Staging Connections

Integrating virtual reality into the event world

Discover how exhibitors at this year's IMEX 2016 use virtual reality to promote their venues and services.

ADELE GOES TO IMEX CONTINUED....Virtual Reality at Events! Every year, event professionals, venues, event agencies, and event service providers and suppliers make the pilgrimage to IMEX - the worldwide exhibition for incentive travel, meetings and events. This year, we sent our Marketing Manager, Adele Symonds, to Las Vegas to get the inside scoop on what's hot in the world of events and what we can expect to hit our shores. As expected, virtual reality was a hot topic at IMEX. Here's what you need to know.

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Virtual reality has been around for some time now, and when it comes up in discussion often event managers see it as a risk that could reduce the number of attendees at events. At IMEX in Las Vegas, I saw numerous creative ways to utilise virtual reality and maximise the impact of this technology, truly wowing attendees with incredible experiences like never before.

The most effective way of showing off a destination, venue or experience is to actually SHOW IT! And virtual reality gives this opportunity.  

Business Events Sydney and Hamilton Island both had great virtual experiences on offer. I tried the bridge climb scenario which took me on a tour over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and my fear of heights immediately kicked in! I gently had to remind myself, “Don’t worry, it’s not real!”.

Pictured: Adele holidays at Hamilton Island's luxury resort, Qualia, thanks to virtual reality.

Hamilton Island’s experience was longer and transported me to the Great Barrier Reef, by helicopter, and to other secluded locations around the island. This sort of experience in real life would have been expensive for an event manager from the other side of the world to attend, so the use of virtual reality in this way was very cost effective and left a unique impression on attendees.

Germany also had a very cool virtual experience on offer that took you on a journey around their destination and tourist hotspots.

Many brands, venues and destinations jumped on the opportunity to integrate new technologies into their tradeshow presence, and virtual reality is something that really stood out. The VR experiences were obviously popular, allowing attendees to get a taste of the virtual experience.

However, content really is key when it comes to virtual reality experiences. I also tried a couple of experiences that missed the mark and seemed rather dull in comparison. It is clear that the technology has to be used well and the content has to be clever, creative and of a really great quality.

Pictured: Another IMEX attendee enjoying a virtual tour of the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre thanks to virtual reality technology.

What I didn’t see was the use of virtual reality using goggles and a hand held controller to enable me to move around and explore the places I wanted to go. It would have been much more impactful and memorable if I could choose where the virtual journey would take me, but I think the use of this technology will be reserved for tech companies and gaming providers until the software becomes more common place. I look forward to seeing how virtual reality continues to be integrated into the event world.

For the events industry, there is a huge opportunity for destinations, venues and tourist experience providers to use the technology to enable event attendees to experience a different world or step into a new reality.

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