The Lookout #46: Virtual venues need to keep innovating!
“I’m at the bar,” he wrote.
“No, I’m at the bar.” I typed back furiously in Slack. I scanned the 3D avatars around me.
“I can’t see you anywhere!”
I was trying to meet one of my colleagues at a virtual event. We decided for our avatars to meet up at the bar space to explore the venue together.
But little did we know, my colleague and I were at identical “virtual” bars across the venue from one another– watching identical videos of a virtual barkeep pouring digital drinks that would never be imbibed.
How did we get here?
Inside the virtual venue, it wasn’t clear there was more than one “bar”. But the cavernous space held multiple, and they all looked exactly the same.
Watching a video loop of a bartender pouring imaginary drinks to an audience of avatars, you quickly realize the farcical nature of the situation. Is this where we are going with the future of events? Decidedly not, if we’re just replicating (and maybe magnifying) the challenges with offline events in those virtual venues.
I was reminded of the experience this week when reading this piece by Adam Jones for Exhibition News. In it, he argues how exhibitions must continue to innovate or face becoming obsolete.
It was true way before the pandemic. Looking at data from before the coronavirus crisis, in many cases, sponsor and exhibitor satisfaction with events could be much higher. In some instances, the data on satisfaction was dire.
The pandemic and the shift to digital in the interim has created a shake-up– but again and again, I see events continuing to replicate the inefficiencies that they had before. Both when returning to physical, and in their hybrid offerings. And this obviously extends to virtual venues.
In some events I’ve seen lately, it’s clear that the pandemic didn’t shake up the industry enough. When it comes to satisfaction surveys lately, It’s easy to blame “digital”. But in many cases– the challenges are even more systemic.
But in the interim, the market might be moving on. It’s up to organizers to push out of their comfort zones to truly innovate. I believe this industry can. But it’s up to organizers to really show it’s possible.
- UK’s events tech scaleup HeadBox closes £2M to accelerate global expansion [UK Tech] HeadBox, one of the UK’s fastest-growing events technology companies raises a new investment to support their global expansion. The company provides an AI-powered venue marketplace to choose from for live events and expects considerable growth as more and more live events return.
- Roblox unveils electronic music festival in the metaverse [VentureBeat] The metaverse is coming for the events industry, in full force. The entertainment industry tends to be a bit quicker to pick up trends than B2B events, so it’s always interesting to follow what’s happening there. They have big plans– to build the world’s largest dance music festival, Electric Daisy Carnival in the metaverse.
- Spotify is getting dedicated Concerts and Discover tabs, according to alleged online leak [MusicTech] It was a while ago that Spotify announced they’d be doing virtual concerts on their platform, but we haven’t heard much about it. A new leak suggests they’ll become a more integral part of the app, essentially bringing virtual music events to handsets everywhere.
The Events Industry:
- Global Recovery Insights 2021 report finds demand has returned to pre-pandemic levels for both exhibitors and visitors [Exhibition World] Stay tuned for the results of the latest report by Explori and UFI on tradeshow exhibitors and visitors. The preview indicates “no signs of a fundamental shift away from in-person trade shows. 72% of existing visitors say they plan to attend trade shows with the same or increased frequency in future”.
- Industry Applauds U.S. Border Opening Date for International Travelers [Trade Show News] The exhibition industry is ecstatic with a confirmation from the US that they’ll be opening their borders to European travelers come November. Borders have been shut since the beginning of the pandemic, putting many exhibitors and trade shows in disarray for international visitors.
How to do it:
- The Reverse Pivot: Insights on Pivoting From Virtual to In-person Events [Event Marketer] It seems somewhat incredible for event organizers when it comes to how comfortable many of us became when we had to pivot quickly to virtual during the pandemic. But now for many of us, how to snap back to physical? One of the suggestions here– that we’re also noticing with our clients — unfortunately, when it comes to physical events, you’ll need to readjust your budget. The tight budgets many became accustomed to with virtual events just won’t handle your large-scale physical event– if you want to provide the same experience for your attendees.
- 9 Practical Tips for Fighting “Zoom Fatigue” Straight From the Zoom Events Team [BizBash] For many of us continuing with online events– keeping your participants engaged remains a key priority. Here are some suggestions from Zoom (who recently launched their own online event platform) that will help keep your audience connected to your event. One tip I really like? Livestream sessions to the lobby. Make sure there is something live and happening on every page.
- The Elements Behind a Successful Nine-Day, Multi-Association Virtual Event [Associations Now] I really appreciate the case studies that Associations Now gives of many of their member’s events. This one welcomed over 6,200 attendees over nine days (something many organizers wouldn’t recommend), but they pulled it off with pizazz. Some of the keys to their success? The right platform– that ensured speakers and attendees were exactly where they needed to be when, and managing keynotes successfully across many time zones.
- Digitale Meetings: Tipps & Tricks für Kreation und Teambuilding [Event Partner] How some of Germany’s top Agencies and event companies are moving forward with hybrid working and maximizing their collaboration, creation and team building in a remote environment.
Don’t Miss it:
- Corona-Pandemie: die Psyche schützen [Event Partner] Event Partner revisits an important topic this week for event professionals– the mental health impact of the coronavirus. There’s been more than an economic impact on the industry. Here’s how to help support your employees and team with a slew of resources to assist everyone is able to move forward meaningfully.
- GAMECHANGER NEO-ÖKOLOGIE: RADIKALER WERTEWANDEL FÜR EVENTS? [Event Inc] The story remains, no matter what type of event you’re doing– there’s more that organizers can do to respond to the climate emergency. I’m thinking this as over 25,000+ people are coming to Glasgow for the COP26 later this month. But in this piece, ecological event organizer Stefan Lohmann provides some top tips that everyone can do to help lower the environmental costs of their event. And it doesn’t just mean going online.
- Democratizing The Metaverse: One Vision Of An Accessible Future For AR, VR, Virtual Events, And More [Forbes] A few weeks back I talked about the Metaverse in this newsletter, but journalist John Koetsier has actually been there. He shares a taste of his experience with Rooom, and Facebook’s Horizon worlds. Are you ready to go there?
- “We’ve done hundreds of Zoom funerals”: How Toronto’s bar mitzvah kings created a booming virtual events business [Toronto Life] I absolutely love hearing about how other event professionals around the globe approach their business. This interview with two #eventprofs from Canada was absolutely delightful how they made the most of things when the pandemic hit their live events business.
That’s all for this week’s edition of The Lookout!
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Until next Friday!