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Can a virtual trade show platform replace an in-person event?
With sanitation stations, masks, and physical distancing becoming our new normal, it’s easy to say that virtual events will be the new trend. However, we can’t totally say that in-person events are dead. All hope is not lost, especially since some countries have already started their vaccination programs.
According to statistics, 97% of marketers believe that we will see hybrid events this year; thus, more and more organizers are expected to invest in virtual events and their accompanying technology. In fact, 93% of event organizers and marketers plan to invest more in virtual events this year.
This is an exciting development because it proves that we are open to progress and that in-person and virtual events can co-exist. Considering all the advantages of virtual trade shows, as pointed below, there’s no reason for you to resist change.
Benefits of Virtual Trade Shows
- Plenty of networking opportunities
- Cost-effective/reduced expenses
- Time-efficient. No more tiresome hotel check-in and check-out, airports, etc.
- Expansive reach or increased attendee count
- Data and analytics
Imagine this—you can generate high-quality leads from the comfort of your home. Further, there is no run-around involved or grueling travel schedules. Sweet, isn’t it?
The promise of virtual jewelry trade shows is attractive, but a successful trade show takes more than just sitting on your couch. You’ll need technology, a platform that will not disappoint you and your attendees.
So here are five key features you should consider when choosing a virtual trade show platform.
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5 Key Features of a Good Virtual Trade Show Platform
1. Customization or the ability to customize
Customization is key to your virtual success.
The purpose behind customization is branding. When you’re looking for a virtual trade show platform, choose the one that would best allow you to integrate your voice and branding with the platform.
Moreover, the customization should work both ways. While you’re able to integrate your brand throughout, your attendees should also be able to customize their experience.
Hence, when considering customization, you can ask the following questions.
- What are the customization features of your virtual trade show platform?
- How flexible are those features for different events?
- What are the customization features available for attendees?
- How do the customization features work in terms of brand integration? This way, you can ensure that the virtual platform will not go astray from your branding guidelines and you can offer a consistent experience to your attendees.
Know all the customization features available and choose the platform with features that align with your goal.
2. Ease of use
One of the advantages of virtual trade shows is the absence of time-consuming booth setups. Hence, it won’t make sense if your chosen virtual trade show platform is too complex to set up and navigate, which brings us to our next key feature—it should be simple and easy to use.
Simplicity all boils down to an easy setup process, seamless navigation, and a user-friendly interface. Take note that this platform is also the same platform that your attendees will use, so you want their experience to be as frictionless as possible; otherwise, it will negatively impact your trade show.
Another factor to consider is device optimization. Your attendees will likely log in from different devices so think about how it will look and work on different screens.
Be mindful though that simplicity doesn’t mean ugly. Find the balance. Your platform should be simple but at the same time, clean and aesthetically pleasing.
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3. Audience engagement features
Another critical factor to consider is the audience engagement tools and features.
Unlike in-person events where it’s easier for people to be in the moment, attention is your primary competition when holding virtual trade shows. Online distractions and a shorter attention span don’t go well together; hence, your challenge is to keep attendees engaged.
When looking for virtual trade show platforms, consider the following tools.
- chatrooms, forums, messaging channels, live chat, and group chat feature
- Live polls
- Social sharing tools
- Gamification capability. For instance, quizzes, digital scavenger hunts, etc.
It’s also important to understand the flexibility of these features. Avoid using too many engagement features, especially unnecessary ones as they might overwhelm attendees.
Pay attention to the communication features available to attendees because satisfaction and attendee engagement is one of the KPIs for measuring the success of your virtual jewelry trade show.
4. On-demand support
Is there someone you can call in case of technical errors?
A good virtual trade show platform must have a live support team that you can call anytime tech problems arise. Consider this feature because technology is never perfect. Hiccups are inevitable and the smallest technical issue can affect the outcome of your event and the experience of the attendees.
When looking for this feature, find out if a live chat or phone support is available for you and your attendees. You don’t want them leaving the event because of a simple microphone issue that could have been avoided had your provider offered a live troubleshooting advantage.
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5. Data analytics and reporting
Lastly, all your hard work will not pay off if you don’t know how your virtual event went. As such, data analytics and reporting are one of the must-have features of an excellent virtual trade show platform.
A good platform provider will not just tell you whether you did good or otherwise; it must also provide you with all the pertinent information you’ll need to improve your future virtual events.
Below are some of the questions you should consider asking when shopping around for platforms.
- What types of data does your virtual platform collect?
- What reports can the platform generate?
- Does it include real-time insights to allow you to track your performance not only after the event but more so, while the event is taking place?
- More importantly, is the data collection process compliant with data collection and data privacy laws?
Now that you have an idea about some of the factors that make up a good virtual trade show platform, it’s time to do your shopping.
Don’t hesitate to ask any questions you have in mind. It’s better if the provider offers you a free demonstration before signing up so that you can also evaluate it as a whole. Take your time when assessing its reliability. When you’re finally convinced, we say, go for it!
What other features do you consider when shopping for virtual trade show platforms for your jewelry events? Let us know in the comment section below!