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Immersive Experiences
ILLUSTRATION: MARK FISHER
Q.
We've decided to add an augmented-reality (AR) and/or virtual-reality (VR) activation to our exhibit. How do I leverage its effectiveness?

A.
Show halls are increasingly peppered with immersive experiences, as AR and VR activations are still fairly novel and the only barriers for attendees are usually badge scans and a few questions. As an exhibitor, though, these entertaining elements must generate more than "Wow, that was awesome" accolades. So here are some ways to make sure your AR/VR experience provides more than mere fun and games.

➤ Ensure the technology is a tool, not just a gimmick. Granted, you want your activation to entertain guests, but to make this sizeable investment worthwhile, the experience should also serve another purpose, which could be anything from demoing your products to gathering data. If the technology's only purpose is to drive traffic, consider whether a low-tech, less-expensive alternative could do the same thing. If, however, it can not only drive traffic but also offer a unique look at a large or complex product, place the attendee inside the product or an unusual environment, gather attendee information, differentiate your production facility, and more, then an AR/VR experience is likely a wise investment.

➤ Gather data. Every action within your digital environment can be reported on, either through the technology itself or an observant staffer. For example, while attendees are immersed inside their headsets, staff can watch the experience on a tablet or laptop and record data about areas of interest, time spent on various elements, etc. This information can then be passed on via lead-collection systems, allowing staffers to tailor their messages during and after the show. In effect, AR and VR can both gather data and foster lead follow-up.

➤ Leverage the technology off the trade show floor. Many exhibitors perceive AR/VR as a booth enhancement that is merely packed up after the show and put away until the next event. But to better utilize your investment, look for ways to employ this tool outside of the booth as well. For example, can you craft a mobile version of your booth encounter that your salespeople can take on sales calls? Or, might you use the hardware and software to craft a new experience? If your production facility is state of the art, for instance, then bring your clients and prospects inside your operation via an AR/VR tour. And of course, remember that you can extend the technology to other marketing events. AR/VR is a great tool anywhere you have a story to tell and a willing audience ready to experience your content.

— Lisa Maniaci, senior account executive, Skyline Exhibits, East Brunswick, NJ
Help Wanted
Send your tough questions about exhibiting to Linda Armstrong, larmstrong@exhibitormagazine.com.

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