Taking the trade show online
What would you say to attending a trade show or conference without having to leave home?
Now you can do it, simply by going online and interacting with vendors and fellow attendees through your computer or laptop.
“It is becoming increasingly more difficult to dedicate time to attend the many industry trade shows that take place throughout western Canada,” says Kelsey Hepples, the CEO of Industry Connect. “Having said that, it is still important to seek out new technologies and services that can reduce operating costs and increase production.”
One of these “virtual” conferences is Industry Connect, held on May 8-9, touted as Canada’s first virtual trade show for the oil and gas industry.
“When we launched this event, we did so with the major oil and gas producers in mind. We wanted to offer the attendees a streamlined and modern networking platform that gives you the same business development opportunities as traditional trade shows, without the investment of cost and time,” says Hepples. “You will be able to connect with exhibitors in real time, view and download their informational documents, and stream exhibitors’ webinars which showcase their cost saving solutions to industry problems.
“No travel; no overhead; no time restrictions – just networking.”
But it does beg the question – how do you set up a booth online? And how does it work?
“Booths are packed with features that your visitors can interact with,” she says, adding that there are a team of experts available to help set up and customize these virtual booths. “You can host images, brochures, data sheets and play videos to bring your booth to life.”
And there is the opportunity to host your own webinar, adds Hepples, which can be accessed at any time during the show by attendees.
“Because our show is digital, everything is tracked,” she says. “You therefore will receive all the analytics of how your booth was received by the industry: what was clicked on, who clicked on it, and what was downloaded.”
While there are plusses of an online trade show, there isn’t the same feel as a traditional conference, where you can see each other and interact face-to-face.
But the face-to-face isn’t lost by going online, Hepples points out.
“Our show is very interactive. Attendees can chat in real time via text chat or video chat,” she says. “Our platform is about getting that initial contact established and creating a foundation to grow your business relationship.
“Traditional shows are what I call a ‘marketing black hole,’” continues Hepples. “You throw a bunch of money into a booth, into travel, hotel, food, manpower, rentals; and then you hope that you will see a face to talk to.”
But will the online experience completely replace the traditional conference?
“I think that the Industry Connect is an excellent way to complement your existing, traditional trade shows. I still believe in the importance of face value when establishing new business relationships,” she says. “However, it is very difficult to exhibit and attend the numerous shows that take place throughout the year. Our platform allows attendees to efficiently see cost-saving solutions from new technologies, and services, without the cost.”
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