In the “new normal” of the COVID-19 crisis, virtual booths have filled the gap left by the canceling of physical trade shows. Although trade shows and exhibitions were an essential marketing strategy for businesses, social distancing regulations currently forbid them and, even by the most optimistic estimates, we probably won’t be able to attend another one earlier than 2021. Like most sectors, the trade show industry had to adapt and reinvent itself in digital form, and so far, the results are very encouraging. With physical trade shows on hold, virtual booths are emerging as fantastic alternatives because they allow marketing continuity and increased visibility. But what exactly are they, and how can they help businesses?
What are virtual booths?
Virtual booths recreate the experience of visiting a trade show booth, but in a virtual environment. In simple terms, your audience can explore your products and services from the comfort of their homes without going to a brick and mortar exhibition center.
Most of the time, virtual booths are browser-based, and it’s up to the exhibitor if they’ll host them on their own website or on a third-party service, although the latter is preferable because it offers increased speed and security.
After they “enter” the booth, virtual guests can explore the space using their mouse and interact with your products and services. Because technology allows it, businesses can recreate the layout of their existing booth design in a virtual format, including stands and banners. But virtual booths can do so much more than that. There are no limitations, so, to boost engagement, you can add all sorts of creative elements, such as:
- Videos (product demos, explanatory videos, interviews, and so on)
- Live chat systems
- Social media buttons
If you’re familiar with the real-worth trade show experience, you may be wondering: how do you recreate that in a digital format? Will it be just as interactive? Won’t people get bored and just close the tab? Well, maintaining customer engagement is harder online than in physical trade shows but still, it can be done. Virtual booths are made with high-end 3D graphics, and they feature many interactive elements so that guests can engage with your brand. Of course, it will be up to you and the company that does the virtual booth to think of the best ways to capture the user’s attention, but then again, you have to do the same thing when planning for a physical trade show.
How can a virtual booth help you?
Virtual booths sure look great, but are they really a good investment for your business? Yes, they are, and here are six reasons why you might want to give them a try:
- Boost qualified leads and sales
Virtual booths can attract qualified leads, and later on, you can convert these leads into sales because attendees are trackable. From the virtual booth, you can redirect attendees to your website, where they can make purchases or, if they aren’t convinced yet, you can follow up via emails or targeted ads.
- Increase visibility
While the COVID-19 crisis has put many sectors out of businesses, it has also created an increased demand for others. Your clients still want to hear from you, and lying low until the pandemic is over is a bad idea. First, because it might take years until that happens, and second because your clients can switch to competitors who had better marketing while you were gone. Clients still want to see activity from you online and, with virtual booths, you can increase your visibility.
- Branding continuity
Trade shows are essential for brand consolidation. In their absence, virtual booths allow you to continue your branding strategy because you can integrate the same elements as in conventional booths: the same logo, colors, customer support, and interactive experience.
- Maintain customer engagement
Combined with social media marketing, virtual booths are key to maintaining customer engagement. Because you can easily incorporate chat systems into virtual booths, guests can interact with brand representatives, which leads to a smoother sales experience.
- Countless creative opportunities
No matter how you’d like to represent your brand online, virtual booths offer you full creative freedom. From immersive 3D tours to games, presentations, and webinars, you can include everything you have in mind. And, because you don’t have the limitations of the physical world, you can go ahead and bring to life your wildest ideas.
- Save money and resources
Taking part in a physical trade show is no affordable affair. Apart from renting booth space, you have to pay for promotional materials, but not mention the high travel and accommodation costs (if the trade show doesn’t take place in your city). With virtual trade shows, you don’t have to worry about these costs because you only pay for development costs. In the future, we might even see more businesses alternate between virtual and physical booths to save resources.