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.
Tidings of Virtual Joy

When the pandemic began (what feels like many centuries ago), the first thing we did was create Live and Free, a website that gave a shout-out to the wellspring of virtual events designed to keep us entertained, engaged, and connected.

Who thought we’d still be at this? Nearly one year later, we asked VEG followers to tell us about the virtual moments of 2020 that moved them in an otherwise lonely year. Their answers make it clear. Joy, humor, celebration, and celebrities took the art of the virtual to new heights. Re-watch or get your first dose of these memorable moments.

Did we miss any favorites? Let us know. Thanks to Anne Bubnic, Amber Stafford, Scott Mace, Andrew Morris, Robin Wollner, Dewie Marietta, and Alicia Nieva-Woodgate for contributing.
What Can Events Planners Learn from Retailers?
Forget Amazon. I’ll remember 2020 as the year of the box. Online became a lifeline, but there’s a business opportunity here somewhere.

Pandemic-stricken retailers stepped up their games using AR and human influencers to sell their wares in a personalized, fun way. AR makeup try-ons from Charlotte Tilbury, Estee Lauder, L’Oreal and Mac keeping makeup sales healthy. AR is baked into Pinterest, YouTube, and SnapChat.
Continuing on their retail roll, Walmart joined forces with TikTok to create the first shoppable livestream event in the US (this is already a well established pastime in Asia). Shopping via Zoom at places like Cost Plus (developed by Matterport) feels a little like wandering into a shopping desert, but it’s start.

Still nascent, only 1% of U.S. adults actively use AR while shopping, per an October Bizrate Insights/eMarketer study. That’s a clarion call to put on your thinking caps and start recognizing the potential for shoppable moments on your virtual events as another revenue stream.

Does Anyone Need a ZoomBox?
The ambitious Zoom for Home initiative announced support for a number of competing all-in-one video conferencing solutions, including Echo Show devices (Alexas with screens), Facebook’s Portal and Google’s Nest Hub Max. Zoom is also selling a screen portal from DTEN. Each claims to offer ease of use, one button to join a call, special features like camera tracking as you move about, and fun features. Tread carefully, though. Portal, for example, demands that you’re on their platform to experience some of the benefits. We’re thinking that it’s better to spend your hard-earned pennies on lighting and audio, sticking to your laptop for video calls. But if you do a ton of video calling and are hooked on one of the big services, it might be time to take a look.


Go Johnny Go
Have you been to a Hopin event yet? Easy to navigate and administer and super scalable, Hopin’s virtual meeting platform is on track to become the first events platform unicorn. CEO Johnny Boufarhat revealed an increase of more than 50 times the revenue the platform was creating just last March and have raised $165 million in investment. Launched last year, the Hopin team expanded by 294% in the past six months to 193 employees. It boasts 3.5m users and has worked with organizations like the United Nations and NATO. Scaling at superspeed and being able to recruit all over the world is Boufarhat’s secret sauce, according to this profile on Sifted. Being remote helps grow remote!


Quick Takes:
Hybrid Experts In 2021 all eyes will be on hybrid events. Judging from the likes of these experts we can expect hybrids to do a lot of shape-shifting.

Virtual CES As we ready ourselves for the tech world’s annual soiree, CES 2021, I’m betting the virtual platform will prove to be good business for smaller exhibitors that might get lost in the glitz of the big convention halls. Read more here.


John Deere announced it will distribute Facebook's $299 Oculus Quest 2 goggles to select visitors (aka press?). Users can put themselves behind the wheel of a John Deere tractor or harvester. Sound pricey? According to the experience creators, sending the devices to users and other associated costs were far less than exhibiting at the Las Vegas Convention Center. John Deere's budget for CES in 2021 is about 75% of its normal CES expense.

At this year's IFA -- Europe's biggest trade show held each summer in Berlin -- Samsung and LG created virtual demo rooms. Samsung used Epic's Unreal Engine for games to build a virtual, 3D tour experience and a choose-your-own adventure digital demo. LG launched a virtual exhibition that demonstrated its latest product lineups within a realistic rendering of Berlin Messe's Hall 18, its usual IFA home.

Here are a couple of other AR/VR exhibit booths designed by Tom Emrich and the folks at 8th Wall.

Nutanix virtual exhibitor booth 

Samsung virtual event
Verizon portal

Thanks Esther Schindler for a great piece in The Economist that looks at what we’ve learned from this year’s virtual events (and mentions VEG group).
As 2020 comes to a close may 2021 be a year filled with light and hope for you and yours, both virtually and IRL.

Robin Raskin and the VEG group
Mark your calendars for January 21, 2021, our next VEG Meetup. Learn how Andrew Morris of The Fintech Agenda handled his multi-session event and play with ThirtyFriends, a new platform for social engagement.
To RSVP, sign up for our mailing list.
About Us
Send any tips and thoughts you have about virtual events. contact Robin Raskin,
Founder, Solving For Tech
201.564.7900 | 917.215.3160 | @robinr