Augmented and virtual reality are the future for meetings and events.
Guess what? The future is here.
Interest in virtual reality and augmented reality for events among planners is growing, according to the 2019 Cvent Planner Sourcing Report, which found that 17% of planners said use AR/VR technology to enhance attendee experiences — compared with just 7% in 2017.
Today, there are a ton of technological solutions that put AR and VR right at everyone's fingertips and on their mobile devices.
3 reasons to invest in virtual reality and augmented reality for events
1. Selling the venue
While word of mouth and peer recommendations are still big influencers when an event planner is sourcing a venue, digital resources such as search engines, venues' websites, and online sourcing tools are not far behind, according to the Cvent report. With more planners turning to their computers, phones, and tablets to find the perfect venue, AR/VR is the next step.
AR/VR technology enables event planners to “see" the site without having to travel, saving them time and money. Working with the venue manager, they can go through all the room and layout options and design the event virtually. Marriott, for example, launched its own VR product in 2017 to show potential clients how the hotel's meeting rooms might be used for events.
“The value of virtual reality — and augmented reality — is in its potential to promote your venue and reduce the perceived risk that planners may have of intangible services. That helps planners make informed decisions based on your venue's strong points," according to Cvent's “Five Simple Ideas to Grow and Own Your Group Event Business" eBook.
2. Transporting attendees
VR/AR allows attendees to be virtually transported to another environment — they can tour a production floor, sit in a new car or truck, or watch a surgical procedure, all from the comfort of even the smallest venue space. That means a hotel or venue manager can utilize and promote the space they have, and the event planner doesn't have to bring in large displays or exhibits, saving everyone from a logistical headache.
Ford wowed attendees at the 2017 North American International Auto Show with the company's first-ever live AR presentations, letting attendees participate in an interactive virtual demo to experience firsthand the company's latest innovations. Also in 2017, the Sports Technology Awards used AR to immerse attendees in the world of “Star Wars" for their May event.
Planners want virtual reality because they've seen how it can power amazing attendee experiences, Cvent's “Five Simple Ideas" eBook noted.
3. Creating additional revenue streams
AR/VR technology allows more people to attend an event without having to actually be there in person. They can pop in and out, attending only the sessions they want to without coming to the actual site. Virtual attendees are a win-win for both the attendee and the event planner: The attendee needs to take less time away from other commitments, while the planner attracts attendees who might not have signed up otherwise. It's also a win for the venue team, since they can include a virtual pricing option in their RFP.
AR, meanwhile, can be used to enhance an experience, providing an additional pricing option on top of the existing package. For example, this year's Coachella transformed its Sahara stage into anAR-equipped stage for the first time. The space-themed interactive experience could react in real time to the space, the musical performers, and the audience.
AR could also be used for advertising opportunities, either for the event itself or for trusted partners. AR technology firm Skignz designs “sky signs," which are essentially AR billboards that provide attendees with information on buying more event tickets, reserving tables, and finding restaurants and sites located near the venue.