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Virtual Edge Summit 2011

October 20, 2010

Heading into its third year, Virtual Edge Summit, the annual hybrid event covering “digital solutions for events, meetings, learning & community,” is moving up in the world.

Earlier this year, PCMA and Virtual Edge announced that the Virtual Edge Summit would be co-located with PCMA’s 2011 annual meeting in Las Vegas.

As in past years, Virtual Edge Summit will be a hybrid event, featuring both on-site and virtual components.

Make it a 2011 New Year’s Resolution and attend this valuable event.  You’ll hear from the industry’s experts and thought leaders and be able to network with key people in the industry.

Readers of this blog are welcome to a special discount, which is available at this link:

http://virtualedgesummit.com/registration_reader/

By registering from this page, you’ll receive a $120 discount off the $595 registration fee for in-person and $90 off the $195 for virtual.

“Over the past 18 months, virtual events have gained momentum, moving from a nice-to-have to an integral part of an organization’s online strategy,” said Michael Doyle, executive editor of Virtual Edge Institute.

“Virtual Edge Summit is the only conference that will bring together thought leaders from Cisco, IBM, Hilton Hotels and more to discuss business strategies and best practices for taking your business virtual.”

Related Links

  1. ROI Case Study: Virtual Edge Institute’s Hybrid Event
  2. My observations from Virtual Edge Summit: 2010 Trend Watch: Virtual Events
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ROI Case Study: Virtual Edge Institute’s Hybrid Event

July 28, 2010

Introduction

Virtual events have enjoyed phenomenal growth in demand and visibility.  Notable brands and associations have hopped aboard the virtual bandwagon, delivering innovative experiences and impactful results.  The first phase of the virtual event industry is what I call the “early dating period”.  As the industry evolves and matures, we are moving from early dating to an era of “meet the parents”.

That is, a phase in which we receive increased visibility and a challenge to prove and justify ourselves.  The parents, in our case, are the company executives who fund our virtual event campaigns (e.g. our bosses, our CFO, CMO, CEO, etc.).  To date, virtual events used for lead generation have been the most effective at demonstrating ROI.

Why? Because lead generation has existing methodologies and metrics on ROI (e.g. “cost per lead”, “cost per inquiry”, “cost per sales engagement”, etc.).  So a virtual trade show investment could simply “plug into” a corporation’s existing ROI methodology.  For other event types, however, ROI, impact and effectiveness have not been explicitly measured to date.

To evolve our industry, it’s crucial that event planners, platform vendors and ROI experts work together to define and implement methodologies to generate quantitative results for our virtual and hybrid event investments.

Michael Doyle of the Virtual Edge Institute (@virtualedge) is a firm believer in event ROI measurement.  The Virtual Edge Institute is “an international organization dedicated to advancing the development and adoption of virtual event and meeting technology and best practices for collaboration and marketing”.  Doyle hosts the Virtual Edge Summit, an annual hybrid event that brings together virtual event practitioners, experts and solutions providers.

For the 2010 Virtual Edge Summit in Santa Clara, CA, Doyle partnered with ROI of Engagement to measure the impact and effectiveness of the event.  The summit was a hybrid event, with on-site and virtual components running simultaneously.  As such, Doyle sought to study and measure feedback from each attendee group.

The study was based on ROI Methodology™, which ROI of Engagement describes as “a step-by-step approach to collecting data, summarizing and processing data, isolating the effects of programs, converting data to monetary value and calculating ROI”.  The methodology studies results along the following five levels:

  1. Level One: Reaction and Satisfaction
  2. Level Two: Learning and Understanding
  3. Level Three: Application
  4. Level Four: Impact
  5. Level Five: ROI

Virtual Edge Summit 2010 measured the first two levels.  The results of the study have been published here:

http://www.virtualedge.org/forum/topics/measuring-and-maximizing-the

On this page, you can download the White Paper, “Measuring and Maximizing the Impact of a Hybrid Event“.

Virtual Edge Summit 2011 is scheduled for January 2011 in Las Vegas and will be co-located with PCMA.  Doyle plans to apply valuable feedback from the 2010 ROI study to improve the experience for the 2011 event.

Doyle is focusing on consolidating the virtual component on a single platform (in 2010, there were several virtual platforms to choose from) and increasing networking opportunities for both on-site and virtual attendees.

In addition, the 2011 event will embark upon another ROI study – this time, the study will take advantage of all five levels in the ROI Methodology™.

Conclusion

It’s a great time to be in the events industry.  Never before has there been so many technology tools at your disposal (e.g. virtual event platforms and much more).  For continued growth in virtual and hybrid events, the industry will need thorough and proven ROI methodologies to demonstrate and quantify ROI, impact and effectiveness.  Event planners: look to the initiative from Virtual Edge Institute and ROI of Engagement and consider how similar methodologies apply to your next event.

international organization dedicated to advancing the development and adoption of virtual event and meeting technology and best practices for collaboration and marketing

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COMDEX Re-Launches As A Virtual Trade Show

March 4, 2010

The virtual events industry had a lot of exciting moments over the past two years.  I believe we’ll look back upon today, however, as an one of the most important and historic moments for our industry.  Everything Channel (a UBM company) announced that they’re re-launching COMDEX as a 100% virtual trade show.

Press Release: Introducing the New COMDEX, the Next Generation in Virtual Events

During its heyday, COMDEX was the “go to” trade show in the computer and technology industry, “where all levels of manufacturers and developers of computers, peripherals, software, components and accessories came in direct contact with retailers, consultants and their competitors” (source: Wikipedia)

COMDEX was discontinued in 2004.  In 2006, UBM acquired the event assets of COMDEX via their purchase of MediaLive International Inc.  COMDEX Virtual will fit nicely in UBM’s Everything Channel business, whose objective is “accelerating technology sales” and whose publications include Channelweb and CRN.  This is very exciting news – I gave some thought to what this means to our industry.

Game Changer and Turning Point

Today’s news is nothing short of a game changer and turning point for our industry.  Virtual events have enjoyed growing adoption – initially from B2B publishers and recently from corporations.  Adoption rates have been particularly strong from the same technology vendors who used to exhibit at COMDEX.  Now, however, one of the most widely known event brands has made the move to embrace virtual.

COMDEX Virtual will be watched (and attended) closely by related event brands – its success will incent many more well-known event brands to come on board virtually.  Staying within the technology space, CES and Macworld may be encouraged to consider a hybrid model for their events, adding a virtual component to complement their in-person event.  Discontinued event brands may similarly move to re-launch as a virtual-only experience.

Confirmed: Options and Flexibility with Going Virtual

Virtual event technology afforded Everything Channel with a flexible way to bring back the COMDEX brand.  First, the costs are lower.  Second, the financial commitment around a physical event venue was avoided.  Third, a virtual event affords exhibitors with a convenient and cost-effective means to return to COMDEX.

Re-sellers and systems integrators tend to be small-to-medium sized businesses (SMB) – they operate “lean and mean” without an abundance of marketing budget.  In the past, their entire year’s marketing spend may have been put towards COMDEX.  Now, the same exhibitors can exhibit virtually and avoid the travel costs and “out of office” costs of sending their company representatives to Las Vegas – affording them remaining marketing dollars to use elsewhere.

With the flexibility afforded, COMDEX Virtual allows Everything Channel a convenient and efficient way to bring COMDEX back to life.  If the virtual event exceeds expectations, more options become available, such as a physical component to complement the virtual – creating a hybrid event after first testing the waters virtually.

Virtual Extensions

Industry observers have noted that more focused events (e.g. CES in consumer electronics and Interop in computer networking) began to steal interest away from COMDEX – many believed that it had become too broad.  Subsequent to its November 2010 launch, COMDEX Virtual may want to consider a series of smaller and more focused virtual events – around industry sectors or by specific geographies.

Additionally, virtual affords COMDEX the option of extending its presence globally – both via participation from a global audience, as well as regionalized virtual events that cater to specific regions (e.g. EMEA, Asia Pacific, etc.).  With the localization capabilities provided by virtual event platforms, attendees can choose the language in which they experience the event.

Unique, Branded Experiences

COMDEX had a unique brand – with COMDEX Virtual, there seems to be a clear desire to create a unique experience that carries unique and distinctive branding.  Put another way, COMDEX Virtual should not look like any other virtual event – it needs to stand apart.  As such, UBM Studios, a “creative and strategic marketing agency” will create original and highly engaging event areas for COMDEX Virtual, including the Grand Hall of Masters, Hospitality Suites and the CRN Test Center.

This is part of a continuing trend in our industry – the desire (and capability) of show hosts to create highly engaging and unique experiences that adhere to their branding guidelines – or, create new brand experiences.  As such, clients with the budget (or capabilities) will “in-source” the creative development and look to the virtual event platforms to “carry the payload” – providing the foundation on which the event rides, along with essential platform features and services.

Taking the game to the next level

To support the size and scale of COMDEX (virtually), event platforms will need to bring their “A game”.  If the event will house hundreds of exhibitors interacting with tens of thousands of attendees, the virtual event platform will need to deliver on performance, reliability and scalability.  In addition, useful platform features need to enable exhibitors to demonstrate their products and services.

Match-making tools should enable exhibitors to find the “right” attendees and for attendees to find and make useful business contacts.  Lastly, the platforms need to enable pervasive use of video – both on-demand video and live-streamed video.  After all, a key element of past COMDEX events was the ability to see, hear and engage (visually) with others.

Conclusion

The “countdown to COMDEX” is on – between now and November, I’m sure there’s plenty of work and planning to get done.  In the meantime, with today’s announcement alone, a bit of history has already been made.

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