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How to beat
your trade fair competition

Stop wasting money on oversized trade fair booths and give your customers a better way to see your products by experiencing them in Virtual Reality (VR). It’ll not only save you millions, but help you grow leads faster.

3 key takeaways

Trade fairs are ripe for innovation

Trade fairs cost a fortune in a time when we're looking for ways to reduce costs and reduce our carbon footprint.

VR lets you do more with less

Virtual showrooms are an affordable and effective way to cut trade fair costs without sacrificing performance.

It's never been easier to start

Thanks to recent advancements in technology, you can now easily build and design your own virtual showroom.

It’s shocking, but trade fairs can eat up more than 30% of your overall marketing budget. As marketing and sales leaders try to get more from shrinking budgets, maybe it’s time to rethink the current trade fair model and introduce a smarter, more cost-effective way to connect with your valued customers.


Before you yell, “but what about all the cool merch and networking,” this doesn’t mean you have to give up in-person trade fairs completely. Not at all; these activities are still very much the lifeblood of B2B marketing and sales. B2B is P2P, right? The point is that while much of the world around us is undergoing a rapid digital transformation and mitigating travel in pursuit of a more sustainable way of working, the way we approach trade fairs (and trade shows, as they’re known outside Europe) might be a bit, well, outdated.

Trade fairs can eat up more than 30% of your overall marketing budget.

To drive this point home and to illuminate a brighter path forward, we want to walk you through the current challenges and shortcomings companies face today when it comes to trade fairs (and similar company events). As a realistic remedy, we’ll spotlight the benefits associated with adding a virtual showroom to your event strategy as well as serve you a healthy portion of helpful examples and real-world stories so you can quickly understand this new technology. Lastly, we’ll provide you with an actionable plan for getting started so you can swiftly put this newfound information to use. Let’s get started.

The current trade fair model is broken

There’s been little, if any, innovation in the trade fair industry over the last few decades. While we’ve all grown accustomed to jamming as many 10×10 stands into a confined and lifeless hall, and then acting like carnival barkers trying to lure people to our stand, the world around us has undergone a major digital transformation. When we put the current trade fair playbook  under the microscope, we find several overarching challenges:

Trade fairs are incredibly expensive

As mentioned above, companies spend on average 30% of their entire marketing budget on trade fairs and similar events*. According to mg magazine, these costs are often spread across the exhibition space, the stand, shipping expenses, travel, staffing, merchandise, etc.

In fact, the average floor fee cost of a standard exhibition space booth (10-foot x 10-foot) is a whopping $5,000. Add to that an average $15,000 to build a standard booth and you’re looking at $20,000 just for the minimum space and stand. But that’s not enough.If you tally all your expenses (see above), you’re looking at $75,000 for just a basic setup – and most companies want more than the bare minimum.

Adding up all expenses you’re looking at $75,000 for just a basic setup.


Trade fairs require a lot of planning

Planning for a trade fair often starts 12 months – if not more – before the actual event.  One of the reasons so much planning is required is because most stands demand extensive concept development (typically using external resources), several months to build, and time to implement.

Afterward, you then must train your staff and allow ample time to get everything to the actual event, which in many cases might be on the other side of the world. Finally, once the event is over , you have to plan for break-down, storage, follow-ups, etc. It’s safe to say there are many moving parts that have to come together for the event to be a success.

Planning for a trade fair often starts 12 months – if not more – before the actual event.


Trade fairs present a logistical puzzle

Given so many moving parts, savvy logistics management is a must – especially if you’re dealing with large products and exhibition spaces that must move from event to event. It can also be surprisingly expensive when you consider these costs. For example, things like fuel costs and waiting times for drivers can quickly add up when shipping your trade fair. It’s even more expensive when you have to transport your setup by air freight.

Once you add the advanced warehouse, material handling, set-up, storage and even insurance fees, you begin to grasp why the logistical side of your trade fair consumes anywhere between 10-30% of your overall trade fair budget, according to  expomarketing. Yikes!

The logistical side of your trade fair consumes anywhere between 10-30% of your overall trade fair budget.


Virtual showrooms let you do much more with less

What if you didn’t have to be limited to your 10×10 booth and could give your customers a better way to see your products by experiencing them in Virtual Reality? Sounds too good to be true, right? It’s not – and it’s just one  of the many benefits of adding a virtual showroom to your next trade fair. Here are a few more reasons to think about:

Get unlimited space

With virtual showrooms, you can do more with your exhibition area without having to buy more expensive floor space. That’s because there are no physical limitations in Virtual Reality. When delegates put on the VR headsets, they’re instantly transported to a fully immersive world that lets them see your products at scale and in the right context. Not only that, but they can interact with your products in ways that aren’t physically possible due to size and safety restraints.

Connect with experts from anywhere

And if that’s not enough, once inside the virtual showroom, they can meet with your product experts from anywhere in the world, saving you millions on travel while giving prospects an unforgettable experience. So, now your product expert in New York, for example, can simply put on their VR headset and attend your trade fair booth in Sydney.

Bring all your products

Instead of having to prioritize which products to bring to the show, virtual showrooms let you bring all of them. You can even create multiple virtual showrooms that are unique to each product and let users jump between the showrooms. This way, they can experience your entire product catalog in a seamless customer journey that physical trade fair booths simply can’t match.

Generate more leads

A virtual showroom makes you stand head and shoulders above your competitors – in part because you’ll be one of the first to use it this way. You’ll be the talk of the trade fair, and using the latest technology will rub off on your brand and strengthen your position as an innovator in the marketplace.

Similarly, the extra foot traffic will put your product in front of more prospective customers, helping you double your leads without having to double your exhibition space or staffing. And because you’ll be delivering more meaningful experiences that let your customers better understand your offerings by seeing them in the right context, you’ll see better conversions and ultimately a stronger ROI.

What is a virtual showroom?

Photo based

These types of virtual showrooms are built by using 360 photos taken from real-life, physical showrooms. They’re most often viewed through a web browser (like Google Earth), but in some instances can be viewed with a VR headset. While they let the user see a virtual copy of a real environment, they’re limited to the physical space only.

Virtual based

These types of virtual showrooms are based on 3D models that are not limited to existing physical spaces. They can be viewed through several devices, including a VR headset for a fully immersive experience. The major advantage of a virtual based showroom is that it isn’t limited by the real world. Whatever you can imagine, you can create.

Did you know that most companies are already using Augmented and Virtual Reality?

Even before the Covid pandemic, much of the business world was already using some form of Extended Reality (XR) technology. A recent survey in TechRepublic showed that 91% are either already using or considering using AR/VR technology. Where and how it’s being used varies, but 53% of companies are currently using it for virtual customer visits. This is why adding it to your trade fair and event program makes perfect sense.

91% are either already using or considering using AR/VR technology

Customer story: Grundfos goes big by going smaller

From 1,000 m2 to 700 m2 – the amount of floor space Grundfos saved by adding a Mixed and Virtual Reality experience to their exhibition space. “Adding a VR and MR experience to our tradeshows gives us a powerful way to show our products,” says Christian Carlsson, XR Lead at Grundfos.

4 things to
consider for
a fast and
efficient start

Getting started with your first virtual showroom is easier than you might think. Thanks to recent developments in both VR hardware and software, it’s now possible to build a virtual showroom as fast and easy as it is to build a website. If you’re serious about adding a virtual showroom to your event program, here are a few things you should think about:

1. You need a robust, unified platform to build it

You’ll need a solid technical foundation to both build and support your virtual showroom. Aim for one that includes a full XR suite, including Augmented, Virtual, and Mixed Reality. That way, you’ll be set up for long-term success as technology advances.

Also, make sure the platform offers secure, cloud-based storage so you don’t have to store your digital assets on hard drives or, even worse, USB drives (yes, they still exist).
It’s essential that the platform offers a multi-user capability or else it’ll be a pretty lonely experience. The platform also has to be easy to use and compatible with all modern devices. Also, don’t forget data security (it’s your IP, after all), control of user access, and privacy since you’ll be collecting lots of data during the events.

2. Most of the stuff you already have can be reused

Believe it or not, but most of the marketing and trade fair assets you already use can be repurposed for your virtual showroom since they’re already available in a digital format. This includes things like images, posters, roll-ups, videos, and even websites – all the tidbits you’ll need to design your showroom and make it pop. And since your products are likely already available as 3D models, adding them to the showroom is a snap! The cool thing about working in 3D is that you can scale them up and down to find the perfect size.

3. It requires a team effort to succeed

Putting together the right team is central to success. Start by finding an internal champion to lead the effort and then bringing in experts from across the events, sales, marketing and even IT support functions to make sure you have all the bases covered. The team will vary from company to company, but the main takeaway here is that success requires input from multiple perspectives. Remember, there is no “I” in team.

4. Activating your front-line team is essential

Once you’ve assembled the team, activate them by getting them involved in the planning and design process, which is where most companies should start. This is where you can conceptualize how the virtual showroom might look and what type of journey you want to create for the user. The more time you invest here, the easier it’ll be to construct your dream showroom, onboard your sales team and deliver that jaw-dropping experience that’ll make you the most popular stand at your next trade fair.

What type of hardware do you need to get started?

Most people are surprised to learn that hardly any technology is needed to add a virtual showroom to their trade fair experience. Most often, a few VR headsets and a large TV for showing the experience to others will suffice. Even better, VR headsets are easy to find, comfortable, and affordable. For example, the leading VR headset today costs only $399, weighs just over 500g (17.7 oz) and is completely wireless. Check out our essential hardware guide to learn more.

Discover the easiest way to build your own virtual showroom

Join the SynergyXR experts in this webinar and come behind the scenes of our industry-defining platform to see how you can use it to build your virtual showroom.