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The exhibition industry, like all corners of the event world has suffered during the Covid-19 pandemic and with events being cancelled, organisers have been forced to explore alternative routes to continue operating. Virtual webinars and online networking were once a very niche area of the events sector; however, many companies have embraced the technology as they explore new ways to engage and do business in this new way of living. But can a digital event really replace the real thing? The sights, the smells and the face-to-face interaction is what makes an exhibition enjoyable, exciting and successful. So, as we take a look back at Hillhead Digital, we ask… was it worth the effort?

Hillhead is the UK’s largest quarrying, construction, and recycling exhibition which attracts nearly 20,000 unique visitors biannually. Usually held in a limestone quarry in Buxton, Derbyshire, this event has been postponed until next year due to ongoing Covid restrictions. In its place, the organisers made the decision to present a virtual exhibition, Hillhead Digital which was held on 30-31 March. Through multifaceted, state-of-the-art streaming, a huge technological operation and delivering truly novel and interactive content, Hillhead Digital connected more than 5,000 participants across the globe.

Attachment manufacturer Miller UK used this year’s Hillhead Digital virtual platform to showcase its new range of quick couplers, and with more than 100 visitors from 16 different countries, the event proved to be a useful platform.

During the show, visitors had the opportunity to virtually meet with the team from Miller via video or web chat. In addition, visitors could download Miller collateral and watch promotional videos.

Firmly in the spotlight was the GT Series of quick couplers which look set to herald a new era of unrivalled power and cutting-edge intelligent coupler technology for excavators increasing job site safety, machine versatility and productivity. Normally at a trade show Miller would have a number of live demonstration units working for customers to get close to the product to understand its key features and benefits. To assist prospective customers product qualification journey at the digital show, Miller created an exclusive virtual product demo of the new GT quick coupler series with the support of industry journalist and vlogger, Peter Haddock from Content with Media.

“It is great to see Miller recognising the importance of digital events and hosted content, I really enjoyed working with the team over the past couple of weeks, creating exciting content and video interviews for the Hillhead Digital virtual exhibition,” said Peter. “During my visit to Miller HQ, I got to see first-hand the unabated research, design and development that has gone into The GT Series quick couplers and it’s seriously impressive,” he added.

Barry Robison commented, “We were disappointed when we heard the news that Hillhead was to be postponed until next year as it’s such an important show for us. It’s a sign of the times and people have to adapt to move forward, and Hillhead Digital has proven to be very valuable for us. The GT series is bringing innovation to the excavator industry like never before. It’s exciting and we can’t wait to show our visitors in real life at next year’s show.”

As cities around the world begin to re-open, the events industry is more eager than ever to get back to some sense of normal. So, while digital shows could now part of the ‘new normal’, and have provided essential business opportunities in a Covid world, we all look forward to the future where the industry can deliver safe and successful exhibitions and drive game-changing opportunities.

Watch the exclusive interviews with Peter and Barry here:

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