By Niki McKay & Jason Fitzgerald at Blue Danube Productions
As of March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the event industry to all but shut down the traditional way in which it has done business. Venues are closed or dramatically scaled back in capacity, revenue streams have dried up and people are told to not gather in groups for the foreseeable future.
COVID has pushed us over a technology tipping point. Work from home, work from anywhere, virtual meetings through Zoom, Teams, WebEx or a host of other remote solutions have become the new normal. According to a recent study published by McKinsey & Company, COVID-19 sped up the adoption of new digital technologies by several years, and many of these changes could be here to stay. “Digital adoption has taken a quantum leap at both the organizational and industry levels.” This is certainly true for live, in-person events, conferences and meetings.
What do we do now?
As a result, the event industry has been scrambling to transition to virtual events to continue to survive. But arranging and executing an engaging online gathering can be confusing for both planners and attendees. From the basic scenario of static screens, blocks of text and hyperlinks, to something akin to wandering around a video game environment, the shift to virtual can be an awkward, unappealing experience.
And yet, we have learned so much about what works and what does not. In moving from a live event to a virtual event, it is increasingly important to be mindful of our viewers’ digital attention span. What was once a week-long conference now needs to be condensed into shortened intervals over one or two days. Along with getting the agenda and content right, of equal importance is answering the question: how do we stimulate their attention and make virtual events a more engaging experience?
We need something better than what’s currently available; something more natural, more familiar, more engaging.
The missing piece
The part of the virtual event that is lacking in currently available solutions is the space, the environment, the gathering point, the shared experience; what’s missing is the venue itself.
It’s time toforge new paths to engage audiences, generate income and use a venue’s existing assets to bridge the physical and online worlds. It’s the venues that need representation in the virtual world, and a suite of tools that help bring people together within these spaces. They need the ability to produce an event in real time and simultaneously broadcast to that venue’s digital twin.
A new way forward
Seattle startup galoo offers a way forward with a solution called galoo-Spaces. Among the features, venues now have the ability to be represented in the online world. The software contains the tools needed to create an immersive experience — not just an online meetup. Tools that give attendees the feeling they are in an active event space, meeting and conversing naturally with their peers and coworkers, all while engaging with the content itself. The real you in a real venue, but online.
Maybe you miss being able to visit the exhibit hall with a colleague; scheduling client meetups over coffee during an event; exploring a venue between keynote sessions; or maybe just walking around your favorite museum with a friend, talking about the impact of this artwork or that. galoo-spaces gives venues the ability to do these things and for people to come together online in more meaningful ways.
This creative technology offers bioptic scanned, real-world venues that are replicated online. Attendees can freely explore the venue space with an organic, familiar social engagement always at hand. It makes you feel like you’re at the venue with friends and collegues, texting and video chatting, networking, watching keynotes, and learning together. It’s the shared experience we’re all missing in-person, but can now have online, in real time.
Empowering real-world venues
galoo-Spaces is the perfect hybrid platform for the days when people can actually gather in event spaces again. Fill your venue with 200, 2,000 or 20,000 guests without real-world space limits. Actively engage local, national and international guests who are all attending the same venue – whether they are joining in person or virtually from thousands of miles away in another country.
With a solution like this, venues can generate revenue 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; host multiple events at the same time on the same day; leverage and monetize their existing assets into the online world while reducing operating costs, and widen their customer base and revenue beyond the local area.
Creating an impact beyond events
As exciting as it is for this software to transform real-world event spaces, one can dream about the interactive scenarios it can provide to other types of spaces. Real-world spaces that have traditionally been off-limits for events can now become an event space.
This can work wonders for different groups – a virtual field trip to a museum with a docent or expert; classroom experiences where a teacher can lead students through a historic location; commercial enterprises hosting virtual experiences with small groups or hundreds of people in real time; destination venues selling individual or group tickets for tours – and so much more.
Now and next
We have all experienced dramatic changes in the event industry, but there is enormous opportunity in front of us to innovate and improve the experience of virtual events. You better believe that virtual engagement is the future; it’s now and it’s next. But the current state of the virtual event world is lacking in both engagement and stable revenue streams.
Let’s use the knowledge and experience we’ve developed over many years in the event industry to develop new technologies that can accelerate change in our industry. There’s tremendous opportunity ahead to make online events more engaging. Lets bring the well-known and loved venues of the real-world into the digital age. Lets change the world, one virtual venue at a time.