If you haven’t stepped into a field of virtual impressionist sunflowers yourself, colorful images of room-sized starry nights have probably worked their way into your Instagram feed. From Abu Dhabi to San Francisco, abandoned warehouses and empty venues are being filled with projectors that bathe visitors in images from the Dutch master Vincent Van Gogh, sometimes with competing “immersive experiences” in the same city.

What can meeting professionals learn from this popular pop-up social media craze?

Tell a Vivid Story

While Van Gogh’s art was groundbreaking in his time, it has long entered the popular consciousness as a cultural touch stone. For those looking to study the master’s technique and individual works, visiting a museum with the actual paintings is essential. Audiences flocking to immersive shows are looking for something else—a story, an escape, a spectacle. Digitizing, enlarging and animating the popular café and iris scenes so they dance around the room synchronized to popular music engages multiple senses. As the vivid colors wash over the ceilings, walls, floors and the people, a sense of wonder flows and imaginations are sparked.

This larger-than life projection is worlds away from a droning PowerPoint presentation on a distant screen. Why not transform the welcome reception into a jungle or beach to fit your meeting theme and put everyone in a fresh frame of mind? A keynote projected by hologram that moves around the room and a presentation that leverages every available surface engages even the most abbreviated attention span. The possibilities are limited only by the imagination and brought to life by powerful storytelling.

Action Item: How can you turn your content into a visual story that plays out in unexpected ways? Can your AV team transform the closing reception into an alternate reality with visual surprises at every turn?

Scarce, Personalized and Social-Media Optimized

Wherever these art-infused programs have gone, they have quickly sold thousands of tickets after Instagram posts generate substantial buzz. Like the pop-up museums of ice cream, color and happiness of pre-Covid times, these productions are designed with abundant opportunities for selfies and ‘gram fodder. When the stage is set with fun, interactive quotes and props, people take the initiative to post themselves.

Action Item: Why not introduce similar whimsical and impactful Insta-worthy sets at your events to create demand for future ticket sales?

Visitors are also empowered to self-direct their experience. While tickets are for specific time slots, attendees are encouraged to make the journey their own. Groups choose a “circle” projected on the floor with the option to stand, sit or recline at their leisure. Those paying a VIP premium get a sunflower-bedecked cushion to soften the benches scattered around the room. For Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit San Francisco, the presentation is 35 minutes long and people can enter midway through and stay as long as they want before moving on to the adjoining photo sets, outdoor café and gift shop.

Action Item: How can you provide your attendees with the tools to create their own experience from whatever perspective they are comfortable? What would an agenda look like that allows attendees to take as much or as little time as they need to absorb the information?

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