Imagine you are in the comfort of your home sitting on a couch, interacting with loved ones. What if all of this was in a 3D virtual space with your own avatars? This prospect is increasingly being explored today by multiple industries, including events which is leveraging the concept behind this, called the Metaverse, to take event experiences to the next level.  

The metaverse, in simple terms, is the coming together of our physical world into a virtual space. It brings in the prospect of people assuming their own personalized avatars and traversing in a 3D virtual world that mirrors the physical. For the uninitiated, while the event industry is already witnessing disruption with the arrival of technologies such as NFTs and cryptocurrencies, the Metaverse has already created an economy of its own.    

The Metaverse - Impact on Events  

Earlier this year, Decentraland, a 3D Virtual global platform, partnered with the grand slam tennis tournament, The Australian Open to successfully deliver the world’s first major sporting tournament in the Metaverse.  

The sporting event had fans attending in virtual reality, getting access to exclusive game content, including virtual meet-ups with players, live footage and radio broadcasts of the event, along with behind-the-scenes footage of the tournament. In addition, a Metaverse fashion event was also hosted in March this year, where a number of global fashion exhibitors took part. The fashion event had witnessed commendable media coverage with reporters from the British tabloid, The Sun, along with the US fashion magazine Vogue covering the event.  

Possibilities - How the Metaverse Is Changing Meetings and Events 

According to XR Industry Insider Survey, 95 percent of organizations are excited about investing in immersive technologies, post pandemic. The reason is to achieve better online collaboration and integration. Interestingly, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates recently predicted that most virtual meetings in the next few years will be hosted in 3D environments with digital avatars, a shift away from 2D.  

Facebook’s parent firm Meta may have just answered that, through Horizon Workrooms.    

Designed as a virtual collaboration platform, Horizon Workrooms from Facebook allows users/employees to create their own virtual world, and gather and engage in organizational and related productive activities. The platform also enables users to have access to tools such as whiteboards, VR workstations, conference rooms, along with the ability to leverage key office functions such as file sharing, chats, etc. Users can also type in their expressions with a portable keyboard, exchange expressions, react to colleagues’ responses, and do much more.   

Similarly, Microsoft Mesh from Microsoft has already begun offering 3D virtual spaces for Teams where people can build their own immersive world to meet and collaborate with each other. Built exclusively for Microsoft Teams, this mixed reality overlay comes with key features such as holographic images, 3D avatars, audio cues that manifest as facial behaviours, and virtual workspaces for users to build a Virtual Reality Canvas of their own imagination.     

According to a few, hybrid events are at great advantage with the Metaverse, as the host can communicate to both in-person and virtual attendees as if in one whole gathering. But on the other hand, it might be a doubled edged sword because accommodating the Metaverse at hybrid events may not sound that seamless as people opting for virtual attendance might connect more with the Metaverse than those attending in-person. 

Why Such Buzz and Excitement Around the Metaverse for Events?  

Now that we have looked at the possibilities and adoptions that are in-line with the Metaverse in various environments, let us learn why the Metaverse should be viewed as the next big thing for events in the coming years.  

  1) It gives a more convenient access to a global attendee diaspora. 

 2) It provides an opportunity to improve attendee engagement by encouraging them to come in their own personalized avatars and, thereby, delivering them with a higher level of event experience. 

  3) In the Metaverse, one can create personalized virtual spaces of their choice and convenience to make a greater impact. 

  4) Event planners can build communities and networks around a central idea, with Metaverse elements boosting the experience, allowing interactions, and hence, communities to thrive. 

  5) It provides a platform to create an exclusive economy for events alone, allowing it to evolve as developing event models.  

Hurdles Along the Way  

 1) Accommodating VR experiences and accessories might be an expensive affair and may not work for all organizations. 

 2)  Every new venture needs time and resources, and because most of the organizations need to test the waters of the Metaverse, a lot of work will have to go on trial basis. 

 3)  Not all attendees might be interested in wearing VR accessories, just for the aesthetics.  

 The potential of the Metaverse for creating an immersive experience for events holds no boundaries. Believers of the Metaverse have turned adopters and are awaiting to leverage the big change in the virtual world, as the virtual world of events are here to stay and will continue to extend and evolve beyond our imagination.  

Organizations are raising the bar for consumer engagement with the Metaverse, especially in the event industry, and are backing the technology to only grow and evolve to help their cause. However, the industry also requires tireless and constructive planning and execution, with their budgets sorted, to catch up with the opportunities this technology offers.   

This September, Eventcombo’s flagship event, Eventicon 2022, will unravel all about the Metaverse and the potential within. Register at https://bit.ly/3bwo9Nu for impactful discussions with industry experts.