With an increasing number of educational and collaborative experiences available online, one may wonder if trade shows will become a thing of the past. Although online content and social media are drawing the world closer, allowing colleagues around the globe to work together almost as if they’re in the same office, there is one thing that can’t be replicated in the virtual world and that’s the ability to build relationships through networking. According to industry watcher, Corbin Ball “The events, trade show and hospitality industries are relationship-based and events and trade shows are some of the best ways to build these relationships.”
So, what drives event attendance?
If we look at research on what will drive event attendance in the future, we get an interesting answer. When asked which factors influence their decision to attend an event, almost 80% replied that the quality of networking would be the most important decision criteria for them, followed by high quality speakers, high quality educational content, and guaranteed opportunity to meet key people. More and more, attendees want to have greater control over their experience, so they can get the most out of the investment they’ve made in attending an event.
Further, when asked which technologies will be commonplace in conventions and exhibitions by 2020, more than 80% replied that live video streaming to remote participants will be more common. Other top responses include events running in parallel virtual meeting sites, and a social network for event participation before, during and after an event.
How technology complements events for attendees.
Providing tools that help attendees plan their event experience, research speakers and sessions, create their agenda, set appointments, and network before, during, and after an event will be important for event organizers as they attempt to stay relevant in an ever-changing landscape.
Attendees often use different devices throughout the event cycle, their laptop for research and to register, a tablet when on the road or at home, and their smartphone while at the conference or on the trade show floor. In order to create a seamless experience, the event plan they’ve created should be accessible no matter which device they’re on, with any updates or changes available from one platform to the next.
Events and trade shows are about networking, joint experience and conversations that take place at the coffee break in addition to the content that they transport – no virtual meeting or recorded session can replace this. Or as Corbin Ball puts it: “There is no such thing as a “virtual beer!" (or coffee).