Can a virtual exhibition fully replace an analogue event? This question often arises when it comes to the pros and cons of a digital trade fair. In this article we explain why virtual exhibition stands are not just "nice to have", but a digital touch point on their own.
The exhibition scene has changed fundamentally. Even before the pandemic, the demand for virtual exhibition offerings was strong. But the virus has finally shown that virtual exhibitions and trade fairs are not just an exciting gimmick, but necessary if companies want to protect their marketing and sales activities against all eventualities.
However, the crucial question that always arises with this topic is whether such virtual events can fully replace an analogue event. To answer this question in the first place: a virtual trade fair stand is definitely capable of equalling a real trade fair visit.
However, the virtual offer should not be seen as a mere alternative or substitute, because the digital space offers the possibility to go beyond the limits of what is physically possible. In addition, virtual trade fair stands benefit from different advantages than events that can be experienced physically.
In direct comparison, virtual offers have some benefits that real exhibition stands cannot provide. One particularly important factor for marketing is the ability to measure, which is not possible in this form at a physical exhibition stand. Thus, potential leads who have only visited a trade fair stand in passing are often lost.
In contrast, a virtual trade fair stand is used to collect visitor data. Depending on the type of access, contact data such as names, company affiliation or even e-mail addresses are collected. Interests and preferences for certain products can be recorded by tracking the clicks on the respective offers and hotspots in the exhibition stand. This makes contacting people after their visit much easier and more effective.
Both companies and visitors also benefit from the location-independence of a virtual trade fair stand. This saves both parties time and costs that would be incurred for travel and accommodation at an analogue trade fair. In addition, companies incur high costs for transport and stand builders, which are not necessary with a virtual offer.
Because ideally, a virtual trade fair stand is set up for several years and regularly updated with new content so that it is not tied to a specific time period. At the same time, this allows companies to have a broader outreach.
Thanks to the advancement of high-resolution 3D technologies, virtual trade fairs can now do everything that is also possible at an analogue trade fair, except for the haptic aspect of products. The handling is often intuitive and similar to the gaming sector controls, so that the "walk" across the virtual trade fair stand does not involve a major change for the visitor.
Modern platforms and 3D renderings enable a 360-degree view that provides visitors with an all-round view of the stand. The division of the stand into different areas such as a reception, a company area with general information and specific product displays and individual views creates a clear structure and enables targeted information gathering.
With modern stands, clicking on interactive symbols reveals content such as information texts, photos, videos, PDF documents or links to landing pages. At the same time, detailed views of the products make it possible to experience them almost tangibly. For example, visitors to an automobile exhibition can enter a vehicle to take a close look at the dashboard, which has been reproduced 1:1 in 3D.
What was previously considered unique about an analogue event is the simple and uncomplicated contacting of potential customers. This opportunity used to be limited to the regular face-to-face events.
However, a virtual exhibition stand can also overcome this hurdle through integrated communication and interaction options. Live chats and live video chats enable direct and uncomplicated contact with the staff. If no staff member is available at the moment, an integrated chatbot can answer the first questions.
The possible uses of a modern virtual exhibition stand are diverse. It can be integrated into your own website or - depending on the design - into any platform. This is particularly beneficial for participation as an exhibitor at an organized virtual trade fair.
A virtual exhibition stand cannot and should not be a replacement for analogue events. It rather is an independent touchpoint in the "virtual ecosystem" of a company, which is visited by people who are interested in its products and services. High-quality and meaningful content is therefore the key to a virtual exhibition.