The world has changed, business has changed and nowhere is this more obvious than in the world of Exhibitions. As Social Distancing becomes the new norm and the fear that we will never get F2F again looms a lot of people are looking to the virtual world of Exhibitions. The burning question remains will they work?

As someone who has spent over 25 years in this industry and someone who was vehemently against virtual all along, I have modified my thoughts on it. I have not changed as virtual can never replace the face to face value of meeting people at live events. I have seen 20-30 attempts at virtual shows over the last 20 years plus and none of them have worked and if I am honest have not seen a massive amount recently that will change my mind, however I am open to seeing what value it can create.

For me, the worlds of digital and live are going on the same path and have many of the same goals but up to now have simply been on different roads albeit going the same direction. If CV19 has taught us anything in the Exhibition world, it`s that we need to work closer together in the future for the better good of the important person in this equation…The visitor. And I think we will. However, if people suggest that live exhibitions won`t come back or that virtual will replace them, they are living in cloud cuckoo land. The real strategy is to look at what both can offer each other and to work together for the greater good of the industry. There is not an exclusive but rather a way we can co-exist.

In brief, Digital offers a great opportunity to do something different and potentially open shows to a far greater audience in one respect whereas live has the personal touch that digital just cant offer. For me I see virtual as the icebreaker and live as the close in sales. We need to embrace digital to develop stronger relationships that will then ultimately be taken offline onto the show floor. This is the real power of these 2 industries coming together.

So, what are the pros and cons of each medium?

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Food for Thought? Stephan Murtagh, The Exhibition Guy