‘An immediate sense of co-presence: Firms turn to VR to emulate in-person connections at conferences & events’
Events are the unspoken life elixir of any brand, company, or organization. They help keep the financial incentives flowing in, spread the word about your brand/product/services, & get your organization on the front footing.
With 2020 however, as COVID-19 loomed large over the world, live, physical events could no longer be organized.
This theoretically brought the entire event industry to a standstill, with event managers & planners having to cancel most big-name events, seminars, & conferences.
This depression in the event industry didn’t last for long, however, as virtual events & virtual conferences gave the industry a new lease on life.
Pretty soon, event organizers began to organize hundreds of virtual events per day for all kinds of businesses; huge, medium, & small ones.
Virtual Events make hosting, planning, & organizing events easier, with virtual, on-screen substitutes for almost every physical event aspect.
They are also pretty versatile; everything from medical conferences to admission counseling, job fairs, & trade fairs, to AGMs & product launches; all could be done via virtual events.
Recently, some of the most successful & well-heard-of firms have turned to the Virtual as well in search of some personal, meaningful, in-person connections during their events.
Virtual Reality has long been a way for event organizers to rope in the power of suggestive, ‘pseudo-reality technological tools to give their attendees an all-encompassing event experience.
In this article, we examine the many benefits of VR that can come in handy when you’re trying to provide outstanding event experiences to your attendees.
How does VR help elevate the event experience for your attendees?
Put easily, VR helps attendees feel like they are a part of the event physically by adding certain elements of virtual in their real-time surroundings.
This lets them have a more evolved, holistic real-time experience at the events, even if they are only sitting behind a screen.
Examples of such ‘elevated’ virtual reality experiences include clicking a game stick push button to virtually ‘jump floors or levels of the virtual event venue, teleporting from one virtual event stage or room to another with just a click, & playing certain games or visiting certain digital ‘booths’ with VR elements during the event.
You also have the option to let your attendees actually move around & connect + network with all of the other attendees attending the event, unlike in a zoom or any other virtual meeting site.
You can design your events with the help of immersive technologies like VR, AR, & AI to give your attendees a wholesome, life-like event experience.
Let’s have a look at how an especially innovative events firm is taking its VR game to the next level in the event technology realm.
Mesmerise is a technology company, specializing in creating conferences in VR. The best thing about creating VR-powered experiences for attendees, is that you have their full attention, paraphrasing the words of Andrew Hawken, CEO of Mesmerize.
“It’s like physically going to an event, you dedicate time and go, as opposed to vaguely paying attention to a screen while doing your emails or shopping”, he says.
Mesmerise’s VR-powered ‘avatars’ can be seen at many virtual events & conferences that it partners up with.
The avatars are fun blends of cartoons & 3D holograms that make the attendees feel at ease during the event, & allow them to navigate the various aspects of the event with complete familiarity.
The intention here, is not to give the attendees an otherworldly experience, but to create a meaningful ‘co-presence’, so as to speak.
Co-presence refers to the phenomenon of various people being somewhere at once.
This is achieved quite easily & frankly, is one of the many major benefits of physical, live events.
But in virtual events, the sense of co-presence, & being present at a venue with hundreds of other people, is missing.
VR enabled event experiences like the ones Mesmerise curates for its clientele, are often the bridge between screens & connections in virtual events.
They truly offer what most event planners & organizers term as, co-presence of attendees.
From lasers that ‘snap on’ to armchairs so people could virtually turn towards each other in virtual conferences, to organizing VR powered games for clients like the one they did for Morningstar, they have been there, done it all when it comes to their VR event experiences.
“We noticed attendees were highly engaged and appreciated the added flexibility VR gave them when it came to choosing which talks and presentations to attend,” says Leslie Marshall, Morningstar’s head of experiential marketing.
Thanks to the concentrated efforts, Mesmerise is now also set to organize a 500-delegate Morningstar conference in VR later this year.
Mesmerise is also planning a VR conference for a global accountancy firm in September and CEO Hawken says the technology can be used for even more regular engagements, such as business meetings, board meetings, and one-on-one mettings.
Summarized, the success of VR in the event industry depends not on novelty, but on creating the best environments for conference delegates to absorb information and for business meetings to achieve desired outcomes.
VR Avatar data can quickly gauge the success of a presentation by identifying delegate emotions, from happiness to surprise, and measuring signals of affirmation and attentiveness made by VR audiences. “We are picking up nodding heads,” says Michael Fagan, Mesmerise chief data scientist.
VR is a booming technology in the event industry by all accounts, & its impact on virtual events simply can’t be denied or overlooked.
Where once attendees were feeling the dreaded ‘zoom fatigue’, VR has opened the floodgates to new kinds of entertainment & exciting opportunities for attendees during long haul virtual events or conferences.
If you start learning the implications & benefits of VR technology for your events, & begin to work on strategies to incorporate VR into your own virtual event plans, then chances are you could be just at par with Mesmerize too!
Pretty soon, you will be able to provide your event attendees with as real in-person experiences as possible with VR powered tools & features and will be able to bridge the gap between virtual events & the co-presence of live events.
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