By now most of you have attended at least one online gathering or virtual event. Whether it was a webinar, livestream event, Instagram live, facebook, YouTube or even attended a meta-verse meeting, we have all experienced virtual eventing on one or another platform by now.
I don't even want to talk about Zoom, Teams or Google Meets... We all know those and most of us use those platforms like FaceTime or just fancy telephone.
I am talking about fully-online experiences that are curated for a specific event - like a birthday party, wedding or a product launch.
The days of "all-hands meetings" taking place in person every week are basically over. Company Town halls are going to move forward online for most businesses. In fact for most businesses, the online meeting model is working out pretty well. They are able to get a message out to thousands of employees across multiple regions and the cost/ time implication of the virtual event is negligible compared to the live model. Virtual events are still pretty awful for things like live music concerts, but they are actually pretty great for things like theatre, movie premiers and music video launches.
In the early days of the pandemic, I developed a virtual event platform which has now hosted well over 200 online events for all kinds of things; from African Fashion Week to the memorials of CEOs and loved people around the world. I have done virtual events for businesses, bands, corporate socials, fashion shows, team-building games and more.
How hybrid events will become the norm
Now that we are moving onto the post-pandemic world, most things are getting back to a resemblance of the normal we once knew, but the world has been trained in an online way of engagement and we are going to bringing many of these newly learned skills with us into the coming years.
In 2022 we will start seeing the rise of truly hybrid events - experiences that happen online and in the real world. Participants of the event will have the option to stay home and attend or they could attend in person. The entire conference will be available both virtually and in real life (IRL).
At Marshall Arts we have developed an app solution that allows people at the conference venue to chat with each other as well as the participants from around the world who are attending from home. The event app and accompanying website are completely white-labeled and create a fully branded immersive experience for the event.
Using 360 video, we are able to give the at-home-attendees an immersive glimpse into the conference and allow them to actually experience the physical space (virtually), while taking part in discussion, polls, surveys, demonstrations, presentation and more.
Live streaming and VR meeting rooms offer enough an experience that people are able to collaborate, network and make new connections with vendors, participants and organisers from around the world.
"We know the model will remain because hybrid events are allowing international attendance at virtually no cost"
The world has never before been able to offer international guests at events a quick and easy way to attend a conference. Now colleagues from other countries don't have to travel to attend annual company meet-ups. Parent's don't have to get baby sitters to make an evening gala or awards ceremony.
These are pretty substantial benefits of the hybrid model. By giving the attendees the choice between the virtual or physical events, we can increase attendance and international networking opportunities.
The other beautiful part about it is having a centralised point of communication for all attendees during and post the event. If there are agendas, resources like training guides, programmes, goods for sale or any type of digital product - the online portal for the event can house it all. From the ticket sales, RSVP lists, attendance registers, LMS systems - you name it - the virtual aspect of the event provides a centralised system to house, manage and distribute all of these things that we once done manually or via multiple different third part softwares.
How much does a virtual event cost?
Virtual events (with Marshall Arts) start at around R85 000 for the full package. A virtual event platform starts at around R20 000. To throw an event like a fashion show, the full virtual package will cost around R200 000 ($12 000). This would include a virtual app, the video production of the broadcast as well as the broad cast and the management of the virtual aspects of the event.
What are other virtual event platforms?
Why choose Marshall Arts to build your virtual event platform?
A lot of clients tried the above solutions before arriving at our door and then staying to do many events. The reason is simple. We white-label your event solution, give you a direct contact within your platform's backend, provide the most efficient and speedy support and we are actually more competitively priced.
Our other claim to fame is the quality of our stream and our ability to "re-stream" your event to up to 15 other platforms, so your event can be broadcast every possible audience.
We are experts in digital media and media distribution over the internet. Our solutions are easy to understand and easy to use. We pride ourselves in being able to represent brands with precise execution of their brand DNA.
What is the next step in Virtual events?
Virtual event apps.
360 video and autonomous 360 vision
Virtual Reality events
Augmented reality experiences at physical events
Do people enjoy virtual events?
Right now there is very hard spit. Some people love the way that virtual has made it so easy to attend an event. Other people hate the way that virtual has made them miss out human engagements with their colleagues.
Virtual event platform creators are working hard to solve the problems of the engagement limitations of virtual. As humans, we will always value the face to face interactions that give us a sense of community and trust and bonds.
That said, once we look at the hybrid model, it becomes clear that there is a way to have the best of both worlds and that is where the future will lie.
An in-person event will always be the more desirable option if it is possible, but the virtual experience means flexibility for when we cant be in the same room.
As companies like Facebook and Microsoft put more and more energy into concepts and experiments like the metaverse, the world will slowly adopt these technologies and become used to using them.
Already the children of today are very used to the concept of a VR headset. Anyone who owns a VR headset on the PS5, knows that the tech is amazing, but still far from perfect - yet that doesn't stop millions of people from wanting to play with these toys every day.
We are not far from seeing the Oculus Rift transcend from the status of toy to everyday accessory - or at least a piece of kit provided at every event venue.
Most people reading this will either believe online events are awful and VR will end real human connections or they will believe that this is the future of humanity and this exciting tech will one day make incredible things possible for people around the world.
The thing I always try to remember is, the virtual events world is not everybody's cup of tea, but it is an important tool for the future of humanity. The technologies we are developing now will help earthlings of the future have Christmas with their relatives on Mars and ensure that work places never get disrupted by a lockdown ever again.
Want to tell us how you feel? Let us know in the comments, we love to chat.