Social distancing guidelines may have led to the mass cancelation of trade shows, but virtual booths have taken up the torch in these times of crisis.
Watching live product demos, getting the pulse of the industry, and talking to suppliers were just some of the many reasons why industry events attracted thousands of visitors, and we definitely can’t wait for things to get back to normal. Unfortunately, until the number of active COVID-19 cases drops considerably or a vaccine is found, virtual communications remain the safest option. The industry has been quick to adapt and, apart from a few trade shows, most organizers managed to successfully transition to a digital format.
But, for all their benefits, virtual events have their shortcomings, especially when it comes to costs, attendance, and audience engagement. Meanwhile, “always on” virtual booths have emerged as a more affordable alternative that consumers can interact with 24/7.
What are virtual booths?
Virtual booths are interactive 3D renderings of trade show booths that audiences can interact with right from their browser. Depending on their budget, businesses may prefer to host these booths on their website or link to a third-party site where the booth is hosted.
Virtual booths feature the same elements as a traditional booth, but in digital format. Upon entering the booth, audiences can see a hallway, a reception desk, screens, branded merchandise, and products on display. These realistic elements are accompanied by video materials, music, games, live chats, games, and many other features that make the virtual space more engaging and interactive.
How can “always on” virtual booths help businesses?
If a business already has a website to showcase its products, and it can attend virtual events, where do these hybrid virtual booths fit in and why are they becoming so popular almost overnight?
- Affordable. Taking part in a trade show has many benefits, but it’s also very expensive and not all businesses have the budget for it. Depending on the magnitude of the event, you can spend up to $100,000 on travel, personnel, promotional materials, and rent, and that’s just for two or three days! Virtual events aren’t cheap either. In comparison, virtual booths are much more affordable, and yet they provide that same level of interaction.
- Always on. Virtual trade shows, like their brick-and-mortar equivalent, take place for a limited time. If your audience doesn’t know about the event or isn’t available to attend at the time, then you’ll miss out on a lot of leads. Virtual booths, on the other hand, are always open. You can link to them from your website, and you can share them on social media, for maximum reach. This also solves the problem time zones, which might prevent leads from some parts of the world to attend.
- Accessible from everywhere. Trade shows are great for marketing, but apart from present attendees, there are thousands of other potential leads who couldn’t be there. Virtual booths are available 24/7 and clients from all over the world can visit them, expanding your reach considerably. It doesn’t matter if you’re based in Europe, Asia, or the US.
- Engaging. By using realistic 3D graphics and interactive elements, virtual booths offer an engaging experience to your audience, as if they are visiting a showroom in person. By interacting with your products and services in an intuitive way, they’re more likely to express interest in them and convert to paying customers.
Big companies were the first to pioneer virtual booths. For example, Samsung opened a virtual lighting exhibition on their website, with news about Samsung lighting solutions. Manufacturers, supply chain partners, and end users can visit this booth 24/7 and see segmented product lineups according to their application. The booth features realistic models of Samsung lighting products, as well as narrated videos.
Other businesses have picked up on the trend. Since the format is very versatile, it can be used successfully for all fields, such as education, industrial services, fashion, arts, healthcare, and electronics.