You may have noticed that the term ‘metaverse’ has been buzzing recently. If you’re wondering why that is, as BBC states, “there is a huge amount of excitement about the metaverse among wealthy investors and big tech firms, and no-one wants to be left behind if it turns out to be the future of the internet.”
The metaverse’s powerful decentralizing potential has been a prediction even before Mark Zuckerberg’s recent announcement, and the advent of the pandemic, which also plays its part in it. According to Reuters: “The accelerated interest in the metaverse can be seen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As more people have started working and going to school remotely, there has been increased demand for ways to make online interaction more lifelike.”
The global changed circumstances along with increased demand suggests that the developing metaverse is on the near horizon.
We only need our mobile phones to remind us of technology’s significant strides in a short time. As Adage says: “Hardware is becoming more compact, quicker and more intelligent. Thanks to 5G, almost everywhere now has fast, dependable connectivity. In the metaverse, computer vision is becoming more intelligent, allowing for both visual and audible help. All of this contributes to the immersion of the experience, making the transfer of knowledge and experience more rewarding and human.”
As such, the metaverse goes beyond common associations like gaming…
… and is poised to impact several sectors like education and retail. As WSJ predicts: ”Real-world businesses will be able to participate in the metaverse as well by offering virtual versions of their bricks-and-mortar facilities, Unity’s Mr. Whitten says. With existing online stores, customers can read product descriptions and make purchases. In the metaverse, customers would be able to visit virtual retail outlets and try out products in 3-D and at full scale before buying.”
As any new technology brings with it its own changes, integrating the metaverse will open new avenues for the way both consumers and companies interact. AsForbes states: “Companies will need to transition their marketing strategies from online ad buys to existing in a shared, virtual economy. Companies will need to do market research on their new customers in the metaverse. How people act and what their preferences are in the metaverse could be totally different than how they behave and what they shop for in real life.”
The blog covers a range of sectors like Business, technology and culture of all the virtual worlds, including: realities and experiences of the Metaverse, 2D, 3D, mobile phones, VR/AR, games, MMORPGs, social networks, digital collectibles, esports; game design, Unity, Unreal, free-to-play (f2p), blockchain, and NFTs. His post‘What We Talk About When We Talk About the Metaverse’ also explores the meaning of the term ‘metaverse,’ how it has evolved, and what the future may bring.
Wikipedia Metaverse Definition.
The word “Metaverse” is made up of the prefix “meta” and the stem “verse”; the term is typically used to describe the concept of a future iteration of the Internet, made up of persistent, shared, 3D virtual spaces linked into a perceived virtual universe.
The Pathos Metaverse that Alt Ethos is launching.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this decentralizing technology is that it won’t just be one metaverse, but multiple, reflecting the unlimited creative potential and explorative possibilities of various entities. We’re honored to have been and continue to work with this unique technology through our metaverse design solutions. Our easy-to-use, dynamic, and engaging immersive platform provides exciting meeting places, magnetic events, and future-thinking hybrid-virtual-world solutions, pushing the boundaries of interactivity. To learn more about how your audience can create their own avatars and immerse themselves in your custom Branded World, please visit visit our metaverse branded solutions page.
Meow Wolf’s biggest attraction yet has finally come to Denver. But that’s by no means the whole story. For years, Denver has been preparing for Meow Wolf’s arrival in ways that are impacting not just the city but the entire region – and very likely beyond.
Millennials across the globe increasingly value experiences over material possessions.
For a while now, Denver has been the number one choice of those among them wanting to move to a new city in the US, and a third of Denver residents are now millennials (CNBC). City government took notice, and laid plans to stay ahead of the curve with a multi-year community-generated cultural plan designed to fully integrate arts, culture and creativity into daily life, work and play. These ingredients of Denver’s special sauce are part planned, part serendipitous – and that recipe is the reason Meow Wolf and Alt Ethos CEO and Founder Ethan Bach (who had worked together in Santa Fe on helping to elect a new mayor and in Denver for the Meow Wolf announcement party) recognized the potential and established their primary operations in Denver.
Years in the making, the Meow Wolf Effect is still unfolding.
Early predictions were for 1.5M visitors per annum, but the surge of advance ticket sales suggests there may well be a lot more. Whatever the number, this massive new influx of visitors will have major implications for the creative economy (“Is Meow Wolf good for artists? Overall, yes” – Denver Post), the tourist industry, and the culture at large. It will transform opportunities for growth in entertainment offerings, art sales, retail, and dining, which will have a ripple effect across the region. It’s never been just about the Meow Wolf site itself.
As Ethan says: “The Meow Wolf Effect is an intimate and intentional look into a cultural phenomenon sparking the creative economy in a way that I have not witnessed in my lifetime.
This is our moment of opportunity. If we keep harnessing our collective energy with strategic planning in order to make the best possible outcome, we can make a huge shift in the new economy.”
We are thrilled to be hosting our sister-nonprofit organization, DATA’s virtual event. Denver Arts + Technology Advancement (DATA) is offering a free live demonstration of our browser-based immersive digital world learning environment, the DATA Campus in Pathos Metaverse, on Thursday, October 21, 2021. DATA will welcome guests into the browser-based event at 3pm MST for networking and avatar customization before the speaker’s program begins. Register here.
As schools and universities reopen their doors, DATA has been developing solutions designed to launch us into a new world of learning beyond video calls. COVID has mercilessly exposed gaps and weaknesses in all aspects of our lives. People of all ages and backgrounds flocked online to seek the human connection, sense of purpose, and safe environments that the pandemic had so suddenly taken away. The potential of digital meeting and learning spaces is clear. Yet what can be done about the equally clear problem of online fatigue and disconnection – and the lost learning that resulted?
Now, over a year into the pandemic, major changes need to be made in the way we teach and learn. The impact to students is severe (McKinsey, July 2021):
K–12 students on average 5 months behind in mathematics & 4 months behind in reading by the end of the 2020-21 school year
Students in majority Black schools left with 6 months of unfinished learning; students in low-income schools with seven.
May lead to students earning $49,000 – $61,000 less over their lifetime; potential impact on US economy is $128 – $188 billion every year (McKinsey, July 2021).
DATA has embraced extended reality (XR) technology as the solution to inspire meaningful engagement that is at the heart of a good education and transformative learning outcomes. In Pathos, all learners can create their own avatars and be transported into an immersive world that integrates the organic nature of in-person networking with an intuitive virtual platform that can be accessed from anywhere on the planet. The digital tools of this immersive world are comparable to those in computer games, yet these engage the learner in different ways – ways that are fun, enjoyable, and accessible. In addition, immersive digital tools are designed to promote cognitive development and learners’ ability to retain what was learned – similar to educational modalities, like field trips or planetariums. DATA’s work complements and supports the digital integration of these and other classroom innovations that will be fundamental to achieving good learning outcomes and surviving and thriving in a challenging world ever-changed by the pandemic. In Pathos, DATA will convene leading educators, institutions, and community members to explore how to re-energize global accessible learning and shape a brighter future for our youth beyond COVID-19 pandemic.
We welcome you to come to hear our esteemed panelists speak about immersive worlds and education.
Don’t miss the free live demonstration of our browser-based immersive digital world learning environment, the DATA Campus in Pathos Metaverse, on Thursday, October 21, 2021. We hope to see you at DATA’s ground-breaking Pathos demo event, Education in a Digital World: Opportunities for Immersive Education and Engagement, on October 21, 2021. Register here.
About DATA (Denver Arts + Technology Advancement): Our mission is to develop the best and brightest digital creatives using immersive arts and technology programming to assist learning, retain information, and achieve a higher level of consciousness. www.denverartstech.org
On behalf of The Colorado Creative Industries (CCI) and Alt Ethos, we invite you to our virtual presentation “Global Creative Connection through Immersive Virtual Worlds” hosted in our new Pathos Metaverse, a 3D avatar platform, this Friday October 1st, 2021 at 2:00 PM MST
Alt Ethos Presentation: Come explore the future of art, technology, and global connectivity through virtual worlds from top creators and thought leaders in the immersive industry. The pandemic shot us into the future of digital engagement and immersive worlds. As some creatives quickly grasped the change to become known internationally, others were left confused. This talk will walk you through the history, present, and future of virtual worlds and how they will impact the global community, our professional lives, and our collective digital future. Speakers:
Julian Reyes, MC
Eric Dallimore, Moderator Panelists
Evo (Evonne) Heyning
Q&A from audience submitted in writing
Carlos Austin, Real-Time “In World (VR)” Live Multi-cam video switching and still photographer at Austin Photograph
Carlos is passionate about the arts with an emphasis on photography/video “in-world” TV production and emerging drone technology. An XR evangelist as this technology begins to mature. Helping create Broadcast television standards for capturing live events in virtual social platforms. Real-time switching live shows with a multi-camera setup. There are so many opportunities to communicate and educate the world through XR. 3rd Generation photographer and storyteller.
Ethan Bach, CEO Alt Ethos
Ethan Bach is the founding CEO of Alt Ethos: experiential design agency and Founder and Board Member of DATA (Denver Arts + Technology Advancement). Westword calls Ethan, “An entrepreneur with an eye on the future’s future.” Bach holds an MFA in Electronic Arts from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Alt Ethos is an award-winning design company and has been recognized in CodaWorx Magazine; the Young Industry Professionals, and by the Mayor of Fort Collins.
Evo (Evonne) Heyning, Metaverse Media. Creative Executive Producer
Evo Heyning is an award-winning producer, technologist, founder and creator focused on the future of participatory media. Evo focuses on collaborative teams that work across fields, sectors, and platforms to create meaningful global endeavors. Evo has created virtual beings, worlds, and campaigns for 20 years. Evo produced major live streaming concerts and campaigns for the White House including the launch of the Affordable Care Act and virtual worlds for diplomacy, civic engagement, and nonprofit development.
Celeste Lear, Immersive Event Producer & Designer, XR Entertainment Specialist, Music & Sound Director, Host, VR Consultant
DJ Celeste is an entertainment & event industry professional with 15+ years of concert, festival & conference production experience. Immersive technology expert skilled in designing & executing cutting-edge events both physically, virtually, AND in Virtual Reality. First in a new wave of DJs who design their own stages & perform as avatars in VR Festivals and Nightclubs. Executive music direction, production & clearance for International, multi-media installation projects for UN & UNESCO, including a large-scale video mapping experience in Paris.
About Pathos Metaverse
Pathos Metaverse is a browser-based virtual world by Alt Ethos. For this panel, all of the speakers will be avatars in the Pathos Metaverse. Through live-action virtual cinematography, CCI participants will stream the event in real-time. Selected avatar audience members will also be in attendance and watching the entire production in the Pathos Metaverse.
Pathos Metaverse is an easy-to-use, dynamic, and engaging immersive platform. Pathos Metaverse provides exciting meeting places, dynamic events, branded virtual worlds, and future-thinking hybrid-virtual-world solutions, pushing the boundaries of interactivity.
In Bloomberg Opinion, writer Tae Kim talks about Facebook’s recent announcement to become a Metaverse company, explains the origin of the term, and reasons why he’s skeptical. Yet another step from Facebook in wanting to take over the Metaverse is its release of Horizon Workrooms. This new virtual-reality remote work app allows users of the company’s Oculus Quest 2 headsets to hold meetings as avatar versions of themselves.
CBS recently sat down with Mark Zuckberg to chat about the Metaverse and Workrooms for virtual offices: “So I think of the metaverse as the next generation of the internet,” Zuckerberg said. “So you can kind of think about it as, instead of being an internet that we look at, right, on our mobile phones or our computer screens, it’s an internet that we are a part of, or that we can be inside of.”
As Bloomberg Opinion states “If it is not going to be Facebook, who is poised to do well in the metaverse? Apple, Epic and Nvidia are well positioned, given their respective technological leadership in these hardware and software areas. And the two main mobile operations systems — Apple’s iOS and Alphabet’s Google Android — will likely benefit as apps and devices run on their dominant billion-user platforms.”
Last Holiday season, we enjoyed bringing two light show experiences to Cheyenne, Wyoming, through architectural mapping. Projected across the front of the historic Cheyenne Depot in downtown Cheyenne, we created a multimedia extravaganza for their traditional Downtown Lighting Celebration and dazzling the crowd.
A timer projected onto the Depot Museum tower ticked away the seconds as the evening event approached. With about 10 seconds to go, children that were gathered in the Depot Plaza began to yell out each number as it counted down, and as the timer hit zero, a loud boom sounded, and every light illuminated all at once. From all around the lights beamed – strung on trees, framing downtown buildings, and on tall evergreen trees.
The music started, and 3D shapes began to dance on the museum’s façade creating colorful projections of ornaments, wreaths, candy, fireworks, snow, and strings of lights that were all designed to the shape of the building. Since this was part of their 2020 Old West celebration, people laughed and cheered at the dancing cowboys on horseback herding bison, and at the end of each song, they whooped and cheered some more.
The event was such a success that a city council member was even seen wiping a tear from her eye. Alt Ethos was thrilled to help bring the holiday spirit and some much-needed sense of community safely to the folks in Cheyenne.
We are excited to be back in Cheyenne, Wyoming!
This 3D projection mapping holiday lights show was such a hit that we have been asked to make a more permanent attraction.
Our challenge is to address and impact the economic and cultural engagement throughout the city. As a permanent project our aim is to invite locals and tourists back into the city for celebration-themed holiday and event-specific content to keep visitors delighted and engaged and help drive economic development.
We look forward to the opportunity to exceed the creative expectations in the design and implementation of this visual experience. See you soon Cheyenne!
Interested in developing a projection mapping experience for your community or event?
Weren’t able to join Ethan for our virtual keynote? Fear not, we’ve got you covered! Below is the full video and transcript with the answers to the questions we all have — What new virtual and hybrid solutions are available to increase engagement? And how will the pandemic impact events in 2021?
Hi everyone and welcome to the new normal.
Remember last March when we were all reluctant to download Zoom thinking the pandemic would pass by April? Well here we are over a year later and it looks like virtual events are not going anywhere.
My name is Ethan Bach and I have over two decades of experience in the event space. I am now the co-founder and CEO of Alt Ethos experiential design studio based in Colorado and we specialize in creating permanent and temporary installations and virtual and hybrid events that bring engagement and delight.
Today’s webinar will be talking about the state of the events industry and how you can have one of the most impactful events in 2021. We will touch on many points but here’s a coupleof highlights:
we will answer is June too soon for in-person events
We see a lot of places opening back up – what does that mean? What challenges do event producers face?
we will discuss indoor vs. outdoor what’s the timeline for Live Events and safety requirements
We will look at options and possibilities for virtual events
and give a teaser into our next webinar which will focus on new designs in hybrid events
So stay with us we have a lot of information and research that we’ve done that we would like to share with you and believe it’s relevant to any business owner or event producer.
Alright let’s get started.
I’m not going to spend too much time rehashing what happened to the events industry last year which lost over 30 billion dollars in revenue and reported an overall downward trend in terms of the amount of client engagement. Suffice to say that our industry is forever changed and that fact is more and more clear every day. I’ll summarize by showing you this website which someone created to compile and ongoing list of events that were being canceled as a result of the pandemic
Unfortunately, so many events were canceled, that the website was forced to stop updating, and is now itself…canceled.
And yet there were event producers who tried despite some of the early warnings to push forward and still hold their events including the people behind South by Southwest. Hey I don’t blame you I was waiting myself with bated breath to see if I could jump on that plane for Austin. The Coronavirus and growing public health concerns cancelled SXSW just one week before it was slated to start. This was a huge wake-up call for the events industry and the City of Austin who lost $356 million in revenue due to the cancellation.
I’m not bringing this up to remind the 27,000 of us who are event producers in North America that our entire industry is in flux, still and will be for a while.
This webinar is not a desperate scramble for alternative solutions to the live events we’re used to. Instead, today we’re going to have an optimistic conversation about what’s possible in the events arena for all of us.
I’m just grateful everyday but this is happening right now and that it’s not like 1986 or or even 2006 for that matter. and I am truly grateful for systems like Zoom. However there’s some real reasons as to why we hate Zoom calls and it’s not because virtual events are inherently inferior to in-person events. It’s because the standard virtual solutions that we are all currently using—such as Zoom—are not designed with real human connection in mind. We can’t help it…
Video calls affect your mirror neurons and brain chemistry differently than in-person conversations. For one, you’re missing non-verbal body language, because you’re only seeing people from the shoulders-up. We are in a box. And your screen is effectively serving as a barrier between you and the other person—or between you and the experience you’re attending virtually. That’s why virtual events tend to have low retention rates relative to live in-person events.
Finally, those serendipitous moments of bumping into someone at an event or organically networking at the post-event mixer obviously can’t happen during something as limiting and one-dimensional as a Zoom video.
So, our job as experiential architects has been to figure out how to account for all those human needs, that we can create virtual experiences as engaging as the in-person experiences we’re used to. And in the case of hybrid to seamlessly connect the virtual and in-person experience. In other words, if we know that Zoom only stimulates the left side of the brain, how can we create virtual events that stimulate the right side—facilitating an experience of discovery, excitement and fun?
Well we have been putting in a ton of R&D into engagement and virtual events in hybrid events not to mention our new metaverse, and we have figured out how to engage Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins, the chemicals in the brain that create happiness and embed memory.Memories depend on neurons firing in the prefrontal cortex, the front part of the brain responsible for higher-level thinking. And long term memory depends on retelling the story. When was the last time you retold a story from a zoom event?
In a time when over 30% of Event Planners reported engagement as their biggest challenge in pivoting to virtual events. The national average retention rate for virtual events is 50%. But get this: our previous event had a 94% participant retention rate.
What makes people want to stay and participate through a virtual event?
Since the start of the pandemic, our team has conducted over eight hundred cumulative virtual events with our partners. We’ve done everything from video conferences, immersive headset events, to 360 browser-based events, to immersive avatar based environments. We have worked with numerous event production agencies to now have a deep understanding of what increased engagement and community connection looks like.
Here’s how we solved the issue of Zoom detachment and fatigue.
As a first case study, let’s look at the virtual awards event we did for L’Oreal’s Skinceuticals, which featured Shark Tank’s Barabara Corcoran.
Here’s how we made this experience engaging for their audience:
We added 360 viewing capability and custom 3D staging, so that viewers could look around the room and feel grounded in a lifelike space.
We created human avatars to populate the virtual banquet hall, so that it felt like you weren’t alone.
We built a hologram for the keynote speaker, pre-recorded for the live event.
We sent out Skinceuticals-branded Google Cardboards for ease of viewing, and for something fun to add to a bookshelf post event (which, by the way, continues to advertise for Skinceuticals long after the event ended).
And we surprised viewers with digital fireworks at the end, for a special little moment of spontaneity.
What all of these elements boiled down to was an event that had that extra human touch that we’ve all been craving—that opportunity for connection—especially after being stuck at home for so long. The reality of quarantining for an extended period of time is that people are experiencing anxiety and depression at skyrocketing rates, and static virtual events are just too sterile to solve that problem.
But our success stories have proven that it is possible to create virtual experiences that offer a feeling of connection. Here’s another example of something we produced for Tudor, Pickering, Holt called D4: Rebellion.
Here’s how we made viewers have a sense of being present at the event:
We had a camera-person shoot 360 video on location, which included locations in the US and Norway, showcasing 10 companies. These 360 videos were then combined with video conferencing in flat video and virtual booths to represent each company.
In this example, We used Boston Dynamics’ robot, Spot to record POV. We also have footage from drones to give a dynamic fly over view.
Viewers could then watch the video in a simple HMD or on the web, using their mouse to explore.
And by the way, we acknowledge that what we do is complex, but the turnaround time surprises a lot of our clients. It only took us a little over a month to produce that entire 360 experience.
People have so many misconceptions about virtual events and what’s possible. They get daunted by the idea of putting together a virtual event, because the tech behind the event may be something an event producer isn’t used to. We provide you with reassurance and white glove experience that exceeds your expectations. We take this same innovation into hybrid event design.
I promise you, if you can imagine something, some version of what you’re envisioning is possible to create.
For example, we partner with BluePlanetVR, who does super-high-quality real-world location capturing.
These amazing virtual captures can be used as the backdrop for your next virtual event. Or placed in your piece of the metaverse.
We also have AR solutions, including incorporating AR functionality for three-dimensional demonstrations in your living room or on your desk.
Our focus is on accessibility and design at the forefront of our virtual activations.
For audiences with limited bandwidth or slow connectivity, we offer versions of the events that can be accessed through phones or tablets.
And if you’re someone who gets motion sickness from AR or VR experiences, which is about 50% of you, we include still camera options, so people always have a choice.
Basically, sky’s the limit, and I personally love hearing new ideas and coming up with out-of-box solutions. I think of Alt Ethos as a true collaborator, and our deepest source of inspiration is our clients.
One of our core values is this idea of possibility and breaking through limitations.
To that end, we are currently developing a metaverse, which is a collective virtual shared space that will merge our physical reality with the digital universe. This virtual world is currently being used for engaging immersive experiences where people can simply walk up to each other and engage in conversation – right from your browser.
We’re calling it Pathos Reality. The Metaverse is a virtual space that will be accessible 24/7 later this year and will be buzzing with activity. It’s a place where you can have your own avatar based virtual events venue. It’s a place where people can become avatars, go whenever they want in the space, and explore, work, and play. They can remotely hang out with friends, create art, attend events, play games and shop.
The Metaverse is the future of the internet.
Here are just a few ways that a metaverse is an incredible opportunity for the events arena, in a post-pandemic world:
You can visit from virtually anywhere, regardless of physical distance, or stay-at-home orders.
After being stuck in a video box, walking up to someone and naturally having a conversation is liberating and awesome!
And a metaverse can be great for all-ages, and multiple hardware types.
When Alt Ethos first envisioned this virtual world, it made us incredibly excited about the possibilities, because we suddenly saw the ability for people to attend more events than ever before, and to attend events in parts of the world they could never access before, and have this amazing experience—all from the comfort of their homes or offices. Because the reality is that there is a huge access barrier to physical events. Travel, money, time… It’s obviously more difficult and more expensive to hop on a flight across the world to attend an event than put on a VR headset or open a laptop and enter a Metaverse.
The same benefits apply to Hybrid events. By the way, we have to define what a “hybrid event” is, because it’s a term that a lot of people in the event space have started to throw around to mean all sorts of different things. When I talk about hybrid events, I’m not talking about live-streaming your physical event. That’s just a livestream. A hybrid event is an event that seamlessly integrates the physical and digital worlds into one experience that is made better by the existence of both of these elements. Here’s what I mean:
A hybrid event will take a standard physical event, like say, a networking event, and create a unique world real-time networking opportunity simply by walking up to a group of people and joining a conversation. You are in the in-person event and they happen to be avatars. But you share the same space without barriers. The experience for the people at the physical event is improved by the presence of the avatars; and the experience for the people at home is improved by the presence of the physical bodies in the space.
What’s great about hybrid events is the opportunity for unexpected connection. Remember that element of organic connection that I mentioned, that people are missing from not being able to attend physical events? Its real engagement between two worlds. When you digitize the events experience and come up with interesting ways to integrate both physical and virtual elements seamlessly, so many impossibilities suddenly become possible. We will provide much detail about our hybrid designs and others in our next webinar. Stay tuned.
During our time staying and working at home, people have fostered a new wave of global connection. Holding a hybrid event allows for people to continue to engage with events as they come back to the physical space, beyond just a standard livestream. Whether you are a corporation who also wants to have events, or an event producer, or own an events agency, as event creators, we all have to continue to talk about what’s possible in our industry, especially in our changing world. We have to explore new ways of facilitating connection. And, of course, one of the most important questions that event producers will have to face in the future is how to make connecting feel safe and effective in a post-Covid world.
Outdoor events opened April 1 in some states.
In-person events are starting to be approved in the United States. California just announce in-person indoor events to begin the middle of April. As long as vaccines continue to roll out, more than 20% of Californians are fully vaccinated, and cased and related hospitalizations continue on a downward trend we can see this trend continuing. These events come with a stipulations to ensure people are kept safe.
Here are some of the things we’re going to have to consider:
Guests are tested with a clear test within 72 hours prior or show proof of full vaccination.
Limit to in-state visitor.
Regularly test workers
Designated eating areas with added ventilation and distancing.
Good air circulation and cleaning practices in place. There are new UVA cleaners on the market that are already being deployed in hospitals and hotels that will fit in perfectly in the conference arena when live events return.
The concept of “social distancing” isn’t going away, so we’ll have to design event spaces where people aren’t crowded on top of one another.
Likewise, if there are break-out rooms, we’ll probably want to shorten those sessions to keep people moving and not stuck in one high-density place.
And of course, there will need to be a ton of hand sanitizer on hand, as well as access to masks.
The degree to which your event addresses these safety concerns can very much determine turnout for your event, especially in the near future.
Let’s look at vaccine timelines really quickly. Current optimistic estimates, like California, have in-person events beginning in April, but there are a ton of caveats there as mentioned above, and that projection doesn’t take into account if people will actually feel safe to attend the event. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine has just been approved for use in the US, and production continues to ramp up for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. But projections are not taking into account how difficult it is to vaccinate everyone quickly, including, for example, the rural populations in the US. Or hang ups in the distribution cycle – including the recent 15 million botched doses.
So the multi-billion dollar question: “Is June too soon for in-person events?”
My answer is yes, if you don’t follow strict guidelines and you don’t offer virtual alternatives.
So far we have only talked about the United States. But what about the rest of the world? According to the BBC, the entire world will not be vaccinated until early 2023. But inoculating a global population of 7.8 billion people is a scale that has never been attempted before. Plus, there are new Covid variants emerging, as we know, and international timelines for vaccine distribution are all over the place. This means hosting a big event like CES is risky, even if attendees have all been vaccinated.
We just don’t have enough information. And the information we do have has to be properly interpreted if we’re going successfully anticipate when we can safely plan our in-person events. For instance, most events rely on 74% of their attendance to be people under the age of 55. And based on music festival demographics from the past five years, the average age of the people going to those events was 32. At this point, a little over 20% of people in the US have been vaccinated. People hear that number and use the vaccine as reasoning to have their event between now and August, but you have to consider the demographics.
Even if vaccines are opened for ALL people at the beginning of May, the risk is still too high for June. Lines are long and it’s hard to get an appointment in certain areas. For example here in Colorado, everyone is eligible; however, I had to schedule a vaccine appointment in Wyoming to get a shot in the foreseeable future.
If you really want to do the math to plan when it will be safe to have a live event again, it’s all about factoring in the demographics and the variable of the two-dose vaccine. The current pace of 2.1M shots per day sounds promising, but because many of those vaccines require two shots, we have to divide that number by half. So the projection I’m going to make based on all that math is that we’re looking at no earlier than Fall for a return to large live events that will most likely still require the list above – vaccine record, tests, safety measures, etc. And what’s more, people will come to expect digital alternatives from here on out due the cost benefit, your attendees from around the world will need it, and it’s flexible.
That’s why regardless of when we can return to live events, for the people in your target audience who are not ready to travel, you’ll want to have virtual offerings. In fact, those virtual offerings will likely become the base event, with the physical offerings being optional, as opposed to the reverse, which has been true in the past. This shifting perception of events is how a hybrid event can save the day, allowing you to have people who are physically present at a conference connect with people beaming in from their homes.
Preparing for this kind of digital future is going to get you ahead of the curve. If there’s one thing we learned from a year in quarantine, it’s that quote unquote coming back to normal will take longer than we expect.By preparing virtual offerings, you’re setting yourself up for success. If the world takes longer to open back up, or if it takes people longer than expected to feel good about traveling and attending physical events, you’re prepared with a fun virtual experience.
Just think about how different things could have been for SXSW if they had prepared a virtual event in 2020 like they did in 2021. Where they had almost 80,000 attendees compared to 2019 where the conference drew nearly 74,000 attendees. One way to do this is have exclusive content for an in-person event, say, a mixer, and exclusive content for virtual attendees, like a link to an unreleased film trailer or web game.
If 2020 was a scramble for functionality through the digital space, 2021 and beyond will be more focused on actual user experience. That’s why I don’t think of virtual events as a stop-gap, but as an essential part of our offerings at Alt Ethos, even as time goes on. This past year has forever shifted our perceptions of interaction, and now that we all know that it is possible to work from home; it is possible to attend an event virtually, and people are only going to be more and more selective with the events that they physically attend.
62.2% of event professionals agree that virtual events are here to stay. We don’t know what the future holds. Hate to say it, but what if this isn’t our last pandemic? Or what happens when the climate takes an unexpected turn, like what we saw recently in Texas? Our world is going to continue to throw us curve balls. My vision for virtual events is that they become so undeniably awesome, that we look forward to virtual events not as second-best offerings in times of desperation, but as viable opportunities for human connection.
I’m going to close on that, because at the end of the day, I want to leave you with that vision of connection, because yes, we are an events agency that loves technology and the digital space, but wethink about people first.
If you’re looking to hold an event as soon or anytime this year, this is a great opportunity to chat to us about a full white-glove virtual or hybrid solution. Whatever you’re dealing with, wherever you’re located, there is a bespoke solution for your company, and we can find it together.
I look forward to connecting with you, and I look forward to a future where virtual events are all about facilitating human connection.
I hope to see you at our next webinar that clearly outlines hybrid event solutions.
Who Needs a Holodeck? Alt Ethos Hybrid Solutions June 24, 2021 | 10:30 MDT | FREE
eFlow is a fun and creative way for people to engage and connect while physically distancing. Whether at a drive-in event or virtual event this collaboratively creative platform can be easily branded or themed.
eFlow‘s platform is fully customizable – custom stamps, brushes, and backgrounds are all possible to create branded experiences for your event. The ongoing live collaboration can be displayed publicly by projecting the canvas large-scale at your physical event as well – creating a hybrid experience for both onsite and virtual attendees.
eFlow is an artistic collaborative WebGL fluid simulation that works in your browser. You and other online participants can collaborate with colors and shapes on an ever-changing canvas. See the networked artwork shift and grow in real time as others join in on the fun.
Outdoor Immersive Storytime
At the Anythink Brighton Drive-In Storytime event, as attendees got settled into their parking spots, they were able to play with eFlow on the screens across their personal devices and see their the projection screens in the lot.
Virtual Dia De Los Muertos Experience
Alt Ethos created a custom Dia De Los Muertos interactive experience for Thornton, Colorado’s 5th year of its annual celebration. While October 2020 restrictions transformed this hybrid event into online-only, visitors were able to connect and share the community memorial video online and play with others decorating the sugar skull on eFlow.
Let’s talk about ways that Flow can bring magic and play into your event! Interactive and immersive exhibits take your event to the next level.