Alyssa Sterioti, Ben Cramer and John Loveless
What will your organization do to flourish in this Digital Exhibition World? After giving this a lot of thought in recent days, we thoughtfully considered how to create solutions for digitizing live exhibitions. Quite frankly, this exercise involved a lot of education for our teams coupled with selecting strategic partners we were confident could scale as digital events continue to grow. We researched and evaluated more than 30 virtual event platforms. In doing so, we narrowed our list to a handful of platforms and recommendations for our clients based upon their needs and business objectives.
To explain options for digital exhibitions, we used the analogy of shopping online with a retailer like Amazon or Costco. For example, Amazon prompts shoppers with items to consider after viewing certain products. This Artificial Intelligence (AI) is something typically not found when pushing a shopping cart (the wrong way) up an aisle. Now let’s apply this to your next show. Imagine taking an exhibition virtual and not only having AI prompt attendees with exhibitors to meet and which sessions to attend but also to discover fellow attendees with similar interests. Using this type of AI gives exhibitors value, providing insights and data about what type of attendees visited their booths. This is a powerful tool exhibition organizers can use to increase exhibitor ROI.
As we transition in-person to virtual, we looked at how these two experiences differ and how behavior changes may occur in-person versus online. At an in-person exhibition, an attendee visits a company’s booth and then looks at their products. However, when shopping online, the journey often starts by searching for a product first and then reviewing the companies offering similar products. When digitalizing exhibitions, consider virtual booths that align with the desired attendee online behavior. Instead of creating a 3-D version of the physical exhibit hall, develop a marketplace which allows attendees to search and filter products. As the organizer, allowing exhibitors to upload a specific number of products to their product gallery based on sponsor level, and providing exhibitors access to insights and data showing which products interest attendees the most, is incredibly valuable.
We recommend gaining a better understanding of what you want to achieve with your digital exhibition to determine which platform is best for your show needs. Understanding your goals and working with a partner like GES will enable you to find the best solution to successfully launch your digital exhibition.