Why Virtual Trade Shows Shows are Here to Stay

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Why Virtual Trade Shows Shows are Here to Stay

The coronavirus pandemic forced businesses across the world to adapt from holding everything from trade shows to small group meetings in person to an online format. Many companies have rolled out plans to bring back in-person events over the past several months, albeit in a different fashion than people have experienced in the past. Salesforce is just one example.

How Salesforces is Handling its 2021 Trade Show

Salesforce is one of the largest and most well-known sales-oriented organizations in the United States. They hosted a conference known as Dreamforce every fall for the past several years in San Francisco. After holding a virtual-only event in 2020 due to the coronavirus, leadership at Salesforce has decided to combine the best of both worlds for its 2021 trade show. For the first time ever, the event will take place in London, New York City, and Paris as well as online.

Dreamforce attendees in the United States must show proof of vaccination upon entry. The in-person events will also be smaller than years past to make social distancing possible. Organizations across the world have adopted the same hybrid approach to large-scale events. There is a silver lining to limited in-person opportunities and more virtual opportunities to attend large events. The result is that many more people can directly benefit from the knowledge presented.

Delta Variant Causes Some Event Planners to Institute a Mask Mandate

The leadership of several military and defense organizations in the United States have commented in recent weeks that they intend to go ahead with planned large-scale events. They issued these statements after inquiries from news organizations in response to an increase of coronavirus cases, particularly related to the Delta variant.

However, most military organizations putting on trade shows and other large events now require attendees to wear face coverings even if vaccinated. Most organizations have not indicated that they intend to limit attendance. However, all have agreed to enforce social distancing as much as possible.

Organizers Must Be Open to Virtual Trade Shows

Nearly all trade shows in 2020 suffered cancellations. This resulted in the leadership of many organizations re-considering their budget for similar events in the future. Recently, 500 decision-makers at companies in the United States and the United Kingdom responded to an FTI Consulting Group survey on the future of trade shows. Approximately 58 percent of respondents indicated that they would decrease their trade show budget. Conversely, 46 percent stated they would increase it.

The decision-makers in this survey acknowledged that trade shows are vital for lead generation, branding, networking, and learning new information. Because of this, all respondents indicated they were anxious to resume their company’s trade shows. As they learned from pivoting to an online model last year, virtual trade shows are more popular than they expected. Most companies will continue to offer reduced in-person options and unlimited virtual options to keep up with demand.

Just how popular are virtual trade shows compared to their in-person counterparts? Of decision-makers who responded to the survey, 70 percent stated they participated in a virtual event within the last year. Another 62 percent of them said they preferred it.

Reaping the benefits of trade shows in these challenging times calls for maximum flexibility. Organizers must consider all options and change plans on a whim if necessary.