The realm of possibility for events is constantly innovating in ways no one would have expected until they become a “norm” in the event world. In-person events will always have our hearts first and foremost, but as an industry, we learned that virtual events could also be impactful. Hybrid events then entered the event space and allowed the combination of the in-person crowd with a virtual audience. Fast forward to now, and we are looking at a fourth event format to gather widespread attendees: the metaverse.
Community through virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)
If you have ever tried on a virtual or augmented reality headset, then you already know what will happen here. Virtual reality takes over your vision completely by showing your eyes a brand new world on the screen within the goggles. If you wear them without the device turned on, you will look blindfolded. Augmented reality, on the other hand, will add to what you see in the surroundings in front of you. This headset is more like a pair of sunglasses than a blindfold, for comparison. And while the headsets will alter your vision, you can use controllers to move your hands in coordination with what’s in your line of sight.
The difference between virtual and augmented reality is important, but either idea can be and has been applied to event experiences. On a larger scale, virtual reality headsets can be used to host virtual events with attendees in all corners of the world. The attendees can experience the same event from thousands of miles away by putting on the headset that’s playing the same content. And while virtual events on a computer screen also capture a large audience, the headset and controller combination simulates a real-world experience that a virtual event could never provide.
Virtual reality and augmented reality headsets can be a fun addition to an event offering on a smaller and more feasible scale for smaller hospitality businesses. VR rental companies offer rentals of all the equipment you would need for guests to enjoy games and experiences through the headsets alongside one another. Since these headsets are rather pricey to own, guests will be excited to try one out at your event.
Large-scale metaverse events
Another exciting way that events are occurring in the metaverse is through creating large-scale events like fashion shows and concerts. Big brands, like Nike and Gucci, have created metaverse worlds where people can go to engage with their brands. The first-ever Metaverse Fashion Week event occurred earlier this year. It showed avatar characters wearing never-before-seen pieces from the big brands you would see on all other fashion week runways. Attendees interacted with brands within the metaverse just like in person through VIP digital events. And the best part: items on the runway were available for purchase in the metaverse but received in the real world.
Similar to how a metaverse fashion show works, concerts have also seen millions and millions of attendees resulting in actual sales for brands through product placement, selling avatar outfits, and ticket sales. Travis Scott, Ariana Grande, and Marshmello are three popular artists who have seen success in metaverse concerts.
We know these large-scale events may not apply to a small business right now. But if you have corporate clients with big budgets looking to break the event norm with the next big thing, then a conference or event in the metaverse is not a crazy idea anymore.
Join the metaverse by starting small
If the thought of getting involved in the metaverse is scary, then you are not alone. But if you are interested in staying ahead of tech innovation before it becomes the next norm across the events industry, then now is the time to dip your toes into this world.
Alicia Schiro, Founder of Aced It Events, spoke on a panel at Tripleseat’s EventCamp in September 2022 about innovation in the hospitality industry. Schiro said that her clients ask for more innovation than ever as a corporate planner. The go-to happy hours and simpler event experiences are not cutting it; people want things they have never experienced at an event. Michael Cirino, Founder of House of Attention, joined Schiro on this panel. Cirino specializes in creating these out-of-the-box experiences that venues can offer to corporate clients.
To start incorporating elements of the metaverse on a small scale, Cirino recommends an NFT claw grab machine. Take the classic arcade game and put an innovative spin on it by making prizes to grab a physical item representing NFTs or cryptocurrencies. Similarly, an NFT photo booth at an event could let guests take a photo of themselves that then is given to them as an NFT to own.
Interactive, immersive art installations can give the similar mind-bending effect of being in the next universe without a VR headset. Area15, a Las Vegas entertainment space, is an excellent example of a venue pushing the boundaries with immersive event offerings.
If you want to be at the forefront of innovation, then the time to innovate is right now. New ideas will emerge, and we are eager to see how these technological innovations will continue to play out for the hospitality and events industry in the metaverse.