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Most current or aspiring business owners understand the value of trade shows. These major events bring thousands of like-minded entrepreneurs in a single industry together to network, share ideas, learn and grow.

Unfortunately, many world-renowned trade shows planned for this spring have been cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, some have shifted gears and switched to a virtual trade show model. Not only does this allow for the event to still occur, but it may open doors for entrepreneurs who previously weren’t able to attend.

Not sure what a virtual trade show is or why it’s important? Here’s what you should know.

What is a virtual trade show?

A virtual trade show is almost exactly the same as an in-person trade show, but it’s held entirely online. The intricacy of virtual trade shows can vary based on the size and scale of the event, but many are held in a 3D virtual environment comprising replicated booths and networking areas. Attendees can “visit” these shows by using a computer from the comfort of their homes.

Many features commonly found at trade shows are available through virtual trade shows, as well. Exhibitor booths with marketing materials, networking opportunities, seminars and educational sessions may all be offered, giving attendees the opportunity to meet others in their industry and learn about business and franchising. Most virtual trade shows also give attendees the ability to chat and have real-time interaction with speakers and representatives, so they can learn about a company and its offerings.

An example of a virtual trade show comes from one of the most popular franchising trade shows in the world, the International Franchise Expo (IFE) sponsored by the International Franchise Association. IFE originally planned to host their annual conference in May 2020. Due to COVID-19, the live trade show has been postposed, but IFE is hosting a virtual expo from May 28-30, 2020. This virtual event is a great opportunity for aspiring franchise owners to explore potential opportunities, learn more about business and connect with other vendors in the entrepreneurial space.

Two virtual tradeshows are taking place this week:

• May 14, 2020, The Great American Online Franchise Expo
Register to attend at this link: https://www.franexpousa.com/vr-expos

• May 15-17, 2020, The Franchise Show – Virtual Franchise Festival
Register to attend at this link: https://virtualfranchisefestivalusa.com/

Benefits of attending virtual trade shows

There are many reasons why aspiring entrepreneurs should consider attending virtual trade shows, aside from the general benefits trade shows have to offer.

  • Lower cost: One of the biggest benefits of attending virtual trade shows as a current or aspiring business owner is the cost. Virtual trade shows cost a fraction of their in-person counterparts for both attendees and exhibitors because of the lack of travel, physical materials and overhead fees.
  • More options: Vendors who may not have been able to exhibit at a particular trade show may have the budget and time to set up a virtual trade show booth, instead. This means that more, diversified vendors may be available at the virtual trade show you attend, giving you that many more opportunities to find a franchise you are interested in or to make industry connections.
  • Accessible research opportunity: Trade shows, in general, are great for business owners because they provide endless opportunities to network and gather industry expertise. Whether you’re attending a trade show before you select and purchase a franchise or you already own a business and are looking for new contacts and business advice, you’re bound to meet people who can help you grow your business. Virtual trade shows expand these opportunities by allowing you to attend more than one in a short time frame in a more accessible format.

At Tenet Financial Group, we work to ensure franchisees have the funding they need to get their business up and running. After you’ve explored options at a virtual trade show, contact us to learn more about our funding services.