Navigating A Virtual Event Or In-Person Trade Show During Covid-19

With the service and event industry being shut down due to covid, everyone has had to adapt. Online conferences became a regular way to interact with consumers. It’s allowed more people from around the world to participate in events or listen to a panel of experts on a topic.

Recently, small to medium sized events have been taking place as states become less restrictive. Take the time to thoroughly plan out your next event, whether it’s virtual or in-person. If you haven’t conducted one yet, it could be beneficial for your business.

Virtual Event

There are different websites companies have been using to host an event including Zoom, Google Hangout, BigBlueButton, YouTube, and Eventbrite. The platform you choose depends on a few different factors. The number of people you expect to attend, mode of communication, and if you charge a fee are a few examples. For communication, will you allow an open dialogue, or constrain attendees to a chat box?

Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

BigBlueButton allows you to create breakout rooms, where attendees can go to different chats for different information. This could be useful for multiple business and simulate someone being at your booth.

Think of pricing, is this something you are going to offer for free or no? If it’s free, you are likely to get more sign ups. For a paid event, you are establishing a greater value.

The platform and pricing may depend on what type of event you run. Showcasing different products as if you would at a booth, compared to a Q&A with a panel of experts may have different needs. For a Q&A, a platform with a chat box could be better suited. A moderator can read questions and there are no unintended interruptions from attendees. Research the different options to best suit your needs.

Promote your virtual event to your clients by sending email campaigns and post on social media to reach a greater audience. Your business page may not get as much reach as an influencer. Partner with one or a couple to create buzz around your event. Depending on your connection, they could be willing to do it for free. But establish a budget for influencer marketing if you don’t already have one. If you chose to have a guest speaker or a panel of experts, have them promote it to their audience as well.

Free or paid, it is nice to still offer giveaways at the end of the virtual event as if you would for an in person show. Send an email to participants with a list of virtual gifts they can redeem with promo codes or coupons. If you’ve collected their addresses, you can send them an item or goodie bag through snail mail. Ship them ahead of time so that they arrive on or as close as possible to the event day.

In-Person Trade Show

As you may know, trade shows are a great way to meet with manufacturers and buyers. Networking in any industry is huge, and it’s important to not lose that in-person connection. As 2020 is nearing its end, more business are starting to work towards in-person events again. Depending on where you live, certain restrictions by law apply. Because of this, there will be some obstacles to tackle considering social distancing, reduced capacity, mask use, and if it’s indoor or outdoor. This doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

A couple weeks ago, a small trade show for promotional products occurred in a parking lot of ASI. This is just one demonstration that shows events can continue.

Timothy Andrews on LinkedIn

When considering an in-person event, hosting it outside may be the preferred option, weather permitting. It makes it easier to space out booths and patrons will not need to wear a mask if they don’t want to. Other than abiding by government protocols, plan your trade show similarly to how you would before.

A lot of people are excited to get back to the way things were, but make sure they can feel comfortable participating!


Featured Image: on Unsplash

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