The Future of Events is here: Virtual Reality Hacks for Your Next Event
Virtual reality, or VR, isn’t just science fiction anymore. It’s a reality. It’s predicted that there will be 171 million active users in 2018, compared to 43 million in 2016. The hype around VR already exists, and it’s growing fast.
The Future of Virtual Reality at Events
VR isn’t just for video games—it can replicate an environment. It can put you in the Amazon Rainforest or on Mars so that you feel like you are somewhere else. This makes it a goldmine of opportunity for your organization’s events.
While most people still think VR is a luxury of the distant future and not a business tool, in reality, it’s becoming cheaper and easier to use every year. Google Cardboard goes for as little as $15 now, and advanced VR like the Oculus Rift are developing programs for nonprofits.
Rather than seeing your next event full of awkward check-ins and pitches for fundraising, fill it with excited members buzzing over wearing 3D VR headsets. Here are three ways to take advantage of VR at your events.
1. Share your mission
VR provides a unique and an impactful way to share your mission and what your organization has been working on by literally (well, virtually) immersing folks in it. You should create space at events where you can use VR to share your work.
For instance, if you’re a chamber of commerce and have been working to build the next generation of community business leaders in public schools, you can show members exactly what you’ve been doing. VR will bring attendees directly inside the classroom so they can see the kids interact and participate.
Charity: Water, for example, used the Samsung Gear headsets at a gala event in the MET to tell the story of a young girl in Ethiopia getting clean water for her and her family for the first time ever. The video replicates a setting in Ethiopia. This way the attendees can look around and feel like they were part of the experience.
The video was so effective that they raised over $2.4 million dollars, far exceeding the charity’s expectations. But sharing your mission through VR isn’t just effective for fundraising. Lead members through a VR tour of a new business in your chamber of commerce community. Or, use it at recruitment events to demonstrate why people should join your organization. You can bring VR to any membership event to show the great work you’re doing.
2. Cut across geographical barriers
VR renders the disadvantages of geographical separation meaningless. Video chat made this true for meetings, but VR is making this true for events so that people unable to attend can walk around and talk to other attendees.
Picture you have your annual celebration coming up and tons of new and old members are going to be there, but the president of your organization is out of town. A video chat would arrest them in one location—they wouldn’t be able to walk or even look around or join individual conversations. With VR, suddenly, their absence doesn’t mean they can’t be present.
Double Robotics created a remote control robot with an iPad as the face so that physical and remote attendees can interact face to face.
In this case, CEO Jeremy Roche of FinancialForce uses VR to attend company meetings.
Not only will a floating head roaming around your event be eye-grabbing, but when attendees find out that high-level executives put in the extra effort to be present, they’ll be very appreciative.
3. Provide a fun experience
Having VR at your event doesn’t even have to have a purpose other than showing your guests an amazing time. You can set up a booth where attendees can play a video game, go on a virtual scavenger hunt, or complete a virtual obstacle course.
Energy Upgrade California recently used technology by Helios Interactive to create a virtual hang glider. Users wore a headset and sat on a bike. Pedaling controlled their velocity and altitude and as they soared over California. The experience also provided the dual effect of showing them their individual energy impact.
While gliding over the redwoods and valleys and cities of California, participants were asked several questions about their energy usage, which they answered via movement on the bike. The answer to the question would trigger an action on the land. For example, how you answer the question in the image “Do you open your blinds at home?” could cause a small forest fire below.
Attendees had a totally fun, yet educational experience and they were actually more likely to remember the information they learned in simulation than if they were just being told.
Having a fun VR project can have as little or as much to do with your organization as you want. Sixty percent of people list fun as an important loyalty factor when it comes to sticking around. If members are having a great time, they are going to remember and return to future events.
Make Virtual Reality Your Reality
Virtual reality can never replace the value of face to face engagement at your events. Rather, it’s an opportunity to supplement and enhance events in a way that will build excitement and loyalty to your organization.
The beauty right now is that there are no wrong answers. It’s still the perfect time to experiment with virtual reality. The sooner you get started, the sooner you can be a pioneer in the technology. No matter you’re a chamber of commerce, an association, or other nonprofit. Members and non-members alike are going to be excited that you’re trying something new.
VR will make your events fun and memorable. People will return, spread the word, and ultimately become even better members.