Missing trade shows and their leads? Read: 18 Ways to be productive when you can't exhibit

Trade show tech: My view of reality is cooler than yours

Share this:         

Posted by , 31st January 2017

Trade show tech includes digital stand walls, robots and AR

Technology dear reader is all around us, we can’t escape it and why would we want to?

We love our ever smarter phones, our ability to be connected to just about anyone in the world, our wearables and of course the Flaim Trainer. That is a Haptically-Enabled Hot Fire Training System.

Oh, the Flaim Trainer? That’s an example of wireless virtual reality software being used to simulate real fire conditions for firefighters to use in their training. More exciting for a wider audience is that the software used will also make gaming even more realistic and fun to play. Bazinga!

Many of the new products being launched and developed in the wider world have applications that can be used for trade shows. Consider the affinity between the retail and events sectors. Products are increasingly making their way from that arena into ours.

Trade show tech: the move from retail mall to trade show floor

Products like beacons. These are proximity marketing devices. Currently used in shopping malls, they send personalised messages and content to individual shoppers. This technology is now being pitched to show organisers as a tool to send exhibition visitors relevant information based on their location in a show.

And what about digital screens a staple product in malls and retail stores? Shopping mall owners use them for Wayfinding and advertising; retailers for in-store ordering and information delivery. Both applications are being used in venues and on exhibition stands now and investment will continue to grow as prices for high-resolution kit and software reduce in price.

Now for three items of event technology that you could be using in one or more of your stands this year.

Digital stands & digital shell scheme walling

This stand which was displayed by Silvair at Lux Live was not just a thing of beauty because of the striking, high-resolution images it displayed. It was also a highly effective attractor of visitors to the Silvair stand.

I asked Silvair’s Chief Marketing Officer Marek Wierzbicki for some details.

“We decided to have a multimedia corner stand to highlight the educational character of our activities and to emphasize the impact of Bluetooth Mesh Standard on smart lighting.

A modular screen build

Our booth was 18sqm in area and we used 2,5x5m2 of high-resolution video wall LED panels. The panels are modular so you can easily reconfigure and add more LED walling if required on another stand.

At the side wall, we had an 80-inch screen to present a heat map from one of our pilot installations in Melbourne, Australia. We also had one part of our stand show the potential of our technology (in terms of lighting control) as well as an interactive, touch table with our marketing materials.

We wanted to have really simple but elegant booth kept in black, white, gray and mint colours.

It was important for us to show real working products but also tell about the whole vision we have at Silvair. It was really well communicated and our team could easily move from one object to another.

The highlight was definitely the big screen. You could notice the dynamic content from a long distance – so it was catchy and attracted attendees. We received very positive feedback from show visitors and had great discussions with customers.”

I have personal experience of using stands like these and installed a 24sqm unit into ExCeL London last summer (as shown at the top of this page). It was very striking and generated a lot of interest.

The big advantages offered by digital stands vs. traditional ones is, that you can change your graphic images and message in an instant. You can also display moving images and the kit is modular in construction. This means it can be made to fit a variety of site sizes and layouts. Main disadvantage currently is cost, but prices are dropping. Expect to see more of these units in shows very soon.

Robots for greater visibility and attraction – by Delphine Gattaz, Evotion UK

When people roam the aisles of an exhibition, you don’t have long to catch their attention. A robot is a perfect tool to help you do just that.

Robots bring that all important element of surprise! This unsettling piece of technology will create the first contact between your brand and your public.

Did someone say dancing robots show”? All the heads will turn to your stand.”

In addition to being a great ice breaker, robots are also an original and engaging way to deliver information about your company, your latest innovation… With bespoke software, it is possible to personalise the behaviour of the robot. Try having a meet and greet robot on your event, give it a cheeky tone, make it funny: people pay attention. I guarantee you will not be disappointed with the results.

One of the trends we witness in events is the search for experiences. People are curious and look for new thrills. Therefore, robots, of all shapes and sizes, absolutely bring that fresh vibe. They will make your audience curious and they will want to interact with the robot.

They are, in my opinion, THE most efficient means to pull a crowd. Once a small group of people shows interest, you will benefit from the magnet effect, and very quickly have the most crowded stand in the area.

And once this first contact has been made by your robot, your stand team can easily jump in and continue the conversation.

Using this tactic, our clients have experienced a 20% jump in leads generated on shows, when the robots were present (compared to the previous edition of the show where they weren’t).

More tech and robots here 

Trade show tech includes the use of data to build a personalised experience

If like me, you are tired of the eternal business card bowl, and the draw where you might win an iPad, why not use a robot to gamify your lead generation? Make it fun for people to share their information with you (scan an NFC badge or a barcode, take a photo of their business card…). Reward them with a customized greeting for example, where the robot will call the person by his/her name etc.

By gamifying your relationship with the prospects, you will encourage them to give you their details more easily. Hence: you will get more leads!

All of these assets that the robots bring will lighten the mood. You provide a fun moment for everyone, your audience, but also your team! Imagine your stand, and people smiling everywhere you look, doesn’t that put you in the perfect position as a host? Not only will people be willing to talk to you, but they will also remember you.

Robots will allow you to engage your audience more easily and start a conversation, make a connection. Isn’t that the goal of marketing after all?

There will be more robots

As you may have grasped, robots are a pervasive technology. We are going to see them everywhere within a few years. Just like the automobile industry, the computer industry, or the internet, they are going to change the way we do many things. Societies are going to go through a mutation, recent advances in robotics and AI are revolutionizing business as well as our personal lives. Be ahead of the curve and make the most of this growth.

Having a robot on your stand will position your business in your target’s mind but it will also help your core objective and that is, meeting and talking to more of the companies that you would like to be doing business with beyond the show.

To sum up; Robots trigger in people a sense of deep curiosity. This puts them in the best position to hear what you have to say. It is what makes robots perfect on exhibition stands. They will help you do more business and you and your stand visitors will have fun in the process!

Virtual reality; where blinkered vision is no bad thing

Virtual reality (VR); we read about it constantly. It’s the computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment. It’s something that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way if you use specialised electronic equipment, like a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors.

You knew that already of course. You may even have tried on a headset yourself and experienced some VR already. So how can you apply this technology with a view to improving your results at trade shows?

What’s required

The two most popular platforms (hardware standards that determine what kind of software can run) for VR are Google’s Cardboard VR viewers and Samsung’s Gear VR headsets. Both use smartphones as the display engine but have lenses in the viewers that enlarge what you actually see.

                                Samsung Gear VR headsets in use at the Paris Motor Show 2016
                                Image by HUANG Zheng / Shutterstock, Inc.

The Samsung Gear headset works with later Samsung phones. Google’s Cardboard viewer works with most recent smartphones and the cardboard cases that surround the viewer can be branded. Used this way, they make a great giveaway or mailing item as visitors can use Google’s viewer with other apps. So from a trade show perspective, Cardboard offers a big plus for any exhibitor looking to promote their brand as well as offer an on-stand experience.

How do you put together something for visitors to see?

The easiest way is to ask a VR software developer or a production company to create something for you. What that will be will depend on your budget and what you want to achieve.

At the lower end of spending will be the creation of simple games that show visitors can play on your stand. The games can demonstrate or incorporate elements of your product into the game.

At the higher end of spending will be fully immersive experiences where your visitors can be placed in VR environments that stimulate, educate or excite (think wild roller coaster ride type VR). I like this short advertisement from Samsung which highlights this attribute.

Serious selling

The consumer side of VR, the games and fun rides etc. is where early attention on this technology focused but for business, VR will enhance many areas. Technical training, health and safety training (as highlighted with the Flaim Trainer), virtual tours of new building developments, tourist resorts, production lines, 360-degree visual tours of car interiors, aircraft, tanks….the potential applications are many.

As an exhibitor, you can now show stand visitors around the re-modelled convenience stores that your company designs. They can walk around the inside of an engine to see enhancements from one range to another. They can tour around your new hotel, new kitchens, meet your head chef, your head of design, visit your office and production facility….

If you are using VR in this way at a show your stand team can encourage visitors to virtually visit your plant or see your latest innovation etc. as part of their sales presentation. And, you can use graphics or digital screens to highlight this feature. You can also mention that visitors will be able to do this in any pre-show invitations that you send out.

If you are using VR to attract and stop people perhaps by encouraging them to play a game, use signage (digital or printed) to highlight clearly what your VR is all about.

Either way, you are using VR to attract more people to your stand so think about where things will be positioned (signage, kit, and people) to best effect.

VR offers the ability to make lead generation, learning and selling fun and interesting. It’s a natural for the trade show environment.

NB. My thanks to Delphine Gattaz, (pictured above) UK Country Manager of Evotion UK for her contribution and images to the section of this article on Robots.

Posted in Conference & Seminars  /  Design & Build  /  Trade show marketing  /  Trade show tech

Share this: