TULARE, Calif. (KFSN) -- Every year, Marcos Montoya walks away from the World Ag Expo with enough orders to keep his business - Monty's Portables - busy for the rest of the year.
But this year, Montoya knows sales won't be nearly as strong, because he's not able to talk to customers face-to-face or show them the wide array of ag compliance trailers built by his team in Avenal.
The new online format also doesn't lend itself to the same kind of networking opportunities he's seen in years past.
"I heard of a guy of a guy (of) a guy and I know his friend that has a friend," said Montoya of the possibilities. "And you can get so many things done."
"That's what we really feel like we're missing this year is that personal connection where you can see each other, you can shake hands, you can share lunch," International Agri-Center Marketing Manager Jennifer Fawkes said. "And that's what we're looking forward to in 2022. But we are happy that people are having success so far connecting even in a very different time with a very different system."
World Ag Expo exhibitors are able to reach out to attendees who create an account and agree to share their information.
Attendees can also contact exhibitors by looking up their online contacts, sending an e-mail, or using a chat function.
"So we're going to have to get on the computer and we're going to have to start digging in and start trying to meet these people," Kingsburg Cultivator Inc. President Clint Erling said.
Erling also misses the conversations and connections from the in-person farm show.
For the most part, he says, the online show's impact on sales remains to be seen.
"We do sell some equipment out of that show and deliver it to the grower on the way out or ship it when we get it back here," Erling said. "There will be less of that I think, with this virtual thing. Nobody's used to it."
Despite the major changes, both Erling and Montoya are staying positive, and appreciate the opportunity to have a platform, even if it's not the traditional booth.
"I think in everything right now, we're just going to have to really dig our heels in and really just try our best and hope for the best," Montoya said.
Show organizers say they will be supporting their 700 exhibitors well beyond this week.
Their pages will stay active on the World Ag Expo website until next year's show, and there will be other promotion opportunities online and on social media.
World Ag Expo exhibitors find new ways to connect with customers during online show
The online show's impact on sales remains to be seen.
WORLD AG EXPO
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