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[MICE Trend] VR·Hybrid·Web GL… ‘2020 MICE Applied with Online Services’


A Shift in Perception from ‘Post-COVID’ to ‘With COVID’

VR Conference that was once known as a performance, but now commercialized

Online broadcast of MICE 2020 also has effect of PR on the cities

Experts say, “Innovation will continue regardless of COVID-19”

A notable change in this year’s MICE industry is ‘Innovation of Meeting Technology’. In the serious circumstances where all means of transportation including airplanes, ships and vehicles were all restricted, there was a consensus formed on the effort to reactivate the business on the premise of limiting face-to-face networking. It was a year for attempting efficiency in meeting through technology, when in-person meetings were not possible. The meeting technology such as video conference, VR meeting and hybrid events of combining online and offline events are continuing to evolve.

<Seoul Tourism Organization> acknowledged relatively quickly on the seriousness of COVID-19 that had become a global issue from the beginning of this year, and provided through the ‘Newsletter’ on the direction for the MICE industry in the Post-COVID and With COVID period. The newsletter did not simply provide information, but also analysis and prospects, and during this period, STO also provided support by providing various channels of support and plan such as adjusting the MICE Support program according to the current circumstances. In this year-end edition (November), we look at the changes and innovations in the overall MICE industry in response to COVID-19. This will be looked at centrally from the press release articles that were included in the newsletter by STO. 

[March] ‘V²EC’, VR Conference for Avatar Meeting in the Virtual Space

In last March where the world was in a global crisis due to COVID-19, ‘Vibe Ecosystem Conference(V²EC)’ was held through VR (Virtual Reality). When Alvin Graylin from the host company of HTC China prospected that “Due to global spread of COVID-19, the face-to-face meetings will be changed to ‘Interactive Virtual Space’ meetings. Meeting technology will become an essential technology in the near future”, the domestic MICE industry recalled of the previous experience of SARS, and most of the people in the industry expected that COVID-19 will disappear in several months like SARS. 

At that time, VR Conference V²EC was simply considered as the performance by the specialized VR equipment providers. But when we look back on the last 8 months, this so-called performance by V²EC was the starting point of innovative meeting technology. In the virtual conference space (Convention Center), participants around the world were mounted with VR devices on their body to be participate in the conference as avatars. Participants exchanged conversations in real-time in the virtual space, listened to lectures and even had Q&A session. However, there was clear limitation on focusing only on the business meeting. Participants were not able to join the conference without personal VR devices, and the conference couldn’t allow access by many participants. There were many technical issues to be solved in V²EC, but there were also many advantages such as being able to view all video records that were stored, and this technology provided hope and confidence on the possibility of holding an event that is safe from COVID-19. 

[May] Inevitable Choice, ‘Hybrid Event’

‘Hybrid Event’, the event proceeded on online-offline in combination that was the key factor in the innovative meeting technology for the last few years was recently spotlighted early this year as the solution for COVID-19. In the Newsletter (May), STO released the press article titled ‘MICE going Hybrid’ to introduce various hybrid events that were performed around the world. Hybrid is performing the business events such as conferences and festivals through offline as we did in the existing method, but broadcasting in real-time on the event through the streaming technology. (Even though only small number of people can participate in the offline even due to COVID-19), the advantage is that the participants have the option of participating through online or offline, and more people can participate in the even through real-time chatting. 

When the article was released in May, the digital marketing exhibition & conference of ‘DIGIMARCON Midwest 2021’ that will be held in Chicago recruited participants through this hybrid method, and ‘MozCon’ that provides lectures and contents on digital marketing also adopted this hybrid method to provide various profit models. For example, MozCon did not provide real-time streaming on the lectures, and the lectures were provided as the paid service after the event. Also, preview service was provided to induce the participants to purchase the ticket for the next event. Even the main event in the fashion industry of fashion shows also adopted the hybrid method. When Giorgio Armani and Chanel held their fashion shows in February and March, the fashion show was held without spectators in offline, and the hybrid method was adopted for real-time broadcasting. 

[September] The first online conference by the Seoul Tourism Organization by using the advantages of VR and online conference, ‘UIA Associations members meet up in virtual Seoul’ 

Seoul, the host for the ‘8th UIA Associations Round Table Asia-Pacific 2020’ had only about 3 months before the opening day (September) that the general Assembly was going to be ‘converted to online conference’. Instead of simple broadcasting the conference, STO was determined to find a way to show the merit of the hosting city, and also the optimum meeting technology for smooth networking between the participants. The choice made by STO was ‘Web GL(Graphic Library)’. It was a decision made as the optimum tool among the zero-contact methods to provide the live experience of various information as if participating in the offline event. 

In the main page, the map of Seoul was realized in 3D graphic that can be enjoyed in 360 degrees, and each point clicked was provided with the tourism information on the unique venues of Seoul. In the conference room, workshop room and virtual theater, networking lounge, promotional booth with the MICE information on Seoul was provided. Gamification activities enhanced the concentration of networking and access. The choice that STO made was accurate, and enormous amount of participants had access to the event for 2 days including 73 people participating in the lounge group chat for 13 hours, 859 stamp missions, and 600,000 comments through the SNS channel. 

Along with these differentiated services, UIA Associations Round Table Asia-Pacific 2020 also provided the meeting solution that was optimized for the purpose of the conference to receive good response from the participants and professionals in the MICE industry. Untact VR(virtual, virtual reality) method was same as V²EC, but the avatar access method was excluded to maximize the accessibility, convenience, destination marketing and networking, and the hybrid method of real-time broadcasting on the offline event was also excluded decisively. The main goal was to enable the participants to experience the ‘Virtual Seoul’ as much as they can.

In 2020, the MICE industry is showing complete change into a new phase due to COVID-19. As telecommuting is increased to have more zero-contact conferences, meeting technology is searching for optimum solution for realizing the new network methods. Recently, experts in the MICE industry are stating that the “MICE industry showed rapid changes in this year, and we are adapting to that change. Even when COVID-19 is disappeared next year or 2 years later, meeting technology will continue to develop, and the MICE industry will continue the efforts to find the new connection for each field”.