As borders start to reopen and restrictions are slowly lifted, we get closer to returning to a more regular way of life. In-person events are thus expected to make a spectacular reappearance. However, according to trends in the events industry, we also recognize that virtual and hybrid events remain the future.
Since the future of virtual and hybrid events depends on more than just live streaming events, keeping attendees engaged during every event will demand new techniques and features. As mentioned in one of our blogs, Networking is one of the best ways to keep the audiences engaged as it fosters interactions between attendees and creates value. Event organizers must use technology whilst ensuring meaningful connections can be created.
Event organizers must keep an eye on new technologies that are arising and the multiple forms in which they are used in combination such as the metaverse. What is metaverse? The metaverse is a virtual universe (Lanxon, 2021) that combines different parts of digital technologies such as video conferencing, virtual reality, networking, and live streaming. Although it is still unclear how these elements will come together, experts view this as the future of human communication and engagement.
With virtual and hybrid events becoming more common, the metaverse will become an attractive way to connect people from different parts of the world.
Think about it, most of us already do that - right now we can have multiple internet tabs open while chatting on WhatsApp, finishing a call with people in several different continents in Deal Room or Zoom as you sit in your home office.
So what does this mean for the events industry?
In virtual and hybrid events, audience engagement is carried out through activities like Q&A, polls, and quizzes, etc. In the future of metaverse, both attendees and speakers can be given tools that enhance their interaction such as virtual reality glasses. Presenters can then see the questions, videos, and images on their glasses and vice versa (Tupper, 2021).
Let's start by going over the ways in which engagement and interaction happens in the Events industry...
Networking is the act or process of communicating with people. Through networking, information can be shared and professional or social relationships can be created. Networking has been and continues to be one of the most difficult aspects of virtual and hybrid events. This is because physical participants interact and build relationships through breaks and breakout sessions. However, virtual participants do not have the opportunity to. Also once a hybrid event has ended, the connection between the two audiences is lost. Networking is an aspect that might experience the biggest transformations because of the metaverse. For instance, Through AR glasses provided (Hackl, 2021), in-person participants may be able to see holograms of virtual participants. While virtual participants would be able to watch in-person participants projected onto a virtual reality version of the exhibition. This development will transform networking for the events industry.
Virtual Conferences are events where participants meet online. Participants debate topics of mutual interest using a variety of communication tools. With metaverse, participants will be able to debate in 3D or holographic form. This offers a brand new experience of feeling connected whilst being separated by geographical boundaries.
There are many traditional ways for speakers to deliver information in an in-person event. Some include PowerPoint presentation slides, getting off the stage, walking up to audiences and gamification of content, etc. These methods work as the event is live. Attendees can interact and relate to the speaker, creating an unforgettable experience. Yet, when the events industry shifted to virtual and hybrid events, all these methods are not applicable anymore. With the introduction of the metaverse, 3D models can appear right in front of participants (Tupper, 2021). Speakers can “walk up” to every attendee wherever they may be. The development of metaverse could present an enhancement to presentations.
Sponsors and Exhibitors Booth
In B2B environments, sponsors and exhibitors booths are essential as our partners and ourselves can generate income. In virtual and hybrid events, GIFs, videos, banners, and catalogs, etc are used to obtain lead generation and interact with attendees. In the future, with the presence of metaverse, sponsors and exhibitors can interact with attendees through holograms. The former augments the opportunities for sponsors and exhibitors to expand their visibility and engagement opportunities to acquire lead generation.
Virtual Site Tours
In general, a virtual event that feels “real” will captivate attendees and improve their event experience. With the initiation of Metaverse, event organizers can view event venues through holograms or a projected virtual reality version. Since event organizers can visually inspect the place they will feel more confident when choosing the venue, whether the event is held virtual or in-person. They are also able to view the layouts of PowerPoint outlets, where the booths are and even the stage setup etc. This is an innovation that will bring event organizers more convenience.
In short, it is the goal of events to bring people together and create communities. We are, without a doubt, still in the early stages of adoption, change, and innovation. Although the development is still ongoing and uncertain, a new version of the internet is being worked on. It is predicted to have tremendous repercussions and transformations for the event industry. This new era of the metaverse will unleash astonishing creativity and offer new frontiers and perspectives.
Hackl, C. (2021, July 20). The future of live events begins in the metaverse. Forbes. Retrieved November 23, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/cathyhackl/2021/07/20/the-future-of-live-events-begins-in-the-metaverse/?sh=569a416e7ac9.
Hackl, C. (2021, September 17). The metaverse is coming and it's a very big deal. Forbes. Retrieved November 23, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/cathyhackl/2020/07/05/the-metaverse-is-coming--its-a-very-big-deal/?sh=298fac70440f.
Lanxon, N. (2021, September 29). What the Metaverse Is, Who’s in It and Why It Matters. Bloomberg.com. Retrieved November 23, 2021, from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-09-29/what-the-metaverse-is-who-s-in-it-and-why-it-matters-quicktake.
Marr, B. (2021, September 20). What is the metaverse? an easy explanation for anyone. Bernard Marr. Retrieved November 23, 2021, from https://bernardmarr.com/what-is-the-metaverse-an-easy-explanation-for-anyone/.
Tupper, A. (2021, November 22). What the metaverse will mean for the event industry. EventMB. Retrieved November 23, 2021, from https://www.eventmanagerblog.com/metaverse-event-industry-interview.
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