How VMX Virtual Is Transforming NAVC’s Veterinary Meeting & Expo Into a Year-Round Event

January 28, 2020

In a first for the veterinary world, the North American Veterinary Community has launched VMX Virtual, an immersive and interactive 3D platform to transform the world’s largest veterinary conference and trade show into a year-round, on-demand marketplace for exhibitors and attendees.  

Intended to be a complement to and extension of its annual trade show and conference, Veterinary Meeting & Expo, the virtual VMX was launched in December 2019, one month prior to the live event. Held Jan. 18-22 at Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, the 2020 edition of VMX attracted approximately 700 exhibiting companies and 18,000 attendees from 80 countries.

According to NAVC officials, VMX Virtual is the first digital trade show and conference to blend advanced simulation and gamification technology.

“VMX Virtual is truly the next generation of trade shows, affording participating companies an avenue to better engage with their customers all year long and allowing conference attendees the opportunity to maximize their trade show experience,” said Eugene O’Neill, interim CEO of NAVC, which provides continuing education and training to more than 500,000 veterinary professionals each year.

He continued, “People and companies spend thousands to millions of dollars each year going to trade shows or sponsoring exhibits. VMX Virtual lets them get more out of their investment all year long.”

With VMX Virtual, visitors can digitally move through the VMX Expo Hall, experience exhibiting companies’ virtual booths in their entirety, talk live with company representatives, view and download content, watch webinars and videos, and take advantage of free giveaways. 

VMX Virtual

Users simply search the virtual booth platform by products, services and content, while a virtual concierge is available to help guide them through the expo. Visitors can also add content to their virtual backpack, where it can be saved, organized and categorized to share with other members of their veterinary practices and referred back to at any time.  

Meanwhile, exhibit sponsors have the chance to spend quality time with prospective customers and use the platform’s robust analytics to follow up with them. 

At the show, both exhibitors and attendees responded favorably to the virtual platform, commenting that it was not only impressive and easy-to-use, but that it also showcased exhibitor booths in an intuitive and innovative manner, according to NAVC officials. 

“We had a strong response with the number of attendees that registered as users of VMX Virtual at [the show],” said Manolita Moore, VMX vice president of sales and operations. “Nearly half were veterinarians, and many commented that this would extend VMX all-year-round because they wouldn’t have a chance to see  in just a few days.”

She continued, “Attendees commented they were glad that the booth content will be refreshed by exhibitors and that there would be ongoing promotions, raffles, publications and new content. [They also] mentioned that the forums were a great addition to VMX Virtual for sharing best practices and providing a sense of community.”

Meanwhile, exhibitors said they were pleased that VMX Virtual would allow them to receive leads and update content all year long, while giving prospective customers the ability to ask questions and purchase products online.

Virtual is intended to extend the life of a live event and allow those who were not able to attend to participate and experience what it’s like to be at VMX or a major trade show,” said Manolita Moore, VMX vice president of sales and operations. “Or, those who attended but did not have enough time to browse all of the exhibitors can now browse and engage with the rest of the exhibitors at their leisure, complimentary to VMX attendees.”

VMX’s virtual platform is developed by tech company Simulocity, which provides virtual platforms for training, education, healthcare and the trade show industry. 


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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.