Let’s talk about the weird middle-place we are in with hybrid events. As the world opens up again, a lot of people – and particularly younger workers – want to head back to the office and speak face-to-face again. And who can blame them? The decaying array of pot plants that crowd cramped bedrooms aren’t the best for conversations.
Yet the corporate world is in a strange in-between where some people are coming back in, while others may be working from home. We’ll see a hodgepodge of some calling in, others streaming via their kitchen counters, and perhaps another group strapped into VR headsets and using their hands. It’s an experimental stage and one where businesses may build systems that will work across all parts of the office.
Surveys have shown a willingness to have options, and it comes down to productivity, and businesses from multiple different industries need to make a decision on what may work best for them. But in general:
- Hybrid meetings will be set to double through 2021;
- And simple meetings will be the first to recover, and will likely be face-to-face. These in particular don’t need to have a VR headset.
But longer-term, there is no doubt that hybrid events and meetings are the most likely approach in the future. But the big money-maker question is, how many people will join virtual events or meetings in the future? The safe bet is that bigger events with a virtual component will be likely to draw in additional revenue. Both Venice and London Film Festival will happen again – but the accessibility of having virtual or VR elements only draws in more potential customers who can enjoy the festivities. Virtual events are an addition, not a replacement.
For VR, I have no doubt that meetings for engineers to share multimedia files, such as CAD models of cars, will stick around. Services like VIVE Suites are one example of this, as they complement their high-end hardware with their suite of business software.
The next big question mark is whether customers will join virtual events in between all the parties, gatherings, and hugging they will be doing over the summer. The solution lies in sticking the neck out and seeing what bites, and where. As the weather gets colder and people retreat back to the warm folds of their duvets, we may see a resurgence again. But for now, it is time to experiment.