‘Disruption’ has been such a buzzword over the past few years. We all know the disruptive greats in the products world, like Apple and DJI with their iPhones and drones - but what or who is going to truly disrupt one of the last physical presence industries: events?
At the AEO conference earlier this year, the theme of VR cropped up across panels and divided experts. Some felt this could be the one thing that truly disrupts our industry; others dismissed it with a headshake.
VR is certainly on our minds in everyday life from the dystopian world of Steven Spielberg-directed ‘Ready Player One’ (in which people escape their day-to-day existence through rigs to explore the VR world ‘OASIS’) to the cardboard goggles you slot your phone into that will be in many Christmas stockings this year.
So far, VR can be smart and interesting - but is certainly not replicating every day real-life experiences. Yet.
Understanding the power of face-to-face meetings is not new. In the 90s and 00s, business people would take the red-eye for a 2-hour meeting as they knew the importance of meeting in person to help establish a connection and a decision. Despite a few ‘virtual exhibitions’ taking place, nothing came close to a major disruption for the events industry.
Today the game is slightly different and whilst the appreciation for face-to-face is still there, tech innovations like instant messaging and virtual meeting technology seems to be the accepted norm.
Would it be so far-fetched to think that people - in the not-so-distant future - would be popping on headsets in their homes to live stream into a VR conference and network with peers in real time?
We can’t ignore the fact that technology is transforming our industry, even if we don’t yet know to what extent. At the very least, organisers should start to seriously explore how VR tech can help bring their existing events to life.
It’s also time to start thinking about enhancing the irreplaceable human elements of events. Enabling more emotional connections and bringing people together with the intention to create a change or shift in their industry is a powerful driver for attendees and changes an event from a ‘nice-to-attend’ to a ‘must-attend’ in people’s calendars.
The applications for VR are numerous in and outside of the events industry so tech giants are ploughing time and expertise into exploring everything it can do. It’s vital we don’t get left behind. No-one wants to be the next Woolworths or Toys R Us…
We’d love to hear your thoughts especially from companies who are in the VR space and doing great things in events! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.