The metaverse and corporate events
Elaine Byrne, project director, Sledge, talks about how corporate events can leverage the metaverse and NFTs to change the game.
The metaverse has been one of the most talked-about trends over the past 12 months. So much so, that analysts at Bloomberg are predicting the metaverse could be an $800bn industry by 2024.
We’ve been seeing a lot of brands embrace the platform to generate buzz and intrigue, such as The Gucci Garden installation, Samsung’s virtual pop-up in New York and, more recently, Metaverse Fashion Week, where Dolce & Gabbana, Selfridges and many others showed off their wares.
So, how can the metaverse, as well as NFTs, which are more often than not closely linked to these experiences, be applied to corporate events?
Key questions to consider before taking the leap
There are no doubt some great opportunities for corporates in this space, but as with all of the newest, shiniest technologies out there, it’s important to avoid investing in the metaverse for the sake of it. Just as a typical event takes a lot of planning and strategising before it comes to life, so too should a metaverse.
Ask yourself the same questions you would when taking a brief for an event. Consider whether it’s the right avenue for the brand right now, which goals or objectives the experience will help the company achieve and whether it’s relevant to the target audience. It’s also important to note that a metaverse takes time, sometimes years, to create, so does this ladder up to the timeframe you’re working within?
Creating metaverses with meaning
Just like corporate events, the metaverse is all about bringing people with shared interests and passions together in meaningful ways, so they can connect, learn and even play.
The metaverse goes one step further, as it allows us to create virtual societies that exist in the long term, with people and their avatars dipping in and out as they please. There’s a lot of opportunity for corporate events, from conferences and exhibitions, to employee engagement initiatives and incentives in the metaverse, as it allows companies to continue the conversation with their communities outside of the real world.
The metaverse allows us to create branded worlds where people come to meet and connect, purchase NFTs (more on this one later) and play games at a time that suits them, while also consuming content and information that is relevant to their roles and your brand, which like a news cycle, can be updated daily or multiple times a day.
This is then able to be complemented by a suite of special virtual event experiences which are hosted within the metaverse on a regular, say weekly or monthly, basis. It creates meaning as people create unique bonds – they also come back again and again for learning and education.
Leveraging the link between the metaverse and NFTs
We’ve seen NFTs, which are digital certificates that act as an individual’s proof of ownership of something similarly digital, used to sell everything from limited edition artworks and cars, to high-end fashion items.
They are being readily embraced as currency in the metaverse and can be powerful additions to corporate events that are housed in this world.
NFTs can be used to create event tickets which feature a limited edition artwork or other unique elements. This, in turn, adds a layer of exclusivity to the event and encourages attendees to hold onto their NFTs. This means they act as a memento of the experience and ensures your brand and event stays front of mind.
In the case of the metaverse example I mentioned above, NFT tickets can then become collectors’ items, with attendees keeping the tickets from each event on file and treating them as treasured possessions. A great example of this is the Bored Ape Yacht Club, where people purchase NFTs of apes – to not only become owners of these unique digital collectibles, but to also receive a Yacht Club membership card, which grants them access to an exclusive owners-only online community, plus special perks and benefits.
The use of NFTs as tickets and handouts which contain sensitive information is another great usage example. Because an NFT’s ownership and use can’t be counterfeited or transferred, it means security and confidentiality can be maintained.
Gone are the days of wasteful swag bags, now in the metaverse organisers can produce exclusive experiences, create a collectible NFT series for an event or gather a shared community.
This is also a much more sustainable solution, as there’s no need to produce physical products – everything stays online.
NFTs can also be used to grant people access to exclusive parts of, or experiences within, the metaverse. This could involve providing access to desk space or a meeting room at a virtual Soho House, where an elite group of creatives come together for a regular meeting – something that would be impossible to schedule in person.
There are important strategic and planning steps to take before investing in the metaverse, but once you’re there, you’ll find there are a ton of opportunities to explore when it comes to corporate events. There is no doubt these will continue to grow, as the technologies become more sophisticated in the months and years to come.