EcoMotion’s Gruper said despite pressure to postpone the 2020 event over pandemic concerns, the decision to take the show virtual was ultimately a “no-brainer.”
“Having a virtual show is better than having no show, so it’s really important to keep things going,” she said.
While marketing the online event and operating on a limited budget were obstacles, Gruper noted one key advantage to going virtual and prerecording the sessions: a greater likelihood of getting high-profile names on the agenda. For last year’s EcoMotion, that included Mobileye’s Amnon Shashua, Nio’s William Li and Zoox’s Aicha Evans.
For virtual events to be successful, Gruper said they have to have a clearly defined end goal — whether that’s raising awareness, creating business connections or showcasing new technologies. For EcoMotion, she explained, it’s “very B2B.”
“It’s about finding your next investment partner, client or co-founder,” she said. “It is about bringing humans together in order to do business.”
Brian Moody, executive director of Autotrader, said a hybrid approach to trade shows and product launches is likely to stick around post-pandemic, citing the convenience, lower cost and ability to reach a wider audience.
“I don’t think that strictly virtual will remain, but I also don’t think that such a heavy emphasis on in-person will be the case either,” Moody said.
This May, Gruper is hoping to host a hybrid EcoMotion — a mix between the physical and virtual worlds — but that will depend on travel and other pandemic-related restrictions.
“The world needs to keep turning, and we need to help that happen,” she said. “These big events have a meaningful part of the business side of all these companies, and it’s really important for them to put their name out there.”