Only video conferencing can allow the average person to exist in two places at once.
In front of a webcam at your office desk or your kitchen table, you can project yourself across the internet into any meeting, social get-together, or even doctor’s appointment that will answer your video call.
As any telecommuter will tell you, this digital duality means you can live and work in two very different places. If you’ve got multiple clients, work with teams across different offices, or need to reach people across state and national borders, you can lead a virtual life constantly on the road while your physical self never leaves home.
For trade show regulars, the employees that follow the caravan of industry sales events and launches around the country, such an existence would mean a whole new way of life. With video conferencing and some capable hands on the ground, it’s possible to travel the country in a virtual trade show booth and meet customers face-to-face without ever leaving home.
The Billion Dollar Trade Show Industry
Just about every industry in the country has its own trade show or series of trade shows. From the familiar auto, boat, and wedding shows to the weird and wonderful of the Las Vegas trade show scene–World of Concrete 2018 or the Waste Expo, anyone?–such events stand among the most effective content marketing tools available. The business-to-business trade show market is worth more than $14 billion annually, and it’s become commonplace for major tech companies to make the most of the sales method by holding their own individual multi-day events, such as Microsoft’s Ignite Conference.
It seems, though, that the digital age has done little to change the way these trade shows are staged. Even the high-tech E3 annual technology trade show is still made up of a maze of company booths competing for attention across a vast conference center floor.
Maybe it’s time for something a little different.
A Virtual Trade Show Booth
If companies are going to confine their trade show presentation to neat little booth-by-booth rows, there’s no reason for the average salesperson to attend. Well, there’s no reason for them to attend in person. Taking advantage of the dual existence that video conferencing affords them, any company can send out their team via the internet instead.
Internally, the important accessories are a webcam and a stable internet connection. Depending on the speeds at their disposal, the remote sales team could employ a 4K webcam to present the clearest picture possible to the trade show attendees. Something like Logitech’s new BRIO cam will give you access to features such as facial recognition and background replacement that add an extra dynamic to a video call.
On-site, you’ll still need someone to set up the booth and get all the trade show-side webcams and connections up and running. Given you’d have to do this with or without an on-site sales team, there’s no real added cost, and cutting costs is one of the chief reasons to go virtual. With the sales team working from afar, your company will save money on flights, accommodation, rental cars, and meal allowances.
Going virtual doesn’t have to mean turning your booth into a video call center, either. There’s more than one way to video conference.
Trade Show Robots and Holograms
Using video conferencing to recreate the intimacy of a face-to-face conversation is one thing, but using its digital potential to actually improve that conversation is quite another. Here are a few bits of tech that could grab the attention of trade show regulars:
Telepresence robots: Already in use in schools and hospitals, these remote-controlled video conferencing robots are more like iPads on wheels than C3PO, but their mobility gives virtual staff a physical presence. They can be used to perform product demonstrations or meet and greet clients, and they add a bit of sci-fi spark to a presentation.
3D holograms: A top-of-the-line, full-scale hologram projection, like the famous Coachella Tupac impersonator, might be too much of a budget buster for the expense-conscious presenter–although it would certainly be attention-grabbing. Instead, a smaller device like the Stereoscope Dreamoc HD3 comes in at around $2,000 and can project floating HD images of products. Paired with a virtual salesperson, it’s a cutting-edge look for any booth.
Virtual and augmented reality: As virtual reality tech increases in popularity and sophistication, it’s becoming more and more feasible to create and interact within a virtual or augmented world, which would open up almost unlimited opportunities for potential customers to explore a product’s use cases or internal workings. At the most basic level, it’s a fun and very memorable way to introduce people to your product or services.
As you can see, even if you’re not chasing the cost savings and flexibility of a virtual trade show booth, the wow factor alone for some of these presentation methods can make a virtual booth worthwhile.
The real advantage, however, lies in getting your sales reps off the road. Your team can attend multiple events a month, week, or even per day just by slipping between remote setups. That means greater efficiency, more exposure, and, most importantly, more customers.