It didn’t take long for people to realize that video streams aren’t a replacement for in-person events. For starters, the vibe is just off, but when you take a look at your revenue—it can be easy to see the difference.
At the recent eXp Shareholder Summit, Virbela Director of Events Patrick Perry spoke with event magnate Ryan Costello, co-founder of Event Farm, about what’s next for online events.
Check out what they had to say about the real heart of any event and how new technology supports the love of a good gathering.
Bringing Movement Back
Costello is the first to admit the industry is still figuring out how to transition audiences online in an engaging way.
Virtual worlds offer expansive environments that let people mingle like they would in real life. This is a crucial component for a great event. Movement is core to any good party, conference, or trade show.
Even the most basic of in-person socializing has a component of movement to it. You pick a place to meet and you interact with the environment once you get there.
The autonomy of movement in a virtual world is what hooks gamers, too. When you think of gaming platforms as their own immersive worlds, you can see how the concept translates for events.
It’s also a far superior experience to just sitting in a grid with other people or vegging on the couch while a live stream plays at you. Moving around a shared space is, in a very fundamental way, exactly what an event is. Give people that experience and they feel like they really went somewhere.
Designing Event Spaces
How you create these virtual environments is up for grabs. With immersive virtual worlds like Virbela or more lightweight spaces like FRAME, you have a lot of room to decorate like you would for any event. This flexibility is key for branding, but it also goes a long way towards setting the tone.
Costello lays claim to a pretty cool achievement. He hosted the first-ever virtual music festival, called The Echo SESH. The mood was just like any other festival—DJs and singer-songwriters performed on stages, while attendees danced, laughed, and got to know each other.
He did it partially just to do it. Seeing that change was coming to the event industry, he wanted to learn the framework of hosting a virtual event. For him, experience was the best teacher.
And with several successful virtual events under his belt, he has a new revenue stream to help expand his already noteworthy business.
Costello sees hybrid events as becoming part of his regular offerings. As people start to feel safer or more comfortable gathering in person, event planners are going to find they have fresh opportunities. The in-person events will come back, but the features of a virtual event will remain attractive.
Designing these hybrid events, where a virtual component makes in-person events even better, is going to be the future of event planning.
Costello is here for it and he’s bringing his guest lists with him.