THURSDAY 9 JUN 2016 11:04 AM


The term ‘virtual reality’ may conjure up images of futuristic dystopias where people are literally plugged in to an alternate world. It may evoke feelings of fear or dread or excitement. And it may still seem a long way off. But, the use of VR for corporate communications is right around the corner.

This week, events venue in Trafalgar Square, 8 Northumberland, launched the first virtual reality venue video in London. The launch was complemented by a panel discussion and keynote address on virtual reality and its use in corporate events and communications.

“Normally, cutting edge technology is in a white box, and that’s quite an uncomfortable place to be,” 8 Northumberland’s founder and MD Charles Boyd says, referring to the sumptuous setting highlighted through the new VR experience. The video itself uses 360-degree film of live events at the venue to allow users wearing Samsung headsets to experience what an event would actually feel like in the space. It’s a revolutionary idea for a venue in terms of sales. But it also has implications on the ways in which companies can best communicate about their brand to events-goers, customers and other stakeholders.

The panel discussion included Kudzai Manungo, product manager at Thomas Cook Group, who has spearheaded the roll out of virtual reality capabilities to the travel agent’s retail stores. He says this adds a quality of immersion and allows the brand to offer more to its customers to both encourage sales, but to provide differentiation from online and high street competitors.

John Brown, director and head of engagement at Hotwire PR, gave the keynote address during which he discussed the impact VR will have on communications. He says, “Technological advancements are driven by our pursuit for mimicking human interaction and experience.” Seamless technological integration between people and businesses can complement the brand and human experience. He offered a variety of different settings in which VR could be useful, including sport sponsorship, events management, charity fundraising, military training and others.

However challenges remain in terms of exposure and technological proliferation. And, crucially, brands should only use VR, he says, when their objectives can be reached only through the use of an immersive, experiential technology. For 8 Northumberland, that is the case with regards to the personalised, visually-vibrant and unique videos it can use to highlight the venue.

Event VR that Works