Ever bemoan the fact that the small fortune you spend to exhibit at must-attend industry events like Licensing Show only buys you three days of profile and face time with decision-makers? XpoFairs’ 365-days-a-year virtual trade show model offers a way to extend the market experience at a fraction of the cost.
The London, England-based company builds navigable 3-D models of convention centers, and then sells virtual exhibition space to industry groups. Its first show, the UK Gift Fair, launched online in January, and XpoFairs’ project manager Steve McLean is aiming to bring in 500 exhibitors by the end of this year to join early converts including Kidz Entertainment, Russ Berrie and World Wrestling Entertainment.
Companies choose from a wide variety of booth sizes and design options using XpoFairs’ proprietary software, as well as uploading the specific information and products that will be showcased in the space. Virtual visitors who approach the booth can navigate directly to the company’s website, watch streaming videos, listen to audio files and download PDFs, brochures and catalogues. A second phase of the software’s development will include live videophone and conferencing capabilities and a more sophisticated tracking system for quantifying and identifying booth traffic.
The cost of exhibiting in the virtual space varies depending on booth size because users are charged by the square foot. But McLean estimates that XpoFairs real estate is priced at about 50% less than that of a physical trade show, and the fee is for the whole year, rather than just a few days. A small booth should run in the region of US$4,000 annually.
Eventually, XpoFairs will charge visitors somewhere between US$30 and US$40 to register for the year, but for now admission is free as the company builds its business and works towards reaching a critical mass. PR and marketing efforts are beginning this month, reaching out to potential publishers, buyers, licensors, licensees and agents via trade advertising, newsletters and e-mail campaigns.
Pegged to launch later this year is a World Licensing XpoFair, and the company is in discussions to bring additional shows serving the information technology, mobile phone and interior design industries online in the future.