Creating an Engaging Virtual Exhibit Hall
We’ve all been there, walking down the parade route of an expansive exhibit hall, our senses flooded with the sights and sounds of booths stretching as far as the eye can see. We have our guide of the ones we plan to go to, stopping along the way when a cool takeaway or food item catches our attention.
How Does a Virtual Exhibit Hall Work?
A virtual exhibit hall is just what it sounds like - an exhibit hall where you can show off your products and booths in a virtual setting. Just because an event is taking place virtually (either partially or fully), doesn't mean that the exhibit hall experience should be taken away. A virtual exhibit hall can be in the form of a waiting room or the first screen that attendees see when they log into a virtual meeting where they can interact with exhibitors.
How to Create a Captivating Virtual Exhibit Hall Experience
If you’re exploring how to engage exhibitors for your partially or fully virtual event, there are a few areas to consider to help translate in-person booths for the new and exciting world of virtual exhibit halls. The good news is, engaging customers in the digital exhibit space allows businesses to reach more attendees than in the past, and attendees are able to cover more ground than ever before. Your feet are already thanking you!
Keep scrolling for some of our insights on creating a high-quality virtual exhibit hall experience.
1. Engaging Global Audiences
The need to communicate has remained vital and fortunately in the age of technology and innovation, there are many alternative ways to build relationships and deliver your message to customers. LAI Live is helping clients think beyond the floor and reimagine how to create exciting digital booths and interactive markets for you and your exhibitors.
The first thing to consider is securing a platform that enables an exhibit hall functionality. The levels of functionality may vary depending on the platform – whether booths can be customized, conversations can be had, and more – so you’ll need to consider the experience you’d like to deliver to your exhibitors. Below are common elements to explore for your virtual experience:
- Exhibit Booth Design: Many platforms allow for the capability to design virtual booths with exhibitor branding. Some may be more standard, while others are more customizable. When exhibitors utilize a build-your-own booth feature, they can often upload videos, pdfs, hyperlinks, logos, etc., to enhance the look and feel. Think about how your exhibitor prefer to present their brand, and the customization required.
- Real-Time Conversations: When organizing virtual exhibit halls, it’s important to keep attendees engaged and facilitate conversations with people passing through via chat boxes, polls, and more. Some platforms also allow for video chats – offering that true face-to-face connection provided at an in-person appointment.
- Appointments: Pre-scheduling appointments is often a tool utilized to help exhibitors plan their schedules ahead of time and ensure they get the most out of their investment. If this is something that’s important to your exhibitors, seek out a platform that allows or integrates with a pre-scheduling appointment tool.
- Capacity: How many exhibitors are you planning on having? Keep this information in mind as you seek out the right virtual platform, as some may have restrictions on the number of virtual booths they can accommodate.
- Sponsorship Opportunities: Even in an exhibit hall, visibility is key. You still need ways to thank and highlight sponsors and exhibitors. Consider utilizing a product theater feature in your hall – where they can reserve timeslots to feature their specific messaging. You can also create a sponsored virtual networking lounge – where attendees can relax and have more casual conversations within the hall. Learn more about ways to highlight sponsors at a virtual event here.
At LAI Live, we will work alongside your team with whatever platform you choose (we are platform agnostic!) to enhance your company messaging, get the most out of your investment, and help showcase your exhibitors in a way that lasts far beyond the event.
2. Create Eye-Catching Exhibit Halls
For years we’ve helped clients create exciting stages, developing programs, and designing content. As virtual events have become commonplace, we've applied our knowledge base to the virtual environment to help our clients succeed in the digital space and create a decisive competitive advantage for their businesses.
When organizing a virtual exhibit hall, it’s important to have booths that stand out and grab the attention of remote attendees. And as we mentioned above, there are many features virtual exhibitors can utilize to create eye-catching content. Consider advising your exhibitors to incorporate visually stimulating assets to draw in attendees, including:
- Custom-Designed Graphics/Supporting Materials: Make sure your exhibitors take advantage of the resources your virtual exhibit hall has to offer. Whether it’s providing their brand logo, or custom designing their own virtual space, pushing the boundaries of your platform will keep your exhibitors and attendees engaged. Most halls also allow for exhibitors to provide supporting materials like branded PDFs and hyperlinks that attendees can interact with and learn more about an exhibitor’s offerings.
- Engaging Videos: We all know video is one of the most captivating, concise forms of content delivery. Exhibitors can incorporate engaging video assets to tell attendees more about their brand, their services, and how they can help. For instance, a professionally produced explainer video is a great way to share what an exhibitor’s company is all about.
- Marketing Assets: Pre-event, preparing designed marketing assets for your exhibitors can help you drive registrations and attendance, as they can be used by exhibitors to promote their booth presence. During the event, you can use incorporate graphic assets in the sessions to encourage visits to the exhibit hall, and your exhibitors can also utilize them to create real-time buzz for the experience on social.
On the event level, our designers at LAI can also help you design your event theme and session graphics, and elevate the look of your virtual platform with a customized look and feel to fit your unique needs. We can also handle asset management and project timelines to ensure deadlines are met and deliverables look great!
3. Drive Traffic, Foster Interaction
You’ve picked a platform that supports a virtual exhibit hall, your exhibitors are putting their best virtual foot forward with their eye-catching booths. But how do you ensure that attendees show up and actually interact with the exhibitors?
An exhibit hall is all about the conversations, connections, and networking, so incorporating some interactive elements can help to break the virtual ice and get attendees talking with exhibitors like never before!
Traffic Drivers. To help drive traffic, first make sure the exhibit hall is highly visible on your event platform and is easy-to-navigate for attendees. Next, it’s important to allow attendees the time to attend! Carve out exhibit hall-specific time slots in your agenda, and make sure to promote these time slots throughout the event, including mentioning them at the end of sessions, in event announcements, etc.
Targeted Algorithm Matching. Another benefit of a virtual event is the access to data. You can utilize the attendee demographic information they provide in registration – like job title, industry, geographic location, and more – to match up exhibitors with their preferred audience. This allows for much more targeted interaction and benefits the exhibitor by setting them up with their ideal potential customers.
- Learn more ways to use algorithm matching and other networking tools throughout your virtual event here.
Interactive Receptions. You can also offer your exhibitors the opportunity to host the ever-popular happy hour, typically held on the exhibit floor. But because people aren’t as willing to log on when it’s BYOB, consider setting up some interactive activities where the virtual attendees can still win prizes, whether physical or virtual.
Innovative Gatherings. Set up a time that allows a limited amount of virtual attendees to join a group and discuss their innovative ideas. The exhibitor could determine the topics then serve as a moderator. Each person gets 5 minutes to pitch their idea or product then at the end, everyone can discuss what they’ve seen and trade information, in the same style you’d see at a physical booth.
Gamification. This involves creating game-like systems to support your event's content and boost participation in the virtual festivities. You can implement a weighted points system to reward attendees who complete specific actions, such as interacting with a sponsor or submitting a form. Ideas for gamifying your event include:
- A Talent Show. One of the interesting things that has come out of social distancing is the new talents people have developed. Well, now they can be shown off to fellow industry professionals for a chance to win! With people trying to find new ways to connect in order to change up the daily routine of being home full time, you’ll find people are more likely to engage in something different and new.
- Pictionary. For anyone familiar with Zoom, you’ve probably learned there is a digital white board that allows participants to view your notes. And by notes, we mean clever drawings. Create a meeting time for attendees to log on and host a game of Pictionary using this feature. To keep the game moving, you can utilize randomized Pictionary word generators, which can be found online.
- Trivia. Have your remote attendees break out into small teams to test their knowledge on every topic imaginable in a friendly round of virtual trivia. Several platforms, including Zoom, have the option to create sub-rooms where the teams can discuss their answers and then reconvene with the larger group a the end of the round to see who has the most correct answers.
4. Dedicated Client Support
As communities around the world discuss how groups are planning to return to the office and tackle health, safety, and operational challenges, successful events are still critical across industries.
Our dedicated team will be there throughout the entire process, from exhibitor invitations to drilled down statistics on attendee clicks, to help create business leads and opportunities for your virtual exhibitors.
We’re here to help you take on the virtual world and create a successful, polished, and memorable experience for your team, exhibitors, sponsors, and attendees.
Virtual Exhibit Hall Ideas
Having trouble picturing how a virtual exhibit hall can play out? Take a look at the ideas below on how to create a successful virtual exhibit hall:
- Allow exhibitors to set up their own booths. This gives exhibitors the creativity to design their booths in a way that best represents their organization and gives them the ability to interact with attendees how they best deem fit. Additionally, exhibitors can add custom videos or imagery to their booth to enhance the visitor experience.
- Use rewards to encourage attendees to visit the exhibit hall. Consider presenting a prize to the person who visited the most booths or participated the most during breakout sessions to increase engagement.
- Allow exhibitor pages to remain active after the event. Allowing meeting attendees to visit exhibitors and their booths post-event gives visitors the chance to take a closer look at individual booths without being in a time squeeze between events.
Ready for the power of virtual exhibit halls?
We're ready to work with your team to create a virtual exhibit hall that is unique, engaging, and complements the other elements of your event programming. Take the first step and call or chat with us to discuss the best steps for creating a best-in-class virtual exhibit hall with lasting returns.