If you're thinking about integrating virtual reality into your trade show exhibit, the time is right. Costs are coming down to the point that it's affordable, and, for most people, VR is still a new and exciting experience.

3D Exhibits just completed a VR experience for Hill's Pet Nutrition at the NorthAmerican Veterinary Conference that engaged several hundred attendees with an interactive look at Hill's new foods for pets with kidney issues. Duringthe six-minute experience, vets and vet techs learned the science behind how this innovative new pet food works.

How did it go? Via the exit survey responses attendees from millennials to boomers rated the experience as valuable or extremely valuable.

As you plan your trade show virtual reality engagement, here are a few best practices to ensure your attendees receive as positive of an experience asHill's customers did:


1.  Have a queue plan in place. VR typically attracts a crowd, so you need a plan in place to manage that crowd. Map out where visitors will stand and how will the line wrap if it starts to extend into the aisle BEFORE you get to show site (you can even integrate your plan into your floor plan). Also think through what other props will be useful. Will you need stanchions? Signage? Being ready ahead of time will streamline the experience for attendees.

In Hill's case, this planning included having two concurrent theaters running the experience on opposite sides of the booth, touch screen content available to engage visitors as they waited and illuminated pylons that read "Line forms here."



2.  Staff to avoid down time. If you are collecting information or scanning the badges of the people engaging in your experience, remember that this takes time. Keep the momentum going by having enough staff on hand to gather information or deliver instructions before each visitor's turn starts. In Hill's case, they utilized two of their staff in each VR theater supported by two hired brand ambassadors.

3.  Make it interactive. Watching VR is cool, but what attendees really liked about the Hill's experience was that it was interactive. Each participant received a small clicker that they used to select which animated character would accompany them through the experience and then to select the correct amino acids in an animated challenge.



4.  Position your experience where people can see something is happening—it makes a great booth attract. We've seen other VR experiences that were buried within the interiors of booths draw far fewer participants.

5.  Expect to trouble shoot. Some participants will have trouble with the equipment. Be ready with a process in place to troubleshoot for them.



6.  If only one person can participate in your VR experience at a time, have a large screen so bystanders can watch. We saw this approach employed at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in Orlando. If you go this route, you'll also need an extra staffer to interact with the observers you'll attract.

7.  Have a plan to rotate your hardware for recharging. It's a long day and few devices have enough power to last a full day on a single charge.