To help combat the widespread in-person-event disruptor—the coronavirus—the Plan Your Meetings live event team is leveraging another disruptor by holding events in a virtual world.
Don’t be confused, these are not videoconference calls; these events take place in an online virtual world. No one will be able to see the real you—there’s no camera involved—they’ll only see your avatar. Confused? Watch this video for a basic overview:
Doing a test run with some other Meeting Professionals International and Plan Your Meetings staff, I was reminded—only in the most basic sense—of the first online virtual world I experienced back in 1998 (Active Worlds). That, of course, was on a dialup internet connection with jumpy-blocky graphics that took time to actually render on the screen—it was slow and the audio wasn’t very good as few people had quality microphones, but it still dazzled users as the most visually stunning virtual world yet available.
In the intervening decades, many more people have experienced and become comfortable traversing virtual worlds such as Second Life. The VirBELA Open Campus platform in which Plan Your Meetings live events will take place, however, is a huge step forward for holding interactive events in virtual worlds.
What you’ll experience “in-world”: education and one-on-one networking, as you’d encounter at any previous, in-person Plan Your Meetings live event. You walk around the various rooms and locations (with your avatar), talk with industry peers and, of course, use emotes (ways to communicate with your avatars movement, such as clapping or dancing). Perhaps the most interesting emote in this context is that of shaking hands with other avatars—when was the last time you shook someone’s hand without subsequently applying sanitizer gel? As with any hosted buyer-type program, attendance at Plan Your Meetings live virtual events are free for planners—you just need to register.
Once you register to attend a free Plan Your Meetings live virtual event, you’ll be sent all of the information needed to get started, such as instructions on downloading and installing VirBELA as well as tips to help you make the most of the experience. I recommend exploring the virtual world prior to the scheduled event so you can get accustomed to the most basic controls and options—you’ll need to build your avatar, anyhow, so after creating the look for the virtual you, just poke around. (If you don’t have time in advance to do anything beyond designing your avatar, that’s fine as you’ll get a quick tutorial at the start of the event. But if you’re totally new to virtual worlds, I strongly encourage spending a few minutes exploring in advance.)
July 30 – Northern California
Aug. 13 – Northwest U.S.
Aug. 26 – Rocky Mountain Region
Sept. 10 – Midwest U.S.
Sept. 23 – Southern California
Oct. 8 – Texas
Oct. 22 – Northeast U.S.
Nov. 5 – Online and in-person at MPI’s World Education Congress (WEC)
Plan Your Meetings Digital Events are open to both planners and suppliers. For complete details and to register for any of these free virtual experiences, visit the Plan Your Meetings live events page.