How Virtual Reality Can Inspire the Events Industry

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Businesses across the board are incorporating virtual reality (VR) to engage audiences in creative ways. At a time when people are easily distracted by multiple devices and channels of content, VR delivers the advantage of being immersive. VR transports people to an alternative reality with the help of a headset or viewer such as Google Cardboard (by contrast, augmented reality incorporates digital content into one’s real-world setting, usually with the help of a device — think Pokemon GO). Here are a few examples of how businesses are using VR to engage audiences.

Give Them a Break: For the 2015 holiday season, Coca-Cola developed a VR program intended to give people a break from the hustle and bustle of the holidays by immersing them in an experience reminiscent of their childhood: a virtual sleigh ride. The campaign took people on a ride seated behind a team of reindeer, allowing them to play Santa as he soars across the globe, delivering presents to good girls and boys.

At events, you can take a page from the Coca-Cola sleigh ride campaign by sending attendees to other times and places, either to support an event’s theme or to simply give attendees a break from the demands of attending an event and juggling work commitments. A roller coaster experience, boat ride or virtual schuss down an alpine slope would work well to help attendees relax – even if just for a few moments.

Seat Them in the Front Row: If you’ve ever dreamed of sitting catwalk-side at a major fashion show, retailer TopShop’s approach to London Fashion Week can take you there. The company welcomed five competition winners to its flagship store and set them up with VR gear to experience London Fashion Week as if they were seated in the front row, rubbing elbows with the likes of Kate Moss, Victoria Beckham, and the Royals. Similarly, the NFL has been experimenting with VR to give fans a front-row seat to the Super Bowl and other games during the regular season.

A savvy business can figure out ways to transport event attendees to the front row even if the business lacks access (and a budget) to work with a branded event such as the Super Bowl. For instance, consider a global business, with offices all around the world, hosting an annual employee meeting. The business could transport attendees to side events held at flagship offices — say a holiday celebration going on in London or Paris — to immerse attendees into the local environment in a more immersive way than a remote video feed could do.

Put Them in the Driver’s Seat: Volvo developed a campaign to enable users to virtually test drive their sports-utility model, to support their launch of the XC90 SUV. The experience seats users in the cockpit during a cruise through a beautiful countryside. The campaign is a great move for a company looking to appear innovative and modern in a competition-saturated industry. Plus, it gave consumers a way to check out the new vehicle – even if a dealership isn’t nearby.

You can incorporate the idea at events by putting your audience at the helm of a jet, personal watercraft, or even a balloon. Doing so is especially useful for any kind of business that wants to showcase new products and technologies in a more creative way, especially if those products are under development and not ready for a prime-time demonstration.
Have you used virtual reality in your marketing and communications, including events? What VR experiences have resonated with you – at events or otherwise? We’d love to hear what you think.

Image source: Google video on YouTube

We Love Live®. For a complimentary 30-minute consultation on how to build your brand and inspire an audience through events and communications, please contact Brian Duffy by calling 630.427.4235 or by emailing bduffy@onesmoothstone.com

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