In the absence of industry shows and events, companies like cloud computing software brand Nutanix have turned to virtual environments to engage existing and prospective customers. For Nutanix, the impacts of COVID-19 created a “hole” in its fiscal calendar that needed to be filled as its industry shows and its own events were pushed out to later in the year. Enter: The Nutanix Xperience, a half-day experience the brand delivered to audiences across the globe.
“The biggest challenge is not being able to be one-on-one, so we needed a platform that was going to allow us to break through that barrier,” says Erin Alonso, senior director-event marketing at Nutanix. “We were looking for something different that wasn’t just a webinar—that was, instead, an immersive experience where people could feel they were still a part of something and be able to navigate it in that full 360-degree view as if they were live in person.”
As attendees entered the virtual environment, which was created in 3D Studio and exported to Pano 2VR to create 360-degree views, they were met by the registration desk where they could view a welcome video and a quick tutorial on how to navigate the space, as well as check out the agenda, event map and take a survey. Attendees could also learn about and register for another virtual event Nutanix was planning that would take place in a few months. From there, attendees could use a drop-down menu to navigate to the various zones within the virtual environment, or use navigational arrows to “walk” through it.
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Among zones: A general session theater for the keynote address; an Xpert Bar, where attendees could connect directly with Nutanix representatives privately to ask questions in real-time about products and solutions; a Test Drive activation, where attendees were offered live virtual instructor-led courses; and an Innovation Center for peer-to-peer networking on a terrace with meetings set up via questionnaires that linked attendees with similar interests. (As the event went on, more and more “matches” were made available for attendees to meet.) And in the BBQ Pit, attendees enjoyed a demonstration and downloadable recipe by celebrity pitmaster Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas.
Throughout the various zones, attendees could view sessions with peers and content on demand via embedded video players, download demos and collateral, as well as check out live social media feeds. The entire experience was gamified, too, so they could earn points for each stop or engagement and then redeem them for prizes.
Ultimately, exhibits have to work harder than the physical exhibit to attract and engage visitors and the Nutanix Xperience reached more than 3,000 attendees worldwide over the course of three regional events and reported a “low” drop-off rate. Looking down the calendar at the next six to eight months, Alonso says Nutanix is exploring hybrid options with digital as the anchor piece and the in-person experience manifesting itself in small viewing parties or pockets of regionalized smaller events. Agencies: Impact XM, Meeting Play.