by Teresa Karcher, CMP - Pásea Hotel & Spa
Zoom…a word we never thought we would be using as much as we are today (and I’m not referring to your toddler who is zooming around your house while you work from home). I’m sure we have all been on several Zoom or virtual calls since this pandemic began. There is a new reality we are facing which has forced us to adapt and change the way we do business to “stay in the game.”
With having to avoid face-to-face meetings, our industry is finding ways to move forward and make things happen – one being virtual trade shows. Many industry trade shows and events, which we so heavily rely on for business, have been cancelled. Those of us familiar with the ups and downs of hospitality have not allowed these difficult times to impact our client relationships. Virtual tradeshows have become the new way for us to still be “face-to-face” while in the comfort of our own home or office.
What is a virtual trade show? How do they even work? Are they effective? You may be asking all of these questions and hesitant to attend one of these. I have had the privilege of attending two virtual tradeshows over the past few months, and to my surprise, they blew my mind in how easy and effective they were. Was I hesitant? Yes. Did I have my concerns? Yes. But I am about to tell you some of the great benefits of attending a virtual tradeshow.
Saving Travel Time
Think about all of the time spent when you travel to a trade show. You have to book your travel, pack your suitcase, Uber to the airport (often times during heavy traffic hour), wait for boarding and fly to destination. Upon landing you then retrieve your luggage and Uber to your hotel. Then at check-in you hope your room is ready. Traveling is often times exhausting, not to mention all of the emails and work you need to catch up on from being out the whole day. And wait, you still need to be prepared and at your best for your tradeshow bright and early the following morning. I think you get the point.
A virtual trade show saves you all of this time and energy which otherwise would have been lost.
The meaning of the term “face-time” holds so true. We always assume “face-time” means having to see someone in person, as there are proven studies that show the benefits and return on investment (ROI) when you are able to interact face-to-face compared to email or a phone call. There is something about “face-time” that time and time again proves to give better results. And guess what? Virtual trade shows still allow for this ever so crucial “face-time” all sales people strive to get with their clients. Through virtual face time, it is almost like you are in a bubble. Think about a typical tradeshow, when you are meeting with a client, and have all the outside noise and distractions around you. In the virtual world, this is no longer an issue. You can now give your client the attention they deserve with no distractions. The conversation becomes more engaging and personal. Now think about your client for a second. In a typical trade show, they have been running from appointment to appointment after a long day of travel, and they are often exhausted. Through virtual, you now have your client refreshed and energized (just as you are) for a productive appointment.
Using Virtual to your Advantage
- Technology can be a bit challenging for some, so always do a test run to make sure all is working with no glitches – camera, microphone, etc. You don’t want to waste half of an appointment having technical difficulties.
- Have your presentation or video ready to share with your client through the “share screen” tool. Extra tip…double check your audio settings are enabled if needed.
- Make sure you have good lighting. Be sure not to have shadows or a window behind you in which you will be dark. Have the light on your face to show the best YOU!
- Camera angle is something many don’t consider. You don’t want to be looking down or up at the camera. This will give a superior or inferior feeling to whoever you are speaking with. Be sure the camera is at eye level.
- Think about your background. Are you at home with a pleasant background wall? You don’t want it to be too sterile and bland, but also don’t want there to be too much clutter. Plants are always a nice touch. The virtual background is a great option, as well, which can be customized on some platforms. One step I have taken is to setup my virtual appointments in a guest room so guests could see the room right behind me…and they loved it!
- Remember who you are representing – your company and YOURSELF! Get ready and dressed just like you would for a typical trade show. Make sure you feel and look your best. Bring energy and excitement and be genuine and personable. Make your client feel as if you were both actually together in the same place. While virtual may be intimidating and new to your client, make them feel comfortable and show you are prepared and present.
Now, have I sold you yet? But wait, in-person trade shows and events also have their benefits that we all miss. Think about that client you ran into at the bar that turned into a business opportunity. What about that Bruno Mars concert you took your top clients to? Or simply catching up with your industry colleagues. Nothing can replace or predict some of these moments and experiences that happen at live events.
This pandemic has rocked our world and forced change no one saw coming. But that doesn’t mean that change has to be negative or temporary. Personally, I believe virtual is finding a place in our industry and is here to stay. Yes, you will be traveling to in-person events soon, however, not everything will require a flight across the country. If there is one thing I have learned out of this, many scenarios can be handled virtually, saving so much time and money. Virtual is now a new tool everyone is using and continuing to become more comfortable using.
When this pandemic is over (fingers crossed it will be soon), we will transition into a new normal. When you are scheduling that next phone appointment, think again and make it a virtual call…the personal touch and face-time may just get you that next contract.