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Going digital to insure your event’s future

by Olivia Powell

ExpoPlatform’s CTO Mykyta Fastovets explains that an online event not only enriches the proposition for exhibitors, but adds security and insurance for your attendees.

Having scoured the international trade show press in anticipation of writing this column, the only thing it seems we can be certain of, is that the uncertainty arising from the Covid-19 outbreak will define our industry for some time yet.

And in these conditions a comprehensive digital counterpart for a trade show can provide insurance that your market will meet, come rain or shine.

The July edition of the UFI Global Barometer found a large majority of the industry is confident face-to-face events will return quickly. It also tells us that while 44 per cent of companies have stopped all investments, a record 50 per cent of the remainder have increased their investments related to digitalisation.

UFI MD and CEO Kai Hattendorf said the research demonstrates “everyone is aware that this crisis will lead to major changes in the way exhibitions are produced, especially with a push towards more digital elements before, during, and between events”.

Two-track thinking

The flexibility that online interaction provides between exhibitors and buyers means that should a physical event be cancelled the digital interaction can continue unabated. It is the most meaningful event insurance you can provide in the current climate.

But to be successful, you have to know how to replicate an exhibition digitally – and it is not about video content.

We’ve seen a proliferation of technology companies selling ‘virtual exhibitions’, but what they are largely selling is virtual conferences. A digital exhibition is a very different prospect from a generic business event.

Replicating the exchange of content online is just one part of a complicated puzzle. Software must increase the efficacy of the business opportunities taking place between buyers and sellers. It should enable new revenue streams through the ability to sell sponsorship, embark on targeted advertising campaigns, provide matchmaking with pre-approved buyers; all services that come with a monetary value. The technology can even identify the usefulness of each meeting and use this information to suggest future interaction.

Don’t think about your digital proposition as a temporary fix; think in terms of scalability and future proofing for your events. Once you have identified software that aligns with your event profile and the needs of your audience, build it into your company’s growth strategy.

Roll the system across multiple events. Use it to entice people who may not commit to attending the physical event. For organisers with portfolios or related events, it may even prompt visitors to consider some digital presence at another of your events.

The inclusion of a strong digital component also adds some insurance for organisers, but to neglect the technology solutions that can enhance the value proposition of your event, is to neglect the building momentum for online networking and interaction. Events are no longer the only way for an industry to meet and may not be for quite a while yet. By taking control of this you not only insure your event against future disruption, you usher them into joining you for this new way of doing business.

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