Corporate Distancing: Virtual Alternatives to Tradeshows

Corporate Distancing: Virtual Alternatives to Tradeshows

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the globe, various industries are beginning to take a hit. The effects on the tradeshow industry and businesses relying heavily on revenue generated by these events are playing out in unfortunate ways. The majority of show organizers are either canceling or postponing their events. While that decision is disappointing and may result in negative financial implications for planned attendees, exhibitors, and travel providers, the decision is the right one in an effort to keep our community safe and healthy.

As an organization, Corporate Spending Innovations (CSI) participates in a number of industry-specific tradeshows throughout the year. With this unexpected change in our schedule, our strategy for lead generation will also have to adjust. Our focus has already shifted from in-person conversations and demonstrations to a significant increase in digital sales and marketing efforts to target valuable, qualified prospects. For those in a similar position, we’ve put together a few alternatives to tradeshows and conferences that we here at CSI will be implementing in lieu of attending events.

Virtual Events

Many event organizers are still offering a portion of their agenda online. The opportunity to participate in a virtual panel discussion or product demonstration is oftentimes still available. This is a great way to reach a large prospective audience, possibly even ones you wouldn’t have reached on-site. While a virtual event doesn’t provide the same in-person experience, it does offer several useful benefits, including streaming and archived keynotes, panels and technical sessions.

Email Campaigns

Many tradeshows provide an attendee list in advance of the show. Even if the show was canceled, there is a good chance the event organizer would provide this to you, if you haven’t already received it. Utilize this list as best you can by creating a series of targeted email campaigns to promote your company’s services and products.


If you can’t attend a tradeshow, a great alternative is to host your own webinar series. This is another great way to virtually showcase the products and services your company has to offer, but with more interaction. Decide on a few topics, develop a presentation, and create an email campaign to promote it using the same email lists you received from the tradeshow organizers. It’s very likely this targeted group will be eager to learn more about your products.

Encourage attendee participation through polls, surveys, and Q&A’s. And, don’t forget to promote and preview your upcoming sessions.

Social Media

Many tradeshows have specific hashtags dedicated to their event and with this, exhibitors and attendees begin to promote their presence months in advance. Do a quick search for the event’s hashtag or other related keywords and connect with people who were planning to attend the show. Once you introduce yourself, let them know you were also planning to attend, and see if they’re interested in a quick meeting to learn more about your company. In addition, social media should continue to be utilized as a promotional and educational outlet for your organization. The more content you can share, the better.

The ripple effects of the coronavirus are far-reaching, and every business will be affected in one way or another. The best we can do is make calculated adjustments on-the-fly that will make a positive impact on our organizations. As the spring conference season comes and goes, we hope you find these alternative recommendations helpful and that the upcoming fall season will be much more productive.