The following is a guest post from Miguel Arias of IMASTE.
In the past months we have delivered a virtual career fair in partnership with Monster.com in various European countries. After a number of successful events in France, United Kingdom, Ireland and Italy (and with the imminent launch of the German version and preparations underway for the Polish and Czech versions), it is time to evaluate the project.
With a reach of over 400,000 unique attendees and more than 200 participating exhibitors to date, the Monster European virtual job fairs have become a very relevant case study about the way virtual events and tradeshows are being hold in Europe.
There are a few issues that I would like to point out:
Market differences within Europe
The fact that each of those markets has a different language is a known fact, which demands a certain level of customisation capabilities in the virtual event platform. This affects not only the code language but also all the 3D environments, interfaces size, fonts, etc.
And some of the countries have many official languages; therefore virtual event platforms need to have “real time” Multilanguage capabilities.
But, there are some other subtle differences that may have a big impact for virtual event production and development. For instance, legal differences lead to changes in the résumé data model and in different levels of integration with the partner´s databases.
Different customer expectations
The penetration and market awareness of virtual events is different in the UK, France and Italy. This leads to relevant gaps in terms of pricing, willingness to pay or expected features for the potential customers in each of those countries. Live interaction seems to be more relevant in UK or France, while an immersive user experience ranks higher in the Italian market.
We have also observed that French companies are keener to virtual stand customisations than British companies. It is difficult to generalise, but there seem to be some trends there.
Different marketing approach
In line with the last idea, the effectiveness of some marketing tools is quite diverse. The use of social media to promote the event has proven more successful in our French events than in other countries, while the effect of SEO/SEM strategies have worked better in UK. There is a need of knowing which are the best specific web traffic drivers of each country, to ensure high quality attendees in each event.
Vendor – client relationship
Since virtual events are “live” events, there is a need of a common trust between the event producer and the virtual event vendor. In order to build this relationship, factors like distance, time zone sharing and face-to-face trainings, meetings and follow up are very relevant.
We hired native country managers in Imaste for the French and British market, and will be doing the same with the Italian and German market in the following weeks.
To summarise, I would say that, the Monster Virtual Career fairs, in spite of being delivered for the same company and being the same type of event, implied an important percentage of adaptation and flexibility in each country. And the personal relations that go with a good level of service, involve a cultural understanding of country related particularities.
I believe that Europe can’t be considered a homogeneous market as the US is. American vendors should take this into account when entering the continental Europe market.
About Miguel Arias
Miguel Arias founded IMASTE in 2003 in hopes of building a bridge between companies and university graduates via live career fairs. Over the years, IMASTE has evolved to become one of the major agents in the virtual trade shows and events market, with successful projects in various European and South American countries
IMASTE is a Spanish company, European leading provider of virtual events, 3D online environments and online trade-shows, which connect, inform and engage visitors and exhibitors. IMASTE´s customized solutions reduce travel costs and are environmentally friendly, while our customers are able to generate leads, networking, increase online sales chances and communicate projects or services globally.
IMASTE has delivered more than 100 successful virtual events for global clients across the globe. You may find more info in http://www.imaste-ips.com
Miguel holds a MEng in Civil Engineering from Universidad Politecnica de Madrid and a Professional MBA from the Instituto de Empresa Business School.