NEW MEDIA: Opinion - Virtual events can't match human touch

Virtual exhibitions is the buzz-phrase of the moment, but this

trendy concept will never replace the experience of actually going to a

live event.

New media is now a part of our working lives but we still need to travel

to visit a show and walk around it to get the face-to-face contact that

we really want.

Attending an exhibition gives the visitor the chance to see, hear,

touch, and in some cases, taste and smell a product or service. Only

seeing and hearing are available from a virtual exhibition. There's none

of the immediacy of being able to try out a product, or test the

salesperson - or even network in the exhibition bar - it's just you,

sitting at your PC.

However, exhibition organisers should not ignore the benefits of new

media - web site developments, viral marketing by email and SMS, etc -

as this is a developing and successful area for marketing


Show organisers should also offer some form of on-line facility, to

ensure they keep up with the competition. On-line facilities can benefit

organisers by complementing an exhibition - this can be a comprehensive

web site about the exhibition or just an exhibitor list with contact

details or links after the show for a limited period, to catch those

visitors who pre-registered but did not make it to the venue.

It will be a long, long time before all-singing, all-dancing virtual

exhibitions are the norm - at the moment, they are expensive and out of

reach for many organisers and there is not a genuine need for them from

visitors. Perhaps a little more research needs to be conducted into what

visitors desire from exhibitions before organisers spend lots of money

on developing virtual alternatives.

In the meantime, you can't beat the personal contact that an exhibition


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