If you’ve ever attended a trade show, you’ll know the story. Find booth. Steal swag. Go home.

Actually, there’s a bit more to it than that. Trade shows and conferences are a great way of making new contacts and shaking hands with people who matter.

The reality, however, remains the same. Standing out in a sea of colourful booths and fancy offerings is a tough task in itself.

Here at Laduma we have a head start with CaVRn, our custom designed, 22ft dome that creates a unique ‘floor to ceiling’ immersive 360° experience without the need for headsets.

CaVRn has received rave reviews across the world and was recently enjoyed by HRH Prince William at the International Business Festival in Liverpool. High praise indeed.

But if you haven’t got something as spectacular – or eye-catching – as CaVRn, how can you use immersive technology to make yourself a star of the show on stand 14D?

Most exhibition booths are no bigger than a small living room, so how do you fit all that information into such a restrictive space? Augmented Reality is increasingly providing the answer.

Companies are now making use of floor stickers and sought-after swag as AR markers in spaces that aren’t always the biggest. And that’s something to think about. Truly interactive content that can be enjoyed by groups of people all at once. No more crowding around a TV screen in a cramped booth.

As in so many other industries, AR lets us take things a few steps further.

If you’re a high-end engine manufacturer for example, it isn’t practical to have a V8 power unit gurgling away throughout an exhibition. But what if you could show visitors your engine with a well-placed sprinkling of AR? Then allow them to take a tour of the internal workings? Or even see it in action on the race track?

And don’t just restrict that imagination to engine. How about holiday homes? Kitchens? Even greenhouses? The list is almost endless.

The fact that these AR experiences can be accessed by mobile phones means Attendee Engagement – that crucial measure of an event’s success – can be greatly improved. Both at the event itself and even when they take the AR-enabled swag home.

The widespread introduction of ARCore and ARKIt by Google and Apple means more companies than ever are dipping their toes in the use of AR at events.

But you have to do it well, of course.

Not wanting to blow our own trumpets, but our presence at HIMSS18 – the world’s largest medical and IT trade show – featured an AR helicopter, created by us, that allowed visitors to fly a rescue helicopter at the venue. Even better, the app – which was downloaded over 800 times – could be used away from the trade show. Beat that, shiny colour brochure.

Remember when I said AR takes things further?

Event planning can also benefit. We all know about IKEA’s fantastic AR app that can place furniture in homes, so why couldn’t the same theory be used for planning event spaces?

Not only for trade shows, but also weddings, ballrooms and even outdoor events. Show the client an existing view, then place the planned event in that space. Then let them explore, move pieces around and eventually map out a vision of what they want to see.

Wearables are key to the expansion of AR in numerous industries, but the fact it can be used via a mobile phone gives the technology a huge leg up – especially for event goers.

People will always be on the lookout for swag at exhibitions and conferences, but next time they might be downloading it instead of swiping handfuls from a bowl in a booth.