Is it Really Worth Assisting Online Trade Shows?
Is it just me, or have you noticed that since Covid19, more and more online trade shows and conventions started popping up and sending invitations to assist? It seems that now, in addition to the more mature conferences such as Phocuswright, WTM and ITB Berlin, every month there are at least 2 global travel conferences being held. The question that must be asked is if it’s really worth assisting online trade shows?
There are two main reasons to assist trade shows and conferences: keynote speakers and networking. Do you feel that the content being shared in the online conferences matches the quality of the lectures given during offline conferences? Personally, I feel that the level of content has remained the same, however, 10 months into the pandemic, I think it’s time to reduce the number of lectures focused on dealing with Covid19. At this point in time, the companies that have survived have already learned how to adapt themselves.
Let’s be honest, networking is a fancy word for “buying and selling”. I know a few of you are probably saying to yourselves “we network in order to collaborate”. Well, collaboration is usually a form of one company selling their services directly to another company or to their customers 🙃. It’s important to use the terms buying and selling in order to emphasize the following.
Large companies tend to have representatives at these events whose sole purpose is to increase sales and distribution of the company’s services or products. These representatives will not listen to your pitch, and if they do, they are probably not the decision makers regarding purchasing or implementing new services.
Smaller companies (less than 60 employees) frequently will have a C-level representative participating at these trade shows. So, if your company is interested in purchasing products and services of another company (such as adding new suppliers), then you will most definitely get a lot of value from networking at these online conferences. If your sole interest is to sell your service or product to larger companies, it’s most likely not going to happen at the event. That said, if you are interested in selling your services or products to a smaller tier company, then you will most likely be able to score a meeting with a C-level decision maker within the company.
One thing I have found positive from this shift to focus to online events is that the pre-event networking platforms have improved tremendously. I was especially fond of WTM´s online networking platform, which integrated a video conference service within their platform.
Who we don’t see at online trade shows
Yes, here at Pruvo, we too have participated in our fair share of these events. It always seems to surprise me how few OTAs (online travel agencies) tend to participate at trade shows. DMCs and travel technology companies seem to outnumber any other industry player at these events. That is something to take into consideration, depending on who your target audience is.
It might be a while till we can meet up again at a face to face conference. In the meantime, we will have to get used to participating at these events online. Some of these trade shows have opened participation at the event for free, which gives you access not only to the keynote lectures, but to the networking platform as well. Other events still request a 3-digit entrance fee, and these are the events that I believe it is worth evaluating prior to the event if your potential purchasing audience will be present at the event.