Covid-19 has hit the economic activities with a purpose and vengeance. There are hardly any areas or sectors which are left unaffected due to the pandemic. However, one of the greatest impacts have been taken by marketing and promotional plans of companies. There are countless events which were either postponed or cancelled in wake of the pandemic. However, even though nobody realises or acknowledges it today as there’s no research on how “virtual events and exhibitions ‘saved the day’ during the pandemic”, virtual exhibitions have helped in reducing the overall pressure off the decision-makers around the world. The total size of B2B virtual exhibitions shall be close to $774 billion by the end of year 2030. Furthermore, 84% of the organisations that held a virtual summit reported that the total cost of organising the event was reduced considerably. Furthermore, 74% of the event organisers feel that virtual exhibitions will dominate the future of B2B summits. Even if the pandemic subsides soon (which we wish so much), around 97% of event managers predict that the overall number of hybrid events will increase in the coming years.
Virtual and online exhibitions not only helped in ensuring that not all events were cancelled or postponed; it also opened up new arenas for event planning and management which will be used even after the pandemic is over for good. Continuing with the positive trends for virtual exhibitions and hybrid event platforms, the following factors should dominate the B2B trends in the year 2020 in respect to online exhibitions:
1. Live Translation:
Language barriers decide success or failure of an event. With inclusion of live translation, any live event can be available for people in different parts of the world. These live translation feeds could be accessed through headphones and earpieces. With improved technology, a large number of languages could be included for increasing overall participation.
2. Event-based Applications:
Since there are a number of applications that are used currently for facilitating online exhibitions, the trends in future, especially in the context of B2B virtual event platforms will include personalisation of event apps for calculation of brand activations and engagement level of an event. From a B2B perspective, it would mean better reporting to monitor the overall success of the event.
3. Inclusion of chatbots and machine learning:
Even though the digital technologies have evolved significantly due to which virtual exhibition platforms have been able to deliver value to the business organisations. Machine learning can help in delivering value by aligning with quality required by a business. Furthermore, there could be better interactions and quality of FAQs could be improved.
4. Connection through live streaming:
Better interaction between organisers and audiences could be facilitated through improved technologies. Live streaming will help in saving time and improving the quality of meetings.
5. Improved Engagement:
Different engagement features could be included in the hybrid and virtual exhibition platforms such as “Q&A”, “Group Chat”, “Raise Hand” and “Social Lounge” which would help in improved interactions between the parties.
6. Facial Recognition:
Another important development in the field could be introduction of facial recognition that will improve level of event security. For a larger B2B interaction, such a feature should be needed for a better and personalised experience for attendees.
7. Inclusion of multi-sensory experiences:
Virtual exhibitions take account of sights and sound which makes it quite limited in creating a lasting impression among the participants. However, with touch panel interfaces, gamifications, and VR technology, B2B hybrid and virtual exhibitions could help in including a wider range of senses.
One of the important reasons due to which virtual exhibition platforms have become popular during the past few months could be the fact that businesses around the world realised that virtual and hybrid event platforms can not only help in coping up with the pandemic-induced environment but it is an answer to a simple problem. For instance, there could be a number of events and meetings wherein online exhibitions are more feasible than the traditional ones. In the upcoming years, it is expected that events shall be more interactive, informative and dynamic. Virtual exhibitions, especially in the context of corporate event management, are here to stay, and platforms like VIRTEX are helping to make it possible.