Marketing Networking Virtual Events

How Can A Virtual Business Expo Help Your Organization?

In this article, I’ll talk about how a virtual business expo can help your organization. This also applies to multi-day conferences, boot camps, and summits.

What Is A Virtual Business Expo?

Our business climate has changed. Even when we are able to go back to face-to-face events, business professionals learned how efficient virtual meetings can be. Some people will tell you they are tired of virtual meetings. That only means they are not engaged with the content. By using a true conference platform, you add context to your events and engage the participants like never before. This is not just a single video meeting with break out rooms.

What Is A Virtual Business Expo?

Let’s define what a virtual business expo (or boot camp, conference, or summit) actually is. These virtual platforms simply provide an electronic representation of a physical venue, such as a convention center. The size can be from small and intimate to large and grand. Because they only live inside a computer, they can scale to exactly the right size for your event.

All the separate areas exist that you would expect at a live event. Rooms exist for registration, vendor booths, webinars, multiple concurrent round table discussions, networking lounges, and more.

Similar to a live business expo or conference, you feature chamber members in their own booths, making them visible throughout the event.  If you choose to sell booth space at different tiers, charge more for non-members to participate. We discuss how your chamber can benefit from these types of events in a moment.

A virtual event platform is more than just a single video conference call with break out rooms.  Each vendor links their own video conference account to their booth.  Whether they are using zoom, Skype, hangouts, webex, gotomeeting, or any other video chat platform.  The attendees of the conference approach a vendor booth. They choose to “chat live” with the business representative.  At that point, the attendee is entering the business’s live video account, not just a break out room of your chamber’s zoom account.

Attendees gather electronic content as they visit various rooms (brochure racks, on-demand video, etc) and those items are stored in their “goody bag”.   At the end of the day, the attendees receive an email with links to all the brochures, documents, and video content they “touched” during the event.  The vendors receive contact information of everyone that “touched” their brochure rack, watched their webinar, etc.  Lastly, the event organizer receives usage statistics about the event.

So you can see, video conferencing software provides more context and meaning to an event. You cannot achieve all this with a single video chat account. Even breakout rooms fall short.

Let’s take a closer look at how we organized the virtual business expo platform and why this is so much different than simple break out rooms.

The Rooms Inside A Virtual Platform

  • registration desk – Just like a live event, attendees need somewhere to arrive, sign up or log in, and grab their name badge for the day.  The registration desk is the first place attendees are sent to when they arrive.
  • main lobby – Once an attendee gets properly checked in, they move to the main lobby of the virtual event.  This becomes the central hub for their day’s activities.  From the main lobby, they can move to any other room in the event.
  • exhibitor hall & vendor booths – your chamber members (and possibly up-charged non members) set up their “booths” in this area.  A virtual booth is a customized web page that contains the vendor’s contact information, a link to their own video chat account, and content for their brochure rack. Any type of document or video on the internet can be added to a brochure rack.
  • on-demand webinars – pre-recorded educational content, provided by you and/or your chamber members, is the perfect type of content to include in the webinar room. Attendees can stop at any time during your event and watch any video they choose.
  • round table discussions – these are live topic-specific discussions at specific times during your event.  You can set up multiple concurrent tracks & topics for your event. So similar to an in-person conference, your attendees can choose a theme to follow throughout a day, sit in one seat, and the presenter changes every hour.  Or the attendee can choose to move to another for a different topic.
  • networking lounge – empower your attendees to make new connections and strengthen existing relationships. Some use the networking lounge for an after party, not available until the end of the day. Others configure multiple rooms in the networking lounge to offer a couple different versions of speed networking, special interest group gathering space, or a presenter’s lounge. One organization had a room dedicated to a live DJ getting people to sing and dance along online while being confined to comfort of their own homes.

How Your Chamber Benefits With A Virtual Business Expo

Since most organizations are forced to cancel their normal face-to-face annual events, they’ve also lost the revenue those events would normally generate for the organization.  This virtual platform gives you a chance to reclaim that lost revenue in a unique way.

Consider these benefits to your organization, as well as for your members and the community at large when you host a virtual business event on a platform like ours:

  • attract tech-savvy businesses to your chamber – organizations need to stay relevant in this current business climate if they are going to survive.  Using a virtual event platform shows the community that you understand how to navigate this technical space with ease.
  • showcase your existing members – your chamber members will recognize and appreciate the needed visibility.  Many businesses are struggling to get in front of potential clients. You’re giving them a platform to be seen and engage with the community.
  • generate revenue outside of membership dues – you have many options to run your event.  Attendee admission fees, booth space, event sponsorships, upsold on-demand videos, hosting round table discussions, and sponsoring the networking rooms are all ways you can generate revenue from an event. One model that works in some communities is to give booth space to chamber members at no cost, and charge a premium to non-chamber members to set up a booth at your event.  That model demonstrates value in membership! Take that a step further and only allow chamber members the upgraded sponsorship opportunities which again shows there’s a good reason to be a member of your chamber.
  • move beyond single video conference calls to a full platform – There are limitations to the number of attendees on a video conference call. And there’s a lack of structure.  That also makes the entire conference (attendees, chamber members, speakers, etc) log into one big room that you control, attend, and work hard at all day long to move people around to break out rooms. Conversely, our virtual conference platform adds structure and context to your event. The look and feel are branded to your organization.  You are simply providing the convention center to your community for an event.  The vendors and presenters provide their own video conference accounts in their profiles. Attendees interact with those video accounts, not yours. That frees you up, and your ambassadors, to host the networking lounge and enjoy the event.

Next Steps

Learn more about the Virtual Business Expo platform.  See if your organization can benefit from using this powerful new tool. Please review your calendar and schedule a good time to talk by visiting our calendar. Call 530-424-8665

Remain relevant, be a catalyst for growth, provide the needed connections throughout the business community, and champion your members.  Do all of this while improving your cash flow in the process.

About Tom Argiro – Owner of HBG Consulting LLC and Executive Director of the North Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. Tom understands the pain points chamber leaders experience with membership engagement, retention, new member growth, and generating revenue outside of membership dues. Mr. Argiro comes to chamber leadership with a unique background as a software engineer for over 30 years in fortune 100 companies. Combining knowledge from both fields gives Mr. Argiro the ability to develop needed solutions for the problems chamber leaders face.