Virtual events: how and why exhibit?

The recent health crisis has challenged many business models. Events is one of them. This year, VRDays has decided to adapt and take on a new shape, and offers exclusive and virtual contents, particularly to exhibit. A new format to discover from 4th to 6th November 2020.

Seven months after the virtual edition of Laval Virtual in the now-famous Laval Virtual World, virtual events are popular. Alex Howland, founder of VirBELA, a software that creates virtual worlds, is the first to acknowledge this: “We’ve seen significant growth in virtual events over the last few months in the wake of COVID-19, which has put a halt to in-person events around the world.” But are virtual events the same as their real version? How do you continue to do business and present your products?

As an exhibitor, it’s difficult to imagine a 100{fcf24642680cd7dfac5cb1eb711e33ee251953f48e2a0bf077d7a68aff3f6c80} virtual event. The codes are different from a real event, and so are the condition of exhibition. The emergence of virtual worlds is leading professionals to offer booths, in the same way as a physical event. The virtual format has a bright future ahead of it, and it has managed to convince many companies. At the Laval Virtual World, some were able to make meetings and product presentations. These companies testify to show their satisfaction of having participated in a virtual event, and their desire to do it again, why not at VRDays. As a partner, Laval Virtual brings its new expertise in virtual events for the next edition of VRDays from November 4th to 6th.

The challenge of finding contacts and meeting prospects in a new way

When a VR/AR supplier, a large company or a startup decide to take part in such an event like Laval Virtual exhibition, the objective is to be able to meet other professionals. Laval Virtual serves as a facilitator and a mediator. One of its missions is to bring together professionals from the immersive field all year long. The virtual edition of Laval Virtual World was no exception.

After the disappointment of the cancellation of the physical edition, many companies were excited to be part of a virtual event. Othman Chiheb, Product Marketing Lead at HoloLens Microsoft, confirms: “I didn’t hesitate more than 5 seconds to confirm our motivation to be part of this new adventure.” It was important for Microsoft to support this exclusive initiative, and also an opportunity to test the promise of virtual worlds.

Beyond the excitement of participating in an unprecedented virtual event, how do you approach preparation as a company? Virtual can be scary, because you don’t meet people in virtual as naturally as you do in real, for example by wandering through the aisles of a trade show. Franck Liguori, Sales Manager of eMotion Tech, French manufacturer of 3D printers, explains how he proceeded: “As far as preparation was concerned, it consisted in using the Swap Card calendar tool to book appointments with relevant contacts. I didn’t necessarily expect to have any to be honest and I was quite surprised to have some respondents.” During the event, Franck and his teams presented their latest 3D printer model, a virtual presentation that had its own effect on the visitors.

Enthusiasm was also present among Microsoft customers and partners: “Our partners really wanted to be part of this world premiere.” The virtual format didn’t stop Microsoft at all, which initiated a 3-day conference program, built in only 24 hours. 80 speakers were there, and the partners immediately invested the meeting rooms to present their products, as they would have done in real life.

For others, contact through virtual channels has been quite easy. Julien Masse, founder of Ino-VR, manufacturer and seller of high-end hardware solutions, explains the transition from a physical to a 100{fcf24642680cd7dfac5cb1eb711e33ee251953f48e2a0bf077d7a68aff3f6c80} virtual exhibition: “At Ino-VR we were able to meet virtually with prospects approached by email. This allowed us to consolidate the link and have a more natural exchange than by email or phone.” According to him, the virtual event “comes closer [to the physical event] than any other means of communication and is therefore a great step forward in virtual relationships“.

Do you believe in the future of virtual events?

The answer from virtual worlds users would be yes! If at the beginning some were doubtful about the effectiveness of a virtual event, others were convinced of such an initiative, all agreed after having participated. Othman Chiheb is pleased with the results following the implementation of the Microsoft Area in the Laval Virtual World: “This virtual event has reinforced our business relationship with our customers.” According to him, the visitors were very enthusiastic about living and sharing their virtual experience.

Othman Chiheb also recognizes the value of a virtual event for meetings: “It’s a real icebreaker!”. He continues: “We found some common things with physical events: private and business meetings areas.” No need to travel thousands of kilometers to meet prospects and develop your business. Virtual events are a new solution!

Travel is also one of the arguments used by Franck Liguori: “With a virtual exhibition, you win two days of travel. It’s less preparation and yet a great potential for encounters.” The benefits are considerable: lower costs in terms of travel, accommodation and food, but also less time spent on logistics. With a virtual booth, you can take the time to contact visitors in advance of the event and organize one-to-one meetings. It seems clear: “I think you can do business efficiently virtually.” This is an important point raised here by eMotion Tech’s Sales Manager, who relies on exhibitions such as Laval Virtual and VRDays to exhibit and showcase his products. “The experience has been positive for me in this sense where the objective of a trade show which is to make yourself known and meet potential prospects has been achieved,” he concludes.

Outreach is also an important point, which Julien Masse raises: “We were able to notice a greater number of foreigners during this 100{fcf24642680cd7dfac5cb1eb711e33ee251953f48e2a0bf077d7a68aff3f6c80} virtual version. This seems to us positive for the international influence of the exhibition and in this case the immersive tech made in France.” In 2020, the Laval Virtual World brought together 110 nationalities, compared to 50 for the physical show. Virtualization has made it accessible to the whole world, without the need to travel. “These virtual worlds are a reality today and will be even more so tomorrow,” he concluded.

Virtual worlds are inspiring, and the possibilities seem endless, as Alex Howland points out: “In recent months, our clients and partners have hosted a wide variety of events in VirBELA, from corporate shareholder meetings to music festivals with thousands of attendees from across the globe. We’re constantly impressed by the creativity and scale of events taking place in our virtual campuses.” Virtual worlds have a bright future, beyond the context in which they were born.

VRDays is going virtual

For its 6th edition, VRDays is going virtual in turn. On the agenda: virtual conferences with live streaming and high-profile speakers, a virtual reality version of Church of VR, an immersive funding market, and a fully virtual exhibition space. In 2020, VRDays is exploring “new horizons” and embracing virtual worlds as a way to connect people and professionals from all around the world.

In the same way as in the traditional real edition, the virtual 6th edition of VRDays will give you the opportunity to exhibit and present your products to +2,000 qualified XR professionals. Exhibit at VRDays will allow you to meet industry leaders and XR mature users, but also to know all the trends in the immersive tech sector. The feedbacks from the users of the Laval Virtual World have proven that virtual events have great potential for business development! Exhibit at VRDays is your chance to live a new experience and to reach your objectives.

More about exhibiting at VRDays 6th edition at the virtual tradeshow.