Let’s Talk VR!

Virtually Reality (VR) is a trending topic with vast amounts of money being invested in companies that are looking to explore the next frontier of entertainment and experiential marketing. But it’s not just tech firms or gaming companies that can benefit from this technological revolution; organizations of all sizes, particularly those exhibiting at trade shows, can also embrace VR.

There’s a keyword in that opening paragraph that isn’t always associated with trade shows and that’s ‘entertainment’. Sure, there are trade shows that focus on the entertainment industry, but the vast majority of the 1.3 million business events held each year revolve around market segments that we wouldn’t necessarily class as ‘entertaining’. And yet, entertaining visitors at a trade show is one of the key differentiators that allows businesses to stand apart from their competition and leave a lasting impression in the attendee’s  mind.

VR as engagement tool

It used to be all about the goodie/swag bag, but now, thanks to VR, a unique experience is one of the main things that a visitor wants to take away from a trade show. Part of delivering a great experience has to lie with finding creative ways to engage visitors and present the products and services in an enriching way.

Let’s take, for example, the residential construction industry. Traditional exhibitors might have models, site plans, artistic impressions and samples of the materials used, but just think how much more entertaining the experience would be if a visitor could take a virtual tour around a development, walk into a new home or see the garden where the children would play.

Attendees at trade shows tend to turn up with a lot of buying power at their disposal and competition for their purse can be fierce, so from a commercial point of view, offering an entertaining experience to the buyer helps make a lasting impression.

Three ‘How’ VR questions

It’s become clear that VR offers the opportunity to enhance the relationship between the exhibitor and the buyer, but that doesn’t mean that VR should be used just for the sake of it. Like with any marketing T0118MBVRCOVER4_MBchannel, the right approach needs to be taken and that starts with the asking of three ‘How’ questions.

How does the VR I provide relate to my product/service? If you are a wholesaler of beds, for example, then a VR tennis game has no relevance to the product, so its use will be perceived as a gimmick and won’t enhance the buyer/seller relationship. What could be an option, in this instance, is a VR experience where the user tries out some of the tools and machinery that are used in the bed building process. Forming a connection between the VR experience and the product/service is key. Content has to be relevant to your specific audience otherwise it won’t create a lasting impression in the mind of the consumer.

How will I measure the success of VR and what are my objectives? More sales is the common answer, but should that be more sales from new buyers or bigger orders from existing customers? If the objective is to raise awareness of the product/service, then social media mentions or press articles could be the measurement used. Getting this right will help define the VR strategy and approach taken.

How will I provide the VR experience? From Google Cardboard to fully immersive experiences, there are many providers of VR solutions and the option an exhibitor goes for depends very much on the experience that they want to create and how much relevant expertise the business has internally. It is possible to outsource the VR experience to a specialist agency who will manage the whole process for the business and help them make the most of the experience on offer.

The VR options

Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear are two of the big players in the market, but there are other options out there that cover a range of uses and budgets.

If gaming is the experience on offer, then  Sony PlayStation VR could be an option. Although the maxresdefaultexperience will be limited to the games provided by Sony, it is quick to set up and fairly user intuitive.

Google’s Daydream View is their step up from Cardboard and offers a solution that requires the use of a smartphone so it’s not too dissimilar to the Samsung Gear. The advantage of using a solution powered by a smartphone is that if the buyer really enjoys it, then they can download it onto their own device and take it with them wherever they go.

If a fully immersive experience is what the exhibitor is looking for, then something like the HTC Vive could be considered. It’s these types of solution that can be used with moving walkways or chairs that move around to create a richer experience.

Tradeshow VR do’s and don’ts

Preparation is key in perfecting the VR experience, so let’s take a look at some VR do’s and don’ts.


  • Keep the experience between 2-3 minutes in length as this ensures a steady flow of users.
  • Have monitors showing what the user is seeing so other people can enjoy the experience too.
  • Have staff who know how to use the VR equipment properly.
  • Think about hygiene factors if the same device is being used for multiple users.
  • Be patient with users, as for some it will be their first VR experience and that can make them feel uncomfortable.


  • Forget about the audio. Sounds can help bring the experience to life.
  • Overdo the motion side of things which might make some feel nauseated
  • Wait for the next tranche of VR software to come out. Get out there and start doing it today.


VR provides a unique way for buyers to engage with a company’s product or service during a trade show, creating a more memorable encounter and thus, improving the client/buyer relationship. If you’re looking to create a lasting impression at your next trade show, think about how you can use VR to create a unique experience for your desired audience.

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