How to use Virtual Reality at your next trade show

    by Nick Rockafellow on Jan 16, 2018 10:02:00 AM

    Walk around any trade show floor and you will see almost the same things. Videos, free giveaways, a few games, and large signage dot the floor as companies try to attract the attention of attendees. If you look closely, you will see a new technology start to gain traction at trade shows. Virtual Reality. While the technology is generally associated with gaming and entertainment, trade show managers and marketing companies have started to see the potential for virtual reality to transform engagement and interactions at trade shows. Even though the potential exists, a bad implementation can ruin the possibilities and potential. These are a few of the ways Virtual Reality can be applied effectively at trade shows.

    For Product Demonstration

    Last year, I had the privilege to attend a trade show centered around aviation. Hundreds of companies exhibited their products and services. For some, the traditional format of bringing their products to the show worked great. For others, bringing massive, multi-million dollar products was impossible. Flyers and videos can demonstrate a product but are unable to give someone the true scope and complexity of the product. Virtual Reality alleviates this problem. Through VR videos and programs, a viewer can walk right up to a product, have it completely break apart, move around, and see it in action, all from the same viewer!

     Virtual Reality at Trade Show

    Source: Office of Naval Research photo by John F. Williams

    For Engagement

    Through all the commotion at trade shows, keeping an attendee’s attention can be extremely difficult. The frequency of traditional techniques such as videos and bright colored booths don’t attract the attention they used to since they are used by almost every company. On the other hand, virtual reality is able to hold attendees’ attention. Why? Because of two factors. First, the technology transports the user to an entirely new experience. The user won’t be distracted by the things going on around them simply because they can’t see those things! Second, while many people know about and understand the technology, it is not expected. Virtual Reality is still a new experience for a lot of people, and for those who have already experienced the technology, they still find it enjoyable!

    For Differentiation

    Let’s use a brewery as an example. At one of several trade shows they can attend, every competing brewery is probably going to have a few samples of their products. As great as a few free pints of beer are, it isn’t able to differentiate their company from their competition. This is where virtual reality is able to truly make a mark and differentiate their business. By transporting the viewer back to the brewery and giving them a virtual tour, the users are able to see the complex machinery and experience the fun, engaging interactions associated with the brewery. Of course, this same process can be duplicated for other types of businesses outside of breweries.

    Virtual Reality at Trade ShowsSource: Maurizio Pesce

    To Save Space

    The size of a trade show booth can range from hundreds of square feet to small, single person stands. Whatever is implemented in the booth has to be extremely important. Unlike other marketing methods like games and large demonstrations of products and services, the only thing a virtual reality experience needs is a computer and headset. Whether you are trying to make the technology the focal point of the booth or just as an attraction for attendees, virtual reality experiences can be put into any type of space, large or small.

    To Track Analytics

    If a tree falls in a forest, did it really make a sound?”. The marketers’ version of this highly recognizable phrase is, “if you can’t track the interaction, did it really happen?”. While the phrase may not be completely true, it builds on a large focus of marketing today, analytics. The ability to track interactions and experiences is increasingly important for every aspect of business, and trade shows are no exception. Virtual Reality experiences, whether they are games or videos, allow for analytics to be tracked and provide valuable information to influence decision making.

    Virtual Reality at Trade Shows

    Whether a company is trying to increase engagement at their booth or trying to maximize the space they have, virtual reality has been proven to be an effective solution for a various amount of problems. Trade show managers and marketing companies have started to recognize this and adapt to the changing environment. Expect to see the use of virtual reality at trade shows increase over the next year!

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