Due to the impact of the Covid-19, many companies have seen physical events and trade shows suspended or postponed all over the World, jeopardizing marketing plans, sales goals and, above all, new business opportunities.
In the past few months, we at Bigbeat Inc., and at our affiliated firm, Bigbeat Bangkok, have received a lot of inquires from our clients asking us for alternatives to physical exhibitions.
In this particular and very difficult moment, we decided that it was the right moment to act and create something able to help our clients, as well as Japan and Thailand.
A B2B virtual trade show aimed to introduce Japanese IT companies to Thai users.
Japan Recommend IT Online, held from July 29th to August 31st, 2020.
Thailand offers exciting business opportunities to companies prepared to take a serious interest in this dynamic market.
It is the second largest economy in ASEAN and Bangkok, the capital city, has become one of the main centers for commerce in the South-East Asia, with a constantly growing economy and a government strongly supporting it. Especially in Japan, Thailand has been considered the main gateway to ASEAN market.
Also, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI) states that Thailand has been ASEAN’s top exhibition destination since 2004, hosting trade fairs like CEBIT ASEAN Thailand or ASEANbeauty (now, Cosmoprof CBE ASEAN).
For Thailand, the promotion of the digital economy is also at the heart of a national development strategy called "Thailand 4.0".
Under this project, the nation's economy will be innovation driven by upgrading technology, improving creativity, innovation, and research and development capacity of five target industries to create "New Startups", as well as enhancing the quality of life of Thai people.
The Digital Economy is expected to play a critical role in every industrial sector in Thailand and is estimated to contribute 25% to Thailand’s GDP by 2027.
All over ASEAN, pandemic has brought immediate disruptions in the economic activities across the region. Decline in tourism flows, weakening in consumer and business confidence, imposed lockdowns, community quarantines, stay-at-home orders, temporary business closures, and travel restrictions or prohibitions to contain the virus.
According to the Worldbank report, Covid-19 had a significant economic impact on Thai economy, which is projected to contract by 5% in 2020.
"Japan Recommend IT" is part of a project created specifically for CEBIT ASEAN Thailand 2019.
CEBIT ASEAN Thailand is a trade show, dedicated to B2B IT enterprises, started in 2018 as a badge of Thailand’s digital economy.
After this event, Bigbeat Bangkok’s CEO, Charlie Kaneko, had the opportunity to meet the organizers, to discuss about IT and DX in Thailand.
As a result, Charlie discovered that not many Thai companies are aware of Japanese IT solutions.
For this reason, in 2019, we launched a project called “Japan Recommend IT”, an area dedicated to Japanese IT companies inside the CEBIT ASEAN Thailand trade show, to promote the excellent Japanese IT solutions to Thai users.
Bigbeat Inc. has specialized in B2B marketing service since its foundation and has a lot of experience and achievements in the IT field.
Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, we decided it was the right time to take an action and to help our clients to achieve their business objectives in the midst of a pandemic.
After a brainstorming Tokyo-Bangkok, we outlined the structure of an online B2B trade show, addressed to Thai IT companies: Japan Recommend IT Online.
However, Japan Recommend IT Online has been one of the first attempts of B2B online exhibition in Thailand.
How would Thai companies have reacted to an online trade show? How many visitors could we have expected?
Basing on our past experience at CEIBIT ASEAN Thailand, we created the structure of our online trade show.
Japan Recommend IT Online outline
Not differently to a physical event, also online trade shows need a very strong strategic plan and goals.
As said before, the main aim of Japan Recommend IT Online is to promote high-skilled Japanese IT companies and their solutions into Thai's market, helping at the same time Japan and Thai's economy during this difficult moment.
The final goal of this trade show is not only to promote exhibitors’ products and service, but especially to obtain important lead to create solid business relationships and opportunities.
Conversely to physical events, virtual trade shows are heavily dependent on technology and being very familiar with the technical landscape of the service provider you are going to use is essential. Also, before launching an online event, is important to choose the right service. You will be able to provide a new and customized experience to your end users and avoid technical inconveniences.
For Japan Recommend IT Online, we opted for our own in-house event service platform, B-square Webinar, which fit perfectly all our needs. Using this platform, our Web Systems team developed an UX/UI online venue, customized for Thai users, completely in Thai language.
Also, the virtual venue, divided into 2 main themed zones, makes the navigation easier and the virtual booths more accessible. The booths themselves are branded with each company’s logo and colors.
Japan recommend IT Online website mockup
The B-Square Webinar platform provides itself an event secretariat and customer support service.
As the exhibitors are Japanese and the attendees Thai, the service provides a multilingual assistance (Thai, Japanese and English) and it is not just restricted to the users, but also available for exhibitors.
As Japan Recommend IT is part of a wider project, we already had a base of potential exhibitors.
On the other hand, attendees have been the biggest question mark of the event: all we know that online events are trending nowadays, but how would Thai companies have reacted to Japan Recommend It Online?
In this scenario, the promotion and attraction strategy has been utmost important.
We are currently using different digital strategies to attract the right target of users in Thailand:
• PR on Thai local Media
Techsauce Thai and TechTalk Thai are the largest IT media in Thailand. We are cooperating with them to convey our message to the right target through digital contents.
Basically, on regular basis, these two media are currently publishing on their website, as well as on SNS channels, articles featuring not only Japan Recommend IT Online, but also special contents related to our exhibitors, and their products/services.
• Japan Recommend IT Facebook Page
Facebook is the most used Social Media Platform in Thailand, also for B2B. Therefore, we decided to concentrate on this channel.
We created a dedicated Facebook page for the event.
The main goal of this page is not only reaching potential audience for conversion, but also engaging the users before, during and after the event.
On Japan Recommend IT Facebook page we are currently posting on regular basis, special contents, such as video interviews with the representatives of our exhibitors, in order to better explain the potentiality of each company’s product/service to our target audience.
Video Interview posted on Japan recommend IT Facebook Page
• Word of mouth
Also, the WOM. Likes, comments, and especially shares are important for attracting attendees and get the event popular.
The success of every event, both physical and virtual, depends on its level of engagement as well as the value that it has provided to its audience.
However, in the case of online event, you do not have face-to-face interaction, so engagement and time on page can be very limited.
Although exhibitors have provided their contact information, such as email address, telephone number and contact forms, usually the in-site conversation is limited to a chat tool.
At Japan Recommend It Online, we are organizing and are holding a number of live webinars, with the purpose of educating the audience and connecting exhibitors and attendees. These webinars are followed by Q&A sessions to make a two-way communication channel.
Special Webinars are organized to connect exhibitors and attendees of Japan Recommend IT Online.
We have set SMART goals and we are keeping measuring and reporting them daily. They are one of our most precious resources to improve the event day by day and offer a flawless experience to the users.
Even if Japan Recommend IT online is over, our aim is to make Japan Recommend IT project the reference point for Thai IT companies interested in Japanese IT solutions.
For this reason, we want to use the Facebook page of the event, as a community where Thai IT enterprises, IT specialists and users can get information and discuss about Japanese IT solutions and services.
Also, CEBIT ASEAN Thailand 2020 is going to be held again from November 23rd to November 29th, 2020, and Japan Recommend IT will partecipate as special exhibition zone dedicated to Japanese IT companies, that want to promote their excellent Japanese IT solutions to Thai users.
Bigbeat Inc. has 25 years of experience in B2B marketing. If your company is interested in hosting an online event or trade show in Japan or ASEAN market or if you need further information or assistance, do not hesitate to contact us!
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Originally published August 12, 2020, updated November 20, 2020.