No More Fake Virtual Trade Shows – Time for Hybrid Live Streaming Multi-Channel Events + Videos of Videos

Hybrid Live + Streaming “Tele-Consultation” Trade Shows

In conversations with many professionals regarding the future of trade shows many said they are in a serious conundrum.

That is, trade show producers want attendees back faster than a speeding bullet as for many, this is the majority revenue source for their business.  Organizing, producing and delivering audiences is also a major corporate effort, exhibitors also want them back as also for many reasons which includes tradeshows is the primary marketing effort for their businesses.  Replacing trade shows with other marcom efforts such as webinar, thought leadership, videos, newsletters and others is not seen as providing the same kind of value as face-to-face interactions with customers.  Product demonstration, private negotiations, event speeches and presentations and of course, all the parties, receptions and business networking that are also things that cannot take place virtually.

Yet, attendees are not coming back until 2022 and many more not ever.  The vaccine if it works, will help.  Providing “ultra-safe” one-way aisles and access hallways, hand-sanitizers, masks ondemand everyone and as booth swag is just part of the solution.  Parties and networking events are just too hard for many who, as anyone can appreciate, shaking hands along with selfies and sharing customer “war stories” and all the really great parts of being with other people will fade a little or a lot.  Many customers are also too afraid to go. For others the company who won’t pay for the attendee to go for fear of losing a key person and travel risks are still rather high will also impact trade show attendance. Still others said, “been there, done that” trade shows are just too much hype, take too much time, the trade show staff don’t know anything and for SMB companies, some said, for the same money I can take a nice vacation.

One Solution, Certainly Not the Only Solution – Live Streaming Hybrid Trade Show

In the process of developing a solution I reviewed many animated virtual trade show software solutions and then talking back to exhibitors again, I found there is a major disconnect.  Animated characters are viewed by all as not effective as some said “childish.”  In a few cases, some exhibitors thought animated characters did more harm than good.  What emerged after many conversations is something like this.  Most companies who did trade shows have spent tens or even hundreds of thousands on their booths.  For many the investment in the booth and exhibit systems is viewed as a strategic branding effort to show the company to the world.  However, many said after a trade show all this investment sits gathering dust in a warehouse waiting for the next event. 

One Solution – I asked, instead of wasting away in a warehouse, how about putting these exhibits, displays and other equipment into an existing demonstration center or now unused office space due to WFH efforts.  Then setup daily, weekly or other special events to be live streamed with multiple simultaneous (simulcast) channels (e.g. sales, support, billing, partner, investor, etc.) to interested viewers and customers.  This effort could be combined together with webinars, lectures, product demonstrations as well as new management, product and importantly crisis events.  This hybrid approach also maximizes the significant investment in personnel training who were also previously available for trade shows. 

One CMO suggested to also do videos of videos producing short 30+ second videos of the live streaming events for website “trailers.” Another CMO thought this would be more like the live medical tele-consultation model with real medical professionals than just a database search. For some it also demonstrates agility and creativity to customers who would otherwise not be able to go to a local, regional or national event.  Importantly, for the 99.9999% of the people who could not go to live events no matter what the issue distance, family, budget including disabilities this streaming solution gives them the opportunity to also get involved. 

This solution may not be for everyone but it could be used by everyone as part of their trade show and event productions.  I still encourage companies to invest in trade show systems and for those who have exhibits that don’t move for whatever reason such as an art museum, visitor center, fossil collection and others, streaming extends the value globally.

I appreciate you taking one-minute to consider this new approach and look forward to comments, critiques and issues that I may have missed, email me at