Event Management Tips

6 Tips to Structure Virtual or Hybrid Exhibitions + FREE Template

Britta Pichler

Nov 26, 20217 min read

Some aspects of virtual events, whether 100% virtual or hybrid, are now solidly part of event organization. They have proven their worth and most participants are familiar and comfortable with them.

However, translating virtual or hybrid events into a trade show or exhibition is proving to be a lot trickier. How can you actually organize it to structure your offer, maximize ROI and increase exhibitor/participant connections? Read on to find out.

1. Difference between exhibitors and sponsors
2. Networking versus business matchmaking
3. Tools you actually need (save your budget, skip virtual reality)
4. Delivering solid reporting
5. What to monetize, where to monetize, how to monetize
6. Examples of virtual or hybrid trade shows or exhibitions

Download Now: Free Pitch Deck Template

1. Difference Between Exhibitors and Sponsors

It’s not always easy to distinguish exhibitors from sponsors. The main reason is that an exhibitor can double as a sponsor, which can confuse matters a bit.

However, to structure your offer, it’s best to understand the goals your exhibitors have for your event. That way you can deliver exactly what they want.

Exhibitors

A company that showcases its products or services at an exhibition event (fair, trade show, buyer-seller event).

Sponsors

Organizations that provide support (mostly funds) toward an event to increase brand awareness.

Difference Between Exhibitors and Sponsors

Exhibitors have very defined goals of what they want to achieve at your event. They aim to make direct sales, generate leads, and get investors from exhibition shows. They pay a participation fee for a chance to do so. They do not typically provide funding for the event (unless the exhibitor also doubles as a sponsor).

Attendees come to the event to see what exhibitors are offering.

Both exhibitors and attendees are looking for opportunities and want to make high quality business connections. They network among each other and there is a distinct relationship between the two.

2. Networking versus Business Matchmaking

Before your event begins, attendees are aware of the list of exhibitors that will be at your event. Your exhibitors are aware of the demographics of the anticipated attendees.

During your event, casual networking takes place. Maybe a meetup is a valuable connection, maybe not.

However, an event that utilizes what is called business matchmaking is the opposite of casual networking. It helps create cooperative connections and realize business opportunities that mutually benefit both parties. It is efficient, structured, and optimizes the time an attendee or exhibitor spends at your event.

An event management platform that includes business matchmaking in its offer can increase business connections at your event by up to 70%. It’s the most effective event tool you could use at your trade show or exhibition.

3. Tools You Actually Need (Save Your Budget, Skip Virtual Reality)

Don’t let your trade show or exhibition get unnecessarily complicated. There are companies out there that are pushing fancy virtual realities for virtual or hybrid events. They are focusing on recreating the in-person experience, which is not completely achievable.

Save your budget, skip virtual reality.

Instead, focus and deliver on what your exhibitors and attendees really want. High quality business connections at your virtual or hybrid event. Which you can do. With an event management platform that delivers the tools you really need.

Below are the tools that really help you increase the quality of connections between participants and exhibitors, deliver valuable reporting, and overall boost your event’s ROI.

Marketplace

One to three weeks before your event even begins, participants and exhibitors log on to the b2match event platform. There, both participants and exhibitors create what is called a marketplace entry to present their products, services, and requests. They enrich these with detailed descriptions, photos, videos and downloadable files.

The marketplace is filled with opportunities searchable with keywords and a smart search function.

Screenshot of b2match marketplace displaying two entries under the search criteria services which reveals consulting, research and development etcScreenshot of b2match marketplace displaying two entries under the search criteria services which reveals consulting, research and development etc
Image: Marketplace opportunities with keywords and smart search function.

When interesting opportunities arise, both the participant and the exhibitor can request a meeting.

Screenshot of a company page entry with buttons connect with exhibitor and request meetingScreenshot of a company page entry with buttons connect with exhibitor and request meeting
Image: Participants can easily request a meeting with an exhibitor.

After they are accepted, meetings are then added to the personal event agenda tab. They clearly state whether a meeting will take place at the physical location or online.

Screenshot of a personalized agenda with three agenda items displaying if a meeting takes place in a conference room, lobby or as an online video meetingScreenshot of a personalized agenda with three agenda items displaying if a meeting takes place in a conference room, lobby or as an online video meeting
Image: Personalized event agenda.

When your virtual or hybrid event trade show or exhibition starts, both exhibitors and attendees have efficiently targeted who they want to meet with. That’s business matchmaking.

Having analyzed thousands of events facilitated on b2match, data shows that around 70% of one-to-one meeting requests are initiated through marketplace opportunities.

However, not all aspects of a trade show or exhibition can be planned. There still needs to be room for free flowing meetups not just at the physical location, but online as well.

Virtual Booths

During your event, attendees can review your event website and click on the Company page for exhibitors. There they can find detailed exhibitor profiles. If interested, they can click on the exhibitor virtual booth button and join the exhibitor for an impromptu meeting.

Screenshot of a company page with button join virtual booth to show how easy it is to connect with exhibitorScreenshot of a company page with button join virtual booth to show how easy it is to connect with exhibitor
Image: After reviewing the company page, participants can join the exhibitor booth for impromptu meetings.

Lead Retrieval

Exhibitors won’t miss a lead with this feature. It enables participants to connect with the exhibitors without necessarily having meetings. They offer up their below contact details, which exhibitors can follow up with later:

  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Company profile
Screenshot of an exhibitor's profile where an Microsoft excel icon is displayed to show easy download of leadsScreenshot of an exhibitor's profile where an Microsoft excel icon is displayed to show easy download of leads
Image: Exhibitors can easily download leads generated.

Hosted Sessions

To grab the attention of attendees and stand out from the crowd, exhibitors need a way to promote themselves. Event organizers can offer what is called a hosted session, which they include in the event agenda. Here, an exhibitor creates relevant content that your attendees will find interesting, and combines it with details about their products, services, offers, etc.

4. Delivering Solid Reporting

Reporting on the success of your event is more important than ever. That’s why b2match has created an easy system to help organizers keep an eye on event numbers.

Dashboard

At a glance, event organizers see the number of registrations and one-to-one meetings scheduled. If these numbers are lower than desired, you can take action and prompt participants to get active. The data can be exported for further analysis.

Screenshot of b2match organizer event dashboard with information like registration and meeting numbersScreenshot of b2match organizer event dashboard with information like registration and meeting numbers
Image: Dashboard gives quick overview of event KPIs.

One-to-One Meeting Rating System

Participants and exhibitors attend events to see if they can create new business partnerships. It is the main purpose. Organizers need a way to track if a cooperation came from their event to know if it was truly successful.

That’s why b2match allows event participants to have the ability to rate their one-to-one meetings. This can be done in two stages. Right after the meeting has occurred and a few months later. You, the event organizer, can send an email out to participants and ask if a cooperation occurred or not. Attendees can rank it by:

  • If a meet up actually took place
  • Lack of interest between the meeting parties
  • No further contact is planned after the meeting
  • It was very informative but no cooperation planned
  • Cooperation possible
  • Cooperation already agreed
Screenshot of b2match backend event organizer view of one-to-one meeting feedback rankingsScreenshot of b2match backend event organizer view of one-to-one meeting feedback rankings
Image: Participants rate the success of 1:1 meetings, making reporting clear and concise.

5. What to Monetize, Where to Monetize, How to Monetize

The biggest thing that event organizers are asking themselves is how to monetize on virtual or hybrid trade shows or exhibitions.

The previous form of selling space either doesn’t work for virtual events or is greatly reduced for hybrid events. So, you have to think about what is truly valuable in these scenarios for exhibitors.

Instead of monetizing space, you have to sell exclusive features and visibility in virtual environments.

To give an example, you have your bronze, silver, and gold exhibitors. You can breakdown the virtual or hybrid trade show or exhibition opportunities in the following way:

  • Company employees - how many can join event
  • Marketplace - number of entries
  • Amount of 1:1 meetings - set a limit
  • Virtual booth- amount of hours
  • Hosted session - number of sessions
  • Lead retrieval - access to the information
  • Company page - positioning

With the b2match platform, the event organizer can allow access to certain features according to the category the exhibitor has decided to participate in.

Screenshot of b2match organizer backend tool where organizers can assign participants types accordinglyScreenshot of b2match organizer backend tool where organizers can assign participants types accordingly
Image: Organizer can assign exhibitor features according to participant type.

Download Now: Free Pitch Deck Template

6. Examples of Virtual or Hybrid Trade Shows or Exhibitions

Seeing real trade shows or exhibition events facilitated using b2match is always helpful. It offers up real world views and what the possibilities are.

Mobility Days

For the third year in a row, Aussenwirtschaft Austria chose us to facilitate their Mobility Days. The event targets major mobility topics in the field of automotive, logistics, traffic infrastructure, shared mobility, digitalization and more.

Over 1,200 attendees scheduled more than 630 one-to-one meetings.

SANA 2021

For the fourth year in a row Bologna Fiere chose us to facilitate their SANA event. It aims to support and improve the dialogue between exhibitors and buyers, retailers and distributors of the organic and natural field.

Over 250 attendees scheduled more than 450 one-to-one meetings.

Meet in Italy for Life Sciences 2021

For the third year in a row Scienze della Vita chose us to facilitate their Meet in Italy for Life Sciences 2021. The event brings renowned experts together to provide insights on the impact of biomedical technologies.

Over 500 attendees scheduled more than 1,000 one-to-one meetings.


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