You may have started hearing about virtual exhibiting over the last few months due to the current state of the industry. With most venues closed for the foreseeable future, many businesses are shifting towards an online experience that functions in a similar manner. At a glance, the thought of exhibiting online may seem a bit obtuse and even a little ridiculous, however, if you dig a little deeper and understand how the platform works, there are many more positives than you realize.
What is a virtual exhibit?
Simply put, a virtual exhibit (VRE) is exactly what it sounds like. An exhibiting property that is constructed in a 3D form digitally and exists on a server once deployed. This is an oversimplification at best, however, as you continue to read this post, you can begin to understand these environments are much larger and expansive than most people imagine.
The 3D virtual exhibit space is more akin to a video game environment that is fully explorable and interactive. The provider can also embellish the exhibit space with sounds, music, interactions and downloadable content, if desired. The VRE can be extremely detailed and contain live conversations utilizing the most current meeting platforms such as Zoom and others that are available now. To help add a more personal level of realism, some businesses choose to use animated avatars to show human interaction spots while others are UI based utilizing appropriate icons. Both work very well
Ultimately, how you want your space to function and how it appears to the attendees is very flexible.
Does my exhibit only work in a virtual exhibit hall for specific shows?
When you purchase a virtual exhibit you have control of where it resides. Yes, it can live within a virtual hall for a specific show, but it can also run 24 hours a day on your business website, secure server, or VR servers offered by the exhibit provider. Ultimately you have control over how you want to deploy your VRE and when it is available for viewing.
Why would I consider this as a viable marketing platform?
The advantages of virtual exhibiting are numerous. One of the largest benefits is the ability of anyone globally to tour and explore your business offerings at any time in an environment that is not as static as a website. The ability to move freely and explore these platforms adds an element most people are longing for these days.
The reach of having a virtual exhibit running 24/7 has shown significant increases in product visibility and engagement which in turn leads to higher quality lead generation. All of the movement data from the attendees can be linked to your Google analytics account and reviewed for refinement. You can then adjust your content as needed to foster a higher quality user experience by focusing on what people are interested in and enjoy interacting with.
Some other obvious advantages are the deployment of virtual exhibits. Since you are eliminating variables that physical booths tend to encounter with shipping, storage, and damage from wear and tear (not to mention the unexpected occurrences we all hear about from time to time). You will avoid the usual pitfalls associated with exhibiting in general and save a ton of your exhibiting budget that can be utilized in the future.
How do I get started with a virtual exhibit program
Getting started with virtual exhibiting is easy. Your typical exhibiting program works in much of the same order. You can choose from a variety of prebuilt or custom-designed structures that you can modify with your graphics to match your brand standards. The process continues much the same where your monitors and conference areas are then built for interactivity so videos and live meetings can be held virtually.
Ultimately, the number of options you have for interactive hot spots is astounding and only limited by your imagination, from live chats, streaming video and downloadable links to name just a few of the hotspot actions.
VR Goggles can be used if you have them available. Most of the major VR brands are supported and to my current knowledge, there have not been issues with lesser known or unbranded goggles. The ability to use VR goggles, as you can imagine, adds another level of immersion to the floor space and makes the experience that much more enjoyable if you are already fond of VR technologies.
How about the pricing?
Costs vary depending on what size virtual exhibit you decide to use, and if you choose to have an actual structure built for future in-person shows to accompany your VRE. Virtual exhibits can be as large or small as you want just like your physical exhibit build. There are ways to upgrade multimedia zones and conference areas to consider along with podiums and registration desks. The overall savings of the virtual exhibit not being shipped assembled, torn down, and shipped a second time adds up to massive cost savings overall. With these numerous cost-saving benefits exploring VRE technology for your marketing is worth a hard look.
This is just a brief introduction to virtual exhibiting and to understanding how it works. I suggest contacting the Blazer Exhibits and Events professionals for a tour and walk-through demo to fully comprehend how this technology can be leveraged for your benefit.
Matt Smith has been a professional Graphic and User Experience designer for over 28 years who works closely with trade show and event companies in the San Francisco Bay Area and throughout the United States.