Before 2020, virtual trade shows and conferences weren’t really a thing. Conferences were typically held in person or not at all. Trade show booth designs were physical, with all of the limitations of an in-person conference.
The year when the world stopped taught us a lot about pushing boundaries and embracing the benefits of the digital age that we live in. Just because we were confined to our homes didn’t mean that we couldn’t work or attend conferences.
The most interesting thing is that these innovations didn’t just stop once the masks came off and people got vaccinated.
Now, more and more clients are approaching us with projects to design trade show booths for virtual events.
Honestly, who better to take on these projects than a design service that specializes in the innovative and new?
In this blog, we’re going to dive into the ins and outs of designing a virtual trade show booth for an online environment.
What is a virtual trade show?
A virtual trade show is an event that gives both exhibitors and attendees the benefits of an in-person conference, online. They can watch speakers, hang out and network in a virtual lobby, and visit booths in the exhibition hall all from the comfort of their homes.
While some of these events are held in VR, a ton of them are held online, in real time. The cool thing about virtual events is that attendees can pick and choose who they want to speak with, and exhibitors can take creative liberties with their booths, like gamification for example.
Virtual trade show platform limitations.
There are a lot (a whole lot) of virtual event platforms to choose from, but these seem to be the most popular ones.
Before getting into the fun stuff (design), it’s important to understand the limitations of virtual trade show booths and some challenges that you’re likely to encounter.
Most virtual trade show booths are cookie cutter versions of each other in terms of shape and size, so unlike physical trade shows where you can embrace fun architectural elements, you’re going to have to rely heavily on graphic design principles, some web design, and punchy copywriting.
Let your clients know that gamification elements are important here. Depending on the virtual platform, you can integrate cool features like scavenger hunts and trivia to keep attendees engaged.
Just make sure that the booth effectively markets your client’s product or service at first glance.
Virtual booths vs. traditional booths
Perhaps one of the coolest things about virtual trade shows (aside from attending from your couch) is that there are so many possibilities for what people can do with their virtual exhibits. Physical trade shows limit booths to only what is possible in the physical world.
As a virtual exhibitor, clients can gamify the event experience and offer cool games like trivia or booth scavenger hunts right from their booth.
Their shops are readily available with the click of a button and interactive elements are what make their booths memorable. Exhibitors and attendees are able to take advantage of what is possible in a digital world, which is just about anything.
When designing a virtual trade show booth, it’s important to remember that you are not limited by physical boundaries. The only limitation is the platform itself.
Here are some of the most common virtual trade show platforms:
Things to keep in mind.
Companies typically attend conferences because they are trying to meet with or attract a specific target audience or executive. Virtual events are no different. Instead of walking by booths, however, attendees can pick and choose the booths they want to visit with a click of their mouse.
Attendee engagement in this case looks very different to what we’re used to. Instead of casual conversation, virtual platforms use live chat. Instead of drawing people in with coffee or happy hour, exhibitors and visitors have to get a little creative, especially when it comes to their booth.
Standing out in a virtual space is about making the experience fun for visitors. When designing a booth, you can splash the logo around, but try to include video elements and images. You really need to familiarize yourself with the platform that the event is being held on so that you understand the booth limitations.
Copy is crucial.
No matter what type of event you are designing for, the words you use will always bear a lot of weight on the success of your booth design. This is especially true for virtual booths. For event platforms like vFAIRS, when a prospect clicks a booth, a landing page is generated.
There are several different tabs in this landing page like the company description, important videos, business collateral, and available jobs.
Much like landing page design, clients have about two seconds to engage their prospect long enough for a conversation. This is why it’s important to highlight the primary value proposition on the banners at the booth. This is the very first thing that attendees will see when they click on the booth, and you want them to say, “I need this.”
Just make sure that the verbiage is concise and is related to the audience that will be at the event.
Save the long winded descriptions for the description tab on the landing page.
Design doesn’t end at the booth.
In person events have the advantage of the booth being a great marketing tool on its own. At virtual events, the control of whether or not to visit a booth is put in the attendee’s hands. They won’t just stroll by and stop because your logo caught their eye in the exhibit hall.
When clients need a tradeshow booth, be sure to also offer business collateral design and marketing design services. Stress the importance of hooking attendees via a great marketing campaign on social media or an email marketing campaign before the event.
This will ensure that they will have plenty of leads to meet with when the time comes and gives them a higher chance of ROI.
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You are the creative compass.
There’s no denying that virtual events are here to stay. It’s our job to be the creative compass for clients who may not understand how to approach a virtual event. The strategy is different, but a lot can be accomplished with the right approach and the perfect designs.
What are your top tips for designing a virtual trade show booth?