We’ve all heard the old adage, “The only thing constant is change.” We’ve heard it so much that many of us have stopped listening to it. Or we might think of everything the world has gone through as, “The new norm.”
We use these thoughts (or at least I’ll speak for myself), so we don’t think of ourselves as isolated or dwell too deeply with our troubles because of the worldwide pandemic. That might sound like a way of minimizing the suffering that is all around us, which is not my intent.
It’s a different world today than a year ago, so with that, I’ll say, It’s Just Different.
That’s certainly a way to describe ATRA’s 2020 Powertrain Expo’s Virtual Edition. As with just about every social event, the Powertrain Expo planned for in Nashville was canceled. I know you’re thinking, “Couldn’t it have been one of the Vegas shows?”
We canceled all the technical seminars for 2020 and turned them into virtual events hosted on ATRA’s VTS platform. But how do you replace Expo? That’s a tall order! We kept reminding ourselves that people in this industry don’t throw in the towel and give up. So, we couldn’t either.
Like so many other things in this industry, it was a complete reinvention. And I have to tell you, we were all a bit nervous. I won’t bore you with the details of putting this together; so, let’s jump right in and see what “different” looks like.
One of the first things we noticed was that people from all over the world signed up – 26 countries in all. For many of them, it was their first opportunity to attend Powertrain Expo. That’s exciting! The other thing was the flexibility for the training seminars – some were live, while others were prerecorded. This meant that people could view the pre-recorded seminars at their leisure in any time zone worldwide. The live versions were a different story; they aired at specific times. But they were recorded and made available for later viewing. And the platform allows attendees to chat with one another and ask questions of the speakers.
We got some great feedback, but those who made the most significant impression were from people who said, “I didn’t think this would work, but I loved it!”
Besides the seminars, we also had a virtual trade show. Each virtual booth was set up so exhibitors and attendees could make appointments to interact and, in some way, replicate the in-person experience of visiting a booth and chatting with a company rep. It took a bit for attendees and exhibitors to get used to, but here are some statistics that reveal the story.
- The exhibitors received over 10,000 booth visits over the two days.
- Each booth averaged slightly over 200 visits.
- The exhibitors sent over 700 total connection requests with an acceptance rate of 68%.
- The attendees also downloaded over 400 documents, so they were active!
It was a new experience, for sure. And the beauty of this being a virtual event is that it’s still available and will be for months, and we continue to get additional registrations.
I’m proud of the ATRA team for pushing through to make it happen. And that last part is the most important – not giving up on making it happen.
I’m sure we’ll continue to see changes in how our industry will deal with the future, and I’ll continue to look at it as It’s Just Different.