TYLER, Texas — At the beginning of each year, business owners and community members gather together for the Tyler Area Chamber's B2B Expo. However, due to the nature and size of it, the chamber has canceled the 2021 event.
Henry Bell, president of the chamber, says there's usually around 5,000 people who attend the "back to business" event every year.
"Because it is such a networking event that entails, people usually interacting with each other, you know, pretty closely," he said. "They're having to pick up goods and services and look at them and touch them and stuff like that, it was just really difficult to figure out how to do that."
Bell saw first hand what a virtual expo would have been like when he attended the American Chamber of Commerce annual conference online a few weeks ago.
"That did not work very well because most of the attendees didn't take the effort to connect with each booth, and then you had to have a tablet session with them," Bell said. "It was just too cumbersome to try to do it.”
Instead, the Tyler Chamber is focusing on its hybrid events of in-person and online, to connect with members like its next meeting on Nov. 5.
"We've offered lots of help through webinars and seminars online to members," Bell said. "Giving them ideas and things to try and push their information out there virtually, so that people could know if they were really open or not, and how they could get their products or services."
The chamber has also waived fees for promotional posts to its Facebook page during the pandemic.
"If they have a special opening or information or product they need to push out there to contact us and we'll push it to our social media," Bell said. "That's really our purpose, to help them grow their businesses and be successful."
Bell encourages members in need of advice or help with their businesses, to reach out to the chamber.
To learn more about the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce, click here.