How Do You Utilize VR for Trade Show Engagement?

August 1, 2018

Dave Beck

Dave Beck is a founder and Managing Partner at Foundry 45, an Atlanta-based company that helps brands train their teams and tell their stories through Virtual and Augmented Reality. Beck’s company has built over 100 experiences for notable clients such as AT&T, Coca-Cola, FedEx and US Bank. 

Virtual Reality (VR) is a powerful sales and marketing tool, and with a little planning, it can help your company become the focal point of any event. Of those that try VR, 81 percent say they tell their friends about the experience and 79 percent seek to try it again. These numbers illustrate the massive advantage VR has on every other form of media. It is fully immersive and therefore, the most engaging platform for trade show pitches. 

Aside from the numbers and engagement statistics, VR trade show experiences give you unprecedented creative control over what your audience experiences. Whether it’s a 360 video, a training simulation or an entirely customized environment, VR will undoubtedly give you the ability to manipulate every detail of the viewer’s immersive experience. Even if you find room scale options outside your price range, portable headsets still allow for immersive content while sacrificing quality. 

Equipment Checklist: 

  • VR Headset (Our favorites are: HTC Vive, Oculus Go, and Gear VR)
  • If using a Gear VR, it’s a good idea to have a backup phone for each headset o Alcohol
  • Wipes
  • Lens cloths
  • Headphones – (if not using an integrated audio head strap)
  • Company Merchandise 

Step 1: Practice Makes Perfect 

Test your trade show experience multiple times to eliminate any and all possible issues. Think about offering seating based near the VR experience you exhibit. While you may have 2 or more headsets, it is likely you will have more visitors waiting to try your experience(s). Be prepared to engage your audience outside the headsets and keep them intrigued enough to wait their turn. 

Step 2: Branding 

Your trade show experience should focus on your brand regardless of what medium you use to display it. Don’t let the appeal of VR distract from what you are trying to sell. Include proper branded material to support the experience so that when visitors are enthralled by your experience, they think of your company or product instead of focusing exclusively on the technology. 

Step 3: Show Time 

Nothing will dampen your amazing virtual reality experience like a dead phone battery or constant extraneous notifications. Take several measures beforehand to ensure your visitors maximize their immersion. 

  • Fully charge all phone batteries and Oculus Go prior to the event
  • Put all phones in airplane mode and deactivate Wifi
  • The first time you start the app and put the phone in your Gear VR, turn
    the volume back up (buttons on side). The volume resets every time the
    phone is removed.
  • If they are in constant use, swap out phones in the headsets to cool down
    and recharge every hour or so during the event.
  • Use alcohol wipes to wipe down the headsets every so often

After someone uses the headset, make sure to follow up with them on their experience. Ask questions for feedback and even more customer engagement. Remember, the pitch ends when they leave, not when they take off the headset.

Step 4: Create a Comfortable VR Space

It’s good to give your visitors some room to turn around freely. Swivel chairs or bar stools are nice-to-haves, but not a requirement. Visitors appreciate a space like a bar table to be able to put down anything they might currently have in their hands. Of course, if your experience does not require movement, seating visitors may be preferable. Take time to think about the comfort of your audience. 

Step 5: Help Out your Marketing Team 

Have fun with guests at your show! VR experiences are a great way for people to network and get out of their comfort zone because everyone reacts differently in a VR environment. Showing people that your event was a success by posting images and video across your social channels shows you not only value your brand and want to share it but that you know how to have fun doing it. If you can, have visitors post about their experience on social media to spread your trade show’s influence and your brand even further. 

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Partner Voices

Now, you’ll be able to seamlessly connect your virtual and in-person audiences and deliver enterprise-grade, fully integrated hybrid events - without the need to manage multiple vendors. The return of face-to-face experiences will raise questions about how to create the best blended event that combines in-person and virtual elements.