It’s rare to see a well-established business without an online presence, such as a website or social media channels. Similarly, the events industry is no longer viable without a digital identity. The popularization of 3D virtual events was brought by the sudden COVID-19 outbreak, however, there is no doubt that its significance is clear by now.
The online events industry has grown exponentially in a very short amount of time. From video conferencing software to 3D events platforms, virtual events has been an umbrella term that covers every online gathering. Nonetheless, the virtual events industry has evolved through three main stages.
Early Stages: Video Conferencing
The virtual events industry started with simple video conferencing such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet. These software are excellent for 1:1 or small group meetings, yet do not correspond with real-life events. Similarly, with other live-streaming platforms like YouTube Live, it is close to impossible to directly network with thousands of viewers.
The short-comings of video conferencing events became apparent quickly, especially for large-scale events and exhibitions. This forced the industry to accelerate rapidly and create improved solutions.
Developing Stages: Interactive Event Websites
The goal of the developing stages was to create an improved virtual event experience that closely resembles physical events. This was partially achieved with interactive event websites where organizers could build their virtual events. These platforms include two main categories: 2D interactive event websites and interactive event websites with 3D graphics.
1. 2D Interactive Event Websites
With these websites, event organizers can host advanced webinar sessions, enable chats, implement booth content, and set up simple games and polls.
2. Interactive Event Websites with 3D Graphics
These platforms have all the functionalities of interactive websites, but also include 3D background images/videos. These animations are played on loop to give the feeling of a 3D experience.
Advanced Stages: 3D Virtual Events Platforms
Just as Super Mario re-defined the gaming world by introducing their first ever 3D gameplay, the virtual events industry has progressed to life-like 3D environments with real-time interactions. These 3D platforms allow genuine interactivity where attendees explore events using 3D avatars.
3D events solutions allow event organizers to virtually replicate any physical space, create unlimited booths, and even implement complex games. HoloFair is an excellent example of a 3D events platform that closely resembles physical events by fully immersing users and providing complete networking.
It’s eminent that the virtual events industry has come quite far in a limited time. Video conferencing platforms and interactive websites are great for conferencing events. However, 3D events platforms are ideal for big expos and exhibitions, team-building events, and custom events like UAE National Day.
Nonetheless, the question remains: what’s the best method of hosting virtual events and will they be required in the future? The rise of virtual events has taught us that many events work better virtually, yet some demand real-life interaction. The future seems to be a hybrid one, calling for a mix of both.