When Savant decided to pull out of the CEDIA Expo with only a few weeks before the event — the first major manufacturer to do so but by no means the last — it faced a dilemma: With a large tradeshow exhibit ready to go and plenty of news to share with integrators, how would it get the message out and interact with its dealers?
“We had invested a significant amount to be part of our big industry event, and we planned to highlight for one of the first times our three brands — Savant, Savant Power, and GE Lighting, a Savant company — under one roof,” says Angela Larson, senior VP of customer operations, Savant. “We had built a completely new tradeshow experience, and we’d leaned in hard with CEDIA Expo for education and launch events. But we ultimately decided, given the unpredictability of the COVID-19 Delta variant, not to exhibit in person.”
However, with everything ready to go, the company decided to build its CEDIA Expo booth in an empty warehouse and record its teams doing the same presentations they would have done for dealers at the show. When all was said and done, Savant featured 32 videos in its virtual tradeshow.
“We did a two-part plan,” says Larson. “First, we brought our product managers into the environment to record the live demos from our booth, and then, a week later, we held a day of virtual educational deep dives for our dealers because they needed more info and we had already planned a big education series.”
While the virtual tradeshow ran concurrently with CEDIA Expo, and will stay online until the end of the year, Savant decided to hold the educational day after the convention, so that dealers who attended CEDIA in person would be able to partake in the sessions.
The virtual platform allowed Savant to add some extras that it would not have been able to do in a live setting, including Partner Spotlights, which are video interviews with Savant’s partner companies, such as AudioControl, NETGEAR, OneFirefly, and others.
“We brought in some of our partners to do the Partner Spotlights because we felt it that it was important to communicate some of the innovation that happens between multiple companies to deliver dealers a smooth, awesome integrated solution,” adds Larson.
Savant was also able to convert its tradeshow booth into a virtual exhibit — similar to its virtual showrooms in New York and Las Vegas. “We turned the booth into a full interactive experience,” says Larson. “I can drive through this booth and see all kinds of highlights of what is going on and watch the videos related to each section. I can give a booth tour almost like we were at CEDIA Expo walking through the booth. It makes for a nice living tradeshow experience.
“We have also turned our Experience Centers in NYC and Las Vegas into Virtual showcases, but those are designed to be utilized by our dealers, giving them a virtual tool to immerse a potential client or specifier into the smart home experience. This virtual trade show concept is designed specifically to educate dealers on the latest innovations and to provide a visual on product depth and breadth.”
And it lingers on well beyond the three-days you would get from a tradeshow. Nearly one month after the Expo, Savant gave 67 virtual booth tours.
While we are talking about numbers, the virtual tradeshow site was open to all without a gate, so there were no registered users, but together all the videos had 26,000 views, with the ones covering Savant’s lighting category topping the chart. For the daylong education section, nearly 3000 dealers attended.
What does the future hold for Savant’s build-a-booth virtual tradeshow methodology? “We look at 2022 as being very hybrid-oriented,” says Larson. “I think there are definite values of being in-person and it’s not a thing that Savant wants to shy away from, but we are approaching everything with a hybrid kind of environment, and we imagine ourselves with a physical presence that is getting a partially live streamed for those who are unable to attend in-person events.”
To experience the Savant Virtual Tradeshow for yourself, visit https://vimeo.com/showcase/8767285 before the end of the year.