The Virtual Event Experience: Exploring the Potential of Zwift!

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Technological developments are changing the ways people experience physical and virtual environments, including events. Flavian et al. (2019) discuss how the development of portable and embodied devices, together with highly interactive, physical-virtual connections, is changing the customer experience landscape. Since the 1990’s virtual technology has been used in sport to improve elite performance, and a more recent trend has been to use it as a platform to host events. This was accelerated in 2020 when COVID-19 forced most sports to cancel their live events and organise virtual events for the first time (Helsen, 2021). Golf, motorsport, athletics, rowing, skiing, and cycling, which is the focus of this chapter, are all examples of sports that have organised virtual events during the pandemic.

According to Pine and Gilmore (2020) however, it is no longer enough for event organisers to deliver an event, the experience must be engaging and memorable. Whilst much has been written on the live ‘event experience’ (Berridge, 2006; Lee and Kyle, 2012) limited research has been conducted on the experience within a virtual context. To address this gap in the literature this chapter will examine the experience of cyclists who have competed on the virtual platform Zwift and discuss the factors that shaped their experience at virtual events. Drawing on the Human Interaction literature (Faric et al., 2019), it examines the virtual event experience from a ‘technological perspective’ (embodiment and the technical features of the games), ‘behavioural perspective’ (the level of interactivity and in-game control) and ‘human perspective’ (the sense of presence, immersion and social interaction).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVirtual Events Management: Theory and Methods for Event Management and Tourism
EditorsTim Brown, Claire Drakeley
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherGoodfellow Publishers
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-915097-05-7 eBook
ISBN (Print)978-1-915097-03-3 HBK; 978-1-915097-04-0
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Jul 2023


  • Mixed Reality
  • Event Experience
  • Zwift
  • Virtual Cycling


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