The Conference & Events industry has felt the impact of COVID more than most sectors this year.

While this has meant tough times for many, it’s also brought innovation and new technology to traditional events, combining with digital features to create “hybrid” event experiences. Though in-person live events will return in time (and already have in some countries), the value of digital and Virtual Reality technology to help us promote events and connect our guests has proved itself in 2020. How we seize these new opportunities will make a big impact on the future of the industry for years to come.

Tech giants including Facebook, Microsoft and HP are making huge investments in the next generation of Virtual Reality to deliver “wow” factors, as more event companies experiment with ways to immerse guests, speakers and sponsors in experiences that are not possible in the real world. Meanwhile, the complex tracking and user data generated by Virtual Reality “haptics” could hold the key to making VR events a valued business opportunity, with deep data providing unparalleled insights to event organisers and exhibitors..

As with so many industries, technology changes the economics and events are no exception. Often the cost of staging a digital event compares favourably with the cost of their real-world equivalent, while the income can similarly be much lower, creating a challenge for the business model. Meanwhile, audiences to digital events have increased over the Summer, creating significant new opportunities if we can find a way to unlock this value. Which could be where Virtual Reality makes a name for itself, as a unique way to gain and hold the attention of these new digital attendees.

VR agency Mesmerise, recently launched VR event platform Gatherings and is one example of what the future of events could look like.