Virtual Events In Europe: Best Practices, Learnings And Observations

April 19, 2010

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.

Related links:

http://www.monster-edays.fr/2010/printemps/

http://www.monstervirtualjobfair.com/DEMO/

http://www.fieralavoromonster.it/

http://blog.imaste-ips.com

http://www.imaste-ips.com


A Look Inside Virtual Job Fairs With IMASTE

July 28, 2009

IMASTE Co-Founders: Miguel Fernandez Lapique, Aitor Zabala, Miguel Arias

IMASTE Co-Founders: Miguel Fernandez Lapique, Aitor Zabala, Miguel Arias

Founded in 2003 and headquartered in Madrid, Spain, IMASTE has a mission statement that reads, “We create innovative contact platforms for our customers and their potential users”.  According to Miguel Arias, Director-Partner at IMASTE, “We founded IMASTE with the purpose of enabling a bridge between companies and university graduates. We first started organizing real events and after two years we became the Spanish leader in university recruitment events in Spain.”  As technologies began to emerge, IMASTE found it natural to leverage the web to complement their physical recruitment events with virtual job fairs.

Today, IMASTE has three primary product categories:

  1. Virtual Fairs – Virtual Job Fairs have been produced in Spain, France, UK, Brazil and Portugal – and IMASTE is working on a sustainability virtual fair in France.
  2. Virtual Environments Lab – based on Adobe Flex, IMASTE builds rich internet applications for clients.  Arias notes, “We have developed the virtual corporate office for Deloitte, the virtual campus for Everis, a virtual music festival for Universia and a virtual petrol station for CEPSA.”
  3. On-Campus (Physical) Job Fairs – IMASTE organizes more than ten Spanish university job fairs, a primary source for Spanish employers to tap into a pool of young graduates.
Monster Edays Event, Powered by IMASTE

Monster Edays Event, Powered by IMASTE

IMASTE worked with Monster to produce Monster Edays, a 2-week virtual job fair that leveraged instant messaging and video chat and enabled more than 90 online company presentations.  IMASTE leveraged Adobe Flex for 3D renderings and animations, as well as the Red5 video conferencing application.  With the event targeting the French market, IMASTE enabled French language support in their platform and coordinated video production activities from Paris.

According to a Case Study posted on the IMASTE web site:

With more than 35 participating companies, over 100,000 unique visitors and over 8,000 collected CVs, the project was a huge success. The media buzz generated more than 350 referring sites and great blogger reviews.  Thus increasing heavily the brand awareness among jobseekers.

Like many providers of virtual events and virtual event technology, IMASTE has a fairly healthy schedule of events.  In the Fall of 2009 alone, they have virtual fairs planned in Croatia, France, Spain, UK and Ireland – with a second edition of a Brazilian virtual job fair scheduled as well.

Speaking of the European market, Arias notes that Europe encompasses many countries, languages and cultures – for virtual event success, “one needs to take into account the cultural differences of each country and localize your platform to each specific need.”  Sprinkling in a bit of humor, Arias concludes, “Therefore, you need to be very flexible and code a lot.”

Arias believes that vast growth opportunities lie ahead, since the European market has not yet fully embraced virtual events – “corporate and marketing executives are not so keen of web innovations and there is a very strong culture of the importance of physical events to enable networking.”

Perhaps IMASTE should leverage their physical job fair business – and prove the ROI and benefits to the European market by turning them into hybrid (phyical+virtual) events.  This way, European exhibitors/sponsors still experience a comfort level (with the physical event sponsorship) and begin to experience the corresponding benefits of the virtual experience.

Related links

  1. A list of IMASTE’s products
  2. The IMASTE blog
  3. The IMASTE Team
  4. IMASTE blog posting on SEO and social networks
  5. Blog posting: For Virtual Events, Globalization Means Localization

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