Vision Expo enters brave new world of online trade shows

June 1, 2010

Now it's possible to attend a virtual trade show complete with continuing education, keynote speakers, exhibitor booths, and networking events.

Editor's note: International Vision Expo East and West are among the leading resources for continuing education, clinical equipment and supplies, and the latest merchandise for optical dispensaries. The Vision Expos are a combined "fashion event and medical meeting." The Advanstar Eye Health Group-including Ophthalmology Times and Optometry Times-is proud to support the Vision Expos' mission to enhance the eye-care profession.

Now it's even possible to attend a virtual trade show complete with continuing education, keynote speakers, exhibitor booths and networking events.

Re-imagining the experience

All the things you do at a physical trade show are available in the virtual trade show environment. Most virtual trade shows consist of an auditorium for continuing education and training sessions; a networking lounge for one-to-one chats and peer-to-peer networking; an exhibit hall to visit booths, view product presentations and demonstrations, ask questions, and place orders; and a resource center for saving presentations, white papers, and e-brochures to a virtual brief case.

Bringing the trade show environment online is an emerging trend in the industry. It's estimated that by 2015, 25% of trade shows will have a virtual component ( http://www.businessknowhow.com/marketing/virtual-tradeshow.htm).

From what the industry has seen so far, attendee engagement with the education content, exhibitors, and each other exceeds the expectations of many organizations that are currently producing virtual events. One case study found that, on average, attendees spent upwards of 6 hours in their virtual conference and 8 minutes speaking to exhibitors. With involvement like this, we expect to see the demand for virtual trade shows to grow in the coming years.

Vision Expo goes virtual

This year, International Vision Expo is launching its first virtual trade show, which is scheduled to be held in November/December. We see this as a complement to our physical International Vision Expo events held in New York City and Las Vegas. By extending the networking and learning throughout the year, eye-care professionals are able to keep up with the latest trends and technology.

The virtual and physical International Vision Expo experiences will be very similar. Just as attendees enter the trade show through a lobby, virtual attendees will enter through a main campus where they can choose what area of the event they want to enter. The Exhibit Hall will provide access to exhibitor booths while the Auditorium will host continuing education sessions and keynote speeches. The Networking Lounge will be the gathering place for eye care professionals to connect with one another. All the while, show management staff will be available to answer questions and guide attendees every step of the way.

As International Vision Expo prepares for the launch of the virtual trade show, stay tuned for more information on how you can take part in this new online experience.

Kirk L. Smick, OD, FAAO, is chief of optometry services at Clayton Eye Center, Morrow, GA, and an owner of the facility. Dr. Smick also serves as a technical advisor to many companies in the ophthalmic industry and has helped pioneer several visual advances, including bifocal contact lenses.