VEG’ers are not just sitting around twiddling their digits. The pandemic has not ended events. Instead, and very quickly, it has evolved them. Here is this week’s news in the world of events, brought to you by the VEG.
March 25, 2021 | 3:00pm EDT
AMA with Bob Priest-Heck, CEO, Freeman
Last chance to register to hear Freeman CEO Bob Priest-Heck share his thoughts on the future of events, both physical and virtual. March 25th, 3PM. RSVP Now.
Same Time Next Year
One year from now, virtual events may be unrecognizable. Here are three good reasons why.
  • Better AI and personalization: If I’m attending an event and I'm open about who I am, and what I’m interested in accomplishing, the event organizers should be able to map my show. Hours saved; outcomes realized. Case in point? Virsa is an AI Bot that looks at an event’s agenda and figures out where you’ll want to be before you get there. It’ll find your most relevant contacts. We’re testing it now.
  • Virtual Currency for Virtual events: Events are going to need to sell real (or virtual) goods in order to supplement revenues and create the 360 loop. Think everything from speaker autographs and selfies, merch and special access events. According to metaverse maven Cathy Hackl over 400 million dollars have been dropped on the metaverse’s chosen currency, the non-fungible token (or NFT).
  • Fans and Influencers: In a world where everyone's an influencer, companies like Audius and LoopedLive are just two of dozens of event newcomers making celebrities and influencers monetizable.

Bizzabo’s Eran Ben-Shushan’s recent session on the future of events suggests “the solutions we have invented so far will drift into obscurity tomorrow. Simply adding a streaming event to your virtual event is not going to work." Deconstructing events, he says, will lead to outcome based design. Start with what people are expecting to achieve and then work back from there.

In other predictions? It’s going to be a big year for audio. Check out my column Audio: 2021’s Comeback Kid.
SXSW What Just Happened

The brain explodes, but sadly, my belly aches for some good Austin BBQ. SXSW, the cultural fest of arts, music, film and interactivity has ended and it's hard to assess the success of its second year of being virtual. 

The event was hosted over five days on SwapCard. Its vastness was both admirable and head splitting.

Meh, for impact. You’ll find nary a word in the press about news coming out of SXSW Online. 

As for tele-connecting with the Austin vibe, it’s hard, but not impossible. Even though many sessions were pre-recorded there were some interesting side-screen chats and folks who wanted to connect. With rebroadcasts through the night I probably consumed 10x more content than I would at a physical South By. 

Discovery was really tough -- 5 main stages, plus a full conference schedule, networking, meetups, awards. I mapped out my show ahead of time but found myself furiously channel surfing with less than optimal absorption.

Next gen? I really looked forward to the range of things happening in XR including films and a recreation of Austin’s Congress Street. Sadly, tech issues trumped success. Based on the comments in the XR Online room, I was not alone. For XR movies my Oculus and MS Surface didn’t have enough graphics oomph. For the VRchat, I wandered rooms of foul-mouthed, pre-pubescent avatars but never found my South By VR host. 

The annual sojourners I connect with shared a single sentiment . “Great effort” but “can’t wait to get back to IRL”. Event aficionados need to look at Room, a video conferencing platform that puts you at the meeting table in live video. Announced at SXSW.

Ticket Pricing Pandemic-monium

It's pandemic-monium for ticket pricing as event creators determine their worth. 

  •  CES 2022 early reg: $149 to $499
  •  Collision: $99 to $999
  •  SXSW: $399
  •  Financial Times: $59.25 
  •  MIT Technology Review’s EmTech: $650 
  •  NYT, Atlantic and Bloomberg: Free
  • Comic-Con@Home: Free
Nightmare Pricing of the Year ?

The Abundance Conference created by Peter Diamandis (also known as the creator of the XPrize) cost $30,000 for each ticket. The event was held at the end of January while Southern California was still in lockdown. It promised daily COVID testing in addition to other safety measures, but 24 of the high-flying 80 attendees got COVID during the event. Proof that money can’t buy you an immunity bubble.

  • Oscars Says No Zoomies: This year’s Oscars producers are taking attendance. If you want your award you’ll need to show up in person. 
  • Virtual Events Meet VR: In the uncanny valley, virtual influencers are taking on media roles traditionally held by humans 
  • Listen to Jim Loudberback talk about Vidcon’s event pivot. (Jim is on VEG’s BOA)
  • Many events groups are investing in upskilling their staffs for an increasingly virtual world .
  • The Zoom Escaper app lets you use the weeping man, urination, or baby cries to escape the interminable meeting.
  • Got Music? The Maker Music Festival, co-created by Sherry Huss (also on VEG’s Board of Advisors), celebrates DIY instruments in a virtual open-studios like environment. And just like IRL, visitors can ‘tip’ a music maker via the maker’s chosen payment method like Patreon or Buy Me A Coffee.
April 22, 2021
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Victor Torregoza, Events Program Manager, Intel Corporation and Ashlee Ammon from Mixtroz join us to explore virtual events from all sides. RSVP today.
April 29, 2021
12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
VEG/SPROCKIT SOCIAL Where new companies in the event space meet the companies and investors who need them.
Feel the need to stay up on the virtual events scene but have a few other to-dos on your list?
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