Building a Virtual Exhibit for IMTS

Partnering with Okuma

Okuma, a global provider of CNC machine tools and CNC controls, has been exhibiting at the International Manufacturing Technology Show since the 1960s. Okuma has partnered with Condit’s Chicago office, formerly known as Exhibit Source, Inc., for over twenty years to create immersive branded environments that showcase their large machinery and impressive technology.

Navigating a New Show Format

IMTS, which was first held in 1927, has been a staple of the manufacturing and machine tool industries, particularly in the Western hemisphere. Held every other year, the physical event has not been disrupted since 1944, due to WWII. In 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT) made the decision to migrate the show to a virtual format.

Okuma begins preparation for the next IMTS show in September of the odd-numbered, “off” years. In September of 2019, the organization was in the midst of preparation for a conventional trade show. When coronavirus became a global issue in early 2020, doubts began to surface about the show taking place. Until a formal decision and statement were made by show organizers, Okuma continued to prepare for a physical event while simultaneously exploring the possibility of a virtual showroom.


The IMTS event transition included both a virtual show for IMTS week as well as a digital portal that would live beyond the show dates, IMTS Spark. In reviewing what was made available as an exhibitor and as a sponsor of the virtual program, it was apparent to the Okuma team that virtual exhibitors were going to be presented in a very templated way with little to no possibility for customization or differentiation from competitors.

Okuma expressed a need to Condit to be distinguished from others in the virtual space and to emulate, as much as possible, the experience that their booth visitors and attendees would have had if the physical show had taken place. While Condit began design and development, Okuma’s team had to determine what types of assets and digital content, such as demos and videos, were needed to ensure the needs of a virtual exhibit were met and would adequately represent what would have been the physical product at the in-person show.

Previous success metrics for Okuma were largely based on machines sold during IMTS week as well as physical attendance in the booth itself. In joint-strategy sessions with Condit, Okuma’s event objectives gradually morphed to virtual booth visits that did or could lead to conversations with distributors and sales team members. Okuma had to shift their mentality from selling machines on the trade show floor to creating opportunities for conversation, moving earlier in the customer journey.


With the official cancellation notice issued June 8th, IMTS Spark network launch scheduled for August 14th, and ITMS week on pace for mid-September, the timeline for this digital project was very tight. With regular communication and collaboration, Condit, whose core competency is trade show support and execution, was able to quickly pivot the business relationship with Okuma to explore and offer the possibility of a virtual exhibit.

Using existing renderings and models concepted for a physical manifestation of their trade show booth, Condit designers and developers created an expansive, interactive virtual exhibit, which included, among other features:

  • Machine demos
  • Machine specs
  • 3D views of machinery
  • Detailed service offerings
  • Technology overviews
  • Partner and distributor representations
  • Live chat
  • Contact forms
  • Videos
  • Podcasts

Okuma was able to reach viewers across the globe and gather more than 700 qualified leads from around the world in just the first week of the virtual experience’s launch.


Annette Carroll, Director of Marketing at Okuma, said, “Condit had the adaptability and the flexibility to transition their business on a dime and to immediately explore alternate ways of doing business. This afforded Okuma the ability to ‘meet the moment’ of sharing our products and services with the marketplace in new and different ways.”

As Okuma continues to gather metrics and performance data related to IMTS, the virtual environment is aptly functioning as an intricate self-service portal for their target audiences with traffic bolstered by continued marketing campaigns. Okuma has also harnessed a newly expanded library of digital assets that augments their existing selling process and selling tools. Carroll believes that the concept of a virtual showroom will soon become married to the company’s main domain, and these experiences will be embedded inside the main site to enrich customer experience going forward – extending the lifetime value of their virtual exhibit investment.

Building Your Virtual Event


We understand the challenges and the benefits that come with a show’s migration to a virtual format, and we’re ready to help your brand make the most of this new opportunity to connect with key clients and prospects. Plus, we’ll help you explore the value of a virtual exhibit as a standalone marketing asset before and after the show!
Learn more about our virtual exhibit services, and take a look at Annette Carroll’s “7 Key Considerations in Today’s Virtual Marketing Environment” on LinkedIn. You can also read our blog on the “Benefits of Virtual Booths”.
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