections they ’ re looking to make at the event . This autonomously creates a curated list for each attendee , showing them the top 10 people they should meet , based upon their unique goals . Attendees can request one-on-one meetings with each of their matches .
Mass engagement can be supported in a number of ways . A live feed – much like your homepage feed on any social media platform – allows attendees to post pictures , videos , and messages . Other attendees can engage and interact with these posts . Organisers can also set up breakout rooms and network lounges dedicated to specific subjects that attendees can enter and interact with others within them .
Gamification is also proving vital to inspiring attendees to participate and engage . Event platforms can significantly increase engagement by awarding prizes , with points awarded for attending talks , visiting booths , and chatting with other individuals .
A potential downfall of hybrid events is the lack of interaction between in-person and online attendees . However , a platform that provides physical attendees at a hybrid event with a mobile app allows them to interact with online attendees . What ’ s more , the matchmaking function will provide
Above : Vaibhav Jain
Below : Time to place interactivity at the heart of events
two lists ; one of the people attending in person and one of the people attending online .
Driving lead generation A successful tradeshow needs to provide great engagement and lead generation for exhibitors . A virtual event platform should give each exhibitor their own profile that can be customised with company and product information . The platform should also allow exhibitors to interact through the breakout rooms and branded lounges where they can perform product demos .
The platform should capture every attendee ’ s details that engage with each exhibitor , who can access the details in a list that the platform automatically ranks into hot , warm , and cold leads .
Exhibitors should also be able to bid for the opportunity to sponsor ads across the event . Not only does this help the organiser with monetisation , but it also gives exhibitors more exposure and provides them with details of who has clicked on the ad banner and shown an interest in their business .
So , we haven ’ t really lost the art of networking in the age of online tradeshows . Event platforms have made networking smarter . What ’ s more , the data that is autonomously gathered and analysed makes it easier than ever to generate leads . Virtual and hybrid events platforms can indeed push creativity to motivate attendees to more deeply engage .
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