The Xiamen Stone Fair has launched its online version, and we give it a test as a visitor / The aim is “to connect exhibitors and visitors beyond time and space”
A “Cloud” has been hanging in the natural stone sky over Xiamen since June 06, 2020: that is how the Xiamen Stone Fair has entitled the virtual edition of its real event. It was activated last Saturday, and we gave it a test via internet.
As a reminder: the Cloud is not meant to substitute the traditional event, but rather to expand it into the virtual world. On the one hand, this includes all those functions that have been known from a trade fair up to now: “The Cloud Fair enables product showcase, business negotiation, and information exchange”, according to a statement by the organizer Jinhongxin Exhibition Co. Ltd.
On the other hand, it is about communication on many more channels than before. The organizer expresses this somewhat mysteriously: “Xiamen Stone Fair operates the online platform to connect exhibitors and visitors beyond time and space.”
Keywords are here “connect” and “beyond time and space”.
In practical terms, this can mean, for example, that visitors in the future will be able to visit an exhibitor at his virtual stand in the Cloud without the trouble and expense of travel – this beyond the dates of the real fair, namely 24/7 and throughout the year.
There is a lot of potential for added value a trade fair can give its customers (exhibitors and visitors) this way.
That is why fair companies all over the world are pushing ahead with concepts, this year triggered by the Corona pandemic.
However, it is not planned for the Xiamen Cloud to turn the fairground into a VR-scenario accessible with avatars and head-mounted display.
The “Explore Venue” function will play a central role in the Cloud: the visitor can select his area of interest on the left side of this webpage. This area will then automatically be highlighted in color on the hall plan. In the blue line below, the corresponding hall numbers are displayed.
Below that is a map with the stands in the selected hall.
If the visitor now clicks on one of these stands, a window will open, which will take him to the presentation of this exhibitor.
Please note: for this last step, one has to register with e-mail address or phone number, respectively, and password. This is necessary because in the following contact to the selected company is made possible. Achtung: ausländische Besucher können sich nur mit der Mail-Adresse registrieren! “Follow” is a very nice function here.
However, the software of the fair in this area does not seem to be fully developed yet. We could not register with Firefox as browser, yet with Google Chrome or Apple Safari everything went smoothly.
The complete list of exhibitors is the former bulky print catalog, which was on sale at many fairs. With the Cloud, digital search for exhibitors and online visit planning will become the norm.
A special aspect is that the virtual data can be updated continuously. However: this will make work more difficult for the chroniclers.
Another vital function of the Cloud is “Featured Events”. This will be decisive in determining whether the online platform really has the quality of a trade fair. We refer again to the above mentioned keyword “connect”: webinars, for example, are to be displayed in this section.
It is still unclear whether and how the big natural stone congress held parallel to the real trade fair will take place in the Cloud.
It will also be exciting to see how the organizer will integrate in the Cloud other important topics such as the exhibitions about product design with stone or or new products.
In any case, the organizers are calling on guests and exhibitors to have a virtual stop at the sky above Xiamen. “We hope you can make full use of the Cloud Fair, and tell us your comments and suggestions to build it better. See you at ‘CLOUD’!”, as said in the statement.
(13.06.2020, USA: 06.13.2020)