As travel restrictions keep us from attending trade shows in 2020, a lot of organizations are hosting virtual trade shows. I know that after seven months of quarantine, attending anything “virtual” is the equivalent of eating your vegetables. “Zoom Fatigue” is a real thing and staring into your computer screen hour after hour to communicate is sometimes exhausting.
However, this is the world we live in now, and advancement in technology allows us to see and hear each other and share valuable information. As a salesman and trade show exhibitor, these are the key elements to reaching our customers and educating them on our concepts and products.
I have attended several virtual trade shows over the past couple of months and can honestly say they are worth the time and effort. The technology has been mostly flawless and it allows you to register and attend each individual session, communicate with the presenter and ask questions as the session progresses. Most virtual trade shows have as many, if not more, topics and sessions to attend than in-person trade shows, so the variety of information to access is actually better. And all of the trade shows offer CEU credits for attending, so any fees you have to pay (usually a fraction of standard trade show fees) are well worth the cost of admission.
I have recently attended virtual trade shows for AWWA, ASPE, NRWA and TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Equality). They all had a plethora of valuable sessions to attend and I gained valuable knowledge concerning current events, changing water conditions, challenges of water management during the pandemic, and the general outlook of the water industry today and moving forward. Here is a quick list of memorable sessions I have attended via virtual trade show:
- Disaster Prep
- Crisis Management
- Breakdowns and Solutions for Water Contaminants including VOCs, PFOA, PFOS, THM, HAAS, DBPs
- Nitrification and Denitrification
- Chlorines and Chloramines
- Efficient Billing and Collection Processes
- EPA Strengths and Weaknesses
- Water Systems Helping Water Systems
- Diversity Hiring for Today and the Future
- Best Practices for Water System Management
As you can see, gaining knowledge in this vast array of topics has been well worth my time. Without virtual trade shows, I would not have learned anything about these crucial water issues over the past seven months. I have missed the personal interaction and camaraderie of traditional trade shows, but there is still plenty of value associated with attending trade shows virtually. At the very least, you won’t have to suffer through eating any convention center food or buying $25 drinks at the hotel bar.