Trade-show organizers are working hard to keep exhibitors happy during the coronavirus pandemic—but virtual trade shows largely are missing the mark, according to a new report from Tradeshow Logic.

An August survey from the event-solutions company reveals that a lot of exhibitors are unsatisfied with the level of engagement with customers and prospects these events provide—in fact, 43 percent of exhibitors who have participated in a virtual trade show say they won’t do so again. But the survey also provides much for organizers to consider as they work to improve the exhibitor experience.

The survey, which received responses from 343 individuals at companies that exhibit at or sponsor events, asked for feedback in two key areas: first, what exhibitors thought of the engagement opportunities/activations provided by the virtual event platform; and second, their takeaways or ROI from the experience.

In terms of the engagement/activations, here’s the good news: Education and thought-leadership opportunities for exhibitors in the virtual environment met or exceeded expectations for 62 percent of survey respondents. Unfortunately, that’s the only element that got a passing grade. Respondents’ satisfaction with their options for branding, promoting new products, and networking has a long way to go:Chart1.png

As for return on investment from virtual events, exhibitors aren’t thrilled. The only ROI to which more than 10 percent of the respondents selected “definitely met outcome” was “acquire participant data.” That may not be a surprise, as virtual-meeting attendance numbers have been especially strong through the pandemic. For many, however, it seems that high attendance didn’t translate into gaining leads and increasing sales:chart2.jpg

The survey identified four key challenges for exhibitors as they’ve transitioned from carpet and drape to clicks and pixels:
• Not enough time to prepare content
• The burden of learning multiple virtual-event platform technologies
• Lack of participation inside the virtual exhibit hall and minimal engagement with attendees
• The need to find new ways to convey the value of their products or services in order to connect with prospects

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We at Best Events Productions have studied the development of virtual events throughout the months. In March and April, people were generally putting their thinking hats on and gauging the situation. In May, things didn’t seem to be going back to how it was before and people started going all out with webinars before webinar fatigue started showing its fangs.

In June, when we organized our first virtual conference, the registrations we received were very encouraging at about 200 people registering with us with only a month’s notice however actual turn up on the event day was 10%. Credit is due to the speakers we manage to bring in to speak about Urban Mobility The recordings can be still be viewed.

People are not committed to attend webinars. They register due to FOMO but then get distracted and find something else to do.

In July, we started assessing the situation for October. What are the chances of having a virtual event? We looked around and asked people. Answers were very discouraging. People were missing the actual live interactions and screens just ain’t cutting it. We decided to push plans to 2021, June 2021 at the earliest.

Creating events are our bread and butter. We don’t see international guests flying so soon. We want to be optimistic but realistically, we would encourage brands to up their online branding with their own activations until people are more comfortable to attend live events again. Live events will not go away. It just won’t be the same. For a consultation on getting your brand in front of consumers, buzz us.

If you’re looking for live Facebook quiz shows to insert into your online content, buzz us.


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