I recently had the opportunity to speak at the University of Central Florida to a class of hospitality students, who are interested in learning about ways in which technology is being embraced in the Event Marketing industry. Here is a transcript.
Interview with Paula Wyatt, Chief Excitement Officer at Posh Able Events – where Anything is Posh Able.
Q1: Paula, in today's age of immersive experiences, when using virtual reality (VR) at events, what should be the primary goal in terms of the attendee's experience? Are we aiming to inspire or motivate them to engage in a certain way?
A1: Absolutely, the primary goal of using VR at events is to deeply immerse attendees in an experience that traditional mediums can't offer. We aim to create experiences that inspire and motivate attendees, whether it's to buy a product, engage with a brand, or even change their perspective on an issue. It's about creating a memorable, impactful moment that resonates long after the event is over.
Q2: With a plethora of VR headsets available in the market, how do event organizers select the right one? And how crucial is the comfort factor in that selection?
A2: Selecting the right VR headset is crucial. You want attendees to focus on the experience, not any discomfort. Comfort is paramount because if someone is uncomfortable, they're less likely to be engaged. We recommend doing hands-on testing with multiple devices, considering factors like weight, padding, and ease of adjustment. It's also important to consider the quality and responsiveness of the headset to ensure the virtual experience is smooth and immersive.
Q3: Once the headset is sorted, the next big challenge is developing compelling VR content. Can you share some insights on how to collaborate with an experience producer to develop content that genuinely engages attendees?
A3: Working with an experienced VR producer is essential. They'll help you conceptualize and execute a VR experience that aligns with your event's objectives. It's a collaborative process where you provide insight about your audience and what you aim to achieve, and they bring the technical and creative expertise. Regular check-ins, storyboard approvals, and prototype testing ensure the final product is both engaging and in line with your vision.
Q4: For those less familiar with immersive technologies, can you explain the difference between virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)? And perhaps, shed light on what they have in common?
A4: Absolutely! Virtual Reality (VR) immerses users in a completely virtual environment. When you wear a VR headset, everything you see is computer-generated. Augmented Reality (AR), on the other hand, overlays computer-generated images or information onto the real world. So with AR, you're enhancing or "augmenting" your current reality, not replacing it. What they both have in common is their power to provide enriched experiences by blending the virtual and the real, transforming how users interact and perceive the world around them.
Q5: Can you share a success story where VR was a game-changer for an event you organized?
A5: Certainly! We once incorporated VR for a product launch where attendees could virtually "use" the product in various scenarios. It created a buzz and led to record engagement levels. Attendees could truly understand the product's value, and it amplified the overall excitement around the launch.
Q6: What are some of the common pitfalls or challenges event organizers should be aware of when integrating VR into their events?
A6: One common pitfall is not having a clear objective for the VR experience. Without a clear goal, the experience can feel gimmicky. Also, ensuring there's adequate space for the VR setup, and troubleshooting technical glitches promptly is essential. Lastly, ensuring attendees have guidance – having staff on hand to assist with putting on and adjusting the headset, and guiding users through the experience can make a huge difference.
Q7: Lastly, where do you see the future of VR in events? Is it just a trend or something that will become a staple?
A7: VR is here to stay. As technology improves, it's going to become even more accessible and prevalent. While it might not be suitable for every event, for those where deep immersion and engagement are key, VR will be invaluable. It's not just a trend; it's a revolutionary tool that's reshaping the event industry.