Topics Covered: 1. Why are VR Apps a Good Fit For Trade Show Exhibition Booths? 2. How Should You Publish Your App for a Trade Show? 3. What is the Basic Process for Creating a VR App for a Trade Show? 4. Special Considerations Unique to Trade Show Apps 5. Client Examples
1. Why are VR Apps a Good Fit For Trade Show Exhibition Booths?
Trade shows, trade fairs, conferences, conventions, exhibitions — regardless of what terminology you use, the overall industry featuring these events is booming. According to The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), over $70 Billion was spent on B2B trade shows in 2013. When you factor in growth since then, plus the undeniably large amount of money spent on consumer trade shows, you can see why the Exhibition industry is high stakes.
According to CEIR, the average B2B company spends ~ 39% of their marketing budget on trade shows. The return on that investment, in the form of brand awareness, lead generation, and relationship building, is often disproportionately affected by how you approach your exhibition booth. Even the best salesman or saleswoman is going to struggle if they don’t have a nice looking booth and, more importantly, a reason for visitors to stop by.
The accessibility of both high-end and mass-market VR headsets has revolutionized what you can do with an exhibition booth. No longer are you confined to the three surrounding walls that limit your physical space. Companies are using VR to create informative, entertaining, and memorable experiences for trade show visitors. Sure, a stress ball provides a nice branding opportunity. But it can’t compare to branded Google Cardboard glasses, or downloadable immersive apps, or the memories of a VR journey.
As exhibitors at a number of the largest trade shows in the world — including SXSW, TechCrunch Disrupt, Shop.org, dmexco, and SIGGRAPH — we can categorically say that having compelling VR in your exhibition booth creates a positive ROI. Not only does having headsets such as Gear VR or HTC Vive attract foot traffic and interest you might not have otherwise gotten, but your brand perception improves too. (i.e. a Greenlight VR study that found that 71% of respondents associated companies using VR with the terms “forward thinking and modern”)
For many companies, the question is not should they use VR to increase the value of their trade show booth. The question is how to maximize the technology to get the biggest perceptual lift and garner the most sales leads. Should you do a virtual product tour? A virtual office tour for recruiting purposes? A high octane branded experience? The good news is creating VR using InstaVR is affordable and easy, so you can create multiple apps for multiple headsets at a very reasonable cost!
Incorporating Virtual Reality into your trade show booth can increase foot traffic, lead to more memorable interactions with potential clients, and provide a cost effective way for you to demonstrate your company’s offerings.
2. How Should You Publish Your App for a Trade Show?
The most important question you should ask yourself is what should be included in your trade show VR application (images or video? informative or entertaining? short-form or long-form). The second most important question is how to distribute your application. Luckily, InstaVR provides many different publishing outlets — iOS/Android/Google Cardboard, Gear VR, HTC Vive, Web Embed — and they’re all essentially one-click after you’ve authored your app.
But let’s dig a little deeper into the benefits of each so you can make an informed decision:
- iOS/Android/Google Cardboard – The best part about this distribution method is the ubiquity of cell phones and the affordability of Google Cardboard. If you’re expecting a lot of foot traffic, setting up an HTC Vive or having a couple of Gear VRs might not meet demand. Unfortunately if someone doesn’t get a chance to see your VR app, they’re likely to leave frustrated. Google Cardboards are relatively cheap (you can buy them wholesale for under $10) and can be branded and given away to certain booth visitors. The user experience is relatively good, and if someone has never seen VR before, they’ll be impressed. Users can also take your VR experience home with them after publishing through InstaVR — you can create a QR code for them to scan & download your Android APK or submit to the App Stores for later download. There’s really no reason not to publish to these platforms, even if you do have a higher end headset in your booth.
- Gear VR – We’ve already written about our love of Gear VR before. It really is the perfect platform for trade shows though. It’s a more mobile experience than HTC Vive or Rift (not tethered to a computer), it’s comparatively reasonably priced ($700 Samsung phone + $100 headset), and it’s quite a bit more immersive than Google Cardboard. Also, if you have a long-form app, you can sign up for InstaVR Enterprise and create a 4GB+ (~20 minute) application. This is the main trade show method of publishing for Left of Creative’s US Navy app for the Sea-Air-Space Exposition and Hello Kitty’s Puroland theme park app. You’re sure to get more traffic from people who perhaps have never tried out a Gear VR before. Plus, given their portability, they’re easy to bring in your carry-on bag.
- HTC Vive – Among the major platforms, HTC Vive is the most impressive and immersive. It’s also expensive. If you’re going to be spending a lot of money on a booth and flying your team out, you might as well go with the best platform though, right? HTC Vive is the preferred publishing platform of the division of Toyota that utilizes InstaVR, as they create long-form office tours to show to prospective employees at job fairs. If you have access to a HTC Vive, we highly recommend publishing to that platform, as it’s included with your InstaVR Pro subscription.
- Web VR – To get people to stop by exhibition booths, companies will often rent a large screen TV. To generate interest in your Google Cardboard/HTC Vive/Gear VR application you’re featuring, why not project from a laptop your VR experience embedded on a web page? Booth visitors can then navigate the 360 environment without having to put on a headset. InstaVR’s improved Web VR experience can also be shown to conference goers on tablet devices, laptops, etc. And if you publicly publish your InstaVR-generated Web VR, users can re-experience the images or videos you showed them in the trade show booth without having to download an app. It’s great for sharing with colleagues once the conference goer has returned to their office!
You can easily publish across multiple platforms using InstaVR. Notice in this photo from dmexco we have two Gear VRs, two Google Cardboards, and Web VR on the television screen.
3. What is the Basic Process for Creating a VR App for a Trade Show?
The actual mechanics of authoring a 360-degree application for a trade show is no different than any other type of VR. There’s a great video on that general process embedded on the bottom of this page and we have a written step-by-step guide here.
Below is a quick refresher on app creation, with special focus on things VR publishers for exhibition booths should note:
- Upload your panoramic 360 VR images and videos. Images should be in a standard panoramic format (ie .jpg, .png, .tiff) and videos should be .mp4s. You want to take into consideration how long people will be stopping by your booth. If you have less visitors that are more high value, consider longer-form video. For high volume visitors, you might want to consider shorter video or still images.
- Author using Navigation Links & Hotspots. You’ll want to set a up narrative to your VR experience. For instance, if you’re exhibiting at a job fair, you want to create logical navigation in your VR app so a visitor can get a sense of what a day in the life of working at your company is like. Hotspots should be used to garner extra attention or provide valuable information overlaid on the 360-media. If you’re creating a virtual reality tour of a car, for example, use the hotspots to highlight features of the car that are unique to your brand.
- Brand your app. If you’re going to be distributing your app for users to take home with them — either through a QR code or publishing to the App Stores — you want it to look professional. With InstaVR Pro, you can add a splash image or video that loads prior to your VR experience.
- Publish. We’ve already covered this in-depth, but take a logical approach to the best publishing platforms.
Use hotspots to overlay on your 360-media interesting or informative text, images, videos or audio narration.
4. Special Considerations Unique to Trade Show Apps
The creation process for a trade show booth app using InstaVR is relatively simple. However, because of the unique setting and time constraints of trade shows, there are several things to take into consideration when creating your apps. We highlight several of them below.
You’ll want to test out multiple approaches to your app, so make sure you capture enough images and videos before uploading to author using InstaVR. You might want to even create separate apps for different devices — perhaps a longer, more immersive one for Gear VR, and a shorter, more direct one for Google Cardboard users. That way, you can segment booth visitors based on their interest level, and make sure your most likely-to-become customers visitors get the appropriate attention.
You’re going to have a limited amount of time to gain the attention and awe of your booth visitor once they put the VR headset on. So make sure you start off on a good foot — use the Reset Camera button to identify the initial point in the panorama your visitor is looking at. Start with the most interesting part of your VR experience, rather than making your booth visitor wait. If you save the best for last, they might have already removed the headset and moved on to the next booth.
As mentioned above, the method of publishing is particularly important for trade show apps. The good news is our platform makes it very simple to publish cross-platform. An optimal approach might be: Publish to Web -> to Advertise Your Upcoming VR Experience at the Trade Show, Publish to Google Cardboard -> for When There are Long Lines at your Booth, Publish to Gear VR -> VIP Visitors and Slower Periods, Publish to iTunes/Google Play -> to Send in Follow-Up Email to Booth Visitors
After your trade show appearance, you’re going to want to of course look at the quality of the sales leads you received. But, you may also want to look at the effectiveness of your VR experience. Our Heat Map technology will give you a visual overview of where people looked during their time viewing your app. We also tie into your Google Analytics account, so you can get raw data on which hotspots and navigation links were being interacted with. You can use this data to iterate, and improve your next trade show app.
5. Client Examples
If you’ve ever experienced a VR app at a trade show booth, but thought you couldn’t make one yourself, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how easy InstaVR is to use. With absolutely no coding experience, and a minimal time commitment, you can go from 360 images or video to a fully published app. Here are some of our favorite client use cases that were displayed at various trade shows and conferences.
Left of Creative – This digital agency went all out in creating a truly remarkable VR experience featuring the USS Carl Vinson. The app was displayed at the Sea Air Space Exposition in National Harbor, Maryland. You can’t bring a Navy vessel into a convention center, but you can virtually take expo visitors to the sea. Read more about Left of Creative’s US Navy app here.
Sanrio – The Hello Kitty brand resonates worldwide. But the marketing team at Sanrio still needs the help of travel agents to encourage overseas visitors to fly to Japan to see Hello Kitty’s Puroland amusement park. Using Gear VRs loaded with 360 tours of the park, the Sanrio team can easily go to tourism conventions and show off the fun and lively atmosphere. Read more about Sanrio’s Puroland VR app here.
Toyota High System, Inc – It’s hard to stand out at a college job fair. Everyone is either wearing formal attire or company branded shirts. Giveaways all start to blend together. And how are you supposed to convey your corporate culture? Toyota High System used InstaVR to create an immersive long-form tour of their offices for the HTC Vive. You can’t bring every candidate from a job fair to your offices, but you can do so virtually. Read more about Toyota High System’s use of InstaVR here.
A trade show booth is a major investment. Take advantage of the opportunity by generating more foot traffic, creating more memorable interactions, and impressing potential clients by creating a trade show booth app using InstaVR.