Tips on Making VR for Brand Activations, Trade Shows, and Events
VR/360 is great for these type of occasions. Why? Because the technology is immersive, impactful, and memorable. Potential customers crave unique experiences to better connect with companies and brands. Short of physically transporting the person to a new location, VR is the best way to establish this connection in a memorable fashion.
Using learnings from clients as diverse as Hello Kitty, Toyota, and the US Navy — we’ll pass along some of the top tips we’ve learned from their experiences building apps for these types of events.
As always, feel free to reach out to our Sales or Customer Success team with any questions!
- Hello Kitty: Make it Interactive + Add Audio for a Better Experience
- Zuo Modern: No VR Headset Necessary + Authoring for Desired Outcomes
- Zimmer Biomet Dental: Choose the Right VR Headset for the Venue + Do a Comparative or Before/After App
- US Navy (via Left of Creative): Let Users Choose Experience + Use POV
- Toyota: Put People in Front of the Camera + The Benefits of VR Tours
1. Hello Kitty: Make It Interactive and Add Audio
(Visit our Hello Kitty Customer Success Story and download the iOS/Google app or view the WebVR yourself)
Originally, the Puroland VR app was built for an exhibition in downtown Tokyo. Because the Puroland Theme Park is 1.5 hours outside Tokyo, the VR experience could be shown to tour operators in the city to encourage group bookings. And because the event drew global tourism professions, the app helped transcend language in generating interest.
There are many takeaways from Hello Kitty’s app originally built for Gear VR. But we’ll focus on two main features of their app:
Make the VR Experience Interactive
The Hello Kitty Puroland VR experience is, at its heart, an interactive tour. Users can choose which part of Puroland they want to visit, such as the Main Street Parade. The marketing team at Puroland built customized icons for their Navigation Links and Hotspots that grab the viewers’ attention.
At an event or trade show, visitors will be bombarded with conversations and opportunities to try things out. But making your app interactive — allowing the user to choose their path and what they want to see — makes it more memorable. It requires more brain engagement.
Hello Kitty could have done a passive tour of Puroland. But for tourism operators, the ability to choose what areas to visit and what characters to interact with makes it more impactful.
InstaVR allows you to overlay your 360 images or video with mp3 audio. This can add a lot to your VR experience. For example, the ambient audio for the Puroland tour would be people talking, movement, etc. It would be very similar to the actual event where the VR was being showcased in Tokyo.
Instead, the Puroland marketing team decided to overlay cinematic, uplifting music to the application. You can’t help but smile when you hear it. And it transports you, creating a childlike wonder. VR is as much an audio experience as it is a visual one… and adding the right audio makes the user experience even better.
2. Zuo Modern: No VR Headset Necessary + Author for Desired Outcomes
Zuo Modern first unveiled their 360 Experience at major home shows in Las Vegas and Atlanta. There’s a lot to like in their 360 work so far — the high-quality Autodesk renders they use, the Photoshop-created price tags that link to relevant product web pages, the intuitive navigation they added using InstaVR.
But here are two main takeaways from their successes, which led Casual Living to pick them as the #2 best thing they saw at the Atlanta Gift & Home Furnishings Market:
No VR Headset Necessary
There’s a tendency for our clients to publish specifically for display on a VR headset such as Gear VR, Google Cardboard, HTC Vive or Oculus Rift. That makes sense — they’re powerful and immersive.
But Zuo Modern recognizes that these home shows generate a large amount of foot traffic. And loading attendees into and out of headsets takes a bit of time. Plus, their sales team is present at the show to have conversations with visitors.
So they instead chose oversized Android tablets. They’re still able to present their beautiful product renders, and the users can navigate either using the built-in gyroscope or finger swiping. But they save a lot of time by avoiding headsets, and allow for more natural conversations.
It’s understandable why employing VR headsets is so popular, but in a high traffic venue where conversation is key, you might be better off utilizing large Android tablets or iPad Pros.
Authoring to Desired Outcomes
At trade shows and conferences, companies have different goals. For some businesses, it may just be getting your name known or capturing a large number of business cards. For Zuo Modern, they want attendees to get interested in specific pieces of furniture or lighting that they sell, and hopefully have them purchase post-show.
That’s why it was smart of them to add custom designed “price tag” icons in their VR that open to the product pages. That way the user on the tablet could immediately get more information on the item. There’s no reason to confine them to VR if your goal is to get them excited in VR to purchase a specific product.
In this case, the addition of Calls-To-Action (opening web pages) fit in well with what the entire point of the VR experience is. Plus, the sales representatives could easily switch between VR & product pages while talking with attendees.
Always start with the goal of your VR experience first, and work your way backwards while authoring.
3. Zimmer Biomet Dental: Choose the Right VR Headset for the Venue + Do a Comparative or Before/After App
Zimmer Biomet Dental specializes in using cutting edge technology that positively impacts the dental industry. So it’s not surprising they’d use Virtual Reality to improve their marketing presence at their industry’s most important conference. Tim Doherty, their Digital Manager, helped spearhead a VR experience that highlighted how their patented technology simplifies and shortens the time it takes to place crowns.
There are many takeaways from their conference success story, but the two biggest are:
Choosing the Right Headset for the Venue
For a lot of trade shows and conferences, marketers try to gear their booth towards accommodating a high volume of visitors. Zimmer Bioment Dental, instead, chose to utilize VR to showcase their business to the most relevant and likely of customers.
So for a VR headset, they chose to invest in the tethered and more expensive Oculus Rift, versus a larger number of inexpensive Cardboards or similar headsets. With each potential client representing a large amount of revenue, you want to give them the best VR experience possible. That meant filming with a high-resolution 360 camera (Vuze), and displaying it on the industry’s best headset for immersive media.
If you’re going for quality of experience over volume, invest in a better headset.
Doing a Comparative or Before/After App
Elsewhere, we’ve talked about how our client Premise LED built their VR app to showcase the before & after of doing a large scale light installation. Zimmer Biomet chose a similar route for this conference — their VR experience lets you choose between watching the older methodology of preparing a dental crown OR two videos showing the newer techniques made possible by Zimmer Biomet Dental.
There’s great benefits to showing comparative 360/VR experiences. It makes the experience memorable for the viewer and shows the actual ROI. Rather than just using VR for the “wow” factor, the company used is a practical way to educate the customer.
And for high impact potential sales engagements, it’s great to use VR to show your company is more tech forward than the competition.
4. US Navy (via Left of Creative): Let Users Choose the Experience + Use POV
Left of Creative agency was selected to exhibit at the largest maritime exposition in the United States, the Sea-Air-Space Expo. You unfortunately can’t fit a Naval vessel into the Gaylord Convention Center. But you can do the next best thing — immerse booth visitors in VR, so they feel like they’re aboard the USS Carl Vinson. The resulting “Disrupt the Future” VR experience was very well-received.
Here are two major takeaways from Left of Creative’s InstaVR-authored, Gear VR-exhibited VR experience:
Let Users Choose the Experience
Some clients choose to make one 360 video, and that’s it. Users put on a headset and the video starts.
Left of Creative wanted to let booth visitors decide which part of the USS Carl Vinson they experienced. So they used a single 360 image as a base menu, with Navigation Links off it to the Hangar Bay, the Commanding Officer’s view, and inside the cockpit of an F/A-18 Super Hornet.
This empowers users to decide where they’d like to be immersed. Some people, for instance, might get queasy being inside of a cockpit. With this “menu w/ options” approach, you give your users options.
One of the key goals of the Disrupt the Future app was to place users virtually aboard the USS Carl Vinson. Left of Creative did a great job of camera placement and editing to really transport app users. POV is very powerful in 360/VR media. Particularly when you’re at an event like a convention or exhibition, it’s great to be temporarily immersed in a new environment, with your POV being that of a person actually at that location.
4. Toyota High System: Put People in Front of the Camera + The Benefits of a VR Tour
Toyota High System recognized that standing out at college job fairs isn’t easy. So they decided to combine InstaVR’s authoring tool with HTC’s Vive headset to create a memorable virtual office tour. This was so successful, they now offer virtual reality app authoring to their own clients.
Here are two key takeaways from Toyota High System’s effective VR application aimed at college students:
Put People in Front of the Camera
We just wrote about how the US Navy / Left of Creative exhibition app successfully employed user POV. With Toyota, they took a different approach. They had an employee as a “guide” throughout the VR experience, narrating and introducing users to employee groups.
Why was this effective? Because the purpose of the app is not only to “feel” how great it is to work at Toyota, but also information on the different divisions. This information could be conveyed via voiceover .mp3. But having a virtual tour guide more approximates what it would be like if you actually visited their offices to interview.
The Benefits of VR Tours
A company like Toyota High System could showcase a lot of things at a college job fair. VR tours though are very valuable. They allow you to connect with the company and better understand it. Sure, it’s great to show off the products or solutions your company builds. But sometimes just a tour of offices, and meeting the employees, is beneficial in VR — be it for recruiting, sales, or just brand building.
Companies invest a lot of money in Brand Activations, Conferences, and Events. VR is a great technology for garnering more foot traffic, generating interest in companies, and subsequently driving sales.
There’s a lot to consider when authoring your app for these unique events: what to feature in your app, what length of VR experience, what headset to display it in, etc.
As you can see from our customers, no two tradeshow VR apps are the same. Always start with what your goal is at the event, and work your way backwards to answering these questions. And if you have any questions as you embark on your VR creation journey, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team!