What makes a virtual event unforgettable?
Conferences are (normally) a rich environment to connect with people. But even with COVID-19 vaccinations on the rise, the delta variant complicates business travel and huge in-person events. In a June poll from the Global Business Travel Association, 91% of companies say they've cancelled or suspended most or all international business travel. It’s a slow return.
"With avatars, networking and breakout room software, industry is getting close to being able to replicate much of a real-life event experience online,” remarks Ann Nguyen, an event planner in Calgary. “Technology has grown. There's a lot of money and investments being put into event technology right now.”
And event marketers have already made their intentions clear: 93% are already planning to incorporate virtual events into their strategy in 2021 and beyond.
So — instead of comparing the challenges of virtual events vs. in-person events, let’s celebrate four unforgettable digital conferences.
4 Amazing Virtual Events in 2021
Before we begin, we should note that many of the world’s leading virtual events providers are looking for new opportunities to level-up their digital conferences.
So what’s the best way to make your own virtual event platform stand out from the rest? We recommend investing in spatial audio. It’s relatively easy to implement and once activated, offers an exciting array of benefits to providers and listeners alike!
The Consumer Electronics Show, in partnership with SpatialWeb, recently hosted a multi-day digital event backed by powerful immersive audio – and the results were amazing.
Keep reading to learn more about CES 2021 and a few other amazing virtual events this year.
SXSW encompasses media, design, technology, and music — it’s one of the most influential events every year. In 2021, the online event offered a digital experience including keynotes, conference sessions, music festival showcases, film festival screenings, and world-class networking.
“This year’s event was actually full of innovations that made it feel like home. In fact, some of these should stick around for years to come,” Bill Tucker writes for The Austinot.
“On the first day, I saw two fascinating talks on the music industry and watched an amazing short film in the space of an hour. This never happens in a traditional SXSW setting. Being able to jump around from track to track (or channel to channel) was fantastic,” Bill continues.
Overall, the spirit of SXSW was still strong in this year’s virtual edition. Bill recollects: “The music slapped, the films were great, and the panels were inspiring. And best of all, connections were still being made. Panel chats were full of good questions and interactions, music showcases were full of virtual oohs and ahhs.”
Keep this in mind: Connections were still being made. And the best way to help encourage connections? Clear communication. (Research shows that higher quality audio is actually statistically more compelling, too.)
“The conference organizers knew that they couldn’t simply host a giant Zoom call. This wouldn’t recreate the serendipitous networking mood in the slightest.”
CES 2021 was hosted on SpatialWeb, a multi-room virtual venue with different lounges — a rendition of the Las Vegas Convention Center. “Participants could do whatever they liked: network with industry professionals, play games, party, or listen to iHeartMedia’s head-bobbing lineup of musicians.”
As mentioned above, SpatialWeb has already integrated spatial audio by High Fidelity, helping to create a truly immersive experience for attendees. “They could use their video avatars in the virtual space to mingle and catch up with friends and colleagues. They could just approach another attendee and strike up a conversation without hassle.”
The event, hosted by Ryan Seacrest, included appearances from Grammy-winning artists such as Chris Martin and Dua Lipa. The night wrapped with a Billie Eilish performance.
Porter Robinson gathered his collaborators, friends, and inspirations for the livestream show.
“To those looking for a more in-depth audio-visual experience, a virtual reality-enabled stream is available. While it's enhanced by a VR headset, it can be enjoyed both on your phone and in your browser. You can explore the virtual world, chat with others, and even create a private room for you and your friends here,” writes Nick Yopko.
Jordan Oloman describes being at the event in great detail: "The website teleported fans to a lush field full of robed avatars representing real people. Forgoing usernames, every attendee was simply marked with their physical location. White circles on the floor let players join voice chats and mingle with other groups from around the world. I danced in virtual reality with fans from Italy, ID’d tunes with a fast friend from Colombia and anticipated sets with users from the US and Japan over the course of the day."
Oloman continues, praising the event: "The main arena featured a gigantic screen that reacted dynamically with each set, and players could visit a number of pocket worlds inside of Secret Sky. You could climb an ancient tree to get a better vantage point on the venue, exposing its fireworks and dynamic particle effects in great detail. Secret Sky was just bursting at the seams with meaning at all times. I really felt that sense of presence and community that I’d been missing."
(Again, remember the importance of connection with others — community — as something that really drives people to remember events...)
Oloman finishes his article about Secret Sky, writing: "It was a tantalising glimpse into the future of Robinson’s live shows, which will no doubt be moving feats of audiovisual catharsis. I can’t wait until we’re allowed to get together and dance our hearts out to nurture, but raving in my living room has certainly sustained me for the time being."
“Putting our all-new product to the test for the first time by hosting an industry event with more than 42,000 registrants worldwide showed the unwavering confidence we have in both our product and our team,” said Cvent co-founder and CTO, David Quattrone. “We couldn’t be prouder to have been able to deliver such an impactful virtual event experience to tens of thousands of people around the world.”
Add Spatial Audio to Your Virtual Event
There are plenty of creative ways to engage attendees at virtual events to help them better connect with each other — but audio is the one component that virtually all online conferences and events have.
And simply put... the quality of your audio matters.
But now, there is an easily scalable solution for your virtual event: Try integrating High Fidelity's Spatial Audio API. It’ll allow real-time high-quality voice communication for hundreds of people simultaneously, and you can get started by creating a free developer account below. Questions about how it integrates? Don’t hesitate to respond to our ‘Welcome’ email once you sign up.