How to Use Virtual Reality for Your Hybrid Event

August 5, 2021 •
A girl wearing VR goggles and playing on the table

With hybrid events on the rise, there is one event trend that seems to be growing in popularity. The trend is virtual reality, and it has the unique ability to make virtual attendees feel as if they are actually present with in-person attendees. It’s the perfect way to offer an elevated digital experience for your next hybrid event.

Implementing VR into your hybrid event is easier than ever. There are plenty of streaming platforms that offer live-360 streaming options that are compatible with virtual reality headsets. On top of bringing virtual attendees to the event through VR, you can use it to create more unique experiences with immersive videos, games, or other interactive elements.

How can you use virtual reality to enhance the attendee experience? 

Recorded 360 Tour or Demonstration

What You’ll Need:

  • 360 recorded video & audio
  • VR headsets for attendees
  • Streaming platform

This type of virtual reality implementation is going to be the simplest way to give attendees an immersive experience, and if we’re being honest, it’s not technically VR. Virtual reality is when someone can interact with a virtual environment. When you stream a 360-degree video through a VR headset, the viewer can only view the environment. However, it still gives them a good sense that they are experiencing the environment regardless of the inability to interact with it.

This kind of VR element can be great for things like product demonstrations, tours, and entertainment. It just requires 360-degree video and audio to be recorded and uploaded to a streaming platform like YouTube, Facebook, or Plex. Let’s say a company wants to show off their newest gadget at their upcoming hybrid conference. They could offer a digital, 360-degree demonstration that walks the viewer through its features. If the viewer watches through a VR headset, this gives them the illusion that they are actually in the room, experiencing the demonstration in front of them. A 360-degree video tour of a building or space would have the same immersive effect.

Your client may have the resources to create a 360-degree video, or they may need to hire professionals to do this for them. Either way, once you have the video, it’s easy to provide your virtual attendees with access, as long as they have a VR headset.

This method can also be used simply for attendee entertainment. You can find entertaining 360-degree videos on YouTube like shark dives or bungee jumps. This kind of entertainment could be used during wait times that digital attendees may experience as a result of not being in-person with the other attendees: in between sessions or during meal breaks, transitions or intermissions. This can help keep your virtual attendees engaged from a distance. This kind of VR interaction would work just fine with more entry-level VR headsets that don’t include controllers.

Live-360 Streaming 

What You’ll Need:

  • 360-live video & audio set up
  • VR headsets for attendees
  • Streaming platform

This type of virtual reality implementation works similarly to the first except that instead of a recorded 360-degree video and accompanying audio, it’s a 360-degree livestream. While not interactive, it places the viewer in the room with other attendees in real time. This brings the real-time action straight into the virtual attendee’s VR headset.

Streaming 360 video is similar to a normal video stream except for the kind of camera used. A few great camera options for 360 recording are below.

Check out platforms like Facebook, WOWZA and StreamShark for live-360 streaming options.

The benefits of 360-live streaming make it a great tool to use across multiple types of events. Things like conference sessions, complex trainings, weddings, concerts, tradeshows and more can be difficult for virtual attendees to feel engaged in with a normal video stream. Adding a VR headset and 360-views and audio can help bring attendees right into the action so that they don’t miss out on the experience.

Interactive VR: Simulations 

This is the most complex virtual reality option for hybrid events and involves creating an actual interactive 3D, virtual reality environment. This can be costly whether you choose to hire freelance 3D graphic designers or companies that specialize in VR design. This involves having an interactive environment built out and VR headsets with controllers, which are offered by brands like Oculus, Sony, Samsung, and HTC.

Most events won’t require something like this, but they can be quite useful for certain circumstances or industries. For example, if an aviation company hosts an event and wants to set up a cock-pit simulator, they will need that built out for their specific aircrafts. This responsibility falls on the company themselves, but if you’re planning an event with a feature like this, the coordination for virtual attendees has to be considered: getting them the right headset, setting up the tutorials, managing the tech, etc. You may even find that in-person attendees will benefit from this type of experience as well. As VR becomes more accessible, we will likely see in-depth VR experiences for hybrid and fully in-person events alike.

Event Planning for Virtual Reality Elements

The most important thing when planning virtual reality aspects of an event is making sure attendees receive their headsets and that, during the event, these pieces run smoothly. A lot of interaction and collaboration from your tech team will be needed, and you’ll have to stay on top of the user experience as many people have never used VR before. But this new and exciting way to implement more immersive experiences into your hybrid events will have a great impact on your attendees’ overall experience and the success of the event.

A Layer of Protection for Your VR Event

With all the event technology and equipment required to run a hybrid event, as well as new tasks like shipping VR headsets, it is crucial to have the right event planning insurance coverage. It’s important to make sure you are protected against any onsite damages as well as digital issues that could arise from a cyber-attack or data breach that could put your company at risk.

NOW Insurance offers affordable coverage for event planners to protect against injuries, cancellations, or other issues that could occur. Fill out our easy insurance application in under 3 minutes to get the right coverage for your business, without even picking up the phone. Contact us with questions about coverage.