Exhibitors can be an essential part of funding your conference or expo. However, as you move your event online, you may have concerns about whether they will still be interested. Without a conference floor or physical booths for exhibitors to talk to attendees and demonstrate their product, how can they get the same experience as before?
While different from an in-person event, you can still help exhibitors get good ROI online. In fact, attendees can be more likely to ask questions and engage with exhibitors virtually than they are in person. These 12 tips can help you show exhibitors how your virtual event can be a more valuable investment than ever before.
1. Enable exhibitors to set up their own virtual booths
Even if attendees can no longer walk through the exhibitor hall to check out different booths, you can still give them a centralized location to browse different exhibits. Displaying exhibitor profiles through your website or event app will enable attendees to ask questions and get more information, in turn allowing exhibitors to gather leads.
Encourage exhibitors to make their virtual booths as visual as possible, featuring pictures, logos, and posters to make their brand stand out. Consistent branding can have a big impact on attendees, and strong visuals that represent what the exhibitor does can make an impression and get them new leads. Additionally, recommend featuring booth staff on the exhibitor’s profile to make it easier for attendees to get in contact.
2. Feature videos and live streams on the exhibitor’s profile page
While attendees might not be able to just walk up to an interesting booth anymore, there are still plenty of creative ways exhibitors can engage with them. Encourage exhibitors to demonstrate their product online, whether that’s through livestreaming their demonstration or incorporating a pre-recorded video into their profile. Depending on the product, see if exhibitors can also find creative ways for attendees to participate in these demonstrations, boosting engagement and giving them a better idea of what the exhibitors are selling.
If you are using Whova, you can easily do this with Whova’s virtual exhibitor hall feature. Besides having the virtual booth, the exhibitors can easily set up live stream or upload their product/company videos.
3. Promote the exhibitors through social media
Make sure attendees know what’s going on! As the event progresses, use social media to feature exhibitors. You can inform attendees about promotional offers or upcoming live sessions in order to keep them connected to the exhibitors, and encourage attendees to take advantage of any opportunities.
4. Use gamification to encourage attendees to explore different exhibits
Gamification can go a long way in ensuring attendee participation and interest. For instance, try establishing prizes that attendees will be eligible to win, and give them points for marking that they will attend different booths’ demonstrations. You could also encourage each exhibitor to host a challenge relating to their company on each of their profiles. Attendees will be encouraged to visit as many profiles as possible to earn the most points.
If you’re using Whova, you can encourage attendees to interact with exhibitors by using the Passport Contest! Attendees can collect stamps by interacting with exhibitors at as many booths as possible, allowing exhibitors to gather leads.
5. Survey attendees and pair them with exhibitors
Some attendees might be unsure which exhibitors will be most useful to check out, so you can make those first steps for them. Try sending out a survey before the event to figure out which products and services will interest attendees, and then pair them with exhibitors with products that may interest them. You can even facilitate a short meeting so they can get in contact outside of the virtual exhibitor booth.
6. Have exhibitors arrange virtual workshops with attendees
Is your virtual event holding any workshops? Consider encouraging exhibitors to host their own workshops for groups who might be interested in their product. The exhibitor can answer any questions and gather leads while attendees get to know the product.
If you’re using Whova, the exhibitors can easily put the workshop meeting link to their profile page, and they can interact with the attendees directly from there as well. The virtual meet-up function can also be useful for them to arrange the workshop.
7. Email attendees a brochure with information on all exhibitors before the event
Ask exhibitors to submit a clear description of their company and product along with contact information and engaging visuals. Compiling this information into a PDF brochure and emailing it to attendees can allow attendees to reach out to exhibitors with any questions ahead of time, establishing leads for the exhibitors before the event even begins!
8. Use online coupons to incentivize attendees to check out the exhibitors
Everyone loves a deal! The prospect of saving money can be a major incentive in encouraging attendees to explore the exhibitor hall. Work with exhibitors to create special promotional offers for event attendees to develop leads that can last long after the event is over. Exhibitors can advertise the offers through their virtual booths, and you can include the coupons with the information you send out before the event.
In Whova, every exhibitor can set up their promotional offers, coupons, or raffles. The attendees who sign up will be automatically added to the exhibitors’ leads list.
9. Schedule designated blocks of time in which attendees are encouraged to explore the exhibits
You might assume attendees will want to check out exhibitors during breaks, but many will prefer to use that time to decompress away from their computer. Try scheduling specific segments for attendees to explore the virtual exhibits, and they may be more likely to take the time to visit all the available booths.
10. Generate a report to compare this event to past in-person ones
With most exhibitors trying new tactics to engage attendees online, it’s useful to know how virtual exhibitions compare to in-person ones. At the end of the event, compile a report for your exhibitors with information on the engagement their profiles generated, chat and voice interactions with attendees, and how many leads they’ve acquired so they can compare the results of this event to the past ones.
11. Keep exhibitor pages active after the event is over
Your exhibitors can continue to get good ROI even after the event is over! By leaving exhibitor profiles open during the weeks after the event, attendees can always have the option to go back and reach out to booths they missed during the run of the event, making the event a valuable investment to exhibitors in a way that goes beyond what even in-person events can accomplish.
12. Increasing attendee size increases opportunities for exhibitors to generate leads
Now that you don’t have to worry about fitting everyone into a convention center, you might consider opening your event up to more attendees. Even if some decide not to check out the exhibitors’ booths, there will still be plenty of interested attendees and more opportunities than ever for exhibitors to collect contact information and generate leads!
Show Exhibitors Their Investment is Worth It
A virtual event doesn’t mean a weaker event. While featuring exhibitors online may be new to you, with the right preparation, you can help exhibitors get better ROI than ever before, and they will for sure come back to you every year!
If you want to see how it works for your event, just request a demo below and we will show you right away.
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