How to Set up a Hybrid Trade Show in 2023?

Are you planning on expanding your reach for your next trade show? Going global in 2023 is the only approach to taking your business to the next level.

The year 2023 has brought major shifts in world trade. Today, you can onboard top industry leaders, professionals and customers by marketing your brand to a global audience. With a virtual platform, you can engage an online and onsite audience all at once. This is your chance to generate more leads and secure more sales than a traditional trade show. Wondering how? If you are not yet familiar with the term hybrid, then you must know that it combines both worlds; online and physical. With a hybrid trade show, you can welcome an onsite as well as an online audience. Indeed, a hybrid trade show takes you beyond your expectations in achieving your business goals. 

Here’s a comprehensive guide for you on how to set up a successful hybrid trade show.

A Quick Guide to Hybrid Trade Show

In the evolving landscape of events, online trade shows have become a popular choice for businesses. It benefits businesses aiming to reach a wider audience and attract more potential customers. Basically, a hybrid trade show allows attendees to participate in person or virtually. But, a successful event requires meticulous planning and execution. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the steps to set up a hybrid trade show in 2023, offering valuable insights and examples.

Define Your Objectives

The first step to hosting a hybrid trade show is to clearly outline the purpose and objectives. This is the foundation upon which your event will be built. You need to consider what you want to achieve. For instance, increasing brand visibility, generating leads, fostering business partnerships, or showcasing new products and services.

Recently, a tech company recently organised a hybrid trade show to launch its latest line of products while attracting potential business partners and educating customers about its offerings. The objectives can be defined as; Increasing brand awareness, generating qualified leads, and fostering meaningful connections between exhibitors and attendees.

Also, check out effective tips for virtual and hybrid event planning. 

Choose the Right Venue

To ensure the smooth delivery of your hybrid show; you need to select a venue that seamlessly caters to both onsite and online audiences. Ensure the location has sufficient space for in-person booths, networking areas, and presentations. Additionally, confirm that the venue has robust internet connectivity and technical support to facilitate virtual interactions. After all, your aim is the amalgamation of both audiences. The more seamless experience you create for the audience, the more they interact with your brand. So make sure your onsite audience is well-equipped to interact with a virtual audience, 

For instance, you can opt for a convention centre with multiple halls to host exhibitors physically and a dedicated streaming area to broadcast virtual presentations. This allows chance for remote keynote speakers to conduct their sessions remotely and address a global audience. Thus, the more you expand with a hybrid trade show, the more global recognition you achieve for your brand. 

Invest in a Robust Virtual Platform

A hybrid event is not just about setting up a physical venue but also onboarding an online audience. In fact, the virtual elements of your event rely on your partnership with a robust virtual events organizer platform. Let’s face it, a zoom channel alone cannot support you through your virtual event. Therefore, you need to partner with a reliable virtual event platform that can host the digital aspects of your trade show. The platform should offer interactive features, such as virtual booths, live chat, video conferencing, and networking lounges, to engage virtual attendees effectively. In fact, the environment must completely depict your brand through the 3D virtual venue, halls, lobbies and booths. So before choosing the right platform, make sure they offer extra customization features.

We recommend you utilize platforms like Virtual Days, which offers customizable virtual booths for exhibitors to showcase their products, and AI-powered matchmaking to facilitate meaningful connections between attendees. 

Create Engaging Content

Developing engaging content is the most important aspect of setting up a hybrid trade show in 2023. This is the era of great human interaction and socialisation. You must develop a diverse and engaging content lineup for your hybrid attendees to immerse within the event. This may include keynote speeches, panel discussions, workshops, product demos, and interactive sessions. In fact, with a virtual platform, you can broadcast a live keynote presentation accessible to virtual participants and simultaneously provide an exclusive Q&A session for in-person attendees.

Here’s how you can create engaging content for your hybrid event attendees

  • Host captivating keynote speeches delivered by industry experts
  • Organize interactive panel discussions with thought leaders
  • Conduct live product demos and Q&A sessions with exhibitors
  • Offer virtual workshops and training sessions
  • Facilitate networking opportunities through virtual meet-and-greet sessions
  • Host gamified activities and competitions for attendees to participate in
  • Stream live entertainment performances during breaks or after-event socials
  • Include virtual reality (VR) experiences to engage attendees in immersive content
  • Utilize augmented reality (AR) to enhance product visualization and engagement
  • Launch interactive polls and surveys to gather real-time feedback from participants

Learn more about the five steps to a successful hybrid event

Implement Safety Measures

Ensure the safety and well-being of in-person attendees by adhering to necessary WHO protocols. You can offer virtual attendance options for individuals who might prefer remote participation due to health concerns or travel restrictions. You can enforce hybrid trade show safety checks such as; 

  • Implement temperature checks at entry points for in-person attendees
  • Enforce mandatory mask-wearing for all onsite participants
  • Provide hand sanitising stations throughout the venue
  • Ensure physical distancing measures are maintained during the event
  • Offer contactless registration and check-in options
  • Provide COVID-19 testing facilities onsite, if possible
  • Offer virtual attendance options for individuals who prefer remote participation
  • Communicate safety protocols and guidelines clearly to all participants

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Promote Pre-Event Engagement

The first step to attracting a global audience is effectively marketing it. You need to spread the word around for your trade show to attract industry professionals, potential clients and customers. Firstly, you create a compelling pre-event marketing campaign to generate excitement and anticipation among potential attendees. Likewise, you can utilise social media, email newsletters, and personalised invitations to reach your target audience effectively. Nowadays, social media is considered the best outlet to market and promote your event or business. 

For instance, you can organise a virtual pre-event webinar featuring guest speakers who will share insights related to the trade show’s theme to build anticipation among registered participants. This way, you can easily indulge an audience online who may wish to attend the event onsite or virtually. 

Provide Networking Opportunities

When setting up a hybrid trade show, remember that the soul of your event lies in attendee networking. Facilitate networking opportunities for both in-person and virtual attendees. You can leverage technology to create virtual meeting spaces, allowing participants to connect and network seamlessly. In the case of onsite attendees, live human interaction begins effortlessly. However, in the case of virtual attendees, you need to create roundtable discussions, chat rooms or meeting scheduler options. This shall ensure seamless networking among attendees. On top, you can make these chat forums accessible for onsite attendees to mingle with their online peers. 

But how would you initiate hybrid trade show networking among attendees? Virtual events software allows you to schedule one-on-one meetings with exhibitors or other participants, regardless of their location. By partnering with an events platform, you can use live engagement and networking tools to your advantage. 

Enhance Exhibitor Visibility

A crucial aspect of a successful hybrid trade show is enhancing exhibitor visibility. Let’s explore some strategies to maximize exhibitor visibility, including examples of how premium sponsors can host engaging virtual experiences to captivate both in-person and virtual attendees. Here’s how you can attend to your exhibitors. 

  • Create tiered sponsorship packages with increasing levels of visibility and benefits.
  • Offer logo placement on the event website, marketing materials, and social media promotions.
  • Provide exclusive virtual booth customization options for sponsors to showcase their brand creatively.
  • Allow sponsors to host virtual webinars or presentations during the event to showcase products or services.
  • Enable real-time lead capturing and data analytics for sponsors to measure their ROI effectively.
  • Facilitate one-on-one video meetings between sponsors and potential clients through the virtual platform.
  • Offer sponsored sessions or workshops with prominent speaking opportunities for sponsors.
  • Incorporate sponsored giveaways or contests to further engage attendees with exhibitors’ brands.
  • Create a dedicated sponsor spotlight section on the virtual event platform to highlight sponsor offerings.
  • Provide post-event analytics and reports to sponsors, demonstrating their impact on the audience.

Measure and Analyze Performance

One of the key advantages of hosting a hybrid trade show is the wealth of data it generates. By leveraging data analytics, event organizers can gain valuable insights into attendee behaviour, preferences, and engagement levels. Tracking attendee engagement across virtual and physical platforms helps identify successful strategies and areas for improvement. 

For instance, monitoring the number of leads generated through virtual booth interactions and comparing them with the number of business cards exchanged during in-person networking sessions allows organizers to evaluate the effectiveness of both formats in lead generation. This data-driven approach empowers organizers to make informed decisions, refine event strategies, and create even more compelling hybrid trade shows in the future.

Follow Up and Maintain Relationships

After the event, follow up with attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors to express gratitude for their participation. Nurture leads and maintain relationships through personalised email marketing campaigns.

For instance, you can send a post-event survey to all attendees to gather feedback on their experience and use the insights to tailor communication for future events.

In Conclusion

This comprehensive guide will prepare you to set up a successful hybrid trade show in 2023. So embrace the opportunities that hybrid events offer to connect with a global audience, foster meaningful interactions, and effectively achieve your event objectives.

Virtual Days take this opportunity to invite industry professionals, corporate business leaders and event professionals to set up remarkable hybrid trade shows. We specialize in hosting virtual corporate, educational, recruitment and other events. Connect with us to get a tour of the platform today and begin planning your next event with us.

Author | Mubashrah Rahim

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