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Virtual trade shows await their turn

Online-only events

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A year ago, another publishing powerhouse, Penton Media Inc., began to expand its trade show presence with a series of online-only events. Current strategy is being fine-tuned to incorporate physical shows packaged with onlines "where it makes sense," said Jeff Forker, VP-director of Internet strategy, Penton Industry Media division. The technology is moving out-of-house as the company embraces outsourcing partnerships.

Although not every segment of its varied business communities came out a winner, Penton gets credit for a "no guts, no glory" premise, forging ahead with a dozen-plus shows that offered exhibitors three packages in which to showcase products in online booths. These encompass virtual tours, flash polls, exhibitor locator screens, conference text and more.

"You need flexibility. Viewers need to see the never-ending evolution," Forker said. "Our approach is an idea. It doesn’t come out fully formed. In the long term, it will be a great business."

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