Staying close to customers and partners through VR and AR

GCB FutureTalks #4 with Maren Courage, VR Business Club


"The event industry is undergoing massive change - we recommend that everyone should actively par-ticipate in this change", says Maren Courage, co-founder of the VR Business Club. Together with Oliver Autumn, she launched the business platform for virtual, augmented and mixed reality in 2016 - it now has over 180 corporate members. For the series GCB Future Talks, issue #4, she spoke to Matthias Schultze, Managing Director of the GCB, about digital business models and the future of the classic trade fair.

Matthias Schultze: The VR Business Club is a business platform around virtual, augmented and mixed reality. These topics are currently gaining momentum. What does the corona crisis mean for your company?

Maren Courage: First, we have changed all our upcoming events to exclusively virtual events which take place once a week on the platform Altspace VR.

We are also adapting the themes of our "Social VR Talks" event series to meet current demand. This means that now it is mainly solution providers who have positioned themselves in the market with best cases on the future of work that are speaking there. They are currently able to show many companies how virtual or augmented reality can be used to continue working with customers, partners and employees in a sustainable, efficient and cost-neutral way - remotely.

After all, for us, as the founders of the VR Business Club, the situation means that we are helping more and more companies to use virtual tools and set up business models based on them.

Matthias Schultze: What do you think are the event industry’s central "to do’s" for the next weeks and months?

Maren Courage: We must seize the moment that we are all in the same boat. We should act now and find new models how events can be made as sexy and interactive as possible online or as hybrid solutions. In my opinion, it is crucial to maintain existing business relationships with partners and sponsors with a great deal of empathy and solidarity.

Perhaps the most important thing in these times is for managers to remain visible and transparent and to actively engage with new digital business models in addition to crisis management. The event industry will change dramatically. We recommend everyone to actively participate in this change and are happy to offer support when it comes to the question: Where do I begin?

Matthias Schultze: What is the long-term impact of the Corona crisis on events and event formats?

Maren Courage: We believe that many event formats, which do not necessarily have to take place with physical presence, will be replaced virtually. Simply because it saves companies money and is much more sustainable. Other existing and very successful formats will only be able to continue their success if they are prepared for the crisis, improve their offline concepts, and expand them with virtual showrooms.

In future, trade fair visitors will certainly no longer have to walk from stand to stand through overcrowded halls. Instead, we will perhaps see 50 percent analog trade fairs with expert panels, hands-on exhibits, etc., and 50 percent virtual experiences. By this I mean above all trade fair space that is filled with topics that are brought to life interactively via VR and touchscreens, thus offering trade fair visitors real added value.

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