4 Steps to Integrating AR and VR Into Your Event

October 5, 2017

Scott Schoeneberger

Scott Schoeneberger is the executive vice president of marketing and a board member at Bluewater Technologies, a company devoted to helping enterprising brands bring innovation, experience and messaging to life.

Augmented reality and virtual reality sound like something out of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” right? Or, if you’ve been paying attention, perhaps you’re well aware of how virtual reality glasses are becoming a hit among younger generations, with 15-year-olds clamoring to get a pair for video game sessions. However, augmented and virtual reality are becoming a very real part of life, and it’s time to consider adding them to your event agenda.

By the year 2020, it’s estimated that the virtual and augmented reality market will be worth close to $120 billion and be accessible to more than 350 million people. With this projected rise in popularity, our visual society will be expecting to engage with VR and AR technology on a frequent basis. Given that this technology still won’t exactly be a household name by tomorrow, why not incorporate it into an event today and give the attendees an experience to remember?

Many industries are already getting behind the VR and AR hype. The art world has embraced it, with New York City’s New Museum opening an exhibition titled “First Look: Artists’ VR.” The Arlington Science Focus School in Arlington, Virginia, is using VR lenses for virtual field trips, taking its students to the Smithsonian Museum virtually rather than having to deal with Washington, D.C.’s gridlocked traffic.

As VR and AR start making waves in top industries, it’s time to consider how you could incorporate it into your own. Here are steps to take when you decide to add it to your event repertoire:

1. Determine whether this technology is a good fit. There is nothing worse than using technology for technology’s sake. Consider the options before jumping into AR or VR simply because both are the latest buzzwords. Remember, the public can smell a phony from a mile away.

2. Create a strategy for how you will use the technology. Will it be used to supplement storytelling? Will you use it to showcase products that are difficult to travel with, too large to display or too expensive to move? Will it be used to give a behind-the-scenes or inside look at something? Understanding how you intend to use this technology will help map the development process and reduce costly changes down the road. In most cases, you will also want to connect to a real business key performance indicator.

3. Enlist support. Find a partner who specializes in AR and VR development and work with him or her to create the scope of work. Make sure you include what's required onsite in terms of support and that he or she can provide that for you at the event. Developing this technology is only half the battle; making sure you have technical support available to get it set up and ensure it stays operational is the other.

4. Understand the timelines. If you're looking to activate this kind of technology at your next event – and your next event is a few weeks away – you may want to consider a backup plan. It takes time to create these types of experiences. A lot of customers assume it comes with a quick turnaround time but right now that simply isn’t the case. While this application is rapidly developing, it's still in its infancy as far as technologies go.

All in all, remember that AR and VR are about to be as expected as a cheese plate at an event. Not everyone is employing it just yet, so take the time to hone and perfect it to make your event more memorable than the typical slideshow presentation. The experience will give your audience a better grasp of your brand, your story and your eye for the future.


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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.