Why Suppliers Should Attend Virtual Events

If you represent an industry supplier, chances are you know the importance of building potential client relationships through face-to-face meetings. Warmly introducing yourself, learning about a potential client’s history and current needs, explaining how your company can help them meet their goals — all of that goes smoother when you’re able to meet at a conference, a networking event, or even over a simple cup of coffee.

But what can you do when travel or budget restrictions make in-person attendance tough, or impossible? How do you continue to fill your sales funnel with qualified leads?

Enter virtual events. Virtual or online events can be an affordable, efficient way to meet with potential buyers when travel to in-person events isn’t possible. They allow suppliers to continue making connections for a fraction of the cost of the travel, accommodations and incidentals in-person events require.

Let’s explore the benefits for suppliers attending a virtual event.

What are virtual events?

Virtual events are web-based events that contain many similarities to on-site, in-person events. Virtual events became increasingly popular during the late 2000s because they offered an economical way to effectively bring thousands of attendees from all over the world to an event.

They can be used for many purposes such as career fairs, discussion forums, networking or coaching. Virtual events allow users to interact with companies or peers from the comfort of their home, office or a nearby coffee shop through chat or video conferencing.

To attend or host a virtual event, all that is needed is an internet connection and a device to access the Internet. Most platforms are compatible to access through a desktop computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet. They are typically a single or two-day event; users can join when they are available and make the valuable connections they are looking for.

Benefits for suppliers attending virtual events

There are many benefits for suppliers who attend a virtual event. Before we list them, however, let’s acknowledge the obvious: Virtual events aren’t the same as in-person events. You won’t be able to replicate chance run-ins with sought-after clients in the lobby or elevator.

But there are significant savings and advantages for suppliers like you who attend virtual events:

Save significant staff time

Thanks to the fact that you can attend a virtual event from anywhere, there’s no staff time spent traveling to and from a virtual event. You won’t waste time waiting to board a plane or returning a rental car. Just log on to your device, click over to the event, and begin meeting others.

Spend less time setting up a booth

If you’re hosting a virtual exhibit booth, you’ll spend less time setting up your virtual booth than an in-person booth. Effective virtual show hosts offer a couple of plug-and-play booth layouts that only require you to upload a company logo, some product images, and some electronic marketing collateral. Virtual events reduce the planning time compared to in-person events tremendously. But if you’re attending a virtual exchange event, you’ll still want to invest time in researching the buyer companies you plan to meet with and preparing personalized information about your company for those buyers.

Keep business moving even when external factors don’t cooperate

Additionally, virtual events fit better within busy schedules that are often affected by unpanned events. Inclement weather, travel delays or restrictions, and last-minute emergencies can all cause you to cancel attendance at an in-person event. Because virtual events are accessible from anywhere and aren’t subject to the whims of the weather or current events, they are easier to attend.

Streamline your event activity

Suppliers enjoy the streamlined experience that a virtual platform designed for 1:1 exchange events offers. They can browse attendee data in advance. They can direct message fellow attendees and queue product demonstration videos and electronic materials for quick sharing during scheduled meetings. They can set virtual appointments and join live meetings all from the same platform. There’s only one login to remember for all functions, and all meeting info is stored in one central location.

Meet with more prospects

Virtual events actually make it easier to meet with more prospects than at in-person events.  Sometimes, prospects are unable to attend in-person events due to time, budget or distance. But with virtual events, your business has the ability to reach an unlimited audience regardless of these factors.

Because there is no time spent traveling – even between ballrooms or meal locations – you have the ability to fill gaps between sessions, opening hours, and meal breaks with video appointments. You could spend non-scheduled time at your virtual table, too, chatting with leads. Virtual events offer more efficiency when it comes to meeting with prospects.

Reduced event expenses

Because there are no expenses related to travel, hotels and food, virtual events reduce the overall costs of exhibiting or otherwise representing your company. Even if you decide to maintain your exhibition budget, because there’s a lower cost per attendee at a typical virtual event, your company could register more of your team, giving your team the chance to divide and conquer and giving more people experience selling in a virtual environment.

For suppliers, there is usually a cost to sponsor or exhibit at a virtual event. But it’s almost always less than the cost of in-person registration. Combined with the time your company saves, the return on investment from a virtual event can potentially exceed that of in-person events.

Increase your ROI with virtual events

Virtual events offer convenience and flexibility for both buyers and suppliers. The cost savings your business can realize from attending virtual events can effectively be put towards other marketing activities, or other areas of your business that need a boost. Virtual platforms are easy to navigate and built specifically for 1:1 conversations, which means an efficient, user-friendly experience for buyers and suppliers.

The next time you are reviewing your events strategy or lead generation tactics, consider adding a virtual event to your business’s lineup.