Advantages and disadvantages of virtual salons

kimveillaux - 21/02/2023

Introduction: Virtual trade fairs, physical trade fairs

Participating in a trade show offers you a window to your audience, a powerful and targeted communication tool that has existed since ancient Rome where merchants gathered to present their work. 

A trade show is an opportunity to increase your notoriety, to sell your goods or services, but also to meet new people in order to work together. You can find new customers and establish new business relationships.

Before the Covid crisis, trade fairs were held in physical form and virtual trade fairs were counted on the fingers of one hand. They were more like thematic conventions than trade fairs in the sense that we commonly understand them. 

But then Covid came along and we had to adapt.

What is a virtual exhibition?

A virtual exhibition is a professional, specialized or general public exhibition that takes place on the Internet. The main objective is to gather participants in a unique place and to communicate with them. A virtual trade show saves logistical costs and avoids the need for participants to travel, which also contributes to the fight against global warming. 

Even if it can't replace a physical show. Before rushing to a virtual trade show platform, it is important to rethink what your exhibitors and visitors are looking for on your trade show or on the trade show where you used to exhibit physically. The virtual show also allows you to simulate a physical show in preparation and to measure its impact.  

Virtual lounges are not new, they appeared in the 2000s. The Covid-19 epidemic has only accelerated the phenomenon. 

The Covid-19 has made the whole planet switch to video: the world of work (already partly using it) but also private individuals who have thrown themselves wholeheartedly into virtual aperitifs on the Zoom platform for example. 

What tools are available to us? 

There are many virtual platforms for video conferencing such as Teams, Zoom, Google Meet or Skype for example.

According to the article Les EchosZoom had attracted more new users in the first months of 2020 (2.22 million) than in the whole of 2019 (1.99 million). According to the figures revealed by the company, $ 328.2 million is the turnover of Zoom for the first quarter of 2020, up 169% compared to the previous year.

The three main platforms for organizing virtual trade shows

The Hexafair platform is suitable for all types of online events: virtual trade shows, conferences, virtual seminars, exhibitions, etc. It allows you to provide participants with all the information they need about your company, but you can also create pre-recorded demo videos that you will broadcast during the event. 

The vFairs platform is specialized in virtual trade shows. It offers customizable booths that allow participants to visit the different booths. 

GTR is a general platform that offers many useful features for any type of event. It also allows to set up individual meetings between exhibitors and the public. 

But then, what are the advantages and disadvantages of virtual lounges

Background: The benefits of virtual lounges

The benefits are numerous today. 

  • A virtual trade show allows for less logistical organization. The efforts deployed at trade shows to set up booths and stand out from the competition are colossal. Often nothing will remain of the event, at the end of the show everything is dismantled, carpets and decorative elements are often thrown away without even going through the recycling process.
  • For visitors, the advantage is certain, in fact, here there is no time wasted in traveling since we can stay at home to attend these virtual fairs.
  • It is also less expensive. Indeed, the rates of virtual salons are often cheaper than physical salons. There are no electricity or water costs, and there is no need to rent premises. On the other hand, you have to pay for the virtual platform and promote the exhibition. 
  • Contrary to what one might imagine, the virtual lounge is also a good way to socialize with other users, thanks to the chat and the embedded videoconference
  • There is also the possibility toenlarge its target. Being online, they are not limited to a geographical location, which is not always the case with physical salons.
  • No hygiene measures to be respected: Since the health crisis we have experienced, we have noticed that virtual trade fairs or videoconferences are very good opportunities.
  • Reduced ecological impact: CO2 emissions will still be present, but reduced.

Indeed, if we take into account the complete organization of a physical event, it is first of all the construction of the exhibition place, its heating or air conditioning and its lighting for example. This generates financial and human costs and impacts the environment. According to Key4ITone of the French specialists in the field, a virtual exhibition reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 160 tons per month compared to a physical exhibition.

  • The tools integrated in the virtual salons allow the generation of leads (the information collected is precise and detailed)
  • Moreover, in general, access to virtual lounges is free while physical lounges are in most cases paying at the entrance.

Background: The disadvantages of virtual lounges

As for the disadvantages of virtual salons, there are far fewer!

  • For the moment, nothing can replace a meeting between two physical interlocutors. 
  • A virtual lounge can be prone to technical issues: "and there, can you hear me?!"
  • The virtual platform can be a technical barrier for some people who are not used to using such tools. For the organizers of the show it is a potential loss of visitors.
  • In a commercial context, the lack of physical contact and direct relationship from seller to buyer certainly limits the marketing of a product or solution.

Some examples of virtual salons

The example: Laval Virtual

Laval Virtual is since 1999 an exhibition on innovation and new technologies and oriented on virtual reality and augmented reality. It is held every year in Laval (Mayenne) between March and April. 

During this show, a program of conferences and exhibitions are organized. The exhibitors of this event are professionals who exhibit their VR/AR technologies through their stands. This show is open to all audiences.

In 2020, the show was to be cancelled because of the health crisis, but what better for a show that evokes the new technologies called immersive to take place therefore remotely. 

Nicolas Ribeyre who is in charge of the watch (AR/VR) :

"From a simple computer, a headset for audio and his keyboard, you could then integrate the Laval Virtual World. It was possible to move around and follow the 150 conferences organized. It was also possible to participate in games or to follow the Laval Virtual Awards."

As for the positive points of this exhibition organized entirely in virtual :

"First of all, and this is undeniable, it is the positive ecological impact No travel and therefore no carbon emissions. It is also the possibility for people from 120 countries (for a usual physical edition, we have visitors from 50 countries) to meet in the same place.

"The positive is the interaction and proximity since avatars could isolate themselves in areas identified on the floor by blue circles and express themselves in private conversation."

For the 2022 edition, 150 exhibitors are present and about 5,000 visitors were present in person.

Example: Grenoble Ecole de Management

GEM is a business school that used the virtual lounge solution in 2020.

The institution has taken advantage of this solution to avoid gatherings in the school in view of Covid-19, to improve its visibility in the face of its competition and finally to always be present for the students and future students. 

Students and parents had the possibility to walk around the school virtually. They could move between different association stands for example or visit the school. 

According to Virteem, the results for this virtual trade show were:

  • More than 12,000 page views in three days
  • 4min30s of average consultation time
  • More than 700 participations in the 360° game

The example: Pros Expo

Pros Expo is a French company specialized in the organization of virtual events. It launches its fully digitalized exhibition dedicated to franchising. This show aims at documenting the people who are interested in entrepreneurship. The fair gathered 43 exhibitors such as Jennyfer or Beauty Success. Each stand offers the possibility to get in touch via chat or webcam with the brands of the stands. 

The company wanted to have an economical and ecological approach. Since the virtual exhibition takes place remotely, there is no budgetary issue (travel) or ecological issue (organisation of the exhibition with less impact on the environment).


The advantages of virtual trade shows are multiple, starting with improving the brand image of the company, increasing its notoriety and generating less organization costs, thus reducing costs for companies and adopting good environmental practices.  

On the other hand, the only small disadvantages mentioned are mainly the small technical problems (internet, hardware compatibility ...) and to exclude people who are not used to using this kind of technology.

Virtual and physical salons complement and feed each other just as virtual stores (e-commerce) are complements to physical stores.

It is also a benefit for the environment. A virtual exhibition is meant to be a gas pedal for change, an environmental awareness.

The positioning of Retail VR: The advantages and disadvantages of virtual salons.

We are convinced that virtual trade shows, just like virtual commerce, are uses that will become more and more common.  

In a pragmatic approach, we offer our customers sales experiences that facilitate customer engagement. We continue our partnership strategy and now offer an integration of our solutions with the largest CMS & CRM available on the market (Shopify, Magento, Prestashop), including for B2B showrooms

Our recent infographic on the key figures of virtual reality in retail shows that the contribution of new technologies is boosting commercial actions. 61% of customers in the US say they prefer stores with augmented reality experiences.

Large companies are moving in this direction and we are proud to support them with our transactional solutions for the general public (B2C) or for professionals (B2B)