Together alone: an exploration of the virtual event experience

O. Wereford, N. Ferdinand, Nigel Williams

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    After 50 years in development, virtual reality (VR) has now become commercially available to consumers. The events industry has started to adopt this transformational technology, by implementing it into live events or using it as an alternative method for providing event experiences. However, little research attempts to compare real to virtual event experiences to understand perceived user benefits and drawbacks. Using Uses and Gratifications (UG) Theory, this study aims to understand the possible user benefits provided from virtual event experiences. A process was designed that incorporated the viewing of a VR experience that was similar to an event previously attended by respondents. They were then interviewed and performed a product reaction card exercise to compare their experiences. Analysis of the data suggests that current 360 VR technology can be used to extend the experiencescape but not replace live events. Respondents indicate that VR provides emotional gratifications that may build positive associations with event organizations and brands. However, VR in its current form does not provide the social and sensory gratifications of live events. VR can therefore be used to deepen relationships with existing participants or encourage future participation at events.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)721-732
    Number of pages12
    JournalEvent Management
    Issue number4-5
    Publication statusPublished - 18 Sept 2019


    • cocreation
    • tourism
    • virtual communitas
    • virtual reality (VR)


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