After witnessing the effect of COVID-19 on all industries across the world, it became clear to us all that this outbreak—perhaps the most catastrophic event of the 21st century—knows no borders. It has almost been 8 months since WHO declared COVID-19 as a pandemic. At this point in time, examining the impact of the virus on any particular industry itself is not a matter of if it has been affected; it’s a matter of how severely and trying to predict the next steps. The event industry was one of the first industries that was forced to change overnight and adopt a virtual model with agility and resilience.
When we talk about events, we are looking at every type of event: conferences, exhibitions, corporate events and seminars, fundraising, trade shows, music festivals and art performances. The global events industry was valued at more than $1,100 billion USD and had an expected growth rate of 10.3% (CAGR) to reach $2,300 billion, double the size, in 2026 (AlliedMarketResearch, 2019). With the regulations that follow with attempting to control the widespread of the Coronavirus, shown in the following image with statistics determined by PCMA, all events were either postponed, cancelled, moved to a virtual platform, or discontinued. Due to this, those optimal projections have clearly changed and the UK events industry is forecasted to lose up to ₤56 billion in 2020 (VisitBritain, 2020). Additionally, the UK Events Report put together by the Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP) goes into further detail about the industry’s value, highlighting that conferences and meetings had a direct spending of ₤18.3 billion and ₤11 billion at exhibitions and trade fairs.
The Coronavirus pandemic has been getting people to scratch their heads. Events and meetings were already using increasing amounts of technology to enhance their events, and even more recently, social media enabled those who couldn’t attend to follow events remotely. But hosting a conference online is not as simple as just broadcasting main-stage speaking events on YouTube or through the significantly over-used video conferencing platform Zoom. Through this giant shift, startups that can help event organisers to have a more seamless experience will generate more attraction and specifically those offering solutions in the XR space.
Whilst Virtual Reality could enhance all event platforms, the market isn’t fully there yet. Offering a VR solution means that the consumers, whether it is B2C or B2B, need to be ready to deal with the entire technology behind it—which means purchasing a headset, using a laptop strong enough to handle the software and moreover the consumers need to be technologically apt. Immersionn, was able to respond to a real market, adjusting to specific client needs, and was able to co-create a solution for T-Systems which led to the birth of the ‘Web-Twin’. The WebTwin is a 3D web experience that helps companies present complex products, and also increases the amount of time potential customers stay on a website and therefore generates increased business opportunities. This discovery map is small enough for people to easily use it on any device, and facilitates a growing online world as it does in the real world, whilst mimicking how people would naturally find their way around an event.
Building an immersive and integrated experience is what people are looking for now, and it is what the industry needs even post COVID-19 and its affects. The entire world is trying to make the best of widespread lockdowns while eagerly anticipating the resumption of normal activities. The most challenging aspect is that nobody really knows what comes next.