OrderEase has been the platform of choice for virtual as well as in-person booking shows. Now, we have successfully completed our first hybrid trade show. The hybrid trade show model was implemented for Prince Corporation, a U.S. wholesale distributor. From the experience gained, we want to share some of our learnings as well as what made this buying show such a success.
We knew buying groups and distributors would need a new approach to host their traditional booking shows,” says Warren Patterson, CEO of OrderEase. “With the success and emergence of virtual booking shows, buyers now expect the flexibility of being able to choose how they experience the products and deals being offered at the show, whether in-person or online.
Leveraging the mobile order entry app for the in-person event and the desktop trade show environment for the virtual portion allowed for greater reach, improved engagement and increased sales.
What is a Hybrid Event or Trade Show?
A hybrid event involves hosting a physical and virtual event concurrently to sell better. In a hybrid event, the trade show operator uses the same virtual event platform, same show data, showcases the same exhibitors, and invites the same attendees. By offering a hybrid format, customers are able to choose how they attend and engage with sales reps.
When leveraged with a platform that offers digital order entry, both via mobile app or online, the sales volume opportunity is amplified. This is a game changer.
How a Virtual Trade Show Platform can Help Enhance Your Next In-Person Event
Having a tool that can be utilized for both in-person and online show functions, allows for adaptability in tumultuous times. Not only are sales better tracked between the show types, but sales potential and wider customer reach can be achieved. Adopting a hybrid event shows customers that an Operator is working to meet their various needs.
- Julia Forster, Trade Show Project Manager
Increase Attendance and Reach
An in-person event relies on people physically being able to attend at a set date and location. Geography can limit attendance due to travel costs, potential travel restrictions or safety concerns. However, by leveraging a complimentary virtual event platform, audience reach is increased and an attendee’s location, economic, or physical means, is no longer hinders their access to a show.
Despite the re-opening of inside events as we continue to evolve in an emerging post-pandemic state, in-person trade show attendance will continue to be impacted. As demonstrated in the below pie chart with data from a 2021 report in the Event Manager Blog, 86% of event attendees are choosing to restrict how they attend in-person events when asked if they would return to an in-person event. Regardless of the proximity of the trade show location to attendees, many are choosing to attend mostly virtual events in the near future.
This was further confirmed by the response from operators when asked, in the same report in the Event Manager Blog, the question: “What has been the most positive result of incorporating a digital component?” 40.5% stated increased attendance / reach.
Increase Sales Volume and ROI
Having a mobile order entry app present at the in-person show allows sales reps to place more orders faster than ever before and increases the accuracy of sales numbers. Leveraging the same piece of technology for the in-person and virtual trade show allows for the consolidation of orders and sales all in one place. This means higher visibility for show Operators and confidence in the sales metrics being presented.
100% of OrderEase trade show operators have seen positive increases in customer connectivity and a positive ROI using the OrderEase digital event platform.
Going into last year’s first-ever virtual show, we didn’t know what to expect for sales, attendance and platform adoption. We were pleasantly surprised when we achieved 96% of our previous year's in-person show sales, which demonstrated high adoption and acceptance of utilizing a digital ordering platform. This year exceeded expectations again, as OrderEase technology captured both in-person and online sales digitally” stated Shaun Quinlan, CEO Prince Corporation. “Moreover, sales operations were optimized by eliminating the need to invest the month of post-show manual order entry normally associated with in-person events.
Extended Ordering Timeframe
By offering a digital option for your trade show, you become less bound by time, which allows a longer opportunity to have customers explore and place orders.
Traditional in-person shows are costly to run for extended periods of time for both the venue, expense of attending / exhibiting, people resources, entertainment, and the list goes on. By enhancing this experience with a digital version of the trade show, you can offer the in-person event with on-the-floor ordering followed by a virtual event or many combinations of this.
Many booking shows operated utilizing the OrderEase Trade Show Platform have sales reps present for specific dates and times then leave the show “open for ordering” for 2 - 4 weeks post show. The end result, buyers take advantage of this and order more. Often more than ⅓ of the show total sales happens between the “live” show and closing of the catalogs.
Orders on Demand with a Trade Show Mobile Order Entry App
Increased order accuracy, reduced manual input, and accessible orders are all key benefits of leveraging digital order management for both in-person and virtual trade shows. Capturing sales orders at a fast-paced buying show is easier on a mobile order entry app with the ability to scan barcodes and a huge improvement from the slow manual order entry with paper and pen.
Digital Transformation Enabled
With consolidated digital data, you are a big step closer to enabling digital transformation within your business. As a distributor, you can digitally transmit order information into your ERP, as a buying group, you can gain visibility into buying and selling volumes between your vendors and your members.
Managing Expectations: How Much Extra Work is Required to Run a Hybrid Booking Show?
A single set-up of the digital data used for a show can be used across the live, virtual and hybrid events. If you choose to operate future shows, the data from the previous show can be ported over which minimizes set up time.
If you have only operated an in-person trade show before, the key differences are:
Catalog data collection. An online catalog for placing orders requires product information, pricing, deals, and images to deliver the best experience.
Virtual booth configuration. The OrderEase virtual trade show platform is not built on virtual reality, high tech graphics or complex configurations. It is designed to be simple and to the point! Low effort is required to input core booth information, sell sheets, marketing materials, etc.
Attendee registration for the purposes of allocating proper pricing.
Training. Both operators and exhibitors will require training on how to work within the virtual environment from configuration to order management to reporting.
Communication. For the best success, exhibitors need to be aware from the beginning about expectations to leverage the digital ordering component as well as how receiving orders digitally will greatly reduce time and effort post-show with order entry.
This is Why It Works: Virtual Trade Show Platform Married with Order Management System
By merging a virtual event platform with an order management system, we’ve created a game changing experience for operators, suppliers and buyers participating in buying shows regardless of whether they are in-person or online.
If your objective as an operator / trade show organizer is to provide a place where buyers can discover new products and place orders with exhibitors, it only makes sense to offer them an interactive experience to do exactly that.
Many event or trade show platforms provide bits and pieces of this experience, but the key thing they are missing is the digital ordering component. Or, if they do offer a digital ordering component, it’s not sophisticated enough to handle complex discounts and deals often offered at trade shows.
Summary of the Benefits to Operating a Hybrid Trade Show:
- The ability to book and submit orders digitally on the show floor or virtually.
- Real-time sales data—by customer, by sales rep, or by vendor.
- Multi-tier pricing management.
- Orders are ready to export from the platform and ready to import into your ERP...manual order entry is a thing of the past.
- Enhance your reach.
- Increase your sales.
- Digitally prepared to transition your business for future online order management.
Combine OrderEase order management technology with our all-in-one trade show platform and you have an end-to-end buying solution for in-person, virtual, and hybrid events. Maximize ROI, engage with more customers, and increase show sales volumes and order values. OrderEase is the answer to the ever-changing needs of your customer and the environment we live in.