Virtual Trade Fairs – Breaking with tradition

Virtual Trade Fairs – breaking with tradition.

Some of life’s great traditions are to be cherished as they improve how things are done or define a long held purpose, then there are others that have simply become habits as what they once delivered can now be achieved in other ways.

Unfortunately most Trade Fairs fit into the second.

What’s not to love?

We all love a trade fair, a chance to get away from the office and enjoy a mixture of long days and even longer nights, connecting in a foreign land. But as air travel changed and the internet opened us up to more varied connection possibilities the appeal diminished for many people. They often become an inconvenience to our busy lives and even if we do attend we spend our evenings in our hotel rooms catching up on the endless business streams that followed us around the world.

I am not saying the appeal of attending a physical event is not alive and well, it is, however the multitude of virtual add-ons and live streaming opportunities that have been adopted in recent years make attending not the only option. We no longer have to wait for an annual event to negotiate long-term contracts as buyers and purveyors now have access to each other in a more convenient and personal way.

The wine-box example

We can now receive our box of 24 wines, open them, log on to a stream where the producers introduce each one while we, and 500 of our peers, indulge our palettes together. We taste, we share, we offer feedback and ultimately place orders based on our own and others’ impressions. In this model the cost of delivering my box of wine pales in comparison to the cost for both the producers and ourselves to attend a physical event.

This example only skims the surface of the possibilities that we now have access to especially if they are accompanied by immersive and educational content.

The news of the Trade Fairs demise is premature.


There are a few examples where the traditional trade fair still demands a single venue experience. Some of these will still come under pressure from regional or hybrid versions that speak to wider audiences. While a purely physical trade fair is not dead yet, it is not an active youthful business anymore.

Niche Trade Fairs.

One area that virtual fairs opens up is the unlimited access to a wider audience, we are all aware of this as this also fits with the traditional approach of moving to a larger venue each year as more tickets are sold.

But what about reversing this trend to have more frequent, smaller and exclusive events? Niche events can allow for the engaging of a more discerning qualified audience.

Success is no longer judged on attendee metrics as the sole driver, smaller virtual events with qualified attendees often deliver far greater results for both presenters, exhibitors, sponsors and attendees.

With virtual elements becoming a cheap option the diversifying an annual event into a number of smaller and more targeted trade fairs becomes appealing. Engage all of your audience, or part of it, at numerous times adds value and builds greater intrinsic value that a once a year push.

Traditions are led by the masses

A lot of traditions have been shaped by the way we communicate, as this alone changed mass behaviour. The telephone, the radio, film, the TV have all had massive impacts on society and our current disruptor the internet, changed this once more.

While we all enjoy human interactions and in-person contact, we find ourselves spending more of our working lives with virtual ones. These may have been uncomfortable for many in the beginning but as we become adept at it, we are more open to the opportunity it presents.

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