Before March 2020, events, meetings, and conferences were face-to-face whenever and wherever possible. The COVID-19 pandemic forced us into a virtual world. Many of us have become adept at navigating this new online space, with some organizations reporting an increase in profits and attendance.

When we imagine what is possible with the event industry in the next 2-3 years, we often talk about hybrid events – a virtual and face-to-face mix. However, technology will outpace those trends quickly. I recently had an “extended reality” experience. Extended reality includes a spectrum from entirely virtual to augmented reality. Combined with artificial intelligence, extended reality will allow us to create many types of event experiences.

Youtopian walked me through four immersive worlds using Oculus glasses. The glasses provide a completely immersive experience allowing me to interact with my environment and other people. Each of the settings was very different; the most fantastic part was connecting with people in ways that are not possible via Zoom. The possibilities are endless. I share my thoughts about extended reality in the video above.

My experience with extended reality is the reason I focus on omnichannel events, not a hybrid. Omni-channel events deliver information and experiences to attendees via many channels.

Stay tuned for my upcoming vlog and podcast called Planet of the Associations, done in partnership with Mark Levy, a consultant and differentiation expert. Mark and I will discuss innovation in associations through topics like cosmology, mathematics, origami, theater, magic, and more.