Finding Opportunities and Meeting the Challenges of Exhibiting Virtually at NECA 2020 LIVE

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The NECA 2020 LIVE event will soon be upon us. Although the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic have forced event organizers to shift to a new experience, excitement is still building among vendors for NECA’s annual Convention and Trade Show, which will take place virtually on October 6–8, 2020.

Many of the trade show’s exhibitors are eagerly anticipating the opportunity to interact with those who might not normally be able to attend live.

Loriel McCormick, owner/office manager of McCormick Systems Inc., a construction software company based in Chandler, Ariz., noted how “The possibility of being in front of attendees that could or would normally not attend or travel to a show/convention could prove to be beneficial.”

According to David Moeller, director, customer markets at Graybar Electric, an electrical distributor located in St. Louis, “the fact is that not everyone can make a live event” due to financial or time constraints. Potential new audiences for vendors to interact with might include foremen, purchasing staff, owners, project managers, safety managers, field apprentices and more.

Scott Teson, vice president of skilled trades for Milwaukee Tool, Brookfield, Wis., discussed how a virtual trade show offers the additional advantage of collecting more information for lead generation than an in-person event.

In other words, “More virtual experiences and content allow for more opportunities to opt in,” Teson said.

This year’s trade show is sure to have something for everyone. NECA hosts the best exhibit hall in the industry, and this year will be no exception. NECA is taking advantage of cutting-edge technology that will offer all the benefits of an in-person trade show, just in a virtual setting. From the comfort of their own home or office, attendees can look forward to visiting the virtual trade show floor where they can interact directly with vendors to learn about the latest products and services that will help them enhance their businesses.

Many vendors will be using their virtual exhibit booth for product demonstrations. For example, Milwaukee Tool will be showing attendees its new line of MX FUEL battery-powered equipment, personal protective equipment and other solutions that allow contractors to stay safer and more productive.

Other vendors are looking forward to sharing their digital technology with contractors. At its virtual booth, Graybar Electric will be introducing attendees to its two new digital solutions, including one that will enable contractors to more efficiently source and manage their inventory and another that will streamline the takeoff to bill of material process. McCormick Systems, meanwhile, is anticipating showing off its estimating software and project management tools, including its newly acquired Tribuild Construction Management software.

Attendees will also have the ability to make appointments for one-on-one conversations with vendors, which allows them to discuss their specific business needs.

Some vendors, including Graybar Electric, will also be holding giveaways as part of their exhibits.

Additional offerings at the virtual event include extensive educational opportunities and awards presentations, as well as inspiring talks from speakers such as NECA CEO David Long, Paralympian and sports reporter Victoria Arlen and former Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Nadja West. The Milwaukee Tool Shed Band will also be performing once again.

Engaging with participants in a virtual exhibit setting does certainly pose some challenges for vendors.

“A successful virtual event needs to focus on education, collaboration and networking. To capture the delegate’s attention, we need to clearly define what is in it for them and how they will get the most out of the event,” Moeller said.  

However, most vendors seem ready to face these challenges because they recognize the value that exhibiting provides, whether the exhibit booth is in-person or virtual.

As McCormick explained, “NECA [LIVE] has consistently been a great opportunity to get in front of customers and prospects.”

“For us, participation in NECA 2020 LIVE was never a question. Our partnership with NECA is incredibly important to us. The NECA convention is one of our biggest events each year—one that we eagerly look forward to. We’re thrilled to embark on this new—virtual—journey with NECA,” Teson said.

To register for NECA 2020 LIVE or to learn more about the virtual event offerings, visit www.necaconvention.org. To become an exhibitor, visit www.necashow.org.