Is the Metaverse Right for Your Event Strategy?

Is the Metaverse Right for Your Event Strategy?

Who would have thought, two years ago, that we would be talking about the metaverse in 2022?

But what is the metaverse? The metaverse is a “universe within a universe” – or, to put it into context for corporate events, it’s a virtual space where people can meet and interact in virtual reality.

Many believe that the metaverse will one day become the norm for virtual events, as they offer a more personal, immersive experience of online events and meetings. This hot events trend allows attendees to create animated avatars or use photos to customize their virtual persona before interacting with other attendees in various virtual environments such as exhibitions, meetings, or seminars.

While the metaverse has huge potential for the future of events, it may not be right in every situation. Read on to discover everything you need to know to determine if the metaverse would suit your event strategy.

Will your attendees “get” the metaverse?

Before diving into your ambitious plans for events in the metaverse, first think about your attendees. Are your attendees particularly tech-savvy, or are they keen to return to in-person events? If it’s the former, great! The metaverse might be right for you. Now may not be the right time to invite your people to a virtual, avatar-fueled event if it’s the latter. It may be a complete turn-off for the wrong audience, so think carefully about what your attendees tend to look for in an event.

Equipment and resources for metaverse events

For a truly immersive metaverse experience, your attendees will need a virtual reality headset, such as the Oculus Quest or the hotly anticipated Apple headset. These are expensive, and they are not yet mainstream devices, meaning that either your attendees will need to obtain a headset of your own or you will need to provide (and ship) them, potentially adding thousands to your metaverse events budget. Haptic gloves are not strictly necessary but add to the immersive nature of metaverse events. Attendees will also need a great internet connection for an uninterrupted event, which may prohibit some from joining.

One alternative could be using the highly cost-effective Google Cardboard for your metaverse events, which turn your attendees’ smartphones into VR headsets. However, the quality may not be as high as with a dedicated headset designed for video gaming.

Types of metaverse events

 The beauty of the metaverse is that you can create virtually any event you like. There is no need to spend months finding the perfect venue – you can design it all yourself or amend one of the many metaverse event venues being designed right now.

Types of metaverse events you might consider include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Industry exhibitions
  • Conferences
  • Product launches
  • Company meetings
  • Networking events
  • Training workshops
  • Corporate parties

Your attendees can navigate the metaverse as they would a real-world event: a busy exhibition hall with vendor booths, a giant lecture theater with guest speakers, or a virtual meeting and interacting with colleagues halfway around the world. This leads us to our next point.

The metaverse for global event audiences

A major benefit of metaverse events is that they can bring together global audiences in a more immersive, interactive way than a simple Zoom call. An attendee in Texas can “meet” a peer in the UK without ever stepping on a plane while talking to an avatar, a photograph, or even a live video stream of the other attendee for more engaging conversations. If you tend to host large-scale events with global audiences, the metaverse could be a fantastic way to bring people closer than ever before from the comfort of their own homes (or workplaces). 

If, however, you host smaller, more local events, you are likely better off sticking with in-person events. The expense, time, and effort of setting up a metaverse event is not probably worth it if you host an informal, intimate meeting for a dozen attendees in the same city.

Sponsorship opportunities for events in the metaverse

If you are looking for event sponsors, a metaverse event could be a very appealing prospect for many sponsors – especially large global brands or those in the technology space. This is because a metaverse event can be promoted to and attended by people worldwide, which increases brand exposure exponentially over a typical in-person event.

Additionally, you can get much more creative with metaverse branding opportunities. If you wanted the entire venue floor to be covered in a sponsor’s logo, you could do it. If a sponsor wanted to double the size of their “booth,” it’s perfectly possible. In theory, the sky is the limit with branding and sponsorship opportunities within your metaverse event – and if another exhibitor wants to join your event at short notice, you can easily create extra space for them.

Sustainable events in the metaverse

For organizations prioritizing sustainable events, hosting events in the metaverse is ideal. This option allows you to minimize travel and significantly reduce the carbon footprint of your event, along with eliminating waste from booth builds, décor, and physical materials.

The metaverse is also great for welcoming expert speakers and trainers to your event. That Australia-based expert in your field suddenly becomes a lot more accessible if they can attend your event in the metaverse without having to fly halfway around the world – and as a bonus, it will be easier for them to fit your event into their busy schedule if they don’t need to allow time for travel.

Ready to take the next step into metaverse events?

We’re right there with you! Contact American Meetings today to discover how you can welcome your audience into the metaverse for your next event.

The Hottest Virtual and Hybrid Meeting Engagement Tools for 2022

The Hottest Virtual and Hybrid Meeting Engagement Tools for 2022

Unsurprisingly, we’ve seen an explosion in virtual and hybrid meeting engagement tools since the pandemic, and we’re only going to see more tools arriving in 2022. Even though the world is slowly getting back to normal – or the new normal – organizations worldwide have realized the benefits of virtual and hybrid meetings, which brings with it the need for a whole host of tools to host, elevate and streamline these events for increased engagement across the board.

So, what are some of the hottest virtual and hybrid meeting engagement tools for 2022, and how can you integrate them into your hybrid event strategy?

Hot new hybrid meeting tools

Hybrid meetings aren’t going anywhere in 2022, and in fact, we only expect them to increase in popularity. Around 50% of corporate event attendees believe that hybrid events are the right format, as they offer the convenience of virtual events with the benefits of in-person attendance.

Of course, as experts in hybrid events, we have a few thoughts about the tools we’ll be seeing more of in the near future.

Holo Pods, by ARHT Media, allow speakers to appear at your event as a hologram. This means that virtual and in-person attendees can both watch a speaker in real-time, no matter where they – or the speaker – are located, for a much more immersive hybrid meeting experience. This gives event organizers the freedom to welcome presenters worldwide to their virtual stage, allowing you to secure speakers who are leaders in their fields, and not just whoever is local and available.

Glisser and Meeting Pulse introduce engaging second-screen technology to hybrid events. These tools recognize that almost everyone has a device and tap into this “second screen” to engage participants further. This might include polls, quizzes, leaderboards, or contests, helping attendees feel more involved in the meeting and immersed in the action, whether they are physically present or attending virtually.

Engagement tools for virtual and hybrid meetings

Today, one of the most advanced engagement tools for virtual and hybrid meetings is Notified. Notified allows you to share content in a dynamic, very secure online environment. This goes way beyond the standard virtual meeting tools we’ve all been using for the last two years, allowing organizations to create customized brand experiences, blend in-person and digital channels and offer AI-driven “matchmaking” for attendees and sponsors.

Miro is a fantastic tool if you’re planning brainstorming or collaborative sessions as part of your virtual or hybrid meeting. Participants can work together in real-time to share and present information clearly, using sticky notes, flow chart templates, highlighters, uploaded images, and more to get everyone involved in the interactive session.

For soliciting opinions and sharing ideas back to your audience quickly and visually, Vevox allows you to crowdsource word clouds to get an insight into your participants. This invites everyone to share their opinions and input and will enable presenters to tailor the session based on the interests and needs of the audience.

Gamification for hybrid meetings

Gamification is finally shaking off its reputation of being nothing more than a buzzword, and it’s starting to make a real impact in organizations worldwide. Did you know, for instance, that many of the emerging gamification tools today allow you to customize in-meeting games to your brand or event?

Create a sense of friendly competition at your hybrid event with EventMobi, which enables you to reward participants for interacting with others, attending seminars, or visiting exhibitors. A branded leaderboard fuels the competition, and you can set objectives and rewards to keep attendees engaged and maximize their participation throughout the entire event.

Confetti is a must-know hybrid event meeting tool if you’re leaning into gamification. From classic games such as Guess Who and Jeopardy to unique origami classes, chocolate tasting, and drag queen bingo, you can customize your games to your attendees or the topic of your meeting while also breaking up the day with a variety of activities.

Engagement Tools for Virtual and Hybrid Meetings

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Virtual event themes and branding

In 2022, virtual and hybrid event meeting engagement tools have entirely transformed how we plan to brand our online events. It goes beyond a tiny logo in the corner of the screen and instead immerses participants in your brand from start to finish. From graphics and branding to sound effects, transitions, and countdown elements, your brand will be front and center throughout the entire event, making it truly feel like yours.

Event marketing platform Splash has tapped into the desire for beautifully branded hybrid events by supporting hybrid branded themes, which ensure consistency across the in-person and virtual components of your meeting, ensuring your event is instantly recognizable and uniquely yours.

Teambuilding events are another effective method to break the ice and get participants to interact online and face-to-face. From virtual escape rooms (you can build your own using tools like Room Escape Maker, or Exit The Room for customized branding) to online scavenger hunts with Scavify, there are plenty of options to bridge the gap between in-person and virtual events in 2022.

The days of the lockdown Zoom quiz may be behind us, but that doesn’t mean that your hybrid trivia games have to stop completely. A tool like Weve allows you to fully brand your quiz experience with your logo, brand colors, and customized questions related to your organization, ensuring it stands out from all the other online quizzes and gets your audience talking.

User-generated content

If you’re not tapping into your audience in your virtual and hybrid meetings, you’re almost certainly missing a trick. People love to have their say and share their thoughts, and embracing user-generated content is an impactful way to keep people truly engaged and thinking about the topics at hand.

For gathering opinions, ideas, and questions and taking pulse checks on audience understanding, a tool like Slido is invaluable. Slido allows your audience to participate equally wherever they are for better, more inclusive hybrid meetings, supporting activities such as quizzes, brainstorming, icebreakers, and Q&As with presenters.

Walls.io is a great way to leverage social media and build a sense of community around your event. Simply create an event hashtag and watch as your event social wall populates with content from social media, including Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook, in real-time. If your event is private, you can invite participants to upload directly to the wall, allowing you to capture the buzz for any type of event.

Gather Voices and Storytagger can be used to collect and share video “snippets” from your audience. Even if participants aren’t especially tech-savvy, these tools make it easy to record short, informal videos to be used in your event. This works well for Q&A sessions, sharing ideas, or even offering feedback at the end of your meeting.

Exploring the Metaverse in your Hybrid Meetings

You’ve most likely seen the recent news stories about the Metaverse – but what is it, and what does it have to do with virtual and hybrid meeting engagement tools? Surprisingly, more than you might think…

Put simply; a metaverse is a network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social connection. It doesn’t have to involve huge virtual reality headsets straight out of a sci-fi movie! These are broadly split into the avatar-driven Metaverse and the augmented reality (AR) Metaverse.

MootUp is an example of a metaverse tool. Participants can create their avatars to “attend” virtual and hybrid events, ranging from a live seminar to virtual coworking or even a virtual exhibition. Event sponsors can create fully branded booths in the Metaverse, offering powerful brand exposure to boost revenue.

A tool called Metaverse is gearing up to be one of the hottest virtual and hybrid meeting engagement tools in 2022 and beyond. Metaverse supports augmented reality events, where participants can explore digital experiences in the physical world – think Pokémon Go, but for your event.

Ready to enhance your next hybrid event? We’d love to help! Contact American Meetings today to discover how we can help you choose the right virtual and hybrid meeting engagement tools for 2022 and beyond.

Innovative and Creative Ways to Enhance Your Virtual Meetings

Innovative and Creative Ways to Enhance Your Virtual Meetings

Studies show nearly 5 billion videos are watched on Youtube every day. TikTok users spend nearly an hour a day watching videos. And, statistics show the average American consumes nearly four hours a day of television. Is it any wonder why sitting in front of a computer screen for a meeting fails to capture the viewer’s attention?

Some companies and meeting participants have been using virtual conferencing technology for years, while others have been more recently pushed into the scene. For most of 2020, virtual meetings have been the primary way groups of people have collaborated, and the trend, while it will likely slow, isn’t going away.

Articles are already being written about “Zoom fatigue” and the disassociation people are feeling in having virtual rather than live meetings and the impact it’s making on our socialization and mental health.

Innovation and creativity are a way to bust through the fatigue and once again create an engaging meeting environment, even online.

Creative Virtual Meetings

AMI’s virtual creative services partner and President and CEO of edgefactory, Brian Cole, recently shared the “secret formula” for re-engaging participants with virtual events. By using energy, emotion, and edge, he explains how meetings can have the wow factor participants have come to expect from live events, but in the virtual meeting space.

“Everything should be treated like a television broadcast rather than a boring webinar,” Brian begins. By introducing elements that grab participants’ attention and keep them engaged in ways they are already used to, meeting hosts can maximize the event and create a personality and wow that lasts far beyond the event.

Energy

In live meetings, energy is often created with walk-in loops on screens, showing images, playing music, and offering countdowns to the meeting start. The same can be true with virtual events, but most people aren’t taking advantage of that waiting screen time.

“Waiting room time is prime real estate that should be used to build up the excitement for the event,” Brian shares. “But the energy doesn’t stop there. To keep engagement, cut to different views, use branded environments, video and sound effects.”

Using title cards that introduce the next speaker and then cut to a video or live feed creates a newscast feel and look that engages participants. Lower thirds, overlays, and thematic or company branding also add interesting visual elements that keep people in front of their screens.

Emotion

Good events take participants on a journey. Energy and emotion shift and that can be done with changes in music, photos, testimonials, video, and voiceovers.

Imagine coming into a room with loud, energetic music while slides of smiling faces and people working together on a project slide across the screen. Now imagine a video coming on with slow, soft music. The video plays a story of an employee who has just experienced a hardship. Instantly, the emotion changes.

Another way to impact emotion is by using a comedian, celebrity impersonator, or voice-over talent. Humor can redirect the energy and emotion in the room while also keeping everyone engaged and waiting for what’s next.

When creative elements are used in a virtual meeting, they transform the emotion, and therefore the journey for participants.

Edge

Being able to be interactive, host Q&A, and provide real-time engagement offers a live event experience on a digital platform. Edge includes using technology and creative elements to bring the virtual event to life.

For example, in a recent Special Olympics virtual event, the presenter was speaking on screen while a second live feed featured an ASL interpreter. Below the presenter was a transcription being provided by a live stenographer. Branded overlays were used in both the main session and the breakout sessions to create uniformity and keep the annual theme front and center.

Using sound effects to create a game show-type environment, using unique shapes and visual elements as containers, and the ability to split screens into many configurations all add interest and edge as well.

As technology and the use of technology has expanded, using content that already exists, such as pre-recorded videos, commercials, and images, allows companies to repurpose content in new ways without requiring a team of videographers and production showing up at their door months before an event.

Virtual meetings are allowing more people to access technology, and event organizers should be using that to their advantage to create amazing online meetings that truly wow participants.

If you are looking for support in creating and managing a virtual event, learn more about how AMI can help, here.

3 Virtual and Hybrid Team Building Activities That Inspire

3 Virtual and Hybrid Team Building Activities That Inspire

Leaders are working overtime to keep remote team members motivated. Here are three clever virtual and hybrid team-building activities to keep your dispersed workforce engaged and enthusiastic.

1. Mixology & Virtual Happy Hour

Mixology and Virtual Happy Hour

Approximate Event Time: 1.5 hours
Event Type: Virtual Team-building Activity

The elements of a well-made cocktail work much like a team—it’s all in the mix. The mixology virtual team-building activity is designed as a team bonding happy hour, ideal for welcoming new hires.

How It Works 

Participants receive cocktail/mocktail kits that include premium ingredients to craft a top-notch beverage of their choice. They then attended a virtual happy hour where they are dazzled by a top-rated mixologist who shows off tricks of the trade creating colorful elixirs.

After the demonstration, participants are instructed on how to mix their own craft beverages using the ingredients they received. While creating their concoctions, participants answer fun trivia questions. With a drink in hand, participants can close out the event in private virtual lounges to show off their cocktails and socialize with other employees.

2. Virtual Chocolate Truffle Making

Virtual Chocolate Truffle Making

Event Time: 1.5 hours
Event Type: Virtual Team-building Activity

Who doesn’t like chocolate? During this fun virtual team-building activity, participants learn how to make an award-winning truffle recipe.

How It Works

A confections expert specializing in truffles teaches participants how to make this delectable dessert. Participants are sent all of the ingredients and instructions for making truffles at home. The expert baker walks the participants through making the truffle recipe, step by step. Participants are encouraged to attend the event in their kitchen and actually make the truffles during the event. During the demonstration, the guest baker shares baking tips and entertains the audience with a food trivia game. This event is perfect to include family members to join in on the fun too.

3. Virtual Cookie Decorating

Virtual Cooking Decorating

Event Time: 1 hour
Event Type: Hybrid Team-building Activity

One of the best things about the holidays is sweet treats. Here’s an idea to turn cookie decorating into a friendly competition among co-workers.

How it Works 

For this hybrid team-building activity, participants are sent plain sugar cookies, a variety of edible decorations, and a theme for decorating. This event is perfect to hold during a lunch hour and in an office area where teams can work together to decorate their cookies. Choose someone who has a knack for cookie decorating, to lead the event via teleconference, provide encouragement, and share tips and tricks.

Once participants are finished decorating their cookies, they take photos and post them to an event #hashtag on social media. The cookies are judged by either a select panel or by their peers. Winners received an award.

Not only is this a fantastic team-building event, but great social media engagement activity for the company.

Need a Team Building Idea to Spark Motivation for Your Team?

American Meetings, Inc. has dozens of ideas for team building, problem-solving, or good old-fashioned fun! Our number one goal is to deliver an event that attendees find relevant, educational, and most of all memorable.

Contact Us Today for a Complimentary Consultation.

The Evolution of Virtual Meetings as B2B Events Emerge from the Pandemic

The Evolution of Virtual Meetings as B2B Events Emerge from the Pandemic

In this podcast episode of Destination on the Left Podcast, AMI Founder Andy McNeill talks about the evolution of virtual meetings as the event industry emerges from the pandemic. From the economic downturns of 9/11, the 2008 recession, and now COVID-19, Andy understands the highs and lows of the industry and how to shift and even grow during them.

What is trending for B2C events and how is it different from B2B meetings? Get answers to that and learn why Andy believes that hybrid meetings (live events with virtual elements) are here to stay. Find out how suppliers are meeting new demands with creative meeting solutions. Hear about the trends hotels are following and what is needed in order to provide the live event safety and security participants will be looking for. And finally, get ideas on how destinations and convention and visitor bureaus (CVB’s) are being innovative with virtual meeting technology and how they are “creating space” to promote their destinations.

As Andy McNeill indicates, “There’s no question that if you want to be able to compete, you want to be able to play in this new normal.”

If you are a destination, global meeting planner, or supplier, this podcast will inspire ideas and bring you up to date on future trends from a 30+ year industry veteran who actually grew the business in 2020. Create amazing virtual meetings with a wider reach and lower cost than in-person events. Start by getting inspired by listening to the latest episode of Destination on the Left Podcast featuring Andy McNeill. Listen here.

Three Meeting and Event Trends for 2021

Three Meeting and Event Trends for 2021

The landscape for the corporate meeting and event industry has been entirely disrupted by the pandemic of 2020. As we begin to unravel from it all, our hope is in what is to come.

The good news is that the demand for corporate meetings remains strong. We are social creatures, and business meetings must happen to help us align on goals and with each other. The shift organizations made to online meetings, and virtual events showed us that business, events, and meetings needed to continue to move forward, regardless of the global pandemic landscape. Networking, product research and development, collaboration, and team communication must, and will, continue.

The question isn’t whether or not group events will happen; it is how they will look and how to make them successful. As we all look forward, prepare for the future and glide into the new normal, here are three trends we expect to see strengthened.

Venues are Getting Ready for Hybrid Events

Virtual events have been the primary way organizations have held meetings of every type. As businesses that have been limited or sheltered are once again opening doors, we expect hybrid events to take over.

The boom in virtual meetings has created new best practices in the industry, improving production logistics and technology for the better. We expect hybrid events to dominate with user familiarity, and venues must get ready to meet their needs.

CVBs and DMCs are Expanding

Convention and Visitor Bureaus, along with Destination Management Companies, are expanding their partnerships and adjusting their income models. Going from a steady income of event hosting, then coming to a complete halt in some cases, due to the pandemic, CVBs and DMCs are looking at how they price and who they need to have in their portfolio of connections.

Broadening networks and outreach to be more diverse helps balance out income sources, and partnering with additional vendors will allow for more agility should something like a global disruption happen again.

Focus on Health and Safety

Hybrid events will continue to attract participants most comfortably – live or digital. Meeting technologies, along with health and safety will continue to be a focus and priority for attendees, venues, and event planners. Local government mandates will continue to shift, and those in the meetings industry will need to be flexible to meet those changes. Procedures to maintain safety will continue to be front and center with signage, technology, PPE, and more. Onsite testing is likely to be a live event standard. Find more resources here: Meeting Health & Safety