Business leaders all agree: Virtual events are here to stay, and they will continue to grow in popularity over the next few years. As immersive technologies shape the future, what can companies do to attract the attention of their audiences and provide a better online experience?
On a recent panel, Virtual Events Are Here To Stay!, leading event and programming experts discussed the benefits of virtualizing experiences, knocking down barriers, and connecting groups from across the world in unique ways.
Event Expert Panelists:
- Laurent Chrétien - General Director, Laval Virtual
- Ryan Costello - Founder & CEO, Event Farm
- Damion Wright - Global D&I Programs Leader, Intuit
Here are a few takeaways from the discussion. You can watch the full video here, too.
Engagement Is Key
Each panelist endorsed the idea that, in order to replicate an in-person experience on a virtual platform, engagement should be the most important component.
Founder and CEO of Event Farm, Ryan Costello, summarized it best: cultivate an environment where curiosity can be explored. The purpose of attending an event is not to sit alone or, for virtual attendees, just watch a presentation screen.
It is safe to assume that physically preparing, traveling, and attending an event feels and looks very different from participating from a remote location.
However, the interactive nature of platforms such as Virbela, unlike most video conferencing solutions, encourages participants to explore and virtually run into other attendees. Virbela Chief Customer Officer, Craig Kaplan, encouraged attendees to stand, move around the auditorium, and engage with someone new before the panel discussion. Immersion and movement all contribute to the feeling of emulating a physical presence.
Planning to attend an event can be a production in itself — register for the event, book travel, choose lodging, calculate meals, travel to and from the event, and balance this all in the midst of a global pandemic. Each of these factors can create barriers to participation, thereby excluding individuals.
Damion Wright spoke about his own experience attending a virtual conference, Afrotech World in Virbela. The virtual world, he believes, has a different flavor from other platforms. Imagine walking around in an immersive environment as a virtual representation of yourself. There's no need to speed walk through a crowded area, and you're not limited to a simple chat feature. You are now able to effortlessly engage in multiple conversations, explore multiple locations, and still maintain that connectivity.
A perfect example would be General Director, Laurent Chrétien at Laval Virtual, who joined our discussion panel live from Paris, France. He explained that with technological advances in virtual reality, you can augment your events to reach a broader audience.
Companies are able to gain access to top talent around the world and vice versa, something they wouldn't have had otherwise. Accessibility is a game-changer, according to our industry leaders.
Virtual Space is a Venue
Designing an experience at a virtual event requires the same tools that convention centers and coliseums offer, minus the long lines and expensive food. Soundcheck, staging, lighting, seating, and presentation tools are all predefined components of virtual events.
The details that are necessary to curate a successful experience: seamless check-in, concierge to support your attendees, marketing and promotional materials, performers, speakers, technical support are instrumental in organizing your event.
As Costello says, you will need to conceptualize the metaverse as a venue and approach it logistically as you would in person. This means quality can't be compromised, even online.
Nowadays, individuals are constantly bombarded with invitations to online events, making it more vital than ever before to be noticed. Wright implores organizers to think critically. What is your value proposition? It is no longer just a question of what people will learn, but what will they experience?
Do not be afraid to stray from conventional formats, there is nothing wrong with pushing the creative envelope. As a result of the expanded capabilities, companies are seeing surprisingly higher attendance at virtual events versus in-person events.
Chrétien notes that companies are conscious of the benefits of hosting virtual events and are aware of the exponential growth they will see in the years to follow. Consumers are looking for an alternative that can accommodate their lifestyle as virtual reality continues to offer new opportunities.