The Next Big Thing in Event Tech: Virtual  Reality

Welcome to the latest instalment of our event tech series! Every so often, something major happens that changes how events are planned or even attended. Right now, that something is virtual reality. In this blog, we’re going to discuss what exactly VR is, what it means for event professionals, and what you can expect to pay if you want to integrate it into your business.

What is virtual reality?

When your event attendees use virtual reality, they’re entering a ‘virtual’ (that is, not real) three-dimensional world that’s been created with technology. They need a headset to be part of this world. They can change the virtual world using special gloves or a handset to manipulate objects or perform actions.

Why should event planners be interested?

One of the priciest parts of event organisation is the venue, right? VR removes the need to pay for this by offering a virtual space. What’s more, that also means no caterers or drinks to pay for. Attendees don’t need to worry about transport to the event, or accommodation afterwards.  Speakers don’t have to interrupt their busy schedules in order to take part in the event – they can do it from the comfort of their own home or office. VR is a great way to remove costs for everyone involved in the event, from the planner, to the speakers, to the attendees.

In addition to making events less expensive for all concerned, virtual reality presents an opportunity to widen your customer base. Hosting a conference using VR? Now attendees can be a part of it even though they’re based thousands of miles away.

How can event organisers get on board?

For starters, you’ll need a headset. Oculus, the Playstation VR and HTC’s Vive are the big players in the virtual reality market. There are plenty of games available for these devices. But, games are not exactly what event planners are looking for. We recommend teaming up with a software company that specialises in VR and working together to create a bespoke solution for your event business.

What are the costs of using VR in my event?

Taking part in the VR revolution is relatively inexpensive in comparison to augmented reality. Oculus have teamed up with Samsung to allow Samsung Galaxy smartphone users to be part of the VR world. It’s portable and wireless, so is a good option for event planners. At the time of writing, a Samsung Gear VR headset costs £58.99. A Playstation VR bundle (which includes a headset, processor unit, earbuds, and all the cables you’ll need) costs £330.90. A Vive bundle (which contains everything you need) will cost £759.

Above, we mentioned working with a company who will create the software you need to truly integrate VR in your event business (rather than offering it as a toy to help your customers pass the time). Shop around to find a business who ticks all your boxes in terms of creativity and of course, price.

There’s another way for your event business to be part of the VR revolution. Purchase several Google Cardboard headsets. Costing just £15 each (or £25 for a bundle of two), it’s an inexpensive way to get your guests experience something entirely new. Even better, there are thousands of apps to download from the Android store and the 360° channel on YouTube.

If you’re interested in event tech, be sure to check out our post on augmented reality for event professionals. Have you used virtual reality in one of your events? Share your experiences with the Get Invited community below or on Twitter.