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How COVID-19 will change B2B exhibition marketing
Reading Time: 4 minutes

The COVID-19 scenario has led to the cancellation of almost every show scheduled in the near future. There is also a looming uncertainty as to when things will go back to normal. Exhibitions have always been a key marketing medium for B2B businesses. And while exhibitors are keen to start exhibiting again they will have to adopt new measures towards marketing initiatives post COVID.

The current societal sentiment like caution and social distancing will trickle down into exhibition marketing. We can also expect to see some new trends emerge in the post-COVID era, such as an increase in virtual exhibitions which are already gaining momentum due to the lockdown. Some of the new changes expected in exhibition marketing are:

1.   New dynamics on the show floor

A significant change is likely to be seen in the show floor layout and design. Exhibition organizers, exhibitors, and exhibition stall designers will have to collaboratively design and develop an environment conducive to do business while maintaining safety norms. The hall aisles and other common areas will be much wider to ensure that attendees can maintain the minimum social distance among themselves. Similarly, there will be dedicated entry and exit points with certain restrictions imposed, such as the number of visitors being allowed. Other common spaces such as conference rooms and cafeterias will also have spread out accommodations.

Point 1

As with the common areas, exhibition booths, too, will have to be more spacious to accommodate visitors to ensure proper social distancing. Exhibitors and stall designers will have to prioritize open spaces in their designing sessions to ensure that the required social distance can be maintained. Exhibitors also might have to restrict the number of visitors at the same time to avoid crowding.

2.   The rise of touchless technology

Touchless technology will become a common sight at exhibitions. Touchless technology removes the physical interaction between individuals and surfaces, thereby preventing cross-contamination. We will see the use of UV lights mounted on autonomous robots being used to sanitize exhibition halls. Similarly, safety and health checks will be carried out with the help of such robots.

Point 2

Touchless technology can also be incorporated in the form of gesture and voice recognition to carry out tasks. These touchless kiosks can be used for registrations, printing visitor badges, and in cafeterias for ordering meals.

Other forms of touchless technology will see the use of mobile phones in the form of QR codes and dedicated mobile apps to exchange information such as business cards, brochures, and other documents digitally.

3.   A hybrid approach towards event marketing

A hybrid exhibition is an event that takes place in a physical venue, while also being attended by a live and interactive audience online. With the increased travel restrictions, likely, exhibitions will take some time to draw crowds at the same level as before, with many international visitors expected to skip events held in foreign countries. Organizers will have hybrid events hosted for the entire show, and individual exhibitors, too, will host virtual booths along with their physical booths.

Hybrid exhibitions will need to have customized content for users to interact with, such as custom product demos, a dedicated virtual exhibitor and also provide the online attendees with the ability to interact with dedicated virtual exhibitors during conference streams and Q&A sessions.

4.   The rising prominence of virtual exhibitions

Point 4

Virtual exhibitions are already being held due to lockdown in major cities, and this trend is expected to continue when things return to normalcy. A virtual exhibition stall enables exhibitors to showcase their brand and products in an immersive 3D environment that can be accessed by their customers anytime, from anywhere, using any device. Exhibitors will have to partner with virtual exhibition stall designers to build a 3D virtual model of the booth designed with interactive components that users can interact seamlessly with the help of just a few clicks. Virtual booths will have such multiple interactive elements such as gamification modules, guided tours, product demos, or presentations that will provide attendees with an experience similar to live events. With virtual stalls, exhibitors can:

  • Provide attendees with 3D product visuals and videos
  • Provide customers with an engaging experience with the use of graphics, visuals, and sounds
  • Enable attendees to attend the event at their convenience with the help of a smartphone or computer
  • Have live interaction with customers
  • Reach out to a broader audience and generate more leads

You can get more information about the virtual exhibition stalls here.

The coronavirus pandemic is surely bound to change exhibition marketing in numerous ways. Many marketing activities will require modifications and tweaks according to new guidelines and practices, such as new show floor designs. We can also expect to see a complete revamp of the exhibitions industry with virtual exhibition stalls becoming a permanent fixture, along with traditional exhibition shows.

Perhaps, the most significant change at events and exhibitions will be our experience. Will hand sanitizers and face masks become the new norm at such events? Will we ever go back to shaking hands to greet each other? Will we ever see the large crowds we are so used to? Share your thoughts below in the comments.

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