Categories
virtual trade show

9 Elements of a Successful Virtual Trade Show Agenda [via Social hour]

This post originally appeared on the Social hour blog.

How does your trade association plan to make up for lost revenues from the cancellation or postponement of your in-person events?

Online industry trade show events have been vital in keeping communities connected since the onset of COVID-19, providing innovative ways for attendees and exhibitors to engage through virtual event platforms. Capabilities like live demos, exhibition halls with virtual booths, and robust chat functions can effectively replicate many beloved aspects of in-person events.

Despite the potential of virtual trade shows, however, nearly nine in ten industry trade professionals (86%) are still challenged with transitioning an in-person event to a virtual setting—which is understandable, given that many teams just started exploring virtual events within this last year.  

To accelerate your event planning, we recommend you set goals for your upcoming virtual trade show and then craft an agenda to fulfill those needs. Let’s explore how to build an engaging online trade show schedule that creates meaningful opportunities for your attendees, exhibitors, sponsors, and other partners. 

9 Online Industry Trade Show Agenda Activities

After reviewing recent and upcoming conferences from the American Society of Association Executives, Michigan Society of Association Executives, Colorado Society of Association Executives, and countless others, these are the must-include agenda items for your next virtual industry association trade show:

  • Board meeting: Your association board should meet during your conference. Most associations host this meeting on the first morning of their conference or shortly after the main conference wraps. 
  • Vendor demos/Exhibition Hall/Solutions Lounge: Your attendees need dedicated spaces to engage with your event exhibitors and partners. Enable exhibitors to showcase their solutions to your attendees in a virtual exhibition hall or vendor demo space. Offer an opportunity for Q&A, live demos, and hands-on learning to ensure exhibitors and sponsors see plenty of virtual foot traffic. 
  • Awards recognition: Host an awards ceremony that celebrates your trade show or industry association community (if relevant). These award ceremonies are an opportunity to spotlight members of your community and recognize them for their strides in your field or their dedication to your group. 
  • Express talks/Speed networking sessions/Short breakouts: Not all conference sessions should keep all conference-goers captive for an hour. Instead, offer breakout sessions of varying lengths for your attendees to dive into niche topics of interest that complement your overarching event theme. These smaller-group breakouts are perfect opportunities for attendees to mix and mingle in a more intimate setting than the conference keynotes. Offer two or three concurrent breakout sessions at a time to increase the diversity of your speaker roster and thoroughly explore the topics your audience cares about.   
  • Roundtable sessions: Gather a diverse roster of speakers to lead smaller group discussions on topics of interest to your attendees. Each speaker should have a unique element they can lend to the conversation—including the title or level of the speaker, their industry, or their specific experience with the topic—to support a well-rounded conversation. 
  • Lunchtime sessions or opportunities: Every minute of your conference should include some way to delight your attendees—and that includes lunch. Coordinate group conversations, 1:1 meetups, or informal lunch-and-learn sessions that attendees can join during lunch. Consider hosting a purely entertainment-focused activity, like a cooking demo, comedian set, or short film screening if your budget allows.  
  • 1:1s by appointment: Carve time from your agenda to coordinate one-on-one meetings with attendees, exhibitors, and other event partners. Attendees should be able to make appointments throughout your conference, not just in small exhibit hall break windows. Some attendees won’t mind missing a session to meet with a vendor (especially if your sessions are available for on-demand consumption). Build the meeting scheduling into your event platform, but be sure to integrate it with attendee calendars.
  • Training and certification opportunities. What official training or support programs will you offer to attendees? Many trade show events or industry membership association meetings are championed for their on-site certification and professional development opportunities. These sessions work just as well virtually, too! Consider saving one day of your conference exclusively for these opportunities (either the first or last day). 
  • After-hours entertainment. After a long day of joining sessions, networking, and striking up social media conversations, your trade show attendees need a way to unwind. So offer activities after the main conference sessions are over. These social activities can be as simple as an attendee happy hour or something elaborate like a wine and paint night or an exclusive musical performance.

Guide Trade Show Attendees from Experience to Experience

When developing your agenda, ensure that all activities have a clear purpose and that you don’t overwhelm your attendees with choices. For example, the Higher Logic team learned from its virtual Super Forum that their attendees felt they had too many options to choose from. Although that’s a “good problem” to have, it’s still a problem.

Event organizers must prepare their attendees for all the virtual event opportunities, including navigating attendees from experience to experience. Simply posting your event schedule and leaving it to your attendees to remember where they need to be and when for which sessions will likely lead to steep attendee drop off as your event continues.

Create a cohesive event experience for attendees by making the event agenda readily available on your conference site and through your conference mobile application. Enable attendees to add sessions to their calendars automatically so they don’t miss out.

During sessions, ask speakers to direct attendees to the next session or alert them of their options for what to do next. These verbal cues can be complemented with on-screen visuals, like a banner that urges attendees to return to the event platform lobby or a pop-up that links to the next session.

Prepare “Coming Next” or “We’ll Be Right Back With [next activity]” graphics to alert in-person and virtual attendees of what’s next, and think through your attendee transitions to ensure that there is no potential for confusion. 

Pick A Trade Show Event Technology Platform That Elevates the Attendee Experience

You have thoroughly documented your trade show goals and crafted a diverse series of events that supports those needs. Great! Your team is almost ready to host a successful virtual event. That is, of course, if your chosen event platform supports the quality of experience that your attendees expect.

The success of your trade show will depend on if attendees can freely network with exhibitors and sponsors, gain answers to their questions, and assess what solutions are best for their needs. But many event platforms are built with sub-par capabilities that lock attendees in a single room with no ability to connect with other conference attendees. 

Deliver the experience that your attendees deserve by using Social hour to support your next industry trade association event. The team at Frameable built the platform to support a wide range of event sessions and engagement opportunities, including pre-recorded or live-streamed keynotes, concurrent breakout sessions, and networking rooms that foster genuine engagement. Learn more about the Social hour platform and get started to create a more engaging virtual event experience today.  

Categories
virtual trade show

20 Ways To Drive Virtual Trade Show Exhibitor Success

When planning a virtual industry event, the attendee experience will naturally be top-of-mind throughout your planning. But there is another critical audience to consider: your exhibitors. 

A worrying 73% of trade show exhibitors ranked virtual events as somewhat to extremely ineffective for them. Yikes! If you fail to meet exhibitor needs, you run the risk that those exhibitors will no longer partner with you for your events. Or even worse, they may go rogue and create their own events, undermining or competing with yours, as some event professionals warn. 

To get ahead of potential exhibitor dissatisfaction, industry trade show organizers need to significantly reinvent how they approach their exhibitor relationships to drive results in the world of virtual and hybrid events. 

Here is how you can create a successful partnership with your exhibitors to meet their goals while also satisfying your event attendees and partners.

What Do Exhibitors Gain From Participating in Virtual Events?

To tailor your virtual event experience to benefit exhibitors, your event planning committee needs to understand—and be able to express—what exhibitors can gain from participating in virtual events. Some of the benefits include:

  • Reaching new audiences without travel costs, boosting brand awareness
  • Opportunities to distribute product information to a new audience
  • Lead generation with a seamless handoff to digital marketing nurture streams
  • Social media engagement opportunities with event attendees
  • Potential ongoing partnership opportunities with event organizers

Virtual trade show exhibitors typically measure their success on new qualified leads, but other KPIs can be important to them, too. Total booth visitors, the number of one-on-one appointments held, access to product trials, and new social media followers can all signal a successful trade show exhibition experience.

To maximize your exhibitor’s potential to reach and engage your event attendees, your team needs to use an event platform that allows you to create public and private spaces that elevate your event partners. Most exhibitors can replicate the value of their in-person exhibitions online, but it may take a little extra effort on your organization’s part.

20 Ways To Delight Virtual Trade Show Exhibitors

Virtual event attendees need to explore and connect with your event exhibitors freely. But you cannot expect attendees to naturally flock to your virtual exhibition hall the same way they would at an in-person event.

Instead, after you’ve covered the essential ways to encourage engagement from virtual trade show attendees, explore each of these ideas to maximize the virtual trade show exhibitor experience:

Before your event:

  1. Connect with exhibitors through a survey and individual conversations to understand what they hope to gain from the event experience.
  2. Involve exhibitors and sponsors in planning some of your event activities, such as after-hours events or sponsored sessions.
  3. Prime attendees for ways they can engage with event exhibitors in all pre-event communications.
  4. Encourage attendees to pre-submit questions for exhibitor-led sessions. 

During your event:

  1. Arrange virtual and in-person scavenger hunts that encourage attendees to visit sponsor booths and do more than grab some swag and run. Ask attendees to snap photos or take screenshots of various spaces across your exhibition hall or follow clues that lead them from booth to booth. Small prizes like $5-$10 gift cards or vendor giveaways can incentivize attendees to participate.
  2. Create custom-made graphics that spotlight your exhibitors and vendors. Amplify these posts using your event hashtag and by tagging/@ mentioning the event partner.
  3. Conduct trade show raffles and giveaways featuring exhibitor products and swag.
  4. Interview exhibitors in live stream conversations to preview what attendees can gain by visiting their booth.
  5. Highlight trade show exhibitors and sponsors throughout your event platform, and on social media. For starters, this can include your event registration page, on your event interface, through sponsored sessions, and in the virtual exhibition hall.
  6. Build a virtual exhibition hall that enables attendees to browse trade show booths and later engage with those companies if interested.
  7. Provide an online green room where your attendees can have exclusive access to exhibitors and session presenters for Q&A and live demos.
  8. Allow attendees to make appointments with exhibitors ahead of time, in addition to general drop-in hours. 
  9. Send pop-up announcements in your event platform to encourage attendees to connect with exhibitors
  10. Build an interactive virtual Exhibition Hall directory where attendees can quickly browse and filter exhibitors based on their products and services.
  11. Provide a clear overview of each exhibitor, including what their company does and what value they can provide to attendees.
  12. Include a calendar integration so sessions and vendor meetings automatically become a calendar invite for attendees.
  13. Include dedicated exhibit hall time in your event schedule

After your event:

  1. Send a post-event survey to event exhibitors and partners to understand their experience at the event, including if they met their goals and feedback to help you better tailor future events to meet your exhibitor needs.
  2. Offer ongoing partnership opportunities with your event exhibitors to expand on topics they explored at your event. This can include webinars, live Q&A on social media channels, guest content opportunities, and more.
  3. Promote event session replays and exhibitor downloads across your communications channels to maximize the number of attendees that engage with your exhibitors.

Naturally, if you do these 20 things, your exhibitors will feel valued, engaged, and confident that you’ve done your best to create exhibitor engagement at your virtual trade show.

How to Survey Exhibitors to Refine and Measure Your Event ROI

The ideas above will help your virtual trade show exhibitors have a successful virtual event experience, meaning they are more likely to keep partnering with you and your community. But event planners need to be proactive in getting ahead of exhibitor needs throughout every step of the event planning process—and that includes well before and after your event ends.

The most effective way to please virtual trade show exhibitors is to survey them before your event to gauge their needs and afterward to see if you met those needs. These surveys should explore everything about how you can provide value to your event exhibitors and help them meet their goals. Common topics for event exhibitor surveys include why they chose to exhibit at your event, how they plan to measure their success, how they intend to engage your attendees, whether they are interested in partnering on social activities for your event, and more.

There are many options for hosting an event exhibitor survey, and many survey tools are completely free to use. A few survey platforms you can consider are:

To help you get started, we’ve created two free virtual trade show exhibitor satisfaction surveys in Google Forms. Download and copy our pre-event exhibitor survey and our post-event exhibitor survey to fast-track your process. 

Categories
virtual trade show

16 KPIs To Measure Your Online Trade Show or Association Conference Success [via Social hour]

This post originally appeared on the Social hour blog.

As industry membership associations and trade show organizers find ways to address lost revenues from the postponement of in-person events, many are turning to virtual experiences. Some are doing so with success, but others aren’t quite sure of their results.

87% of industry trade organizations that have hosted virtual events said they were successful. However, the definition of success is unclear, as 39% did not set an official goal. Without setting clear goals for virtual or hybrid conferences and gatherings, associations cannot understand whether their approach is providing value for their members and partners. 

To help understand whether your next virtual conference is a success, let’s review the top key performance indicators (KPIs) that measure the attendee and exhibitor experience during an industry trade show or membership association conference.

Example Goals for An Industry Association Online Trade Show

An industry association trade show involves two very unique audiences, each with different goals: your attendees and your exhibitors. Here are suggested KPIs for each audience, plus a few general event KPIs that can measure your event’s overall impact.

Attendee Satisfaction Goals for Trade Shows

Your association members or trade show attendees should be the primary focus of your event experience. How can you provide value to your attendees, connect them with the best resources to help them succeed, and foster long-term growth for them within your community?

Naturally, your team should focus on building an exceptional event agenda that directly addresses the needs of your membership. But to measure if your event was a success, we recommend focusing on these markers of the attendee experience:

  • Attendee satisfaction. Conduct a post-event survey to understand your attendee satisfaction and, most importantly, whether they feel the event met their needs as an association member. Use these survey findings to develop an engagement plan to delight your association members after your event is over.
  • Connections made. If your virtual event platform allows it, assess how many messages attendees exchanged with each other during the event.
  • Conference material downloads. How many attendees downloaded assets from your conference platform? Examine download data before, during, and after your event to understand how long attendees engage with the event content. 
  • Educational credits awarded. Assess the success of your event training and certification programs by measuring the total number of educational credits awarded. You can further explore this metric by reviewing the number of attendees who received educational credits and the average educational credits awarded.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS). How many attendees would recommend the event to a colleague? Add a question to your post-event attendee survey to understand your event NPS. 
  • Next-year registrants. Host a flash sale for next year’s event tickets at this year’s price during your event. Monitor how successful this sale is to gauge whether your event experience generates immediate excitement for next year.  
  • Total attendees. How many people attended your event, in-person and online, and how does this compare to your year-over-year figures?

Exhibitor Satisfaction KPIs for Industry Events

Event exhibitors and sponsors are a vital part of industry trade show experiences. If you fail to meet their needs, they may quit supporting your event—which could be a major miss for your attendees.

Stay ahead of any potential exhibitor or sponsor dissatisfaction by tracking these KPIs:

  • Number of sponsors/exhibitors. Is your team growing its network of exhibitors and sponsors? Or has this number declined year-over-year?
  • Number of visitors to each booth. Regardless of whether the number of event sponsors grows, you need to ensure your attendees engage with these sponsors and exhibitors. What is the average number of booth visits? What does this data show about the type of exhibitors you should approach for your next event? 
  • Number of downloads of vendor collateral. Exhibitors and sponsors need to understand the quality of interactions they had with visitors. So check how many times attendees downloaded collateral from vendors, such as information sheets, product guides, or ebooks. 
  • Number of attendee meetings scheduled. How many attendees scheduled meetings with exhibitors?
  • Number of qualified leads. What is the average number of qualified leads that your vendors gained by attending your event? 

General KPIs To Determine Virtual Event Success

Beyond your attendees and exhibitors, your team should measure additional KPIs that showcase your more significant event impact. For example, was the event well-received by the media? Did you spark conversations on social media? Are you continuing to find new, diverse speakers?

At a minimum, we recommend tracking these trade show KPIs to assess your event success:

  • Diversity of speakers or exhibitors. Ideally, your industry trade show community should reach new people and companies each year. As you build your event schedule and series of activities for your conference, assess how many speaker or exhibitor submissions you receive from individuals or companies that have previously expressed an interest in partnering with you on your event.
  • Social shares/chatter. Monitor social media for posts about your event, and track the number of times that attendees used your event hashtag on social media. Ensure you have team members ready to support your event on social media, including answering attendee questions, encouraging user-generated content, and engaging with attendees.
  • Press attendees. Did any members of the media attend your event?
  • Post-event blog posts and press coverage. What content did people create about your event? 

Choose a Virtual Event Platform with Built-In Reporting Capabilities

Each of the above sets of KPIs is simply a starting point to help your team refine its virtual or hybrid event strategy. We recommend you connect with individual event attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors to discuss their feelings about your event and ways to improve their next experience. 

In addition to these one-on-one conversations, you will find that your event platform will either greatly help—or significantly hinder—your ability to uncover the KPIs you need.

We built Social hour to make it easier to track event metrics like total attendees, maximum concurrent attendees per session, how many attendees interacted with each other, and more. Learn why our customers say we’re an ideal platform for virtual industry membership association or trade show events.

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virtual trade show

3 Tips For Hosting a Successful Industry Trade Association Virtual Event [via Social hour]

This post originally appeared on the Social hour blog.

Since the onset of COVID-19, the cancellation of many longstanding trade shows and industry events like Mobile World Congress, E3, and SXSW have dominated headlines—leaving many to question what the future of these traditionally in-person events will look like.

Industry trade associations, in particular, have faced unique financial pressure when adapting their events strategy, given that 27% of these organizations’ revenues come from meetings/trade shows, surpassed only by membership dues at 45%. 

To help trade associations and similar event organizers adapt their events strategy, let’s explore the latest data on how trade association members feel about attending in-person events. We’ll also discuss three common challenges that industry organizations face when creating new virtual or hybrid event experiences. 

How Trade Associations Have Adapted Their Event Strategies

Although it’s uncertain when in-person events will regain their momentum, 70% of respondents in a study from Innovatis Group, a leading association management, and engagement company, listed two top factors for when they will be comfortable with in-person events:

  1. A significant drop in COVID cases 
  2. Widespread vaccinations 

Restrictions like social distancing and smaller group sizes will play a smaller role, according to that survey.

Understandably, in light of these sentiments, the same report found 85% of organizations will increase their investment in virtual events over the next year to address the hesitation to join in-person events. Additionally, 72% of associations plan to create new forms of non-dues revenue, including educational opportunities available in a virtual or hybrid setting. 

Three Hybrid or Online Industry Event Challenges and How to Address Them

As more industry trade organizations explore virtual event opportunities to regain lost revenues from their canceled or delayed in-person events—and provide new value for their members—many teams will face a common set of initial planning hurdles.

When planning your next virtual or hybrid industry event, ensure your team fully explores these areas:

Challenge 1: Creating value for members in a virtual setting

First and foremost, your team needs to understand how it will create value for your event attendees. What do they hope to gain from the experience, and how can you deliver sessions, content, and networking opportunities to meet these needs? 

We recommend you survey your members ahead of your virtual or hybrid event to learn what they hope to gain from the experience. Seek to understand how comfortable your members are at the prospect of in-person gatherings, what challenges they face, and what resources they need to succeed. 

As you learn what your attendees expect from your event, your team can better tailor its goals to assess whether your event was successful.

Challenge 2: Transitioning an in-person event to a virtual event

Even if you have a clear understanding of what your association members hope to gain from your event, all teams are challenged with transitioning an in-person event to a virtual setting. 

Overcome this hurdle by designing your event to be entirely virtual, and then add a complementary in-person experience (if your pre-event survey suggests your community would like an in-person component) around it. 

Planning online-first will help your team map the various connections (or disconnections) within your event experience. Ensure there is a seamless journey for your attendees, from when they first hear about your event, register, join your event, and later access its replays—all while keeping networking and cross-platform engagement opportunities front and center for everyone. 

Challenge 3: Creating value for event exhibitors and sponsors in a virtual or hybrid setting

Keeping your event exhibitors and sponsors happy is vital to ensure long-term event success. If exhibitors or sponsors fail to see the value in partnering for your event, they will likely stop supporting your activities, limiting the potential value for your attendees. 

Spotlight your exhibitors and sponsors throughout your event experience to maximize their ability to engage with your attendees. Use social media to highlight sponsored sessions, coordinate raffles and giveaways to generate excitement, and incentivize your attendees to visit the virtual exhibition hall or exhibitor showcase during your event.

As with your attendees, it’s critical to survey your event sponsors and exhibitors to understand what they hope to gain from the experience and ways you can best partner with them for the event. 

Why Your Virtual Event Platform Matters

By addressing each of those three common challenges, your team can more effectively design an event that can replicate the value of your in-person experiences—potentially surpassing your pre-pandemic success.

But there is one final challenge that can make or break your virtual industry trade show experience: poorly designed event technology.

Many event platforms were built immediately following the pandemic, attempting to cash in on the rush to virtual platforms. Or, they are legacy tools designed purely for conference calls that event planners hastily adapted for large-scale events. The result? Overpriced tools that fail to meet your attendee needs—confusing user interfaces, garbled audio, and an inability for people to actually engage. 

We’ve built Social hour with the features that your event attendees need, all in an incredibly easy-to-customize interface. Learn more about why Social hour is the ideal platform for hybrid or virtual industry trade association events

Categories
virtual trade show

9 Elements of a Successful Virtual Trade Show Agenda

How does your trade association plan to make up for lost revenues from the cancellation or postponement of your in-person events?

Online industry trade show events have been vital in keeping communities connected since the onset of COVID-19, providing innovative ways for attendees and exhibitors to engage through virtual event platforms. Capabilities like live demos, exhibition halls with virtual booths, and robust chat functions can effectively replicate many beloved aspects of in-person events.

Despite the potential of virtual trade shows, however, nearly nine in ten industry trade professionals (86%) are still challenged with transitioning an in-person event to a virtual setting—which is understandable, given that many teams just started exploring virtual events within this last year.  

To accelerate your event planning, we recommend you set goals for your upcoming virtual trade show and then craft an agenda to fulfill those needs. Let’s explore how to build an engaging online trade show schedule that creates meaningful opportunities for your attendees, exhibitors, sponsors, and other partners. 

9 Online Industry Trade Show Agenda Activities

After reviewing recent and upcoming conferences from the American Society of Association Executives, Michigan Society of Association Executives, Colorado Society of Association Executives, and countless others, these are the must-include agenda items for your next virtual industry association trade show:

  • Board meeting: Your association board should meet during your conference. Most associations host this meeting on the first morning of their conference or shortly after the main conference wraps. 
  • Vendor demos/Exhibition Hall/Solutions Lounge: Your attendees need dedicated spaces to engage with your event exhibitors and partners. Enable exhibitors to showcase their solutions to your attendees in a virtual exhibition hall or vendor demo space. Offer an opportunity for Q&A, live demos, and hands-on learning to ensure exhibitors and sponsors see plenty of virtual foot traffic. 
  • Awards recognition: Host an awards ceremony that celebrates your trade show or industry association community (if relevant). These award ceremonies are an opportunity to spotlight members of your community and recognize them for their strides in your field or their dedication to your group. 
  • Express talks/Speed networking sessions/Short breakouts: Not all conference sessions should keep all conference-goers captive for an hour. Instead, offer breakout sessions of varying lengths for your attendees to dive into niche topics of interest that complement your overarching event theme. These smaller-group breakouts are perfect opportunities for attendees to mix and mingle in a more intimate setting than the conference keynotes. Offer two or three concurrent breakout sessions at a time to increase the diversity of your speaker roster and thoroughly explore the topics your audience cares about.   
  • Roundtable sessions: Gather a diverse roster of speakers to lead smaller group discussions on topics of interest to your attendees. Each speaker should have a unique element they can lend to the conversation—including the title or level of the speaker, their industry, or their specific experience with the topic—to support a well-rounded conversation. 
  • Lunchtime sessions or opportunities: Every minute of your conference should include some way to delight your attendees—and that includes lunch. Coordinate group conversations, 1:1 meetups, or informal lunch-and-learn sessions that attendees can join during lunch. Consider hosting a purely entertainment-focused activity, like a cooking demo, comedian set, or short film screening if your budget allows.  
  • 1:1s by appointment: Carve time from your agenda to coordinate one-on-one meetings with attendees, exhibitors, and other event partners. Attendees should be able to make appointments throughout your conference, not just in small exhibit hall break windows. Some attendees won’t mind missing a session to meet with a vendor (especially if your sessions are available for on-demand consumption). Build the meeting scheduling into your event platform, but be sure to integrate it with attendee calendars.
  • Training and certification opportunities. What official training or support programs will you offer to attendees? Many trade show events or industry membership association meetings are championed for their on-site certification and professional development opportunities. These sessions work just as well virtually, too! Consider saving one day of your conference exclusively for these opportunities (either the first or last day). 
  • After-hours entertainment. After a long day of joining sessions, networking, and striking up social media conversations, your trade show attendees need a way to unwind. So offer activities after the main conference sessions are over. These social activities can be as simple as an attendee happy hour or something elaborate like a wine and paint night or an exclusive musical performance.

Guide Trade Show Attendees from Experience to Experience

When developing your agenda, ensure that all activities have a clear purpose and that you don’t overwhelm your attendees with choices. For example, the Higher Logic team learned from its virtual Super Forum that their attendees felt they had too many options to choose from. Although that’s a “good problem” to have, it’s still a problem.

Event organizers must prepare their attendees for all the virtual event opportunities, including navigating attendees from experience to experience. Simply posting your event schedule and leaving it to your attendees to remember where they need to be and when for which sessions will likely lead to steep attendee drop off as your event continues.

Create a cohesive event experience for attendees by making the event agenda readily available on your conference site and through your conference mobile application. Enable attendees to add sessions to their calendars automatically so they don’t miss out.

During sessions, ask speakers to direct attendees to the next session or alert them of their options for what to do next. These verbal cues can be complemented with on-screen visuals, like a banner that urges attendees to return to the event platform lobby or a pop-up that links to the next session.

Prepare “Coming Next” or “We’ll Be Right Back With [next activity]” graphics to alert in-person and virtual attendees of what’s next, and think through your attendee transitions to ensure that there is no potential for confusion. 

Pick A Trade Show Event Technology Platform That Elevates the Attendee Experience

You have thoroughly documented your trade show goals and crafted a diverse series of events that supports those needs. Great! Your team is almost ready to host a successful virtual event. That is, of course, if your chosen event platform supports the quality of experience that your attendees expect.

The success of your trade show will depend on if attendees can freely network with exhibitors and sponsors, gain answers to their questions, and assess what solutions are best for their needs. But many event platforms are built with sub-par capabilities that lock attendees in a single room with no ability to connect with other conference attendees. 

Deliver the experience that your attendees deserve by using Social hour to support your next industry trade association event. The team at Frameable built the platform to support a wide range of event sessions and engagement opportunities, including pre-recorded or live-streamed keynotes, concurrent breakout sessions, and networking rooms that foster genuine engagement. Learn more about the Social hour platform and get started to create a more engaging virtual event experience today.  

Categories
virtual trade show

16 KPIs To Measure Your Online Trade Show or Association Conference Success

As industry membership associations and trade show organizers find ways to address lost revenues from the postponement of in-person events, many are turning to virtual experiences. Some are doing so with success, but others aren’t quite sure of their results.

87% of industry trade organizations that have hosted virtual events said they were successful. However, the definition of success is unclear, as 39% did not set an official goal. Without setting clear goals for virtual or hybrid conferences and gatherings, associations cannot understand whether their approach is providing value for their members and partners. 

To help understand whether your next virtual conference is a success, let’s review the top key performance indicators (KPIs) that measure the attendee and exhibitor experience during an industry trade show or membership association conference.

Example Goals for An Industry Association Online Trade Show

An industry association trade show involves two very unique audiences, each with different goals: your attendees and your exhibitors. Here are suggested KPIs for each audience, plus a few general event KPIs that can measure your event’s overall impact.

Attendee Satisfaction Goals for Trade Shows

Your association members or trade show attendees should be the primary focus of your event experience. How can you provide value to your attendees, connect them with the best resources to help them succeed, and foster long-term growth for them within your community?

Naturally, your team should focus on building an exceptional event agenda that directly addresses the needs of your membership. But to measure if your event was a success, we recommend focusing on these markers of the attendee experience:

  • Attendee satisfaction. Conduct a post-event survey to understand your attendee satisfaction and, most importantly, whether they feel the event met their needs as an association member. Use these survey findings to develop an engagement plan to delight your association members after your event is over.
  • Connections made. If your virtual event platform allows it, assess how many messages attendees exchanged with each other during the event.
  • Conference material downloads. How many attendees downloaded assets from your conference platform? Examine download data before, during, and after your event to understand how long attendees engage with the event content. 
  • Educational credits awarded. Assess the success of your event training and certification programs by measuring the total number of educational credits awarded. You can further explore this metric by reviewing the number of attendees who received educational credits and the average educational credits awarded.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS). How many attendees would recommend the event to a colleague? Add a question to your post-event attendee survey to understand your event NPS. 
  • Next-year registrants. Host a flash sale for next year’s event tickets at this year’s price during your event. Monitor how successful this sale is to gauge whether your event experience generates immediate excitement for next year.  
  • Total attendees. How many people attended your event, in-person and online, and how does this compare to your year-over-year figures?

Exhibitor Satisfaction KPIs for Industry Events

Event exhibitors and sponsors are a vital part of industry trade show experiences. If you fail to meet their needs, they may quit supporting your event—which could be a major miss for your attendees.

Stay ahead of any potential exhibitor or sponsor dissatisfaction by tracking these KPIs:

  • Number of sponsors/exhibitors. Is your team growing its network of exhibitors and sponsors? Or has this number declined year-over-year?
  • Number of visitors to each booth. Regardless of whether the number of event sponsors grows, you need to ensure your attendees engage with these sponsors and exhibitors. What is the average number of booth visits? What does this data show about the type of exhibitors you should approach for your next event? 
  • Number of downloads of vendor collateral. Exhibitors and sponsors need to understand the quality of interactions they had with visitors. So check how many times attendees downloaded collateral from vendors, such as information sheets, product guides, or ebooks. 
  • Number of attendee meetings scheduled. How many attendees scheduled meetings with exhibitors?
  • Number of qualified leads. What is the average number of qualified leads that your vendors gained by attending your event? 

General KPIs To Determine Virtual Event Success

Beyond your attendees and exhibitors, your team should measure additional KPIs that showcase your more significant event impact. For example, was the event well-received by the media? Did you spark conversations on social media? Are you continuing to find new, diverse speakers?

At a minimum, we recommend tracking these trade show KPIs to assess your event success:

  • Diversity of speakers or exhibitors. Ideally, your industry trade show community should reach new people and companies each year. As you build your event schedule and series of activities for your conference, assess how many speaker or exhibitor submissions you receive from individuals or companies that have previously expressed an interest in partnering with you on your event.
  • Social shares/chatter. Monitor social media for posts about your event, and track the number of times that attendees used your event hashtag on social media. Ensure you have team members ready to support your event on social media, including answering attendee questions, encouraging user-generated content, and engaging with attendees.
  • Press attendees. Did any members of the media attend your event?
  • Post-event blog posts and press coverage. What content did people create about your event? 

Choose a Virtual Event Platform with Built-In Reporting Capabilities

Each of the above sets of KPIs is simply a starting point to help your team refine its virtual or hybrid event strategy. We recommend you connect with individual event attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors to discuss their feelings about your event and ways to improve their next experience. 

In addition to these one-on-one conversations, you will find that your event platform will either greatly help—or significantly hinder—your ability to uncover the KPIs you need.

We built Social hour to make it easier to track event metrics like total attendees, maximum concurrent attendees per session, how many attendees interacted with each other, and more. Learn why our customers say we’re an ideal platform for virtual industry membership association or trade show events.

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virtual trade show

3 Tips For Hosting a Successful Industry Trade Association Virtual Event

Since the onset of COVID-19, the cancellation of many longstanding trade shows and industry events like Mobile World Congress, E3, and SXSW have dominated headlines—leaving many to question what the future of these traditionally in-person events will look like.

Industry trade associations, in particular, have faced unique financial pressure when adapting their events strategy, given that 27% of these organizations’ revenues come from meetings/trade shows, surpassed only by membership dues at 45%. 

To help trade associations and similar event organizers adapt their events strategy, let’s explore the latest data on how trade association members feel about attending in-person events. We’ll also discuss three common challenges that industry organizations face when creating new virtual or hybrid event experiences. 

How Trade Associations Have Adapted Their Event Strategies

Although it’s uncertain when in-person events will regain their momentum, 70% of respondents in a study from Innovatis Group, a leading association management, and engagement company, listed two top factors for when they will be comfortable with in-person events:

  1. A significant drop in COVID cases 
  2. Widespread vaccinations 

Restrictions like social distancing and smaller group sizes will play a smaller role, according to that survey.

Understandably, in light of these sentiments, the same report found 85% of organizations will increase their investment in virtual events over the next year to address the hesitation to join in-person events. Additionally, 72% of associations plan to create new forms of non-dues revenue, including educational opportunities available in a virtual or hybrid setting. 

Three Hybrid or Online Industry Event Challenges and How to Address Them

As more industry trade organizations explore virtual event opportunities to regain lost revenues from their canceled or delayed in-person events—and provide new value for their members—many teams will face a common set of initial planning hurdles.

When planning your next virtual or hybrid industry event, ensure your team fully explores these areas:

Challenge 1: Creating value for members in a virtual setting

First and foremost, your team needs to understand how it will create value for your event attendees. What do they hope to gain from the experience, and how can you deliver sessions, content, and networking opportunities to meet these needs? 

We recommend you survey your members ahead of your virtual or hybrid event to learn what they hope to gain from the experience. Seek to understand how comfortable your members are at the prospect of in-person gatherings, what challenges they face, and what resources they need to succeed. 

As you learn what your attendees expect from your event, your team can better tailor its goals to assess whether your event was successful.

Challenge 2: Transitioning an in-person event to a virtual event

Even if you have a clear understanding of what your association members hope to gain from your event, all teams are challenged with transitioning an in-person event to a virtual setting. 

Overcome this hurdle by designing your event to be entirely virtual, and then add a complementary in-person experience (if your pre-event survey suggests your community would like an in-person component) around it. 

Planning online-first will help your team map the various connections (or disconnections) within your event experience. Ensure there is a seamless journey for your attendees, from when they first hear about your event, register, join your event, and later access its replays—all while keeping networking and cross-platform engagement opportunities front and center for everyone. 

Challenge 3: Creating value for event exhibitors and sponsors in a virtual or hybrid setting

Keeping your event exhibitors and sponsors happy is vital to ensure long-term event success. If exhibitors or sponsors fail to see the value in partnering for your event, they will likely stop supporting your activities, limiting the potential value for your attendees. 

Spotlight your exhibitors and sponsors throughout your event experience to maximize their ability to engage with your attendees. Use social media to highlight sponsored sessions, coordinate raffles and giveaways to generate excitement, and incentivize your attendees to visit the virtual exhibition hall or exhibitor showcase during your event.

As with your attendees, it’s critical to survey your event sponsors and exhibitors to understand what they hope to gain from the experience and ways you can best partner with them for the event. 

Why Your Virtual Event Platform Matters

By addressing each of those three common challenges, your team can more effectively design an event that can replicate the value of your in-person experiences—potentially surpassing your pre-pandemic success.

But there is one final challenge that can make or break your virtual industry trade show experience: poorly designed event technology.

Many event platforms were built immediately following the pandemic, attempting to cash in on the rush to virtual platforms. Or, they are legacy tools designed purely for conference calls that event planners hastily adapted for large-scale events. The result? Overpriced tools that fail to meet your attendee needs—confusing user interfaces, garbled audio, and an inability for people to actually engage. 

We’ve built Social hour with the features that your event attendees need, all in an incredibly easy-to-customize interface. Learn more about why Social hour is the ideal platform for hybrid or virtual industry trade association events

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virtual trade show

Online Virtual Trade Shows: A New Way to Network

When it comes to networking, we’re all faced with the same fundamental question: how do we best reach and connect with new people? There’s nothing wrong with getting out and meeting people in person, but what about those who don’t have the time or budget for flying across the country or trekking locally? Virtual trade shows are a cost-effective and time-efficient way to network with other business professionals.

Over the past few years, virtual trade shows have emerged as a way for businesses to reach out to new audiences without committing to expensive in-person attendance. On top of this, virtual trade shows allow you to promote your business and product without the need for physical space and supplies.

What Is An Online Virtual Trade Show?

An online trade show is a way to reach a larger market by using the internet to broadcast the event. The trade show can be in many different formats, but it’s generally a video broadcast of a show floor with an announcer describing the booths and products available. Today, there are many platforms for these shows. Platforms range from low tech options like YouTube to Facebook Live. These are inexpensive but offer very few features. To high tech options like Social Hour which has become one of the more popular choices. Social Hour offers a wide range of features which help a trade show be successful.

Learn more about Social Hour trade show features.

Virtual trade shows are a new way to show off products and services to potential clients. In a virtual trade show, the attendees are not physically present but view the presentations from their computers. As a result, they can browse from anywhere without having to be at a specific location. These trade shows are also more cost-effective than traditional ones because the only cost is for hosting fees which can be less than $1,000.

Benefits Of Online Virtual Trade Shows

It is common to have a stand-alone booth for a company at a trade show to promote its product or service in many industries. However, this is not always the best idea. Many trade shows have been replaced with virtual shows, where you can display products, and staff from different companies can view each other. According to a study by AT Kearney, “Exhibitors who participate in an event’s virtual component rather than a physical one report higher levels of sales leads.

Getting the word out about your business has never been easier or more accessible to so many people than it is today. With all of the advancements in technology and the advent of the internet, companies can reach a global audience that was virtually impossible in decades past. The traditional trade show model has been an industry standard for years, but there is a new option: the online virtual trade show with technological advances.

How To Choose An Online Virtual Trade Show Platform

Many emerging companies are using virtual trade shows as a method of generating leads and increasing sales. Virtual trade show platforms such as VTS, Digital Muster, and Social Hour allow customizable options to best suit your business needs. The event’s details, such as the times and locations, can be set up in advance on these platforms.

Considerations In Choosing An Online Virtual Trade Show Platform

A virtual trade show is a live-streamed event that is hosted online. It’s a great way to showcase event services and products to an international audience. However, with so many different platforms out there, it can be challenging to find the right one for your company. With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to find the perfect platform for your needs:

  • Do you need audio and video streaming capabilities?
  • Do you need onsite chat moderation?

International trade shows can be expensive and time-consuming. To make the process less daunting, consider the following considerations in choosing an online virtual trade show platform:

  • Security features
  • Reliability
  • Analytics
  • Scheduling ability
  • Content management
  • Social media integration

What are the costs of hosting an online virtual trade show?

The costs of hosting an online virtual trade show can vary significantly depending on the size and complexity of the event. It’s important to consider the cost of these services, and how you can save money on hosting an event by using available tools.

The internet is a great way to find new customers and boost your company’s business. However, it can also be expensive if not done correctly. Hosting an online virtual trade show might seem like the perfect solution because there are no travel costs or convention center rental fees, but expenses can still add up.

Which type of trade show do you want to organize?

If you’re looking to organize a trade show, you need to figure out the type of event you want. There are three different types: regional, national and international. Regional events are typically for businesses in the same region and provide them with the opportunity to network and collaborate with other local businesses. National events span across a greater geographical area, making it easier for potential customers to attend.

Other considerations in choosing an online trade show platform

With the emergence of online trade shows, choosing the right platform can be a daunting task. With so many options available, it is crucial to consider your current needs and your anticipated future needs when choosing which platform best fits your business. When considering current needs, you should consider how much content you need to share, whether or not you will be bringing exhibitors on to interact with attendees, and what size you would like the final presentation to be.

In addition to the three primary considerations when choosing an online trade show platform, several other factors may need to be considered. For instance, if one is looking for a solution to help boost their company’s search engine optimization, it’s essential to know whether or not the site will include a features for SEO. It might also be pertinent to consider the amount of automation desired.

Social Hour provides a fantastic suite of tools for anyone looking to host a virtual trade show. Book a demo today to get started.