With the Coronavirus pandemic showing no signs of slowing down, businesses in the Americas are fighting harder than ever to stay afloat. Throughout the United States alone, thousands of companies are still actively trying to adapt to the current economic crisis caused by COVID-19.
Strict travel regulations and social distancing guidelines are being strictly enforced in most major cities to date. These new laws, in turn, have affected the way our industry does business.
Many of us exhibit and attend countless trade shows per year. Events such as these provide surefire ways to make new business connections, see old friends, and explore the latest technologies. However, with many states recently reporting a record number of cases, it seems like this traditional way of marketing is no longer an option.
While many major trade shows have opted to postpone or even cancel their events in 2020, others like AmericanHort, have opted instead to create online platforms to help form and strengthen connections.
Earlier this month, Decowraps joined AmericanHort as they transitioned their most popular event, Cultivate, from an in-person event to an online virtual experience.
We sat down with one of our senior Business Development Managers, Michael Shilling, in order to discuss the recent trade show as well as his outlook on fairs of the future.
Question #1: What was your favorite part of Cultivate Virtual?
Michael Shilling: I think the fact that AmericanHort went forward with the show under the current pandemic. It wasn't perfect, but it was a step in the right direction of what we know as normalcy.
Question #2: What was it like exhibiting at your first virtual trade show?
Michael Shilling: The mood was definitely different. In my opinion there was much less excitement and an overall lack of energy which is felt by being physically present in a booth.
Question #3: Did you have any reservations about online fairs before participating in Cultivate Virtual?
Michael Shilling: Yes, for sure. Some of my reservations were if buyers would actually attend and how we could effectively get our message across.
Question #4: Was is difficult learning and navigating this new platform?
Michael Shilling: Training was made available so it was overall pretty simple.
Question #5: What were some challenges an online trade show presented over an in-person event?
Michael Shilling: Having an interesting, colorful, and inviting booth at an in-person event draws new potential clients into see packaging solutions they may not have known they even needed. Unfortuantely, this new format did not offer that dynamic.
Question #6: Since in-person events seem to be out of the question for 2020, what other helpful features can future trade shows implement?
Michael Shilling: Instead of soley including a chat form, a built-in video feature would have been extremely beneficial. Exhibitors could then share their screen, show specific products and have more in-depth discussions with customers. This additional feature would've certainly been an advantage.
Question #7: Any additional comments you’d like to share?
Michael Shilling: Our industry is strong and resilient. It felt good to support Cultivate and all of our industry friends through our participation.