The Metaverse: Taking Events Out of This World
Exploring new realities for the future of events.
The verdict is still out as to when the metaverse will fully arrive, but it’s already starting to make an impact on events and conferences, and we’re excited about its potential.
The event industry has evolved at warp speed. Once few and far between, virtual events became the norm for hosting and attending events and conferences during the pandemic.
As we shift back to in-person events, we expect virtual components to remain part of the event experience. While virtual events provide convenience for attendees, it’s no secret the virtual experience has room for improvement.
Enter the metaverse.
This term is hot in the events industry and the news, with major brands like Meta and Microsoft staking claims. It’s a loaded word, sparks so many questions, and has the whole industry talking about it.
What is the metaverse?
The metaverse is an immersive online experience that makes attendees feel like they’re at the event instead of watching it from their computers. How? Attendees enter a 3D, 360-degree environment. They create an avatar (an online version of themselves) and interact with other attendees within the environment. It can include virtual reality and augmented reality components, with spaces, interactions, and experiences that embody the digital and physical world.
Video games such as Fortnite and Minecraft are good examples of how the metaverse is present in our lives today. They provide immersive environments where players select avatars, interact, build worlds, and fight the “bad guys” together. These games have created a community of people outside of the physical world, and they are prevalent worldwide.
Now, imagine taking components of Fortnite and Minecraft and applying them to your event strategy and design. It’s a whole new game.
What does it mean for events?
Though in its infancy stage, the metaverse is already beginning to make an impact on events and conferences. Opus Agency recently partnered with Microsoft to test out the capabilities of one of their newer acquisitions, AltspaceVR. Together we produced Microsoft’s internal Machine Learning, AI & Data Science Conference (MLADS) in a virtual environment and delivered content to their employees in an immersive and futuristic setting. It was powerful!
The metaverse has the potential to transform the industry in a big way – pushing immersive experiences to new depths to engage audiences. The benefits are numerous. Here are a few we’re most excited about:
For the Attendee
The metaverse opens events up to attendees worldwide, eliminating the hassle and expense of travel. Do you have attendees worried about Covid exposure? That is not a problem in the metaverse. Don’t have childcare? Also not a hurdle in the metaverse. Events in the metaverse can hold an unlimited number of attendees. While you may not interact with millions of people at one time, it will allow smaller attendee groups to gather virtually and be part of the event experience, consume content, and connect with others.
The metaverse makes attendees feel like they’re at the event, not just watching it. It provides an opportunity for virtual attendees to create avatars, walk around a 3D expo hall, sit in on a keynote, and network with other attendees. Attendees can walk, talk, explore, shake hands, comment, and engage throughout events in the metaverse.
Virtual events are gamified in the metaverse. Imagine giving attendees a list of tasks or challenges to complete when joining the event. These tasks could include networking, attending breakout sessions, and visiting trade show booths. The more tasks attendees complete, the more rewards they receive. Those rewards could be in the form of NFTs that are usable in the broader metaverse. Or maybe they’re in the form of virtual swag that attendees’ avatars can collect, wear, or display in other venues. Gamification makes virtual events fun and increases engagement dramatically.
For the Event Marketer
Within the metaverse, experiential designers can create a venue that’s out of this world, literally. Want to host a keynote on the moon? No problem. The metaverse can take attendees around the globe and the galaxy. There are no limited physical constraints, construction costs, or building codes to dodge – it’s all possible in the virtual realm. All it requires is creativity and vision.
Events in the metaverse will offer VIP experiences similar to events in the physical world. Attendees will upgrade their experience by getting front-row seats or access to exclusive sessions within the event.
Similar to virtual events, sponsors and exhibitors will participate in the metaverse. Banners, videos, and booths could be upgraded to fully decked out branded worlds. Product reveals will be 3D, allowing attendees to get hands-on and it’s possible unboxings could be part of the attendee experience in the metaverse. Imagine offering your sponsor a chance to interact with attendees through holograms! These types of interactions will expand attendee engagement and increase lead generation. Plus, sponsors who invest in metaverse events will be able to use that content long after the event on social media and their website.
Creating brand events that increase attendee engagement, interaction, and networking will catalyze community building for brands. Incorporating gaming elements in your event strategy is the most effective way to build brand community in the metaverse because gamers are tribe-like by nature.
Every interaction in the metaverse is measurable. From overall event attendance to the number of sessions attended per person to personal connections made, rewards won, and length of engagement per activity. Event professionals will be able to see patterns in attendee journeys and how and when relationships were formed in the metaverse. This data will be vital in enhancing future events and experiences in the metaverse.
Metaverse in the future?
The verdict is still out as to when the metaverse will fully arrive, but we’re excited about its potential. Another evolution in the event playbook is imminent, but that’s not to say it won’t come with its own set of challenges.
While events in the metaverse are accessible from the desktop computer now, they’re not fully immersive without expensive hardware, like VR glasses, AR headsets, and haptic gloves. However, we’re hoping that changes in the future.
Another challenge is the technology itself. Real-time VR streaming is still unreliable.
In addition, there is no standard for the metaverse, so interoperability between platforms is an issue. Different platforms may require additional hardware and software. While the technology has some maturing to do, the tools exist, and we’re confident it will be perfected in time.
While the metaverse continues to evolve, we’ll continue testing and exploring because it will play a role in the future of events—and we’re getting a small sense of how big that role can become.
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