It’s been an interesting few months for the events industry, which has had to shift resources and attention towards innovative digital services such as virtual booths. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, it would have been hard to find a business interested in digital events but now, this once niche solution is gaining traction and becoming more than just a clever substitute until things go back to normal. Part of the accelerated digital transformation process embraced by most industries, virtual booths promise to be not only a more cost-effective alternative to traditional trade shows, but also an exciting new trend in digital marketing.
Innovative features that add value to the visitor experience
Virtual booths and, by extension, digital events, cannot be complete substitutes to brick-and-mortar trade shows. For example, if an event would involve sampling or hands-on demonstrations, that experience cannot be fully translated into digital format. However, that’s just one small shortcoming, because where virtual booths can make up for the lack of real-world interaction through innovative features that boost audience engagement.
As every trade show participant knows, interaction is a crucial element that establishes trust between brands and audiences. In a digital setting, this can be achieved in a variety of ways:
- Adapting the booth layout so as to include separate areas, such as an entrance lobby, a VIP area, a socialization area, or a Q&A area
- Incorporating webinars into the booth
- Adding live support for various time zones
- Using immersive 3D graphics
- Incorporating games and contents into the booth
- Including interactive brochures, 3D tours, and explanatory videos
Apart from this, virtual booths are highly customizable. Virtual exhibitors can import their existing booth design and adapt it to a digital format, or they can get creative with features that would be too costly or unrealistic in a traditional trade show. Since everything takes place online, exhibitors are also able to track audience behavior and use analytics to fine-tune the booth experience. Unlike physical trade shows, where you have no way of knowing where each guest goes and who they interact with, virtual booths are web-hosted, which means that you’ll know how much time guests spend in your booth, what sections they visit, and where they close the window. This ensures audiences are not overwhelmed with information and the experience is relevant and useful in a context where more and more people work remotely.
A few months ago, it would have been impossible to think of a world without trade shows, and yet here we are. Almost all major event organizers have gone digital, companies such as Samsung are using virtual booths to showcase their products, and even small businesses are starting to pick up on the trend rather than fear the change.
All these benefits are all the more exciting considering that they offer a fantastic return on investment. As businesses are aware, the costs of attending a trade show can be prohibitive: from renting booth space and printing promotional materials, to paying brand representatives, travel, and accommodation costs. Virtual booths, on the other hand, only come with software development and hosting costs, so you can expand your online reach even if you’re on a budget.
In the future, digital agility will be required to attract more visitors
The adoption rate of virtual booths isn’t expected to drop once the COVID-19 crisis ends (although, many argue, it will take more than a year until large-scale events can safely resume). On the contrary, just how digital transformation has made customers shop online more, it has also shown trade show participants that they needn’t travel to a foreign country for an immersive exhibition. Going forward, many businesses will prefer attending only one or two major events and then rely on virtual booths to stay connected with audiences all year round.
Businesses will no longer have to worry about what happens if they skip a trade show, because they can continue to take advantage of digital solutions to generate leads.