Difference between virtual and physical trade show

Difference Between Virtual and Physical Trade Show

Thousands of trade shows are organised around the world annually. These shows fulfil various purposes. And are crucial for many individuals and industries. These trade shows offer a platform for new products. And help in expanding networks. Also, it helps in understanding the latest trends in the industries. Even journalists, consumers and enthusiasts like to attend these Virtual Trade Show.

Last year, due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, many activities were suspended. This included social gathering. And it meant that no in-person event could be organised. And due to this several events got cancelled. While many events were postponed for an indefinite period. And all this posed major challenges for the future of the event industry around the world. However, the event industry looked for unconventional solutions to this situation. And they choose to organise events virtually.

Virtual Events and Virtual Trade Shows

Virtual events are digital events that are organised in an online medium. The goal here is to create an experience close to a physical event in the online world. In other words, virtual events are the digital version of physical events. And they can be organised with the help of virtual event platforms or Softwares. These platforms provide a 3-D and immersive environment. Whereas offering convenience to the audience to attend the event virtually from any part of the world.

Virtual Trade shows come under the category of virtual events. And works similarly. If we look at a live trade show and a virtual trade show, the most evident difference is the medium. However, the list of differences doesn’t end here. So let’s look at these differences.

Virtual vs Physical Trade Show

Cost of hosting the event

It is one of the influential factors in deciding the medium of the event. Hosting a physical trade show is definitely costlier than hosting a virtual trade show. And the reason behind this is you need to book a venue for the event. Apart from that, there are other expenses associated with physical events like travelling, food, accommodation and so on. And all this adds to the cost. Whereas for the virtual event, you need to invest in a virtual event platform and equipment. These are certainly less than the expenses that occur in hosting a physical event.

Flexibility of Time

Any physical event is time-bounded. It means it starts and ends at a particular time. So you need to plan according. And also, you need to consider the time required to reach the venue. But in the case of the virtual event, you don’t have to travel anywhere. It means you save time, otherwise used for travelling. Not only this, you can provide the option of availability of on-demand video of your event. This will allow the people to attend your event, even after it has ended. This is simply not possible with the physical event.

Number of attendees

To attend a physical event, you travel to the location of the event. And sometimes it is not possible due to time or financial constraints. Due to these reasons, many people aren’t able to attend the event. And this means a fewer number of attendees at the event. Also, in a physical event, you can accommodate only a particular number of people. Whereas in virtual events, you can host as many people as you want. And due to its flexible nature, you can help people in overcoming multiple constraints. Hence a broader audience can attend the event.

Global Reach

It is challenging to organise a physical event with an international audience. It is not that you cannot host a live global event, but it is logistically challenging. And you can get a handful of people in a physical event. Also, don’t forget the expenses to host an event of such magnitude. However, with the virtual event, you can easily take your event to the world. As you don’t need any extra arrangements, it is easy to connect with people worldwide. All you need to do is mention the time of your event according to different time zones.

Higher returns

You can get a higher ROI (Return On Investment) by switching to virtual events from physical event. With a virtual event in fewer expenses, you can host a bigger and global event. This means you get higher returns. And this is not possible with the physical event. Even if you decide to organise the event of a similar scale, your expenses will increase dramatically. Hence reducing the returns significantly. Also, the whole process will be cumbersome as you would require a large staff to manage the audience.

Audience engagement

Often people think that it is tricky to engage the audience in a virtual event. But they are wrong. If you choose the right virtual event platform, you can easily keep the audience busy in your virtual event. To do this, you need to look for different engagement features provided by the platform. Some of these features are gamification, leaderboard, social wall, live chats and so on. Apart from that, you should also provide tools for networking. Remember, networking can be the sole reason for an attendee to visit the event. So you can’t ignore its importance. We would suggest tools like AI Matchmaking, Networking Tables, 2-way interaction and many more.

Live Analytics

Another significant difference between the virtual and a physical trade show is the availability of analytics. But what is analytics? Analytics is basically the activity of each individual at the event.

In a virtual event, you can monitor the activity of each attendee. For instance, what the attendee is doing or which booth they are spending their time. And also, whom they are communicating with and so on. This gives you necessary insights like what is working at your event and whatnot. This information can be very beneficial.


Just like analytics, it is much easier to get audience feedback in a virtual event. And especially in comparison to a physical one. Feedback gives you crucial information about the audience at your event. This information includes the experience, expectation and preference. And based on this information, you can make different attendee personas. These personas can be used to tailor your next event according to the inclination of your audience.

These are some of the differences between the physical and virtual trade show. We hope this article will prove helpful. So share your thoughts about virtual events.

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