When people think Virtual Reality (VR), or Augmented Reality (AR) , the everyday consumer pictures people in big clunky helmets and thick, robot-like gloves playing video games, or being transported to faraway lands with the blink of an eye. However, it’s nearly impossible at first blush to think about how technology like this could impact real-life events, and the event planning industry as a whole. It has been years, since an emerging technology has had the capability to touch multiple aspects of our industry; shaping processes, changing interactions, dare we say, making our lives easier?!
To start understanding how VR and AR can be harnessed is to look at the role they can play in trade shows or large conferences. Whether it’s Comic-Con or a tradeshow based in your industry, one inevitable truth runs through it all. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people vying for your attention. They bribe you with candy and raffles to get you to stick around for a presentation that, quite honestly, wasn’t worth the mini-snickers you snagged, nor did it make a lasting impression.
In a world where time is our greatest asset, VR promises to change all that as it completely transforms these booth interactions, turning them into real experiences. Instead of solely being offered a lecture and a pamphlet, conference attendees can be given a customized and tailored experience, ultimately providing a more holistic set of insights that we have not yet seen in a large event setting. Experiences that could help you differentiate faster, decide quicker, and give you those memorable experiences we all crave--tailored to you. Not only can it transform the experience once someone is at the convention or trade show, but VR and AR can build the hype, material can easily be customized, allowing each attendee pre-arrival time to marinate on what they’ll see. This takes excitement and anticipation to a whole new level!
The new, widely accessible VR viewers have kicked off an extremely exciting time in event planning. The door is now open for brands to capitalize on this emerging technology to engage with a younger, more tech savvy crowd, and to showcase their product in the most tangible without overspending. For planners, we are now able to use this revolutionary technology to help clients save money while making a huge splash. For example, bringing in and demonstrating how to use large, difficult to maneuver equipment can be extremely expensive, and quite frankly, risky. What if something malfunctions or is broken in transit? Then the exorbitant amount of cash the enterprise spent on the event is wasted, not to mention all the space needed to load and store items, and even package handling fees. VR or AR is a great way to simplify logistics and create a seamless presentation that really targets the needs of the prospective buyer, exponentially increasing the chances of sales and partnerships. With the technology becoming even more affordable, the accessibility is nearly mind-blowing. We recently gave our first VIP swag bag with branded cardboard VR viewers, for under $15 each!
Another exciting aspect is that keynote speakers will become more accessible to brands, since speakers will no longer have to physically be at an event. This saves time spent on logistics, meets budget needs, and expands a brand’s reach to popular thought-leaders who have large platforms. This can ultimately propel the brand forward.
Similar to the removal of hurdles in getting speakers to attend events, VR promises to smooth challenges for busy event planners. DMC's will start to sell cities by VR experience, taking after Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority who recently announced a VR app that allows users to take part in “only-in-Vegas” experiences such as gondola rides at The Venetian and the SlotZilla Zip Line via 360-degree interactive videos. Destination VR is a game-changing advancement for event planners, like the team at OTR, who travel frequently to see out of town sites. Having a VR or AR site visit could provide all the information you need and eliminate any issues that could arise from not knowing a space inside and out.
At OTR, we are excited about this new wave of technology. For all of VR’s potential downfalls, the good outweighs the bad in our opinion. The event industry needed to be shaken up a bit. Brands who once had little chance of high-visibility because of logistical issues will now be given a chance not only to be seen, but to be remembered.We are excited for now only our clients, and partners, but ourselves, as planners, as we face this innovative time in the Industry.