Weekly News & Insights: The Reality of Virtual

Graphic: stock.xchng/spekulator

Graphic: stock.xchng/spekulator

No matter what side of the face-to-face vs. virtual events debate you weigh in on, the reality is that we live in a digitally-connected world. Your influence is affected by how visible (and connected) you are online, and those who are well-connected in cyberspace can even get real-world perks. For example, the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas now checks Klout scores (a compilation of influence in various social networks) as guests check in to determine room upgrades. The reasoning is that these people are more likely to spread positive feedback about the hotel.

Regarding virtual trade shows and events, a 2011 study conducted by EXHIBITOR Magazine discovered that less than 40 percent of companies surveyed had ever participated in a virtual event, and of those only 28 percent felt the event had met or exceeded their expectations. Those who had participated said the benefits included increased brand awareness and extended reach, but that the experience missed the energy of live events. So now focus has shifted from strictly virtual to hybrid events, which are a blend of in-person and online components. This allows for that onsite energy to carry over into the virtual world for those who weren’t able to attend due to travel or budget issues. Hybrid components include live streaming of presentations alongside chat boards and Twitter feeds. Some of the benefits include an increased audience (those who wouldn’t have been able to attend live), more idea sharing and networking, the ability to extend not only the reach but also the timeframe (by archiving recordings online), and added sponsorship opportunities. For more great tips on hybrid events, check out the blog of Emilie Barta, virtual host and emcee, and this review of PCMA’s hybrid meeting by Thom Singer.

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With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success System. Exhibit Design That Works (the first book in the YES: Your Exhibit Success series) debuted in July 2017. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community.

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