The Lookout #30: Producing our biggest virtual trade fair to date
First of all, this has been a huge week for the events and experience economy world so this email is packed! And it has also been a huge week for us, producing our biggest virtual trade fair to date – here are the facts: 2 days, 1,700+ sessions in 22 live streams amounting to a total of 450+ hours of content, 3 locations, 3 stages, 120+ people working and an astonishing 1,200 speakers from 110 countries. It was a blast! But there is also a lot we could learn from producing this virtual trade fair about how the event industry is changing.
The show in many ways represents a massive shift. Not just for events, but how business is done in the b2b space more generally, and how digital events are an integral part.
For this event, PIRATEx hosted virtual sales training with exhibitors on how to sell most effectively during the virtual trade fair. We were impressed by the traditional firms that signed up, companies that epitomize the German Mittelstand, highly technical producers, who generally sell products by means of a middleman. The way things had been done for generations.
With some probing, we learned that the pandemic and digital events had helped shift many of those long-held attitudes when it came to sales. The firms we spoke with now felt confident and felt it was necessary to go directly to the consumer. The rise of virtual events over the past year was just one step that helped them realize it was possible. If things had stayed the same, they wouldn’t have felt that onus to change. Taking part in online events was the key that helped them realize an entirely new way to do business.
It’s an anecdotal case, but one that fits what we’ve seen with many of our event exhibitors over the past 16 months or so. It is exciting to see how online (and soon-to-be hybrid) events have fundamentally changed how companies are approaching their consumers and how far things have come in such a short time.
What changes will come next?
In any case, there’s been a lot happening this week when it comes to the events and experience economy. Here are some of my top reads!
- Cisco’s new Webex Suite is built from the ground up to support hybrid work [TechRepublic] Cisco has relaunched a new and enhanced Webex to accommodate a greater variety of meetings and video conferencing. The company has been on an acquisition spree over the past 12 months, and the newly enhanced application includes a raft of new features, including Slido, Socio and “My Voice Only”, a noise removal feature
- Hubilo makes six appointments to the senior management team to accelerate global growth [Business Leader] All in one eventtech platform Hubilo announces some new hires, as the company leans into scaling globally. Hubilo’s team has grown 750% over the past 12 months.
- Hopin acquires Boomset to become all-in-one platform for virtual, hybrid and in-person event experiences [Exhibition World] In an effort to enhance their in-person offerings, Hopin acquires Boomset, a provider of onsite registration and ticketing services, as well as in-event hardware.
- Hopin founder nets £100m in share sales [Financial Times] Being at the helm of a unicorn like Hopin can be a lucrative gig, as CEO Johnny Boufarhat becomes the UK’s youngest self made billionaire.
- Spotify’s Clubhouse competitor Greenroom launches today [The Verge] Remember Clubhouse? The app that many thought would kill (or at least seriously impact) the events industry? Well those voices have died down somewhat, but platforms have been jumping on building their own competitors. Here, Spotify launches their version of the app, their first foray into social media.
- Hybrid events platform Brella raises $10M Series A led by Connected Capital [TechCrunch] In an effort to keep up with the increasing eventtech competition, Brella announces a new investment, as well as additional features around community building, attendee grouping and analytics.
- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hosts first test of Live Audio Rooms in US [TechCrunch] Every platform is hopping onto social audio as a way to spur discussion and bring people together. Facebook launches their version in the US.
- Virtual business platform comes complete with auditorium and lobby [Business Live] New eventtech platform Bloc Digital launches offering organizers a virtual auditorium and lobby feature for attendees to gather and mingle.
- b2match: So funktioniert digitales Networking auf Events [brutkasten] Schora Aslanjan, head of sales at b2match is interviewed by brutkasten in this video on the role of online events, and how to network effectively on a virtual platform.
How to do it:
- WTF is a hybrid event anyway? The new challenges & opportunities for events [The Drum] As the world begins to open up, more are looking to hybrid. But everyone seems to have their own take on what hybrid actually means. Here’s Drum’s take– and where they think hybrid is going.
- How to Find Event Sponsors: Bizzabo’s 9 Step Guide [2021 Update] [Bizzabo] Longtime eventtech leader Bizzabo has updated their handy guide on event sponsorship. Some great takeaways here, including using different sponsor marketplaces, as well as how to target brands most convincingly with data.
- 4 Tips for Hosting an Effective Hybrid Panel Event [BizBash] Ah, the panel discussion. A longtime mainstay of events and conferences everywhere, that’s fumbled somewhat in it’s pivot to virtual. How about hybrid? BizBash suggests putting safety at the focus when returning in person, as well as some other great tips in this piece.
- 5 Unconventional Ways to Personalize Virtual Event Experiences [Tradeshow News] How I’d summarize this one– personalize everything about the attendee experience that you can, from your brand, to the exhibitor booths, to notifications to content and calendars, the more bespoke feel you can create, the more memorable your event will be.
- Pumping New Life Into Associations’ Online Revenue Streams [PCMA] Some practical takeaways from a certain nonprofit on how they turned their annual event– now a virtual one– into a sustainable enterprise, with some important learnings on session length, data collection and registration. An excellent first hand account here.
Don’t Miss It:
- Messe München setzt nur noch auf Hybridmessen mit Digitalangebot [Handelsblatt] As Germany looks to return to in-person tradefairs this fall, all events at Messe München going forward will be hybrid by default.
- Keynote speakers thrive in a booming virtual market [Financial Times] Speaker agencies, and keynote speakers are seeing a boom in business slashing prices and changed the market for independent speakers.
- Messen zuversichtlich für Neustart: IAA wohl mit FFP2-Masken [Donaukurier] In Bavaria, fairs look to restart in September, but attendees will likely be still wearing masks.
- Die erste digitale Rheinland-Pfalz-Messe – kreativ, innovativ und erfolgreich [Pfalz Express] The first digital Rhineland-Palatinate trade fair goes virtual with a big success (We’ll be speaking at Cologne’s next week!) and some key learnings.
- Hybrid, online or face to face events for pharma after COVID [Pharmafield] How this industry is weighing up the pros and cons of their event strategy after the pandemic. Compelling insiders take on how organizers are analysing alternatives, such as customer preferences after the shift to digital over the last year.
- Key Questions You Need to Ask Before Attending a Trade Show in 2021[Entrepreneur] For business owners looking to exhibit at fairs, what questions should we be asking before ensuring attendance?
- Las Vegas Convention Center Expansion Debuts with Major Post-Pandemic Trade Show [Business Traveller] Last week, the world’s first large-scale in-person trade show took place in Las Vegas. How did it go?
- Enterprise hits and misses – hybrid event tech heats up, ERP vendors get called out on sustainability hype, and offices get debated [Diginomica] I’ve really enjoyed Diginomica’s take on the growth of online events, and their critical eye for the attendee experience and vendor expectations. This week’s roundup is no different.
- International Confex statement: see you in September [Conference News] International Confex, has been delayed to September. The event was supposed to take place in London’s ExCel June 22-23.
- 66: How Technology is Changing the Meetings & Events Industry [Event Business Formula] Corbin Ball is interviewed in the Business of Meetings podcast on how tech has fundamentally changed events, and what he’s looking forward to most when it comes to AI and VR of the events of the future.
- Expostars Podcast Ep 5 – Stephan Murtagh [Expostars] In this podcast, Stephan Murtagh “the Exhibition Guy” is interviewed about some of his thoughts on how exhibitors can be successful in the post-Covid exhibition landscape, and how vendors can maximize the opportunities for booth visitors.
- “Trade fairs are essential for a healthy and successful economy” [Messe Frankfurt] Nicola Beer, Vice President of the European Parliament visits Messe Frankfurt and speaks on the importance of the fairs and exhibitions industry.
That’s it for this week! If you want to be kept up to date on the innovation of the event industry, sign up to The Lookout Newsletter!