COVID-19 put a major standstill on public gatherings, but it did a particular number on trade shows and conferences, impacting nearly every major industry in the United States. While it may seem like a small thing in the greater scope of the damage COVID-19 has wrought, a significant amount of business dealings, information gathering, and networking takes place at such events. The lack of in-person conferences and trade shows showed a decline in business and lost revenue for the event holders, so companies had to adapt.
The Numbers around Conferences and Trade Shows
Studies have shown that only 42% of these events have been rescheduled, most for late 2020 or all the way out to 2021. The studies also show that should those events occur, the likelihood of their typical participation will be unlikely. The other 58%? Sadly, most of them were cancelled with no intent to reschedule a physical event. That said, about 69% of conferences and trade shows that closed up their physical events had enough time and capability to pursue a unique option: a fully virtual experience.
The markets these events serve would go underserved normally with the impact of COVID-19. However, virtual conferences allow for that audience to still be served, at a reduced cost to the event holder, and still provide the majority of the benefits. This is thanks to the digital age and the variety of media at the disposal of the average businessperson: smart phones, computers, televisions, music devices, etc.
The percentage of event managers that were able to make the transition saw the value of what they brought, even if it was in a rushed and non-traditional state. It proved that providing the perks of a conference or trade show’s true objective could still be met without the in-person, on-site element that has dictated those events since their inception. It also allowed more people to engage with the content, as typically companies only send 1-2 representatives to a trade show.
Impact on Publishing Industries
The applications for publishers and the greater print & publishing professions is even better than most industries. Publishing is all about content, and in the digital age, it was clearly proven, to some detriment to print, just how portable content was between different media. In short, if it can be delivered on paper, it can also be delivered on camera or online.
While that normally is seen as a hurdle, when it comes to conferences and trade shows, it is a huge benefit to publishers. It means that almost everything there is to be shared and learned can all be easily translated into a digital medium and provided through a virtual event. Even the networking and community-building is possible through social media and other group channels.
Virtual conferences also allow for increased frequency, increased sessions, and increased attendance, as the limitations on these are usually related to space and budget. That means more engagement and opinions shared, more strategies provided, and the ability to virtually send samples and examples without the shipping or printing costs to deliver them. In general, it is a more cost-effective solution that may prove to be an improvement on the traditional conference or trade show, where lead-chasing and networking is limited to who you meet, where a virtual event allows engagement with everyone.
The downside for publishers is simple; digital is not seen as an ally by most publishers. That means there is an aversion to it at some level. Combine that with the technological aptitude needed to fully immerse in a virtual event – which is not common knowledge for many professionals – while getting “butts in seats” to attend virtually can be just as difficult as getting people to attend the physical conferences and trade shows once they can happen again. At least the costs of the virtual events means one can still turn a profit with a different attendance perspective.
To learn more about how virtual events can be a viable alternative to conferences and tradeshows, click here. For more information about the impact of COVID-19 on business event attendance, click here. If you would like more great content from Publication Printers and the Publication Printers Marketing Group, click here.