We have become used to technology disrupting businesses and creating new ways in which we run our lives and conduct business. Google, Amazon, Facebook, PayPal, Uber, AirBNB and countless others have required that we shift our businesses to adapt to the new technologies.

But 2020 brought us a global pandemic where it was an outside force that required a business transition. It wasn’t technology that brought about this change, but a contagious virus that required us to adapt to new ways of doing things. In fact, the technology had to adapt as well, as people began working from home, ordering online, and attending meetings online.

Tradeshows and events are in the midst of a revolution. Since March 2020, virtual events have seen a 1000% rise, according to an article in the Forbes magazine. The start of the pandemic had events being cancelled or postponed. Rather than cancelling an event, shifting it to a different platform has proven to be the better option for many industries. The question “will virtual events replace in-person events?” is a never-ending one. But event marketers have realized the potential virtual platforms. Even as in-person events return and we see hybrid events becoming standard practice, virtual events are here to stay.

It took a pandemic for the world to accept and embrace existing but underutilized technologies. While the pandemic has pushed all industries, including events and trade shows, to forcibly go online for survival, it’s not the reason that virtual is here to stay. It’s merely been the enabler. The benefits of being online have proven to be too significant to ignore.

Buyers and Vendors are both increasingly unlikely to travel to as many physical events, due to high financial and time costs. Virtual trade shows allow you to hold large-scale events, online, meaning your audience and speakers don’t have to leave their desks to attend. There are many compelling benefits of virtual trade shows, as opposed to physical events, including;

  • Improved lead generation
  • Expanded attendee base
  • Increased brand awareness
  • Time savings and productivity gains
  • Cost effectiveness
  • Increase ROI potential
  • New revenue streams
  • Tracking and measurability
  • Length of time event is available

The problem with virtual trade shows and expos is that they typically are unable to replicate the reasons why large, in-person events became popular in the first place: human interaction. All too often, these virtual events are nothing more than a collection of videos and images, combined with a webinar format for the live presentations. But human interaction is lacking. Being able to meet new people, ask questions of the exhibitors, meet the speakers, and re-connect with colleagues and friends is a missing factor that most events simply ignore because of the difficulty involved in making these relationships meaningful. But, despite the huge improvements made in the past couple of years, virtual expos are still in their infancy and these limitations will become minimized over time.