13.01.2021 - 13:35

How many of our digital solutions will become the norm?

It’s amazing what’s now available digitally. We do almost all of our shopping online – including our food shopping. We take part in hours and hours of video conferences and our children learn and study in virtual spaces. Naturally, trade fairs are also going digital – what choice do we have? At the moment, there is no choice. But there will come a time when we’ll all see each other again in real life. And at that point we’ll need to answer the following question: Which digital solutions have proved successful and in which situations can “analogue” solutions simply not be beaten? The following post provides food for thought.

1. Virtual stands
More and more solutions for hosting digital trade fairs are crowding into the market. In the virtual environment, large-scale exhibition spaces are emerging which do not involve any rental costs and which do not have to meet any structural or technical requirements. The design can be as innovative as you like and, depending on the software used, the stand can be kitted out with images, videos, audio files or complex elements such as 3D objects and animations. In the real world, on the other hand, stands require highly skilled manual work and a great deal of experience in terms of design, production, transport, assembly, storage and reusability. Together with the stand area rental, there is a financial cost that exhibitors have to align with their individual budgets.

  • What is the effect if an exhibitor creates a stand in the digital world that they would never be able to afford in the real world?
  • Will they fail to live up to expectations with their “normal” stand at the next in-person trade fair and perhaps damage their company’s image as a result?

2. Important and valuable contributions
Even during the coronavirus pandemic, companies need to be visible. Digital trade fair formats have an important role to play in this regard. Yet important doesn’t necessarily mean valuable. The coronavirus has taught us all what valuable really means: it is a face-to-face conversation and non-digital interaction at the stand during conventions, conferences, roadshows and workshops. Because we are meeting fewer people, we have become more attentive, better at listening and appreciate it when people show genuine interest. Once the coronavirus crisis has passed, presumably we will want to communicate even more intensively, create better networks and increase the advantageous contacts we make.

  • Do in-person trade fairs need to become more personal in future and enable more interaction?
  • Will we need to focus even more on networking with our own groups and with industry experts?
  • Do organisers need to give their work more thought and create new (digital and non-digital) offerings?

3. Long live the business card!
Qualified leads offer sales opportunities and are one of the main criteria that exhibiting companies use to measure the success of their involvement in a trade fair. Yet once the trade fair is over, it often becomes apparent that only a few leads have real potential. This risk is increased when contact details are shared electronically. It’s true that exporting visitor data allows us to obtain more addresses faster and more easily. But how do we know if Mr Smith is really interested in the product or that Mr Miller isn’t from the competition? And if Ms Jones has given her personal address, we aren’t allowed to even write to her.

  • Will we develop a new appreciation for business cards after the coronavirus pandemic?
  • Will they become little documents demonstrating commitment?
  • And will they help us in future to establish more valuable new contacts?

4. Waving – the new normal!
The meeting has come to an end, everyone is putting their mobile in their pocket, their laptop in its case and their pens in their bags. The managing director is in a rush, so he knocks twice on the desk to signal to all the participants that he’s leaving. This or something similar is what we can all recognise as being the “old normal”. Yet since conferences have been taking place via video call, we all bid farewell in a more fixed manner. We look directly into the webcam, smile – and wave! This friendly gesture is the “new normal”. Waving has become such second nature to Tanja Wendling that she recently waved to her hands-free kit in her car at the end of a call! The driver in the car next to her was visibly irritated. He must have thought she was taking a video call while driving.

Given that we’re all longing for human interaction and to experience more kindness, wouldn’t it be nice if we all smiled, looked people in the eye and waved a bit more in the real world? So with that in mind, Tanja Wendling waves to you, dear reader!
 

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