This blog post is all about embracing the wonderful world of technology, so your exhibition stand is the very best it can be, your customers have an experience to remember and most importantly, you reap the rewards of the show.

Whether it’s to connect, tell a story, wow your visitors or collect data, the key is to look at what technological offerings are out there (FYI the options are mind-blowingly vast and super exciting) and work out what is the best product for your company, your brand and your customers. It has to be a good fit and there has to be a purpose for your chosen technology. Sure, virtual reality is making waves and it could really bring some buzz to your exhibition stand, but will your potential customers see the benefit? Will it add value? Or will it just be seen as an expensive gimmick? You need to ask yourself ‘will it enhance the visitor experience?’, ‘will it help to boost the brand’s image?’, ‘could it bolster sales?’. It’s easy to get carried away with new technologies – just make sure it complements the stand design and ties in with what you’re trying to achieve.

So, what are the options? We are extremely lucky to be living in an age where technology is advancing at such an exciting rate. But with so many options on the market, it can make navigating them rather daunting.

To make things simple, let’s firstly take a look at some of the most popular ways of incorporating tech into an exhibition stand.

 

Touchscreen Displays

This is a great way to get your customers and potential customers involved and interacting. Put the power in their hands and watch them take it all in. It’s simple and effective and a technology that most visitors will be able to use – even the technophobes among us.

You can choose from screens in all different shapes and sizes, from the obvious iPad (other tablets are available), ideal for quick handheld demos to huge, ‘look at me’ screens, perfect for important presentations where interactive visuals are a must.

For tablets, there’s lots of off-the-shelf holders – opt for floor mounted, wall mounted or floor standing, depending on the design of your exhibition stand. Just make sure they are easy to find, as to entice visitors to come and have a ‘play’. Because adults are just like big kids, if there’s a fun toy to play with on your stand, you can guarantee they’ll be queuing up.

If budgets are tight or if you’re only going to be using the touchscreen displays at one event, you could hire them. This can be a good, inexpensive way to show your customers that you’re moving with the times.

But how will you use these screens exactly? They’re perfect for letting visitors navigate your mobile friendly website or, how about having a tablet next to each one of the products on your stand and letting your visitors learn about them themselves? They could always double-up and play promotional videos throughout the show to get across key messages. Versatile in their very nature, once you have the screens, you can do with them whatever you choose (within reason of course) and you can switch applications almost instantly. From your recent launched website to the company’s new television advert at the switch of a button.

TV Walls

Go big or go home. Unlike a single screen hung on the wall, a TV wall spans a much larger space for maximum impact. You can opt for one gigantic screen or join a number of smaller screens together. Whatever you decide, make sure what you show on this wall grabs the attention of visitors to your stand and passers-by, be it with your funky new promotional vid or a show reel of your company’s products through the ages.

Something we’ve been experimenting with lately is leaving space between the screens and incorporating them into the backdrop graphics, so they become part of the artwork. This can look incredibly smart. You can play different videos on each of the screens as part of a visual show then bring it all together as each screen plays the same video for the finale. A well-orchestrated and choreographed display can make for a very dramatic effect.

Headphones

Sometimes, the ambient noise in an exhibition hall is enough to drive you crazy. Well luckily, the simple and inexpensive addition of some headphones can make the world of difference.

Use localised headphones for individual demos (also ideal if your stand is busy and you don’t have enough sales reps to go around). Your customers can plug-in and learn all about the products in their own time, giving them control and the freedom to interact as they wish.

Ever been to a silent disco? Well a silent conference works in much the same way. If your exhibition stand incorporates a seminar area for presentations, you could give your guests a set of headphones each. The presenter’s mic will connect wirelessly to each set of headphones, so they don’t have to battle with the sounds of the exhibition hall, whilst visitors to the stand who aren’t involved in the presentation, aren’t forced to listen. Everyone’s a winner.

Let’s move on to some newer (and dare I say more exciting?) technology.

Virtual Reality

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few years, you’ll have heard of virtual reality. Basically, it involves putting on a futuristic style headset which transports you to another world (well not literally but you get the picture.)

It’s a huge trend right now because you can use V.R for so many different things…not just gaming…and most importantly it’s FUN and it gets people talking.

How can this technology be used on an exhibition stand? Well the possibilities are endless. If you’re a pharmaceutical manufacturer for example, and you want to show potential customers how your life changing new drug is made, give them an Oculus Rift headset and let them walk around the lab, watching the drug in production before their very eyes. It’s far cheaper than organising individual factory tours.

Or, if you’re a travel company selling a new five-star resort in the Bahamas, why not whisk them off? Let them explore the suites and peruse the facilities and watch how their faces light up (then fall as they realise they’re actually at the NEC).

At MxL, we offer some clients a virtual walk-through of their stands, before it even enters the workshop. This gives them a feel for what it’s going to be like and allows them to make any changes to the design before the production stage.

Virtual reality offers all sorts of opportunities and the technology is getting better all the time. It can be an expensive option though, so make sure you’re putting it to good use. The cost isn’t in the headsets – they’re relatively inexpensive – it’s in creating the media that allows you to explore a new environment. And because of the nature of V.R, it’s usually a bespoke and therefore expensive application.

Social Media Integration

If you’re not on social media, there must be a damn good reason why because these days, it’s all about connecting with your customers via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Make this part of your exhibiting experience and you can reach not only those at the show, but those that weren’t able to make it. It’s an invaluable tool.

Live streaming is a popular way of generating a buzz and grabbing attention. With Instagram Live, you can stream presentations, demonstrations and tours of your stand. This means potential customers from across the globe can get a piece of the action, without actually being there. The hope is they’ll watch it, enjoy it, share it and your audience will multiply.

The key is to let people know you’re doing it and make sure they’re following you as not to miss out.

Live Twitter and Instagram walls are popular too. They’re visually impactful and you can use them as a marketing tool, to make everyone aware of all the wonderful things being said about your company. They also work well as back drops to presentations and allow the audience to engage in a live debate. Be sure to create a dedicated hashtag for the event and publicise it far and wide.

While this sort of thing is sure to create a buzz around the stand, ensure you have the man power to monitor the feeds. If something defamatory is posted, it needs to be removed pronto. Tread with confidence and caution.

Custom Apps And Gaming

If you want visitors to have a good time on your stand, added interactivity through games and apps could be a winner. Exhibition halls are big and sometimes the monotony of viewing another product on another exhibition stand becomes tiring. Make yours a different experience; one they’ll remember. Let them get lost in a game. But one that requires them to input their details and sign up to a monthly newsletter, so you can capture their oh-so-important details.

Another great way to use technology to your advantage is to capture leads, digitally through a custom smartphone app. Scan each visitor’s badge (with permission of course) with your phone and let the software do the hard work. You’d be surprised how many sales reps still use a pad and pen, taking up valuable networking time.

All of this technology is fantastic but it’s important that it doesn’t just work, it works for your business.

Things to remember:

• Integrate the tech so it’s part of the stand, not just an add-on

• Content is key – the tech should be relevant to your business

• Know your audience – are they ready for virtual reality gaming?

• Have your media files ready and make sure they have been tested by your exhibition contractor way in advance (we’d recommend at least a week) so there’s enough time to sort any glitches

• If you’ve got an iPad on the stand, USE IT or lose it.

• It can be costly, so make sure it’s worth it!

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