Are we ready for the virtual revolution?

DPRTE’s first virtual experience

Amidst the unprecedented times we have had to deal with this year, another first-time for us has been the move to Virtual Events over the old faithful face-to-face.

We still had to undergo a mountain load of prep for the event – making sure the Booth looked appealing, making sure the links worked, updating our content to cater to the relevant industries etc… But did we feel that we got the same outcome? Or can we just put this down as a learning experience?

In short, the answer is…no it definitely didn’t have the same appeal. As alluring as the setup was on the surface – a picturesque lobby image, Key Note speeches/ talks available via video link and generally an easy navigational journey through the virtual venue – the platform did come with its technical issues from the get-go. Auto logouts, delays in receiving chats, booth reps from other stands displaying as reps for our booth (the list goes on) presented a frustrating first hour of being live – with ‘502 Bad Gateway’ became the prevalent message of the day.

The Booth

In regard to CP Cases, the format didn’t play to our strengths. We understand that storage and safe transportation aren’t at the forefront of people’s minds when thinking about defence applications so we found ourselves at a bit of a loss. The great thing about the standard face-to-face event was that we gained most of our interest through people walking past and thinking ‘oh yeah, I need that’ – a method we couldn’t translate across to online. Peter Ross, the Managing Director here at CP Cases stated:

‘A disappointing event all round. Paid in advance for a physical show but left the payment in good faith. Most of the traffic was other exhibitors or visitors selling from the aisles. We had no good leads and now we’re being asked to purchase the visitor list –that is so uncharitable.’ Peter Ross, Managing Director

Another factor that worked against us was our reliance on prospects being able to touch and see our products first hand. Test the strength. Analyse the materials. This was hard to demonstrate virtually which in turn meant less traffic to our booth.

The Platform

We found that holes in the platform became more evident the more we learnt to navigate our way around. The user journey was more geared up if you knew what you were looking for. A maximum of 4 keywords per company from a list of minimal choices really didn’t work to our advantage. Especially when the choices of words very loosely defined our standing, to say the least.

As the day went on the chatroom and Networking Lounge became more of a hotbed of cold sales tactics. Booth reps only visiting to drive traffic to their stand – even if their offering wasn’t relevant. Our Director David Seall’s thoughts:

‘Not the best online event I’ve attended. The open chat was people just selling and very “in your face”, it was very confusing. There didn’t seem to be many customers attending. Some of the sessions in the auditorium were ok but all in all a disappointment.’ David Seall, Director

All in all, I think there were a lot of grey areas that the organiser will I’m sure learn from. From a product manufacturing perspective, we can take this on the chin as a learning experience. Face-to-face events are really where the magic is and we look forward to their return.

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