While the technology and capability for web streaming has been around for years, hybrid events have only gained in popularity in recent years as technology has become more trustworthy and easier to use. By livestreaming an event or conference through virtual reality (VR) livestream, attendees can get a near-realistic view of what it's like to actually attend an event, without the financial burden and stress of traveling to and navigating the conference.
VR will not only help meeting planners tap into this new realm of attendees, but it will also allow attendees to actually participate in more panels and discussions within a conference because it takes travel time out of the equation. Meeting planners can also opt to post videos on the event website for attendees to go back and watch speakers after the meeting ends, giving attendees a reason to continue the discussion about your event through online forums and social media outlets.
Soon enough, advances will allow for collaboration within VR, making the virtual conference experience even more realistic. Corbin Ball, an expert in meetings technology, predicts
that VR will see major growth at exhibitions and events in 2016, the especially now that VR headsets such as Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR (pictured above), and Oculus Rift are becoming more widespread. Ball says that VR will help redefine virtual events, making the attendee feel as if he or she were actually at an event or inside the meeting room -- a step beyond simply watching a video from the event. Plus, exhibitors could benefit by using VR headsets to demonstrate products instead of shipping physical products to the show.
Samsung already partnered with the NBA last February to record and distribute the All-Star game in VR so fans in places like China could still participate in the major U.S. sporting event. Similarly, Absolut Vodka's Absolut Labs launched a campaign last summer to offer live video streams to its customers who couldn't get tickets to concerts such as a Bob Moses show in Brooklyn, NY. The use of drones and other enhanced video technology created a virtual experience so realistic that fans felt like they could almost touch stage.
While VR livestream benefits attendees and exhibitors, it can also expand an event's online advertising, lead-based generation and content marketing capabilities to the next level with accurate analytics that can provide more detail than a traditional event website. Event organizers will be able to see exactly what elements of an event virtual attendees participated in, offering similar or even more information than a post-event survey.
As meeting planners continue to look for ways to increase the number of people attending and talking about a conference, exploring virtual reality is the perfect tool to getting a bigger audience excited about an event.Abi Mandelbaum is co-founder and CEO of YouVisit, a leading virtual reality company empowering the world to easily create, share, and enjoy virtual reality experiences. YouVisit has worked with thousands of businesses and institutions such as Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Carnival, Yale, Zumba, and New York City's Central Park.