Pandemic & in-person events and fairs in crisis
FAIRS IN CRISIS – In this year marked by the pandemic many sectors have been affected by the economic crisis generated by the pandemic, one of these areas is the trade fair sector. Starting with the lockdown in March and the resulting impossibility to hold in-person fairs, the loss of revenue has been huge. It is growing even more so now with the new “stop” following the DPCM of October 25th, thus fairs and all those who gravitate around them are finding themselves in great difficulty.
These events’ organizers, however, have not given up and immediately tried to convert the resources available to them and to allow producers and consumers to network in realistic 3D virtual environments.
The solution that has found the most consensus among all has been to transfer the fairs from the physical places to the network to online displays and virtual visits, able to make visitors feel the same sensations and experience the same as an in-person visit.
The possibility of having virtual fairs finds advantages not only in this disastrous year for the in-person events, but also for the future. Organizing virtual events makes it possible to make the fairs more accessible to the international public, which otherwise would be reduced, since it is forced to bear higher travel costs.
Trade fairs have always been about bring people together
Great market-style meetings have been held since ancient times, starting from the times of the Roman Empire. During the Middle Ages, many fairs turned into temporary markets of special importance for international and long-distance trade, as many merchants took day-long trips to reach the places where they were sure they could do business. It is precisely in the late Middle Ages, during the period of development of mercantile capitalism, that modern trade fairs have their roots in European business fairs.
By now there are many trade fairs all over the world that have established themselves over time and have reached international fame, but above all constitute a great economic capital for the nations that host them.
In Italy, for example, the trade fair sector is capable of generating business for 60 billion Euros a year and of determining 50% of the companies’ export, not to mention the induced activities generated on the territory and the connected supply chains, such as that of fittings or accommodations facilities. In fact, every year the fairs involve 200 thousand exhibitors and attract 20 million visitors, from abroad too.
According to Ufi data, relating to an analysis of international trade at world level, every euro invested in a trade fair generates two euros of direct and eight euros of indirect induced activities. In addition, exhibitors and visitors spend about 98 billions euros while 680 thousand people are employed, reaching 1.8 million workers if services such as transports, accommodation and catering are included. There is no doubt that the trade fairs are central to promoting Italian products and services with an increasingly marked orientation towards international markets that offer great opportunities for growth, especially for the possibility of reaching new consumer targets.
3D virtual fairs are one way to overcome
Unfortunately, the global pandemic that has been affecting the world for more than six months, has claimed many victims and caused much damage. Since February, more than one hundred events have been cancelled or postponed. In this year, in Italy alone, there has been a 70% drop in turnover, which has involved not only the event organizers, but also all sectors concerning the assembly and fitting out of structures, pavilions and stands.
Even the reopening of the fairs in September was conditioned by the health emergency and there were many costs to be incurred in order to reach the required level of safety and comply with all the anti contagion regulations in force. However, the autumn reopening was short-lived due to the new Prime Ministerial Decree of October 25th, with which all trade fairs were cancelled again, causing even greater losses than in the spring.
Driven by the fact that no mention has been made of trade fairs in previous decrees, many cities had already started preparations for the events that were to be held shortly, and substantial investments in promotion and communication were also planned for these events. This had led the organizers to be confident about their continuation and so they went ahead in the preparation of the events, finding themselves having to cancel them from one day to the next, with all that it brings, especially in terms of loss of money.
Online fairs a possible solution
The relocation of trade fairs online is not a novelty dictated only by the pandemic, because examples of such events have already been seen in 2017 with FieraTv. The creation of virtual fairs allows a huge reduction in costs, especially in terms of out-of-pocket expenses and a wider visibility also for the international public, in fact, in the events held between March and April there were 40 to 60% attendance among foreigners visitors.
The platforms chosen to host the virtual fairs are many, but up until this year, they have been frequently set aside – it is only now due to lockdowns, quarantines and smart working, are businesses and indivuals looing for alternatives and how to participate.
What we are trying to do is to keep the aim of the fair alive, that is to put customers, buyers and operators in communication and to make their products known all over the world. Rossano Tiezzi, Advepa Communications Sales Manager
Creating a 3d environment, and not just a virtual webinar or conference, gives the visitors an experience that is as close as possible to reality. Together with a realistic or fantasy styled 3d environment there have been many new correlated activities which have been successful among the public, such as sending product kits directly to the home and crossing language barriers and time zones for live chats between interested parties.
Solution for everyone or for a few?
With fairs in crisis more and more companies are launching themselves in the sector: the idea is that even once the pandemic is over, digital events remain a tool to strengthen the visibility of companies. Today 3 virtual fairs are used out of necessity to substitute in-person events – however, the importance of an in person event is still evident – nothing takes away the value of meeting potential clients and buyers face to face. However, in the future, an in person event can be accompanied by a 3d virtual fair, improving the reach for the audience and exhibitors; more visitors means more revenues.
“But this tool should, and will, accompany, not replace, the live meetings, expos, fairs and showrooms for companies and their target audience” Association of Italian Exhibitions and Fairs explain.
Some companies, especially small and medium enterprises, have always foundd it more difficult to participate and compete in live and in-person events due to costs, travel restrictions and language barriers. However, because a digital trade fair evens out the playing field while keeping in place all of the essential elements, the 3d environment becomes not just a viable companion to in person events – but a necessary companion.
Online 3d virtual fairs: an investment for future growth
Looking ahead, it is obvious that 3d virtual fairs are not only an option for moments like that which we are experiencing with COVID 19, but they are also be an investment for the future. The setting up of online events, in parallel with those in attendance, makes it possible to reach a much larger audience, both locally and not local. International buyers who will visit the virtual fair will find valuable information in the form of videos, brochures, contacts and live chats, as well as webinars and appointment centers. This equates to more engagement and networking. .
The world of 3d virtual fairs, during this time of fairs in crisis – but also during times of economic growth, means reaching a greater number of visitors, and this results in increased in earnings for everyone.