Lately it seems as though virtual trade shows are like opinions…everybody has one. A version of TRO’s Virtual Travel Expo will roll out Thursday, October 30 with over 50 supplier booths. With two other travel media outlets boasting virtual trade shows, is there room for another? Yes, and maybe no. Let me explain.
Firstly, there is no substitute for attending a physical trade show when at all possible. The face-to-face interaction at a real-life, physical trade show cannot be replicated online. Technology for technology’s sake is not only spurious hype, it’s boring. In fact, when combined with a physical trade show, an online compliment is ideal…let’s call it the “100% solution.” So let’s be honest…a “virtual trade show” is not a trade show. It is an online representation of a trade show. It’s a metaphor. Strip away the marketing and it’s an online directory, and those have been available for years. In fact, it is highly likely that TRO’s technology will be used to power a number of variants in the near future, including an online tour directory.
However, the concept of a virtual trade show is solid. It is good for agents and it is good for exhibitors. Agents can attend at any time and without severe disruptions to their schedules if they are unable to travel to a show. They can learn a lot about suppliers with which they are unfamiliar and they can use the virtual trade show as a quick reference. The Seminars and ongoing training tools available are truly valuable resources.
For exhibitors, their investment in a physical trade show is multiplied many fold. The few hundred agents they might encounter at a show becomes thousands of potential visitors to their online booth. From the perspective of online branding, the online tradeshow allows the supplier to put their brand in front of many more agents and provides a longevity to the boost a physical trade show provides.
We think you will be pleased when you see what TRO will offer up. It is easy to access and use. It will be available 24 hours a day, every day, so no need to rush. If you have a question, you will have an email link to use. You can see the videos, look at the brochures and listen to suppliers explain their value proposition to you, the travel agent. Many have offered special incentives for your attendance, a nice bonus.
Suppliers who are in our shows are there because they value the travel agent’s participation in their business mix. They want the opportunity to forge a better relationship with the agency community. TRO’s concept is a bit different in that our exhibitors are present by virtue of either exhibiting in a physical tradeshow or advertising with TRO – in publishing that is called a “value-add” – their attendance in the online trade show is a part of a overall commitment to the travel agency community.
So is there room for another online trade show? Without a doubt. But at the end of the day, each has to justify its existence by delivering real value to agents and exhibitors. So please do let us hear from you. We own the technology and it is highly flexible. We are going to shape the next version to reflect the suggestions of travel agents and suppliers. Those who use TRO know we are quick to react to input. Our destination guides, e-postcards, articles, videos and other travel agent marketing tools are the direct result of agent input. Help us shape the kind of tools you most need and find useful. Work with us in that way, and we will create the tools you need, shaped the way you need them, not the way we think they should be.
So hold on until Thursday, we are virtually there.