The Coronavirus pandemic has taught us many things, not least how to make better use of technology to connect us with family, friends and colleagues. Through commercial necessity, the nascent virtual events sector has managed not only to take a foothold over the past 18 months but also to mature and establish itself as a valued addition to the events industry.
In fact, the benefits – for organisers, exhibitors and visitors – of holding virtual events mean that hybrid exhibitions are likely to be the way forward as we put the challenges of the pandemic behind us. One clear advantage is their time and cost efficiency; with worldwide access and no travel time or expenses, attendance levels for virtual events can be much higher than for physical events. One recent survey showed that attendance at an online conference can average around 30% higher. Another benefit, of course, is that cutting out all those car journeys and flights means that virtual events are more environmentally friendly than in-person events. And anyone who's ever battled through snow to get to an exhibition (or decided to stay at home) will understand that virtual events certainly have an edge when it comes to the vagaries of the British weather!
Smart interactions through AI
In considering the valuable time of executive visitors, it's not only travel time that is saved. Virtual events can harness the power of AI – as will be the case at the forthcoming IMHX Connect event – to enable smart interactions (B2B matchmaking, if you like). Let's face it, we've all been to shows where our best-laid plans to attend a certain conference session or meet up with a particular supplier have gone awry due to other priorities or simply losing track of time. With an online event platform, attendees are able to filter the speaker sessions, panel debates, one-to-one video meetings with suppliers and exhibitor stands to be browsed to meet their particular interests and priorities. This means that each delegate can create a time-efficient, personalised schedule in advance of the virtual event. What's more, whereas at a live event visitors have to choose between sessions that clash, a virtual event allows them to attend one session live and catch up on the recorded version of the other one later. In addition, of course, enhanced analytics mean better leads for exhibitors and more tailored follow-up information for visitors.
AMHSA is supporting IMHX Connect and will be hosting a number of presentations. These include a round-table event on the topic of grocery e-commerce, moderated by Phil Houghton, Business Development Director of KNAPP UK, and with insight from a representative of micro fulfilment specialist, Takeoff Technologies. There will also be a series of sessions in which I will chat with a guest; in one, I will talk to Rueben Scrivens, Senior Analyst with Interact, about the results of their recent analysis of current and future market developments in automated materials handling systems. The free-to-attend IMHX Connect event takes place on an interactive online platform from 13-17 September 2021, with on-demand content available to registered visitors until 1 October. As well as having access to live panel discussions and over 50 hours of educational content, visitors will be able to schedule 1-to-1 video meetings with over 100 of the industry’s top technology providers. These include AMHSA members Interroll, KNAPP, Körber, MiTek Mezzanine Systems, Nerak-Wiese, Swisslog and System Logistics.
We look forward to the return of the in-person IMHX 2022 exhibition next September at the NEC, along with the potential for enhanced benefits through a hybrid format. In the meantime, IMHX Connect provides a brilliant opportunity for time-efficient learning and networking. And mention of the NEC reminds me of yet another benefit of virtual events – your feet will feel considerably less sore!
As the UK’s leading authority on automated material handling with over 60 members, AMHSA seeks to accelerate the adoption of world-class intralogistics automation across the UK supply chain. Visit www.amhsa.co.uk, call 07517 610514 or email [email protected]