The exhibition world is typified by expansive halls filled with booths and banners, with all manner of potential new clients or contacts walking past and dropping by for a chat.

But what happens when exhibition halls go digital? Gone are the crowds and the incidental meetings. Gone are the browsing and free pens, along with the excitement that comes from wandering the labyrinth of an exhibition. Or has it?

Virtual exhibitions are exactly what they sound like – digital representations of exhibition halls, complete with booths and banners. They vary in shape and size from simple lists of links, through to 3D representations of real halls. Of course, virtual exhibitions provide certainty in the face of travel restrictions or snap lockdowns.

This is all wonderful, but a very large and pertinent question hangs in the air… Do they work?

Ultimately, exhibitions are all about Return on investment (ROI). Exhibitors want to know that the money they are spending on booths and fees are being turned into revenue at the other end. This is where things start to get interesting.

The first challenge in determining the effectiveness of virtual exhibitions is calculating the ROI of physical events. The problem is, for most exhibitors there is no direct data available. For many of them, the measure of success is based less on data, and more on a “gut feel” of how many people attended the booth and what topics were raised. Some counted the number of freebies or business cards handed out, but generally there is very little formal analysis in this space.

This is why there is a strong case for bringing data analysis to the exhibition space, something that is easily done with a virtual exhibition.

At a recent event, eTechSuite hosted a virtual exhibition featuring 10 booths. Our post-event analysis found the booths had a total of 5,034 visits – or about 500 visits per booth in the space of just a single day! Not only that, but we were able to demonstrate that more than 1,100 brochures were downloaded and with the event remaining live for another month, there are further opportunities for contact.

Here are some of the many advantages to virtual exhibitions:

1. More visits
Not only more visits, but more quality Each exhibitor booth is clicked on intentionally and brochures are downloaded directly. Every visit and download is logged and attendees can easily share their contact details with the exhibitors for later contact.

2. Ability to handle more visitors
Imagine trying to handle 500 visitors at an in-person event. It would take several staff, a large booth, and space to accommodate the traffic. How many attendees would just keep walking if they thought the booth was too busy? With virtual booths, most people will have a quick look or download a brochure. Some may opt to have a conversation with the exhibitor, which can be done without the exhibitor leaving their place of business and by any number of staff.

3. Longer booth life
Like physical events, virtual exhibitions tend to run live for a couple of days. One major advantage to digital events however is that the event can stay online for as long as the organiser chooses, allowing streams to be linked to and viewed on-demand at a later date. This can mean days, weeks, or even months of bonus advertising and lead collection time.

4. Reliable statistics
The best part of digital exhibitions however is that the statistics are collected and made available, usually in real-time. This allows exhibitors to compare performance day-to-day, event-to-event and even year-to-year. Having concrete data means that decisions can be made more easily and reliably.

5. Better cost-effectiveness
Unlike physical exhibitions, there are no travel, accommodation and per diem costs for staff for virtual exhibitions – so the level of investment required is much lower.

6. Extended reach
Virtual events can reach more people who may otherwise not have attended a physical event due to costs or time factor. For example, a specialist may not want to be away from his/her practice for 5 days in a row including travel time. Virtual exhibitions open up new opportunities for these attendees, who would not have been able to attend a physical event.

7. More sustainable
Unless there are some clever strategies in place to repurpose and recycle exhibition material, physical exhibitions can leave a significant impact on the environment. Virtual exhibitions completely negate this – no physical booths to build or take down, no printed brochures and no merchandise given away.

Events aren’t going digital, they already are digital and exhibitors who realise this are reaping the rewards for making the switch. 

eTechSuite has the tools and knowledge to make your virtual exhibition come alive. Discover our eMeeting platform today – it is a user-friendly and intuitive platform, providing exhibitors and delegates an interactive and experiential event experience that will provide clear ROI and deliver lasting benefits.