MetaCampus by Les Fontaines: The metaverse that’s set to revolutionize your digital events
“A major technological innovation,” “the natural evolution of the internet,” “a business/sociological/media buzzword” – however it’s described, the metaverse is the topic on everyone’s lips.
Including at Les Fontaines, where we are particularly interested in new digital and hybrid models of corporate event design.
The result of this interest is the MetaCampus, a digital platform “on the border between actual and virtual reality.”
Be prepared to be amazed!
To ensure the success of this project, Les Fontaines combined its expertise in corporate event design with the technological know-how of MAZE – an agency already known for its development of virtual-reality products.
Joint interview with Bertrand Cheyrou, CEO of Les Fontaines, and Antoine Simon, co-founder of MAZE.
“What is the MetaCampus?”
Bertrand Cheyrou: “The MetaCampus is, first and foremost, a digital platform for easy hosting of remote events at which participants can meet up and work in a welcoming environment with a human dimension.”
Antoine Simon: “Yes, it’s a space for collaborating and sharing, for connecting with colleagues and living a digital experience as a customized avatar. A metaverse exclusively for events, if you will!”
“Why did you create the MetaCampus?”
BC: “The world of events, which is highly dynamic at the best of times, adapted very quickly right from the start of the pandemic. With all the lockdowns, remote working, and public-health rules, the business meeting had to reinvent itself in digital form. But plain old digital has its limits. It’s a top-down system and rather restrictive. We dreamed of a new, fun, interactive space, where participants would be back at the heart of the event, able to do their own thing and build up their interest and commitment.”
AS: “The world of events, which is highly dynamic at the best of times, adapted very quickly right from the start of the pandemic. With all the lockdowns, remote working, and public-health rules, the business meeting had to reinvent itself in digital form. But plain old digital has its limits. It’s a top-down system and rather restrictive. We dreamed of a new, fun, interactive space, where participants would be back at the heart of the event, able to do their own thing and build up their interest and commitment.”
BC: “The essence of Les Fontaines is actually of paramount importance to us. Our current clients really like our site. This platform only made sense if it had the same look and feel as the physical Forum and Château.”
“How does the platform work, in practice?”
A digital platform to learn, have fun and share an experience
BC: “The MetaCampus is a place where people can gather, meet, agree, disagree, build teams, etc.”
AS: “The MetaCampus is a place where people can gather, meet, agree, disagree, build teams, etc.”
BC: “…Your participants can, as their avatars, move around as they please in defined, designated spaces. For example, they can make the most of the morning light in the Château … which changes as the day goes on. You’ll organize their days around workshops and scheduled plenary sessions moderated by facilitators/speakers, interspersed with informal opportunities for exchange, where they’ll be able to interact with other participants they meet “by chance”!
AS: “Bertrand is right to talk about informal meetings, as this platform effectively enables serendipity. The unforeseen, the impromptu, the “happy coincidence” of the encounter – basically, everything that makes up the essence of a face-to-face event and enhances the feeling of being part of a group is possible when you participate in an event on the MetaCampus.”
A digital platform where space is no longer an issue
BC: “Our work, meeting, and relaxation spaces are plentiful, fun, and easily accessible. In terms of entertainment, the choice is wide: visit the library, play the piano in the Château bar, participate in a plenary session with 500 others, or get together informally with a bunch of colleagues – it’s all possible, easy, and promotes interaction, sparks curiosity, creates and drives competition… just like a real-world event would!”
AS: “I would also point out that there are certain virtual functionalities that are not possible in the real world. Feel like a karaoke session after the last meeting? Not necessarily planned in the real world but totally possible in the virtual one!
Need to organize two events for 500 people at the same time and in the same place? Out of the question in real life but not a problem virtually… because the MetaCampus is infinitely “clonable.”
The MetaCampus offers the best of both worlds. It is particularly careful not to “damage” the real-life experience with the move to digital: while your e-seminar will certainly be a different experience from your face-to-face one, they will both be equally good.”
BC: In effect, the MetaCampus is a bridge between the real world and the digital one. One complements the other, and your hybrid events will become “premium” for those of your participants who are unable to travel.”
“Technologically, what did it involve?”
AS: “The MetaCampus is a true technical achievement… that you can’t even see!
We made a real effort to ensure that access to the platform was as straightforward and intuitive as possible, and open to participants from all backgrounds with just an ordinary computer.
The focus is less on the technology and more on ensuring an interface that is people-oriented and conducive to meetings.
The myriad methods of communicating information (video, audio, text) mean participants can do their own thing but also be guided: event managers will, as in the real world, act as coordinators, authorizing access to certain areas and functions, as part of organizing the day.
The important thing to remember with the MetaCampus is that it’s the relationship that is digitalized. Communication and exchange are what matter most to us.”
BC: “I’d like to add that all this technology in favor of encounters and the human dimension also favors the planet. Using up less energy than a physical journey, the MetaCampus aligns perfectly with the environmental commitments we’ve adhered to since we first opened our doors about 20 years ago.
What’s more, we work with an independent French data-hosting company, whose responsibility values mirror our own. This is hugely important to us.”
AS: “Simplicity. Interactivity. Technology. Environment. These concepts are no longer mutually exclusive in the metaverse that is currently getting the whole world excited!”
BC: “And for our part, it’s the stimulation, independence, and human encounters that excite us about the MetaCampus… made by Les Fontaines!”
As you can see, from the Campus to the MetaCampus, there is only a virtual bridge to cross!