The team at Hand Picked Hotels were delighted to exhibit at The Meetings Show on the 19th – 21st October, it was our very first virtual event!
Following months of very little activity in the events industry, it was really refreshing to re-connect with clients – both old and new – to talk about our unique meetings and events venues and how we can help bring business meetings and corporate events back to life, safely, in Britain.
What to expect?
We have been attending tradeshows and networking events for decades and human interaction and being able to talk face to face with clients is a massive part of what we do and the very nature of hospitality, so the thought of attending a virtual event was all new to us. We really weren’t sure what kind of results we could expect or how effective our face to face (Video to video) appointments would be. But we couldn't have been more positive about the experience. The set up was slick, and being able to see people on screen and talk / interact actually felt quite effective with slightly longer appointments than we might have had when people are in a rush on foot.
What did we learn?
The enquiry trends seemed to follow that of smaller meetings, short lead bookings or those further out into 2021. Many #eventprofs we connected with at the show reported that they were not returning to their offices until March 2021 or later, however they were very happy to arrange dates for virtual show round appointments - which we are more than happy to set up across any of our 19 venues. Lots of people also agreed that they were using the event to re-make new contacts where relationships had been lost to redundancies and furlough arrangements.
The value of virtual
Overall the Swapcard platform that hosted the virtual exhibition was easy to use and all the appointments we made were with genuine bookers and agents. We genuinely feel the connections made during the event were warmer than if they had been scanned in person at a live event. Owing in part to the fact that all connections were mutually accepted pre-event between the exhibitor and attendee. We have definitely come away feeling like there is certainly a place for virtual and hybrid events going forward and that our incredibly adaptable events industry can make them work.
We are thankful to all the people we were able to network and connect with during the event and very much hope to host COVID-safe meetings for many of them in the coming weeks and months.