This virtual event brought hundreds of travel industry professionals together in an immersive, life-like environment, as it sought to help them rebuild connections made stagnant during the pandemic.
For the past year, it has been nearly impossible for travel industry professionals to maintain business relationships given a lack of face-to-face meetings and trade events.
When sales, marketing and communications agency, AVIAREPS, proposed the idea of organising a virtual event to its major partners such as Tourism Malaysia, Fiji Tourism Board, the Bicester Village Shopping Collection and Bernina Express, the partners agreed wholeheartedly.
AVIAREPS’ vice president for South-east Asia, Kelvin Ong, said: â€śAt the time, there was no way of knowing when tradeshows or physical events could be held again. â€śThe whole industry knew they had to connect with partners and travel agents again somehow, but werenâ€™t sure how to do it safely and affordably.â€ť
Held from January 20-21, 2021, the AVIAREPS Southeast Asia Virtual Roadshow brought together 39 travel and tourism exhibitors from around the world and 547 travel agents and buyers from South-east Asia in a safe, virtual environment. The show also billed itself as the region’s first 3D avatar virtual event for the travel industry.
The virtual event provided a true-to-life user experience for all participants.
With customisable avatars, users could create a character that represented them at the event. Moving around the virtual exhibition hall also needed to feel as natural as possible. With simple keystrokes, exhibitors and guests could explore the virtual venue, attend live presentations in the auditorium, chat with exhibitors one-on-one, and visit booths as they would in real life.
During the two days, AVIAREPS was able to bring travel agents together with exhibitors such as Spain Tourism Board, Penang Global Tourism and Sarawak Tourism Board, among other destinations, airlines, tour operators, and attractions.
A total of 1,645 pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings were held, 5,431 chat conversations took place, 7,496 business cards were exchanged and thousands of brochures and videos were downloaded.
Ong shared: â€śThough the online experience was new for most of the attendees, post-event survey results showed that 99 per cent of buyers and exhibitors were satisfied with the virtual exhibition and 100 per cent of exhibitors responded that they would participate in such a virtual roadshow again in the future.â€ť
As both exhibitors and buyers were experiencing this technology for the first time, online training sessions were organised for them.
Ong recalled: “They were introduced to features such as picking their avatar, setting up their profile, customising an exhibitor booth, exchanging business cards and starting a chat or group voice call. For those who couldnâ€™t attend a training session, the AVIAREPS team prepared a pre-recorded video demo, as well as a PDF step-by-step guide.”
The second challenge was to obtain a good buyout turnout, as many travel agencies in South-east Asia had reduced staff numbers and hours, were working remotely, or furloughed.
To navigate this, the company utilised its network of offices in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Jakarta, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Yangon and Manila.
He elaborated: “These offices have built a strong rapport with leading outbound travel agencies over the years, and were able to use these longstanding relationships to connect with agents and encourage them to participate in the roadshow.”
â€śWhether the future of events is physical, virtual or â€“ more likely â€“ a hybrid of both, we look forward to keeping our region and our industry connected â€“ in these challenging times and beyond,” stressed Ong.
Event AVIAREPS Southeast Asia Virtual Roadshow
Dates January 20-21, 2021
Attendees 547 travel agents from South-east Asia; and 39 global exhibitors