Hybrid Events: Where Virtual Complements And Augments Physical

October 13, 2010

Over at the INXPO blog, we had the privilege of publishing guest postings from two thought leaders in the events industry, Heidi Thorne (@heidithorne) and Traci Browne (@tracibrowne).

Both wrote about their experiences attending a hybrid event, Event Camp Twin Cities 2010.  And both came away concluding that virtual components (e.g. video, Twitter, etc.) can significantly augment audience reach and audience engagement.

Successful Hybrid Event Case Study: Event Camp Twin Cities 2010 (by Heidi Thorne)

Heidi served as the Twitter moderator for Event Camp Twin Cities, so she had her hands (and fingers) full, watching the sessions, while exchanging tweets (and retweeting) with the virtual audience.

Of course, the on-site (physical) audiences in the Twin Cities, Dallas and Switzerland were a subset of the virtual audience, since they (on-site) were actively tweeting as well.

Heidi makes good points about the use of technology and virtual moderator(s) in a hybrid event.  Here’s a link to the full posting:

http://inxpo.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/successful-hybrid-event-case-study-event-camp-twin-cities-2010/

Make Your Events and Expos a Virtual Reality (by Traci Browne)

Traci attended Event Camp Twin Cities from her home office and felt like she was there in the Twin Cities.  She then gives us all some food for thought, by providing hybrid event ideas for Education and Networking.

For Education, I love idea #3, to interview virtual attendees and broadcast the interviews to the on-side audience.  What a great way to bring the virtual into the physical.

For Networking, I love idea #2, to have physical attendees send swag bags to virtual attendee pen pals, with the physical attendee’s name attached to it.  I say we go with T-shirts and pens and hold the coffee and cocktails.  Here’s a link to the full posting:

http://inxpo.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/make-your-events-and-expos-a-virtual-reality/

Thanks, Heidi and Traci, for the insightful postings.


With Virtual Events, You’ve Got Game

September 20, 2010

On the INXPO blog, we write about virtual events and virtual business environments.  I wrote a posting about gamifying your next virtual event.  The benefits of adding a game element to your event:

  1. Games are Participatory
  2. Games Create Competition & Networking
  3. Games Foster Elevated Retention

I then provided some strategic advice for virtual event gaming:

  1. Content Must Be Contextual
  2. The Game “Layer” Should Be “Thin”
  3. Benefit of Teams

Do you got game? Read the full posting:

INXPO: Gamify Your Next Virtual Event


Virtual Recap: Recent Postings On Virtual Events And Virtual Worlds

August 26, 2010

Virtual Events eBooks

  1. Virtual Events: Ready, Set, Go – download the eBook
  2. Social Media and Virtual Events – download the eBook

Across the Industry

  1. My guest post at PR Meets Marketing, “Go Virtual for your Next Press Event” – how virtual events can be an effective platform for PR and marketing simultaneously
  2. Ken Heyward (vcopious) with a guest post on this blog, “Flexible Platforms in a Virtual World,” which addresses considerations for SaaS vs. on-premise software for virtual events
  3. ROI for Virtual Events,” a posting I authored on the INXPO blog, with insights on virtual events ROI from thought leader Todd Hanson from ROI of Engagement

Virtual Worlds

  1. Stanford Media X Event – Virtual Worlds Entrepreneurs Show The Way
  2. Stanford Media X Event – Summary of IMVU Presentation from Brett Durrett, VP Engineering at IMVU
  3. FountainBlue Event – Annual Virtual Worlds Conference hosted by Cisco (Milpitas, CA)

Virtual Events Calendar

  1. There were a few virtual events in August as summer winded down – but look at what’s scheduled for September – events on luxury travel, natural products, publishing, higher education, autos, wireless technology, cruise shipping and eBooks.  Glad to see virtual events being leveraged across so many distinct industries

What I’ve Been Tweeting (Edition 1.1)

August 2, 2010

Because tweets are temporal, while blog postings are permalinked…

Virtual Events

  1. Virtual Meetings and Exhibits Still Coming of Age: http://bit.ly/aFZF3B #eventprofs #virtualevents
  2. RT @CiscoIBSG: Can Virtual Experts Smooth Expat Transition? How P&G Is Successfully Using Cisco #TelePresence: http://bit.ly/afrmsS
  3. From @CiscoLive & @dveale: embed event video across the web, drive new registrations! http://bit.ly/9CWvxC #eventprofs
  4. Event Planners ‘Check In’ To Location Based Services: http://bit.ly/cFMH9A #eventprofs #wec10
  5. Getting started with #virtualevents? Download my eBook, “Virtual Events: Ready, Set, Go”: http://bit.ly/asJqFs #eventprofs
  6. RT @InXpo: We’re excited: “Latest Cisco Offering: ‘Collaboration for Events’ features INXPO Virtual Platform”: http://bit.ly/apKOH6
  7. Virtual Events ROI Case Study: @virtualedge Hybrid Event: http://bit.ly/cRJt2b #eventprofs #virtualevents #ROI

Social Media

  1. RT @clickz It’s All Fun and Games for Brand Marketers: http://bit.ly/aV8H3r (by @tessawegert)
  2. Twitter time-savers by @markwschaefer: Success in just 20 minutes a day: http://bit.ly/9aHoiu via @addthis
  3. RT @mashable How Twitter in the Classroom is Boosting Student Engagement: http://bit.ly/bmgxpw #classroom #education
  4. From @MarketingSherpa: #Webinar Promotion that Delivers: Use Email, Social, Viral Referrals and Video: http://bit.ly/ddDbhY
  5. 5 tips for lively Twitter chats: http://bit.ly/dqjQlL via @addthis – great article, @leeodden
  6. RT @mashable SCVNGR Launches Sophisticated Rewards Program http://bit.ly/bEQz5l #foursquare #marketing #rewards

Product Ideas

  1. Idea for @LinkedIn: ability to add “Notes” to a Connection (e.g. “Met at SXSW”, “Ask for recommendation”, etc.)
  2. Idea for MLB: for fans’ favorite players, send mobile alerts for “check ins” from home plate, 1B, 2B, 3B
  3. Next move for Facebook: embedding “Like” capability into rich media (e.g. video, audio). Let me “Like” a song from my iPod
  4. Idea for @Facebook: use Facebook Questions (itself) to address users’ questions about the new service
  5. Idea: integrate a brand’s CRM w/their Facebook Fan page – brand mgr sees user’s likes and comments superimposed w/their CRM records
  6. Idea for Google: when search results contain an address, embed Maps functionality, so I can see driving directions right there

General

  1. Good quote from Ask.com: “Google is a verb. But don’t forget that ‘ask’ is a verb too”
  2. Excited to be working for one of Lead411’s hottest companies in the Midwest (@INXPO): http://bit.ly/b2g1Ox – we’re also hot on West Coast!
  3. Physicians confirm we’re alive by checking our pulse. Bloggers, check the ‘pulse’ of your own blog – is there a constant, steady beat?
  4. Event and meeting planners have so many tools at their disposal these days that they’ll need to start wearing Craftsman belts
  5. ESPN and Playdom now under the same parent company (Disney). Wondering (and excited) about possible tie-ups…
  6. Interesting POV from @kimmaicutler: “Why the Facebook/Amazon integration is bigger than you think”: http://bit.ly/bVwz5J

Previously, I posted “What I’ve Been Tweeting” Edition 1.0.

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Event Planners “Check In” To Location Based Services

July 26, 2010

Introduction

Due to the rising popularity of Foursquare, Gowalla and related apps, location based services (LBS) is quite the buzzword both in consumer and technology circles.  Logically, the ability to “check in” at venues, connect with friends/associates and make new contacts has relevance to events and event planners.

Let’s highlight some of last week’s articles and blog postings on this topic.

Trade Show News Network

Michelle Bruno (@michellebruno) wrote an article in Trade Show News Network (@TSNN_com_US) titled “Checking Out ‘Checking In’ for Events“.  The article references Foursquare and Gowalla and then profiles a technology provider named Double Dutch.  According to its web site, Double Dutch provides “White label geolocation apps for your brand”.

Michelle references a key point regarding hybrid events, in which event planners support both physical and virtual venues.  Michelle writes, “If a virtual event is also taking place, live attendees can check in at the online and offline events for more recognition”.

Tracking and supporting check-ins across physical and virtual locations can build a more cohesive and compelling hybrid event.  In fact, it can serve to bridge the physical and virtual venues.

Virtual event platforms should look into this.  In fact, I blogged about location based services and virtual events previously.

Cisco Live

In Cisco’s Virtual Environments blog, Dannette Veale (@dveale) writes about virtual technologies that Cisco has incorporated into their Cisco Live (@CiscoLive) annual conference.  The 2010 Cisco Live event concluded recently – the physical component was hosted in Las Vegas, while a virtual component ran concurrently.

Disclosure: My employer (@INXPO) provided the virtual platform for Cisco Live

Dannette describes an innovative use  of Foursquare by Cisco Live’s event planners – a type of scavenger hunt, in which conference attendees received a clue (via social media channels) about a check-in location.  The first 75 attendees to check in at that location (and complete an additional task) would receive buttons, which could be used to redeem a daily prize at the Cisco Store.

The contest generated 802 checkins and allowed conference attendees to network and make connections with one another.

SCVNGR (Mashable)

SCVNGR, “a game about doing challenges at places”, this week announced the social check-in.  Two or more users can bump phones (or, wave them at each other in close proximity) and check in at the same time and place.  There are many ways event planners can leverage this technology.

In a trade show, attendees could be encouraged to perform social check-ins with each other – or, with exhibitors.  In a user conference, the social check-in could be used as a back-drop to a game that encouraged attendees to network with one another.  In a corporate setting, social check-ins could be used to encourage team building.

Conclusion

The concepts of “check ins”, location awareness and location tracking have natural uses for events.  While they’re a great fit for physical events, think about tie-ins between physical and virtual for your hybrid event.  And, think about ways in which “location tracking” (in a virtual event) can create connections, engagement and interaction.

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Social Gaming And Virtual Events

July 19, 2010

Michelle Bruno (@michellebruno) wrote an excellent article about social gaming in Trade Show News Network (TSNN.com) – I was interviewed by Michelle for the article.  Michelle covers the emergence of social games, including their incorporation into virtual events platform, like INXPO (my employer).

Michelle concludes her article with some compelling thoughts.  First, there’s this:

“As traditional methods of marketing and engagement wane in effectiveness and popularity, social gaming strategies fit nicely into two current trends in the event industry: the ‘social media-ization’ of nearly every technology solution and the blending of the online and offline event worlds.”

These trends play off one another nicely – as social media (and associated tools) are quite effective in blending online and offline event experiences.  I love Michelle’s closing line:

“Social gaming in the event industry could be the spark that ignites a new generation of trade show attendees.”

Love it.

Here’s the full link to the article: http://www.tsnn.com/blog/?p=2692

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Mid-Year Report Card: 2010 Virtual Events Predictions

June 9, 2010

At the end of 2009, I posted my 2010 predictions for the virtual events industry.  Now that we’re nearly half done with 2010 (can you believe that), I decided to provide a self-assessment for my predictions.

Overall, I’ve decided on a grade of “B” (I’m an easy grader) – which may improve based on the second half of the year.  Let’s review the individual predictions.

Video Integration (Grade: B)

I wrote:

In 2010, I believe that the virtual event platforms will integrate with third party video conferencing technologies in a big way – stirred largely by client demand for it.

While video conferencing integration has not (yet!) been implemented on a wide scale, we witnessed the first occurrence of telepresence enablement in a virtual event.

The Sustainability Virtual Summit: Smart ICT was produced by G2 Events, “featuring telepresence enablement, allowing roundtable and panel discussions to be broadcast between panelists in remote locations worldwide (first in a virtual event)”.

I attended the event and viewed a number of telepresence-enabled sessions.  While impressive, it should be noted that my prediction was around “incorporation of multi-party, HD video conferencing”, whereas the Sustainability Virtual Summit event enabled telepresence via “simulive” playback of pre-recorded sessions.

Multi-party HD video conferencing over the public Internet is likely a few years away – instead, we’ll likely see multi-party (with virtual event integration) enabled in a corporate setting, with its tighter controls over available bandwidth – and, with the option to distribute the video conferencing streams via IP multicast.

Global Players (Grade: B)

I wrote:

I expect to see another European-based platform emerge in 2010, along with one or more in Asia Pac.

Gensee, based in China, provides a “Web Virtual Events Platform”.  The market for virtual events in China seems to be less developed than in the U.S. and Europe – as such, Gensee may be well positioned to capitalize on any uptick in adoption (in China), as their platform was built to serve a Chinese audience.

“China has more than 400 million internet users, with Flash based virtual games and social network services very popular, although with its own flavors and local providers”, notes Benjamin Chen, CEO of Gensee Technology.

Chen continues, “China has many economic centers and many enterprises have geographically dispersed customers and employees. I already see great demands to complement physical trade shows, expos, events and e-learning with virtual components”.

VisualMente is another European player in the virtual events space – they’re based on Spain and have done virtual event campaigns for BlackBerry, among others.

To be fair, both Gensee and VisualMente were around when my predictions were made, so I didn’t technically predict their emergence.  That being said, I do believe in the trend that more and more players will enter the space, with a growing number of vendors outside of the U.S.  The U.S. is the most developed market to date (relatively speaking) – which means that even larger opportunities lie abroad.

If you’re aware of additional virtual event players (outside of the U.S.), please leave information in the comments section below – thanks.

Source: Cisco Live and Networkers Virtual

Response Rates (Grade: A)

While I can’t provide insight for “relative response rates” on audience generation for virtual events in 2010, I did write the following:

Virtual event show hosts will need to consider the incorporation of gaming, the creation of affinity programs and more.

Cisco Live and Networkers Virtual is incorporating gaming into their upcoming event – Dannette Veale (Cisco) published a post regarding  objectives and considerations behind enabling gaming in that event.  I should disclose that I’m with INXPO, the virtual event platform that’s hosting this event – and we’re big believers in social gaming in virtual events.  So my prediction was a bit self serving.

I do believe in the effectiveness of gaming, especially in a virtual event or virtual business environment (e.g. for learning, retention, sponsor interaction, etc.) – as such, I expect to see an increasing amount of games (especially games with a social component) enabled in virtual events going forward.

Some vendors will integrate them into the core platform, while others will start by creating “one off” games that are loosely coupled with the underlying event platform.

Immersiveness (Grade: A)

In the U.S., the Virtual Edge Summit is the annual face-to-face event in the virtual events industry.  New this year was a “Business 3Di Track”, demonstrating the growing interest in immersiveness [see full program here].  I wrote:

Client interest and demand will drive some platforms to add immersive capabilities in 2010.  I don’t expect a software download, however – it would serve platforms well to support the immersive experience within their existing framework (e.g. Flash, JavaFX, Silverlight).

One of the exhibitors at Virtual Edge was Altadyn, who provides an offering called 3DXplorer – “the first ‘browser-based’ and ‘installation-free’ solution which enables a 3D interactive and fully immersive experience, accessible from any corporate or individual computer”.

In addition to Altadyn, one of the “pure play 2D event platforms” (at Virtual Edge) provided a demo of immersive capabilities they’ve incorporated into their platform.  I expect to see more experimentation and deployment in the second half of this year.

Consolidation (Grade: C)

I wrote:

We’ll see the merging or acquiring of virtual event platform companies.

Since neither of these has yet to come true in 2010, this grade really could be an “F” or an “Incomplete”.  I’m still holding firm on this prediction, however, as I do expect some M&A activity in the second half of the year.

Conclusion

The first half of 2010 sure has flown by – on the predictions front, I’m looking decent so far at the half-way mark.  I’m expecting an eventful second half (pun intended).  What are your expectations for the second half of this year in our industry?  Leave your thoughts below in the comments section.

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