With Coronavirus comes many new ways of navigating both our personal and professional lives. What was once a reasonably solid line between the two is now thoroughly blended, merging in ways not many had imagined only months ago. Almost everything in-person became virtual — ranging from an entirely new kind of classroom where students meet with their teachers and friends in virtual classrooms to business meetings and networking now held in the digital space. We work in an environment called together-apart. And collectively, we are redefining experience in real-time.
And in the face-to-face marketing or trade show space, COVID-19 has opened our minds and many eyes to the possibilities and opportunities available to us, stepping outside or beyond a physical event or trade show booth experience. As marketers, we are facing the challenge of creating and deliver compelling brand experiences that help our clients meet their goals and objectives. We know that the experience – virtual or otherwise – must resonate with people and meet critical objectives. So, whether you are a digital native, who feels confident and comfortable in knowing “all the things” virtual (also known as digital) or someone new to this digital and virtual landscape, this vocab cheat sheet should help. What follows is a primer, a quick reference guide for the virtual vocabulary, and jargon that open the door to opportunity.
What is a Virtual Trade Show Exhibit Tour or Virtual Trade Show Booth?
(AKA Your Booth/Exhibit as a Virtual/Online Experience)
Imagine your physical tradeshow booth as an online, interactive experience. Through this experience, “attendees” can engage and interact with your brand – in a variety of ways. With a 360 virtual reality booth tour, they can step into and tour the experience interactively. Viewers can discover, view, and engage with your brand’s physical exhibit online from any location at any time. It could be a simple, pre-planned walk-through or a completely interactive virtual experience. And just like a physical tradeshow exhibit experience, the virtual experience will be designed as a representation of a live experience, considering ways to guide interaction and exploration. With a Virtual Trade Show Exhibit Tour, you can draw attention and share information through hot-spots, allowing visitors to view and experience your brand. This virtual experience lets them move around your booth, interact with products, watch videos, and experience your brand, just as they would in your actual trade show booth.
What are Virtual Trade Shows?
(AKA The Entire Tradeshow as a Virtual Experience, for all Exhibitors)
More often than not, a Virtual Trade Show means the entire trade show for all exhibitors and participants is virtual (versus the branding and virtual experience “Virtual Trade Show Exhibit Tour” or “Virtual Trade Show Booth” for your trade show booth) with the association or organization managing the actual virtual trade show. In a virtual trade show, as an exhibitor, you will have the option (typically) to select from a variety of exhibitor options. When a show is canceled or moved to a date in (what feels like) the very-far-away-distance, a virtual trade show lets exhibitors connect with customers, suppliers, and colleagues in a virtual space. The entire trade show floor becomes a virtual show floor or virtual expo hall. Show attendees can check-in online to see what is new and innovative. Typically, the show’s organizer will offer a range of booth options and pricing, that allow for a variety of features, such as booth branding, content delivery options, event data, and analytics. The United Fresh Produce Association is a perfect example, hosting a virtual online event in place of their annual tradeshow.
What are Hybrid Events?
Just like a hybrid vehicle (the combination of one electric motor and one gasoline engine), a hybrid event is a tradeshow or seminar, conference, or other meetings that combines a live, in-person event at a physical location with a virtual or online component for the attendees or participants. Blending digital experiences with live event marketing opens the door for new audiences, a new way of presenting, promoting, or launching a brand and can be the ideal solution during times such as these when the more traditional tradeshow is postponed or canceled. Thinking about your trade show and in-person, face-to-face experiences as hybrid events allow brands to embrace new ways to bring people together.
It can be confusing, fulling grasping all of nuances of a new language. Who knew that the word zoom would become such popular verb? As in let’s Zoom, shall we? Two quick notes, regarding acronyms that sometimes are confused when talking about virtual.
Many of you have asked about the abbreviated VR (which is Virtual Reality) versus Virtual Trade Show or Virtual Trade Show Exhibit.
#1 – Is VR the same as a Virtual Trade Show Exhibit Tour?
The answer is no. Virtual Reality or VR is not the same as a Virtual Trade Show Exhibit Tour or a Virtual Trade Show. Virtual Reality or VR is a generalized term for placing a viewer or user in another world or dimension. To experience the VR, users or viewers must wear a headset or goggles, known as VR goggles. You do not need to wear VR goggles to experience a Virtual Trade Show Exhibit Tour.
#2 – If VR is not a Virtual Tradeshow Booth or Virtual Tradeshow, what then is AR?
By definition, augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes across a range of senses, including sight, sound, taste, touch, and so on. Better said, AR technology takes a real-world environment and adds a computer-generated input to it. Think of it as a way to “try on” something before you purchase it.
As we shift and pivot during this time together, know that 2020 Exhibits is working with our clients, helping them to scale their experiences, and integrate virtual/digital into their tradeshow and event marketing mix. We’d love to begin a conversation about how we can help you with ideas and solutions for ways to meet your clients where they are, no matter where that may be.