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Less travel, more screen time change perspective

Mindy Ward crowds walking around at a farm show
WANDERING NO MORE: A virtual farm show ends the fun walk through the site during the event, but offers other features that many may find valuable.
The trade show experience moves to my computer with the Farm Progress Virtual Experience.

It’s a well-known fact, if you read this column, that I love farm shows. In fact, I’m kind of a trade show junkie and enjoy trips to many shows. But in any given year I’ll attend at least six major ag-related events, and none bigger than the Farm Progress Show and Husker Harvest Days.

This year everything has gone virtual — and for good reason with that pandemic hanging on. But let’s move beyond that.

This new virtual world means less travel for sure, and more time in the office. Luckily, I’ve been home officing in my space since 1990, so this is not new. What is new is the lack of travel. The very idea that I might get to leave the office and get in the car for a trip to a meeting, or heaven forbid, get on an airplane, really gets my attention.

That’s because, like many of you, I like to see products up close, talk to the experts, check out the technology. And that’s harder when you’re watching on a screen and you can’t get their “camera man” to zoom in on that thing you find most interesting.

Recently I sat in on a global virtual launch of a new machine. It was information-filled, and according to the company, involved more than 65,000 visitors. The media portion involved 900 journalists worldwide. I’ve never been part of a media conference that big; it also means none of my questions were answered, but I digress.

The key here is determining how you maximize a virtual experience, and as I write this, I’m heavily involved in our upcoming Farm Progress Virtual Experience set for Sept. 15-17 online.

The tools of a virtual show

If you regularly attend farm shows, then you also like the boots-on-the ground experience of walking a show, checking out new products and seeing what’s new. Or finding that interesting product you didn’t know was on hand.

That kind of serendipity is hard to duplicate, but there are ways. For example, if every exhibitor had a short video telling you about the hot item or two they wanted you to see in their “booth,” it would be time well spent. Then you could contact that exhibitor directly for more information.

That’s what we’re working on for what we call FPVX. Every exhibitor will have the opportunity to provide that short video in their “exhibit area.” We’re working with those exhibitors who don’t usually produce videos to offer that opportunity, and I’m learning plenty about these exhibitors, what’s new and more.

Sure, the field demos are a big deal. And they draw a crowd. You’ll see those at our big event — no worries there. The key for FPVX is that our field demos were shot at our show sites, with machines cutting through 400 acres of corn, as well as hay.

A key factor — field demos will not be a run-through of corporate videos (though pretty) for this event.

Always open

There is one factor of a virtual event that is kind of interesting. The show doesn’t close. We’ll premier videos and presentations over the three days — Sept. 15-17 — at this event; but once they’re live, you can watch them at your leisure. And they’re designed to be viewed on computer, tablet and smartphone.

Hung up in the elevator line dropping off corn later this year? Catch up on a product or two from the shows (or view those field demos one more time!).

Essentially, what we’re creating for FPVX is a farm show in your pocket. Yep, interesting times. The event will take place at FPVExp.com, and the virtual gates open at 8 a.m. Central time Sept. 15. For more information, visit FarmProgressShow.com.

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