On Virtual Event Technology
This is a guest post by Brent Arslaner, VP of Marketing, Unisfair
Recently, the Event Manager Blog posted a great article on the differences between Webcasting and Webconferencing, and went on to detail the role of the event manager in both instances.
I’d like to add my two cents, and describe another exciting new resource—virtual events and environments—that is helping event managers extend both the reach and impact of their events, even as budgets and travel continue to decline.
What is Virtual Event Technology?
Today’s virtual events are multi-faceted, user friendly and highly interactive. Technologies have advanced to the point where virtual events look and feel remarkably like their physical counterparts.
Virtual events can be used to deliver everything from company-wide gatherings, executive presentations, trainings, departmental meetings and product development sessions led by everyone from the CEO and divisional presidents to product engineers and human resources. In doing so, a company can not only cut down on the need for corporate travel, but also build a stronger sense of shared vision and community within the organization.
A Changing Landscape
According to a recent corporate travel spending survey by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE), 33 percent of the 131 companies surveyed indicated they would be spending less on travel next year.
Fortunately, virtual events can help fill the hole left by diminishing business travel by offering an economically and environmentally sound way to bring thousands of attendees to an event. They also deliver some of the richest marketing data available (because the anonymity of prospects evaporates) and entice more C-level executives to attend because they have the luxury of popping in for just a couple of hours.
What’s more, virtual events are enabling meaningful online participation at 50 to 80 percent of the cost of physical events.
Augmenting an in-person event with a virtual environment can significantly increase the “buzz” leading up to the main event. Event managers can leverage virtual environments to distribute timely promotional information about an upcoming physical event to prospective attendees, or provide a glimpse of what they’ll see at the physical event.
Likewise, virtual technology is useful after an event has concluded by providing an ongoing destination for attendees and sponsors. Presentations and collateral can be archived to play “on demand.” This provides an added convenience to attendees or to those who were unable to attend, while generating more leads for sponsors to cultivate.
The Real World Benefits of Virtual Events
For the host, virtual events are a more economical way to bring thousands of attendees to an event. Fast time to market is also an attractive advantage. Additionally, many more C-level executives are able to attend a virtual event because they have the luxury of popping in for a couple hours.
For attendees, the benefits are clear and simple. They gain access to valuable information before, during and after an event. Even if they can’t attend in person, they are afforded the opportunity to learn and network through virtual participation.
Job satisfaction and employee morale is another noteworthy byproduct of virtual events in the case of both external and internal events. Let’s face it, air travel isn’t getting any easier as over-bookings and long delays take their toll on the traveling public. The headaches and frustration—as well as the productivity losses—of physical meetings are bypassed with virtual events, while affording employees the opportunity to learn and network from the comfort of their desks.
And last but not certainly least, for event managers, the opportunity to present a unique, cost effective alternative or extension to a physical event demonstrates innovation and leadership. And, as professionals in the business of building audiences, a virtual environment can extend reach in a highly measurable manner.
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