Trade shows require a large investment of capital, time, and effort, and you want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to leave a positive, lasting impression on attendees—they’re your potential customers. To really have an impact and form memories that resonate in their minds long after the trade show ends, you need to create a moment.
One way to stand out from the competition and create a moment that makes trade show traffic stop in its tracks is to surprise them with an experience they’ll have to tell their friends and colleagues. Extended reality, or XR for short is just that. Though XR might be a new term, you may be familiar with two of its well-known subcategories, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).
But what can AR and VR do for you? More specifically, what can it do to help you leave a mark on trade show traffic and get them talking about the experience they had exploring your products with exciting new technology?
Use AR to add new dimensions to your brand and products
AR is a powerful tool, and it can do much to enhance attendees’ experiences in your trade show booth. If you’re not familiar with the many things AR can do, that’s ok. AR functions by superimposing a digital layer over a real world environment. Users can interact with whatever you choose to put in that layer—images, icons, 3D renderings, animated characters, filters, and digital effects—for example, by using the camera function in an app on a smartphone or tablet or via AR-enabled glasses.
AR can get your products into more attendees’ hands
One of the greatest benefits of using AR at a trade show is getting your products into the hands of as many people as possible.
With AR, you can bring any of your products to life in attendees’ hands right on the trade show floor. There’s no need to push your budget and go through the logistical headaches of bringing large, heavy, and incredibly expensive products to every trade show. Now, each of your visitors can have an interactive and realistic 3D model of your product right in their pocket on their smartphone.
By leveraging the accessibility of AR, you aren’t limited to demonstrating one feature of your product at a time. Each person who visits your booth and downloads your app—or picks up one of the tablets you may have in your booth—can interact with a digital 3D rendering of your product in any way they choose right on a mobile device. This lets your potential customers focus on the features they care about most, and helps them be better informed about your products before they connect with your sales reps.
Though this might seem like a complex way to show what your products can do, companies are jumping on board once they see the tech in action. Stryker did just that for their new 1688 AIM 4K Platform. This platform is revolutionary in its field, providing surgeons all the technology they need in the operating room, but it’s also a hefty piece of equipment—making it a challenge to bring to trade shows or on sales calls. To solve this problem, we created an interactive AR version of the platform that sales reps can bring with them wherever they go, never missing an opportunity to show a potential customer what this game-changing piece of surgical equipment is capable of.
Adding a layer of AR can enhance booth interactions
More than bringing a digital version of your products to the trade show floor, AR can also enhance the physical products you bring and the entire booth environment. The power of AR to transform your visitors’ experiences is only limited by what you want to achieve and what you can imagine—much of it depends on your brand and the specific products you want to showcase.
To get you thinking about some of the ways you can use AR in your booth, here are a few examples that skim the surface of what you could achieve:
- If you want to show off your products’ new features and help support your sales reps, AR could display the details about your products digitally mapped onto each product itself. Visitors could launch your app on mobile devices and either see these product features right away, or each feature could be marked with a clickable hotspot that they could select to learn more.
- You could present attendees with case studies—for example, patients who need medical procedures such as joint replacements—and have them select the best of your products for each case from an array of choices presented via AR. Attendees would be able to examine all facets of each device—rotating it 360 degrees—with the specifications and applications of each appearing on screen. This would enable them to weigh the advantages of your newest product against the alternatives, learning about the advancements you’ve made, and why your products are the best choices for each application.
- If you’re bringing an entirely new product to market, or have drastically overhauled and upgraded the interface of an existing product, some training may be in order. AR could show your booth visitors how to use your new products by walking them through the process.
AR-enhanced social media can drive traffic toward your booth
While AR can be used as a tool to pitch to potential customers and educate your audience, it can also be a fun way to get people to engage with your brand. What better way to leave lasting memories and promote your products in the process than through AR-enhanced social media? We’re talking about custom, brand-specific lenses and filters within apps like Instagram and Snapchat.
There are many possibilities when it comes to the types of lenses and filters, but for trade show purposes you should likely focus on text- or image-centric lenses and filters that promote your brand and products, or geofilters that promote your booth’s location at the trade show. Of the various options, what you use should be guided by your products and brand identity.
Regardless of the filters or lenses you create, we’d recommend that you apply a geofence to drive traffic toward your booth. A geofence allows people to apply your filter or lens only within a specific area. This way, in order to get access to your exclusive lens or filter, people will have to visit the area you designate. Though you can designate a larger geofence—even city-sized—the specificity of the geofence and exclusive content are what make it so effective at attracting people to certain locations.
Use VR to create immersive interactive experiences
If you want to make a mark at your next trade show, draw huge crowds to your booth, and have attendees lined up to see what your products can do, then you need to bring your products to life and take your attendees to engaging environments using VR.
Where AR adds a digital layer to the real world environment, VR takes your booth visitors into an immersive virtual world where they can interact with your products in the environments they’ll use them in most. To leverage the power of VR, you’ll need to first decide on a VR platform and invest in hardware that makes the experience possible, namely VR headsets and controllers. After that, designers and programmers can craft 3D simulations of anything you need to best show off your products. Once all the technological magic is complete, you’ll have a VR experience that visitors to your booth will find useful, interesting, and captivating.
Although implementing VR does come at a price, the ROI you can achieve from the increased traffic to your booth and the impression it will leave on your visitors will make it more than worth while.
VR can let your visitors get their hands on your products
Like with AR, VR can reduce your logistics costs for large, heavy, or expensive products by bringing them into the digital world. Unlike AR, VR lets visitors experience what it’d actually be like to use your products first hand. Where AR shows you what something does, VR allows you to do it on your own. Visitors can put on the VR headset, take the controllers, then pick up your product, explore its features, and even use it in a simulation just like they might in the real world.
No matter your brand or your product, VR can bring it into the virtual world to let users get a feel for it and have fun in the process. The exclusive experience VR provides is what will get people to recognize your brand, engage with your reps, and draw crowds to your booth.
VR can transport your booth visitors to new or familiar places
More than just letting visitors pick up and interact with your products, VR can bring them into the environments they’re most familiar with—or will be using your products in the most. If you want your booth visitors to really feel like they’re back at the office, on the job site, or in the operating room—VR can bring that to life right before their eyes.
Imagine you’re a surgeon and you walk into a trade show booth for a medical device company who’ has a new product that they claim will revolutionize how you perform a certain surgery. You can listen to their sales rep speak about the product, explain its benefits, and read all the materials they have on it—and you should still do all of these things—but you could also put on a VR headset and try it for yourself.
As you put on the headset, you’re transported into the operating room with all the sights and sounds that simulate an actual surgery. A patient is on the table in front of you, text appears in front of your field of view, and you hear a voice guiding you through how to perform the procedure in VR. You pick up the scalpel, which is really being manipulated by the VR controller in your hand. You then make an incision, carefully moving tissue until you reach the point to where you can install the new medical device—in this case an implant. You pick up the virtual implant by moving your other hand holding a VR controller, and you begin to install it into the patient, making all the motions you’d need to in the real world. The surgery is going smoothly and the new device is much easier to work with than the ones you currently use.
You finish the procedure and take off the VR headset. There are dozens of people gathered around, all of whom have watched you become immersed in a virtual procedure. And now they want to give it a go themselves, because what would be a serious surgery in the real world has become seriously fun in the virtual world. That’s VR.
Does that scenario sound like a dream? What was once science fiction has become reality, and we’ve made VR experiences happen like this in the trade show environment. For example, we crafted for Wright Medical’s SIMPLICITI™ implant. We achieved exactly what you just read above, giving visitors the opportunity to experience what it’s like to work with Wright’s new implant in a virtual operating room. We created 3D renderings of the implant device, and paid close attention to every detail of the experience—from the lighting and shadows of the operating room, how the scalpel moved in the hand, the dimensions and features of the implant, and even the possibilities for mistakes.
Ready to wow trade show attendees with AR and VR?
Technology has become an integral part of our daily lives, and without realizing it, we’re often interacting with the likes of AR and VR. From smart phone games, to Instagram Stories, and Snapchats, AR has influenced and been integrated into all of them. While VR still requires certain pieces of equipment, these have become affordable and attainable by many people. But AR and VR doesn’t have to be limited to the entertainment space when they have so much power. It’s time to bring AR and VR into the working world, the professional realm, and the trade show booth.
As you prepare for your next trade show—or evaluate the competition at another trade show you’re just attending as a guest—think about all the ways AR and VR could enhance your visitors’ experiences. We hope we motivated you and gave you some ideas to think about, but there are endless ways to incorporate AR and VR into your trade show booth—much of that depends on your brand, your products, and your goals.Not only will adding these high tech elements to your booth attract more attendees than ever before, it’ll give them new ways to experience your brand and your products—and leave them wanting to try out the real thing.