More than 1100 visitors attended the two ‘live days’ during the Pet Industry Federation’s annual Virtual Petindex (VPI) last week (16 and 17 March).
The event was staged using vfairs – a virtual hybrid events platform which allows the user to place themselves within a virtual exhibition space including an auditorium for discussions and roundtable events, exhibition halls and a showcase featuring new products.
The platform also featured discussion boards, video content and reserved appointments for video chats between exhibitors and visitors.
The event remains open until the end of the month (30 March) with recorded versions of the live presentations and roundtable events are available to view until that time.
These include sessions on animal welfare, visual merchandising, international pet retailing, dog theft and the impact of television programmes on the pet grooming sector.
Exhibitors represented a wide range of businesses from across the sector including pet foods, pet beds and grooming accessories and professional services. These included brands such as Burns, Nature’s Variety and Walker and Drake which enjoyed an average of 151 unique visitors to their individual stands over the two live days. Each exhibitor will receive a full breakdown visitors once the show has closed to enable them to follow-up new leads and close sales.
The virtual event provided the ideal ‘safe space’ in a trading environment which has been devoid of live events since the start of the pandemic. It also proved to be an ideal showcase for the launch of more than 20 new pet products to the market.
Nigel Baker, CEO of the Pet Industry, said that this was the third event held using the virtual platform and in addition to providing something dynamic and convenient within traditional event calendar, it has facilitated an opportunity which currently cannot be realised any other way.
“The original differential of the VPI was in staging an event that could combine convenience with efficiencies – minimising the overheads, time and travel needed to attend a live event in person. However, the restrictions of the pandemic have not allowed those live events to be staged for best part of a year. This meant the VPI played an even more crucial role at a time when the industry needs to move forward,” he said.
The presentations and discussion panels attracted visitors who actively engaged with expert speakers who shared their knowledge and experience – providing great opportunities for professional development.
For the first time, the Virtual Petindex platform enabled face-to-face interaction between visitors and exhibitors through a video chat feature which helped to bring people together a little bit more and exhibitors reported excellent engagement with visitors to their stands.
Said Vicky Weston, of Hug Pet Food: “As a new pet food manufacturer we were keen to get our name out there and this virtual show has been a great way to connect with lots of new people and chat to other like-minded pet professionals. We have made some great contacts so far and we are only a few days in, so we are excited to see what comes our way by the end of the two weeks.”
Visitors can still register to attend the event, interact with exhibitors and view the recorded sessions on: https://vpi.vfairs.com