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Use Virtual Events to Deliver More Value

Posted on June 11, 2007

By Brent Arslaner

The truth is I have not talked to an event planner that is actually “afraid” of the growing use of virtual events, but it seems others are afraid that you are afraid.

Quite to the contrary, the events professionals I have spoken with are embracing the idea of virtual events. Admittedly, this is because Unisfair is in the business of delivering virtual event solutions for our clients and the professionals that we encounter are coming to us to use these services.

An events “expert” (not an actual events professional) I was speaking with one morning about this very article said, “be careful, you don’t want to scare them with virtual events.”

After I heard that again—yet having never heard it from an actual events professional—I changed the title of this article.

Use Virtual Events to Deliver More Value
Virtual Events will never replace face-to-face or physical events (even if they did, you still need event professionals to plan, produce and execute the virtual events, but I digress).

Event professionals are increasingly using Virtual events to augment f2f events. They are easy and fast to pull together; they conveniently pull in geographically dispersed audiences; they can augment the physical event by forward promoting and extending the value of a physical event; and the technology has advanced to such a state that you will most likely be “wow-ed” when you see what a virtual event delivers.

Here are some of examples of events that take place within a virtual environment:
Sales Training – especially for geographically dispersed sales force
User Groups – increase your customer loyalty from the hundreds of people that can afford to attend, to several thousand people
Conferences/Seminars – either for educational or lead gen purposes
Job Fairs – gives companies with a competitive job market a global edge
Lead Generation – virtual events are ideal for marketing lead generation activities

Any event you can conduct physically you can hold virtually. There is a time and a place for each, and when you use them together, you greatly increase the value delivered to all audiences.

Virtual Events Defined
We both know that you are not afraid of virtual events, but I would be willing to bet that many of you have yet to see the recent advances in the world of virtual events. I will take some time in a future article to detail what virtual events can deliver today.

Until then I will leave you with this one thought since I know you all read the cover story about Second Life in the March edition of Successful Meetings. There is a distinct difference between Second Life, designed for gamers, and virtual events designed for the business world.

Reading the online story by Don Salkain “Behind the Cover” (http://www.mimegasite.com/mimegasite/search/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003564137) highlights the difference.

To sum it up, access to a virtual event for business people must be quick, easy, painless and scalable. It must be a place to quickly share and gain information, and it must facilitate networking with other professionals.

Look for a detailed definition and explanation of what virtual events can and should deliver in a soon-to-come article.


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Mike Dulaney


You say that a virtual event can augment a live f2f event and I agree. Could you direct me to some of these types of events and who uses them most? Are there statistics on these types of dual events. I am planning a high end software tradeshow where the products are very expensive. The idea of a virtual event to increase awareness and to increase attendance at the f2f event is interesting and one that I am investigating. Please forward me any information on any of these you are doing now.

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