How the metaverse will impact the events industry
The events industry is likely to be one of the first to benefit from metaverse technologies. Here are four ways it will have a transformative effect on events, both in-person and virtually.
This article is produced in partnership with Cvent.
It might still seem futuristic, but the metaverse is here, and here to stay – global consultancy firm McKinsey predicts it will be worth $5tn (£4.63tn) by 2030 – and the events industry is one area where its impact is likely to be profound.
The metaverse refers to immersive digital environments where people can see and interact with each other as avatars. A range of different technologies can be used to create and shape these environments, from full virtual reality to augmented reality tech, blending real world and digital elements together. As the metaverse evolves, its definition and the things it’s used for are also likely to expand.
Events are successful when attendees feel they learned something, have interacted with interesting people, felt entertained or enjoyed the atmosphere – and these are all areas where the metaverse could have a significant impact. From greater engagement to improved use of data, here are four key ways the metaverse could change events in the future:
New ways to network
Virtual events in their current 2D form can work well in some event formats, but they have their limitations. While they might make attendance easier to squeeze into a busy day, there’s little to no atmosphere on a video call, and remote participants can’t interact with and network in the same way physical attendees can.
This could all change in the metaverse, with people’s avatars able to enter networking spaces and speak to others. Attendees could meet and talk in a way that feels much closer to doing so in real life, bringing a much-missed element of serendipity to virtual events. The technology still has some improving to do, with detail and design still basic, but it continues to develop and potential in this area is huge.
Another hurdle is hardware-based – few people own VR headsets at the moment – but that is likely to change as the tech becomes both cheaper and more advanced. One early user of this kind of virtual space is the University of California at San Diego Rady School of Management. The department uses a virtual campus for real-time lectures, and also includes breakout spaces and outdoor areas to allow students to interact and meet each other.
Events will be open to a global audience
There are few barriers to the number of people who could attend an event that is fully hosted in the metaverse, or designed in a hybrid way to allow both physical and virtual attendees. Early examples hint at the potential scale of virtual world events – in November 2020, rapper Lil Nas X attracted 33m views to a series of virtual concerts on the Roblox platform, while another artist Travis Scott attracted 45.8m views across five shows on the Fortnite platform in April of the same year. It won’t be every event that attracts millions, but most events could reach a far wider – and more diverse – audience in the future than they do today.
Improved audience data
Events in the metaverse will offer organisers another level of insight into how people engage with the event itself, how they behave while they’re there, interact with others and explore. Not only will this help organisers design the best events possible, it will also enable better and more in-depth post-event engagement.
Engagement will be boosted at physical events and spaces
Event organisers looking to add an extra layer of engagement and entertainment to their spaces could take inspiration from fashion brands, who have been experimenting with virtual spaces for several years. In May 2021, for instance, Gucci launched its Gucci Garden on the virtual gaming platform Roblox. The space was a set of brand-themed rooms that aligned with the launch of a similar physical space. It was open for two weeks and received 20m visitors, highlighting how virtual spaces can be used alongside physical to strengthen and bring depth to a physical event or space.
In another example, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba uses metaverse technologies to augment physical spaces by creating mock-ups of luxury stores, producing 3D renderings of products, and superimposing virtual content on the walls of event spaces. This side of the metaverse offers organisers the opportunity to use their imagination, using virtual environments to access or create unique event spaces, or bring new forms of creativity to their events.
Whether it’s virtual, in-person or hybrid, find out how Cvent can support your next event.