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It’s All Virtual Turns Two

December 12, 2010

“Time flies when you’re having fun.”

It all started two years ago today.  The first blog post was made on December 12, 2008.  Since that time, I’ve covered virtual trade shows, hybrid events, virtual worlds, Second Life, social media and many other topics.  It’s been a fun ride to date, but I’m even more excited about what the next 2 or 5 years will bring.  For now, let’s take a look back at five selected posts from the past two years.

What Started It All


My first post, from December 2008, looked ahead to 2009.  It was titled “2009: The Year We Go Virtual“.  I was mostly on target with this post, except for that innocent comment where I noted that face-to-face event producers would struggle to survive.  I should have known that physical events would never go away – and, I hadn’t considered what would follow in 2009/2010, the hybrid event.  Whoops.

Lenovo’s 3D World, Powered by web.alive


This posting, from January 2009, remains today the top grossing piece on this blog.  Lenovo launched a 3D world to promote their Thinkpad notebooks.  It used the web.alive 3D platform from Nortel (and is now part of Avaya, via Avaya’s acquisition of Nortel).  While touring the environment, I met Nic Sauriol, the Venture Lead for the project and he took  me on a personal tour.  Read more: “Review: Lenovo’s eLounge Virtual World“.

Musings on Physical Events & Virtual Events

(Photo courtesy of “ExhibitPeople” on flickr)

Physical events have been around for a long time.  So I decided to write about what we like at physical events and consider how those “features” could work in a virtual event.  I didn’t expect it at the time, but this turned out to be one of the most popular postings this year.  For more: “Bringing The Physical Event Experience To Virtual Events“.

Whose Platform Do I Use?

Once you’ve decided to do a virtual event, one of the key steps is finding the right virtual event platform.  In my Virtual Events 101 series, the most popular posting was this one: “Virtual Events 101: Tips For Selecting A Virtual Event Platform“.  For me, it comes down to the 6 P”s – People, Platform, Production, Price, Process and Partners.

Branching Out A Bit

Branching out from virtual events, I shared some thoughts on the topics of social gaming, location-based services, “gamification” and loyalty programs.  In the coming 1-3 years, gamification, location services and virtual events will come together (via API’s and integration).  On the gamification front, it’s noteworthy that San Francisco will be home to the Gamification Summit in January 2011.  For the full post: “The Name Of The Game Is Engagement“.

Conclusion

It’s been a great two years.  It’s hard to imagine what the (virtual) “world” will look like in another two years.  There’s one thing for sure: I’ll be blogging about it.  Come along for the journey and subscribe to regularly receive my posts.  Until next time!

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2009 Year In Review: Virtual Events

December 24, 2009

2009 was a landmark year for the virtual events industry – early adopters expanded their virtual event initiatives and leveraged the technology in innovative ways.  Many industries (and associated corporations) entered the mix, producing their first ever virtual event in 2009.  Despite the economy (or perhaps aided by the downturn), virtual event platform providers enjoyed healthy growth in client demand, event volume and revenue.  The platform market expanded beyond the U.S., with the emergence of new platforms in Europe and New Zealand.  We even had the industry’s first ever face-to-face event, the Virtual Edge Summit (U.S. – Santa Clara, CA).

To get a better sense of how 2009 unfolded, I reviewed the past 12 months of postings on this blog and sought to categorize the trends and patterns.

Source: flickr (User: Linzi's Cakes)

Assorted Shapes and Sizes

In the early days, the industry was all about virtual tradeshows.  During 2007-2008, new event types were spawned – and in 2009, we saw many more instances of non-tradeshow events: virtual job fairs, virtual sales meetings, virtual partner summits.  In addition, we saw innovative concepts applied in hybrid events – where event planners staged concurrent physical and virtual events.  I wrote about learnings and observations from Cisco Live and Networkers Virtual, in which virtual and physical blended together.  In 2010, I expect to see many more hybrid events, with event planners leveraging creative ways to tie virtual together with physical.  In fact, I believe 2010 will be The Year of The Hybrid Event.

In addition to the assorted event types – we’re starting to see the use of virtual event technology to support ongoing business communities.  The community concept makes a lot of sense in conjunction with physical or virtual events – instead of “going dark” between live event dates, event planners can leverage the “platform” to keep the community interaction and dialog going – where the events serve as “momentum points” to drive continued activity within the online business community.  I brainstormed about tactics that could be applied to sustain virtual business community loyalty.

Social Media and Twitter

With all due respect to Facebook and other services, I believe 2009 was The Year of Twitter.  There are many ways in which Twitter can be leveraged for virtual events – here are a few ideas that I blogged about:

  1. Leverage Twitter for Virtual Tradeshow Outreach
  2. How to Promote Your Virtual Event on Twitter
  3. Leverage Twitter Lists for your Physical or Virtual Event

Virtual event platforms have integrated with Twitter and other social networks – in 2010, I see the breadth and depth of integration expanding.  The expansion will be fueled both by interest (from the virtual event platforms and from clients) as well as richer interfaces (APIs) from the social network sites.  For instance, LinkedIn recently announced an open API for their platform.

In parallel to virtual events, 2009 was a watershed year for social gaming (e.g. Zynga, Playdom and other sites).  In 2010, we’ll see virtual event platforms leverage gaming for a mix of fun and business use.  I wrote about the reasons that virtual events should incorporate gaming.  Lastly, I believe the tried and true webinar needs to become more social – webinars need to encourage and support more participation from the audience.

The market extends beyond the U.S.

In 2009, virtual events platform vendors emerged globally – in order of appearance in this blog:

  1. ExpoNZ – New Zealand
  2. IMASTE – Spain
  3. Ubivent – Germany

I expect to see a few more virtual event platforms emerge in Europe in 2010 – Asia Pac is sure to see local entrants as well.

Virtual Event Best Practices

I wrote a lot about virtual event best practices in the past 12 months. Here’s a selection of the more popular postings:

  1. Virtual Event Best Practices
  2. How to Market your Virtual Event
  3. Best Practices for Virtual Tradeshow Exhibitors
  4. Lead Follow-Up for Virtual Events
  5. Assemble the Right Team for your Virtual Event
  6. Increase Your Virtual Event ROI
  7. Think Outside the Inbox for Virtual Event Promotion
  8. How to Run a Virtual Event Command Center

Happy Holidays to all.  2009 was a great year for virtual events.  And I have news for you – 2010 will be even better!


Virtual Events: Year In Review 2009

August 18, 2009

virtually_actionpacked

Coming into this year, I considered 2009 a taking-off point for the virtual events industry.  Sure, virtual events and virtual tradeshows have been around for some time, but I felt 2009 would see enormous growth (in both event volume and in the breadth of industries entering the mix), as virtual event organizers (and virtual event platform providers) pushed the envelope with new technologies and new event models.

From my perspective, this has come to fruition – 2009 has had so much activity and excitement that I’ve decided to publish my year in review before the summer is out!  And maybe I should re-label this – I don’t intend to provide a review of the entire year – but rather, highlight the important trends that I’ve noticed in 2009:

  1. Virtual events go global – since I reside in the United States, it’s not surprising that many virtual events I hear about are produced by U.S.-based show hosts  (e.g. b-to-b publishers, corporations, etc. based here).  In 2009, I saw a marked increase in virtual events outside of the U.S. – including those for a global audience and those targeting a specific geography.  I saw a few “24 hour consecutive” virtual events that sought to follow the sun.  I saw the launch of ExpoNZ (a global showcase for New Zealand) and virtual job fairs in Europe, powered by IMASTE.  I expect to see this trend continue into 2010.
  2. Many new industries come on board – prior to 2009, b-to-b publishers and technology vendors took up the lion’s share of virtual events.  That’s no longer the case now.  In my Virtual Events Calendar, you’ll see events from the following industries: pharmaceutical, packaging, consumer goods, mortgage, travel, healthcare, retail, textile.  I’m sure there were other industries (not listed here) that saw their first virtual event in 2009 (e.g. auto, financial).  Expect this trend to continue as well – in 2010, additional industries will surely enter the mix.
  3. The emergence of hybrid events – it’s only logical to complement your physical event with a virtual component.  In the technology space, SAP and Cisco ran virtual events concurrent with their annual customer conferences.  In the minds of the virtual events industry, this trend is quite clear, as more and more physical events will be expected to have a virtual component.  I haven’t yet seen a scenario whereby a physical event was produced to complement an existing virtual event – so perhaps that’s a trend to come in 2010.
  4. The shift from event to ongoing community – the use of live show dates will continue with virtual events – but increasingly, show hosts are looking to take the audience generated for the event – and support post-event continuation, in the form of an ongoing community.  Virtual events are shifting from a single (or multi) day focus – to one of a 365 day/year community, sprinkled in with pre-scheduled live dates throughout the year.  Working hand-in-hand here is another important 2009 trend – the integration of social networks into virtual events.  Jeremiah Owyang had a very interesting blog posting on this topic.
  5. The shift from single-day to multi-day events – prior to 2009, the typical virtual event ran during the business hours of the show host’s local timezone (e.g. 9AM to 6PM ET).  In 2009, we witnessed some 24-hour consecutive virtual events, along with an increasing number of events that ran for 2 consecutive days or more.  Part of the multi-day trend runs in parallel with the hybrid event trend – for physical events that run multi-day, it’s only natural that a virtual event also span more than one day.

And that wraps up my 2009 trend watch for the virtual event industry.  Let me know which trends I missed!


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