IAEE Details Plans to Take Expo! Expo! Hybrid

Sue Pelletier, Senior Editor
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DALLAS — IAEE’s flagship event, Expo! Expo!, is extending its reach beyond the physical show floor at Louisville’s Kentucky International Convention Center (KICC) December 8–10. The association of the exhibitions and events industry has announced it would be adding an online component that will use the Swapcard platform to stream the event live and on demand, acknowledging that despite its work with the KICC and other event partners to ensure the health and safety of attendees — including physical distancing and strict sanitation procedures necessitated by the continuing COVID-19 pandemic — there will be some who will not be able to participate face to face.

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“We expect the addition of the virtual Expo! Expo! component will enable us to exceed the total attendance of past physical shows,” which average about 2,500, said Scott Craighead, CEM, IAEE Vice President of Exhibitions and Events. In particular, the online experience “will enable us to expand our reach with our global audience,” he added. IAEE has members in more than 50 countries.

Online participants will have access to educational content, as well as the community and marketplace aspects that power the event’s value proposition, according to IAEE. The entire digital experience will be designed to focus on attendee-to-attendee and attendee-to-exhibitor connection and engagement in all three areas.

“We had been thinking about adding a virtual component since spring when we decided to put out an RFP for a virtual platform,” said Craighead. “We thought it would be a good learning opportunity — and it was.” To help its constituents in their own quest for virtual event solutions, IAEE is sharing its RFP document with its community, including organizer members, on its website.

The Swapcard platform, which IAEE chose after sifting through 21 responses to an extensive RFP sent out last April and doing demos of the top 12 candidates, will include responsive, artificial-intelligence-powered features designed to provide a customized attendee experience throughout the event. In addition to the functionality of the platform overall, including features designed for engagement and interactivity, Swapcard’s recent experience in working with hybrid events in Asia — one of the few areas of the world that are currently conducting in-person trade shows during the pandemic era — was a deciding factor, according to Craighead.

“As a decade long supporter of IAEE’s Expo! Expo!, it’s an honor to partner with the industry-leading association for exhibition and event organizers. We are proud to have been selected as their exclusive virtual conference and exhibition platform,” said Swapcard General Manager, Matthew Donegan-Ryan.

On-site exhibitors will be able to participate in the virtual show marketplace at no extra cost. IAEE is making access to all live and on-demand online content available for $299 for IAEE members. It also will provide options for member organizers to attend the marketplace portion of the platform at no charge. All-access online registration is available to non-members for $499.

In related news, IAEE recently launched the Virtual Exhibitions and Events Marketplace within its online member communities to give virtual event solution providers another opportunity to connect with IAEE’s show organizers. Members can access the marketplace at members.iaee.com.

Reach Scott Craighead at (972) 687-9227 or scraighead@iaee.com; Matther Donegan-Ryan at (425) 681-8505.