Virtual Trade Shows: The Stats are Impressive
The first Virtual Outdoor Hospitality Expo, which will take place on the Internet this November, shared in a news release some of the available statistics about trade shows held in the virtual world.
The statistics sources are Unisfair and On24, two virtual-events providers which have hosted virtual shows for dozens of industries, and the FactPoint Group, a research company. They are derived from an overall view of hundreds of trade shows and conventions produced around the world.
“There are some surprises in the stats,” says Deanne Bower, co-producer of the expo. “Some that are unexpected.” For instance:
- The average event attendee registration is 3,102 but only 52% of the registrants actually show up. Perhaps that’s because they don’t have to make the travel commitment that is necessary for a live show. Still, should 1,500 people attend the expo it would instantly become the largest attended show ever in the outdoor hospitality industry. Only consumer RV shows draw more attendees in a related field.
- The average live duration of a virtual event is 1 1/2 days according to the stats, but the expo will run 18 hours over three days, from Noon to 6 p.m. EST, Nov. 1-3. The show will be archived for an additional 90 days in an “on-demand status,” meaning that attendees may re-enter the expo to obtain additional information about exhibitors or even watch the webinars which will have been recorded and made available in the expo’s library. The 90 archive days are average, according to the stats.
- Perhaps most important to exhibitors are the figures on attendees, according to the survey. The average attendee stays at a web-based event for 2 hours, 31 minutes and the average leads generated by each sponsor or exhibitor is an astounding 348. Since booths cost only $600 and that is the only cost to exhibit, the average cost per lead is a mere $1.72 if the statistics hold true. Needless to say, by eliminating costs of travel, hotels, shipping of goods, drayage, pipe and drape, draped tables, booth signs, food, car rental, and all the other costs associated with live shows, exhibitors at a virtual convention, such as the expo, are getting a real bargain, Bower noted.
- “There is another benefit to attendees, which is somewhat hidden in the cost factor,” says Art Lieberman, the expo’s producer. “It is generally costly to obtain the services of keynote speakers or seminar presenters at live shows since they too must travel and stay in a hotel to address attendees. No such expenses are necessary in a virtual show such as ours, so the cost of obtaining top level speakers does not have to be included in the overall cost, passed on to either exhibitors or attendees. This is another reason attendees won’t be charged anything for the expo.”
- Unisfair’s recent survey of 100 marketing professionals also indicates that nearly half will increase their use of virtual events in 2010 for lead generation, customer retention and to cut overall marketing costs.
“There are, to be fair, pros and cons to virtual shows,” says Lieberman.
In an article in USA Today titled, “Companies turn to Virtual Trade Shows to Save Money,” http://www.usatoday.com/tech/products/services/2010-01-04-virtual-trade-shows_N.htm, writer Roger Yu denotes “There are pros to virtual shows. They’re cheaper and easier to plan. Speeches and seminars can be archived. International participants can ‘attend’ with little or no expense. Speakers and moderators don’t have to linger all day. And participants’ interests and activities can be monitored.”
But there are cons. Networking opportunities are limited. There are no face-to-face meetings or serendipitous run-ins with customers. Participants can’t touch products.
“A lot of people in trade shows are kind of scared,” says Joerg Rathenberg of Unisfair. “They aren’t going away. But (virtual shows) are a perfect complement. Not better or worse, but different.”