Gatherings hosts Morningstar Investment Conference 2021

Last month saw Gatherings host a digital arm of Morningstar’s Investment Conference 2021. The conference returned to Chicago this year, following on from the success of Morningstar’s fully virtual conference last year, but this year’s event then married together both as in-person conference hall that has become a stable in every investor’s calendar, with the co-presence, flexibility and innovation of virtual reality – helping individuals to be at the event, no matter their location. 

A “hybrid event”, it saw an impressive number of guests turning up both in person and via their headsets to network and learn more about the upcoming year in finance. This was the first big event of 500 allowing people to speak to one another in the space and was a real game-changer both for Gatherings and for the events industry.

VR guests were able to speak to others via their own digital avatars, communicating both in groups, meetings and one on one, creating the most life-like VR conference yet. This was further enhanced by the realistic looking Avatars created from headshots submitted by attendees ahead of the conference.

Guests joined from all corners of the globe, reaping the impressive benefits that virtual reality offers at the fantastic conference. They were able to follow bespoke conference schedules, listen to speeches and get involved with panels no matter where they were.

The conference was also a first in that they features large new bespoke boots for each of the sponsors, designed for maximum engagement and interactivity. Within these, attendees could watch video content, scroll through PDF’s and speak to sponsor’s representatives within the space, as well as booking meetings to catch up afterwards. This made communication and collaboration easier than ever – all through the powers of virtual reality. 

Leslie Marshall’s foreword to the 2021 conference:

We hosted our first event in VR last year, and while it was fantastic, it was a little light on what we think is a core element of every MIC: community. This year’s VR experience addresses that. You’ll be able to create you own custom avatar, to meet and chat with other people in spaces across the event, and, thanks a recommendation engine powered by artificial intelligence, connect with other attendees who share your interests. I think it’s a great chance for all of us to see the future of events—and the future of work—firsthand, as we explore new horizons for investors and technology together.

Thanks for joining us on this adventure.

– Leslie Marshall, Head of Experienctial Marketing, Morningstar

While this event showcased the huge developments in VR, it is just the start of what is set to revolutionise the events industry. Find out more about how Gatherings can help you for your next event and she just how it can completely transform the way you conduct events and meetings going forward.

The importance of co-presence for communication and how Gatherings can help with this

We live in an age where we are more connected but also less present than we have ever been. Our contacts list are endless and we have more ways than ever to get in touch with people – phones constantly buzz with notifications, messages, emails and voice notes. Yet while we might speak to more people digitally, it still can’t replace the feeling of meeting in person. For while we feel that connection, we are also so much more strongly connected to those whose hands we shake, whose eyes we meet and where conversations can flow naturally. Where we aren’t impeded by poor internet connections, missed notifications and lack of signal. 

This is where Virtual Reality can help, bridging the gap between the personability of real-life interaction and the practicality of digital communication. It enables you to speak to others through a photo avatar, where you can speak face to face with someone and use hand gestures. Here we have explored a few of the reasons that co-presence is so important for communication and just how Gatherings VR can help.

You’re more likely to make sales

As a business owner, one of the key elements to your success is the amount of sales you make. After all, the more sales you generate, the more income you will bring in and the more you can put back into your company. Co-presence is one of the most important elements to making sales and it is something that cannot be replicated via an email or instant message. When you meet people face to face you can interpret body language and gauge how someone is reacting or feeling by their facial expressions or gestures. It is a much more personal way to build trust and by putting a face to a name it creates a relationship that is much more personal than if you just speak via digital methods. 

When a business is looking for someone to work with, they will be much more likely to purchase from and collaborate with those that they have a more meaningful connection with, than someone they have never met. VR enables you to meet “face to face”. You can see the other person’s body language, look them in their eyes and feel as though you are speaking to someone rather than just a faceless entity behind an email address or username. 

Your customers will feel engaged with you 

Business markets are more saturated than ever and that is why it is so important to stand out above the competition. When people are shopping online, they are bombarded with similar, faceless companies all offering similar products or services. What is missing is the personal element that you get when visiting a store itself. While online shopping is more convenient, it is the in-store personal experiences that we remember, that leave us feeling good and as though we’ve really learnt about and interacted with a company. 

Through using VR you can recreate this personal experience from the comfort of customers’ own homes or offices. They can slip on a VR headset and be transported to a virtual showroom where you can talk through the products in person with them. They will feel taken care of and get the personal experience of real-life conversation where chat can easily flow and they can experience a more in-depth experience of your services.

You are more memorable

When clients or customers speak to you from behind a computer, you are masked behind a faceless email address that could have been sent by anyone. It is easy to be forgotten and fall into the abyss of marketing messages, promos, spam and other messages that have made their way through. 

By having a co-presence and physically speaking with someone, you create a memorable impression that is much less likely to be lost. They will be able to put a face to a name and whether they decide to do business with you now or in the future, you will stick in their minds. This is also true as VR is such an emerging and impressive technology, so in a way is even more memorable than a real-life meeting. You can enjoy the benefits of ease of communication, being able to look at the other person’s face, read their body language – and all without leaving the comfort of your office or front room.

The importance of face to face communication is something that is often overlooked as there are so many other ways to be in touch with people. While technology such as emails or instant messages are great at making communication easier, it doesn’t necessarily make it better. When in-person communication isn’t available or is difficult to do, don’t forgo the personal element of business. Instead, utilise VR and ensure that you are present and face to face – no matter where you are based. 

You can feel like you are in the same conference, meeting or breakout space even if you are physically thousands of miles apart. VR can enable you to create connections on a much deeper level and reap the benefits of co-presence.

A look at our different VR spaces for your next event

We want Virtual Reality to be just like that – reality. And in reality you don’t spend all your time in one space. This is why we have meticulously created dedicated rooms for everything you might need in a VR business meet up; whether this be a room for a presentation, a conference, a meeting with views of Miami just beyond the windows or something else (you’re in control), you are sure to find what you are looking for. Plus, we’ll continue to update these too. If you find a space that you want to visit, it can be easily downloaded by the click of a button, allowing you to immerse yourself in it just moments later. It is this unlimited discovery and unrivalled creativity that puts us at the forefront of the VR revolution. For those of you that are wondering just what spaces you can find, here we have put together some of the different spaces below for your next event that you don’t want to miss out on.

Boardroom Space

The boardroom is something that a simple video call just can’t replicate. With this space replicating a traditional presentation seating layout, you’ll forget that you are experiencing it inside a piece of technology. Sit among your peers’ avatars, feeling true co-presence and viewing a large screen at the front to present on. You can choose to brand the room to make it your own, right down to the view beyond the window. Speak to others, present and watch others do the same – just as you would in real life.

Breakout Room

If you are at a conference or meeting, it could be that you need some time to break off and speak with select team members or clients. Our breakout rooms offer the ideal spot for more intimate discussions where you can network, talk about business and utilise the event that you are immersed in. The space comes complete with a large window and rolling views, giving you the impression you really have travelled somewhere further than your own office, co-working space or home study.

Presentation Room

We know that presentations are important for any business and this is why our dedicated presentation room has all you could need. Seating up to 30 guests in the room, the large screen in front of them means they’ll be 100% paying attention to your presentation. With spectacular views behind, this is always a guest-favourite. 

Central Hub

The same way as physical buildings have a main lobby or hallway where you can travel from one place to another, central hub space is the ideal place for discovery and transition. When you are here you can easily choose your next destination, bumping into colleagues or attendees on the way, making it ideal to network or catch up on your way to discovering more of the spaces on offer. Easy-to-access portals around the hub connect any of your chosen rooms together by a simple click of a button.

Events Hall

As the name suggests, our event hall is designed when you are looking to throw a larger scale get-together. These are some of our most innovative spaces for groups of a medium/ large size and have the capacity for up to 125 guests. When you are here, you can make the most of the space for attendees to gather and network in front of a stage and large screen. The space also has other intimate, breakout spaces that are easy to access and ideal for having more private discussions. These are easily accessible from the wings of the main hall and, again, help to add realism to your events.

Events Plaza

If it is a conference style event that you are looking for, then our events plaza is an effortless choice. With the capacity to host large numbers of attendees, it features a live auditorium area in the centre of the space. Attendees can watch live key-note talks, videos that have been pre-recorded and also visit brandable sponsor booths that are set up around the sides. These booths are designed with interactivity in mind and include video screens, the ability to interact with PDF documents and so much more.

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