The pandemic has affected almost every aspect of commercial life, but perhaps one of those devastated most by the lockdown and social distancing regulations is the live events sector, which effectively ceased on March 23rd.

We have clients approaching MXTreality to understand what is possible with immersive virtual reality and how it can be used to replicate as closely as possible the experience of an exhibition, trade show or live event.

If this pandemic has proved anything it’s that the traditional event format, where vast sums are spent on expansive stands with expensive designs, whilst expecting tens of thousands of people to travel to a specific location, are not so efficient or ideal in all cases.

It might be a long time before we return to that traditional format, if ever and in the meantime commerce must continue, businesses must launch new products, connect with their audiences and sell their services, so now’s the time to consider alternatives or evolve the current format.

Lessons from advertising

When I worked in post-production and TV, I learned an interesting lesson that stuck with me. Speaking about film budgets I was asked by a senior colleague, what type or category of TV advert I thought cost the most to produce?

The answer was adverts for premium car brands. The budget for a Mercedes advert for instance, far surpasses any typical food, drink or product advertisement. They are often shot in a remote location, use visual effects that reach cinematic standards and have huge RnD and planning budgets to match.

I was then asked to think why. While we might see an advertisement about a new burger and go out later that evening to buy one, I doubt anyone has ever seen an advert for a Mercedes and thought “I will go out now and buy one based on that advert.”

These Institutional advertisements are in fact made more for the people who already own one and through the ad, they have the brand’s premium status confirmed.

I believe event spaces are typically designed along similar lines; they are more about connecting people and promoting the organisation than selling in the moment. These events are a chance for a business to make their stand, show their face and confirm they are present and relevant.

The biggest companies naturally take the biggest space and build the most lavish stands, demonstrating their status in the market, turning it almost into a primal contest – my stand is bigger than yours.

Beyond the physical

With the desire for these companies to expand their space in the event halls, why would we not expand into the digital and virtual space, a space that is ever more dominating in every facet of our daily lives?

Anyone who has been at these events will know the hectic schedules and complicated event locations and times, not to mention the overall physically exhausting nature of them and the toll of being away from home.

While there is the initial face to face greeting, these conversations are then extended over the same digital mediums of the internet through Teams or Zoom, by email or calls later down the line.

What we will present with our virtual event space is a bridge, an opportunity for companies to display information videos or give talks with the same lavish designs for their stand and presenting their information or even flyers in a formatted space online.

Then through this virtual space allow the users to connect and share details to start a conversation and meet face to face if wanted in their own time, at their own pace without the strain of the events – our approach will not remove the face to face element, but just allowing for a restructuring of the order in which these events happen.

There was a time when video calls would cut off or lag, quality was poor and everyone said video calls would never replace face to face meeting, yet now millions of business meeting, calls and even deals are done through this medium in on Teams or Zoom every day.

Nothing will ever replace that personal, face to face encounter, but with the evolution of these event spaces who knows, maybe we could expand this project in the future to include VR meetings with virtual representations of those present to make it real?

The world has said fighting COVID-19 is a war. Everyone knows war always produces giant leaps in technology and the switch to immersive experiences from real events, might be the leap for the events industry – no one knows, but I know MXTreality will help lead the way.