Posted by: Dennis Shiao | February 2, 2009

Virtual Tradeshows: One of Many Applications


At InXpo, we don’t consider ourselves a “virtual tradeshow company.”  While our early growth centered around virtual tradeshows, the very first application on our platform focused on  private, business-to-business selling events for distribution companies.  Virtual tradeshows are obviously an important component of our business – but, what’s most important to us is “the platform.”  So, we’re a Software as a Service (SaaS) company and the Virtual Tradeshow (“VTS”) is one of many applications that ride on top of our SaaS platform.

The innovation in our business model centers around the many different uses of our platform today – and our growth depends to a large degree on the many new uses that will be conceived and developed in the future.  Much of our “exploration” will be driven by our customers.  When I think about the different applications we power today, I often categorize them in terms of  the “value beneficiary” – that is, what value is being delivered to the end user (and/or “exhibitor”) of the application?

With virtual tradeshows, I think of two constituencies – the end user and the exhibitor.  For the most part, the value delivered to the end user is the access to information: exhibitor booths, exhibitor documents, the ability to do text and video chats with exhibitors and the opportunity to network with peers.  For the exhibitor, the values delivered are the prospects and sales leads who attend the event and interact with the exhibitor.

Now, let’s consider three different types of applications that have run on our platform:

  1. Virtual Job Fairs – The beneficiaries here are no different from a physical job fair – users are able to apply to multiple companies and hiring companies are able to interact and assess numerous candidates for their open positions.  On the platform end, a virtual job fair has similarities to a virtual trade show, but at the same time, has unique requirements that must be enabled.  For instance, the platform ought to enable a convenient way for end users to submit their resume to multiple “exhibitors.”
  2. Virtual Corporate Events – The value generated for corporate events is quite different than trades shows or job fairs.  The corporate event “application” is typically a private event for which our platform restricts access to the sponsoring company’s employees and partners.  The sponsoring company drives value by gathering selected employees together – and by doing it online, avoids the expense of travel and physical meeting space, not to mention the loss of time for traveling.  The typical corporate event involves key presentations (broadcast live to all participants), as well as collaboration and interaction in between sessions.  Think of the collaboration as a “virtual meeting,” complete with discussions, desktop sharing and perhaps some whiteboarding.  Our virtual corporate events are powered by our same SaaS platform, but look nothing like our virtual trade shows or virtual job fairs
  3. Virtual Group Gatherings – Here, the platform generates value by enabling affinity groups to gather online.  They’re like a virtual corporate event, but minus the “on-the-job” angle.  So instead of co-workers, you’ll find hobbyists, fans and enthusiasts participating.  In some cases, the affinity group sponsor funds the event – in other cases, the affinity group sponsor organizes the event and then sells sponsorships to exhibitors.  In this scenario, the end users become potential sales leads for the exhibitors.

The future awaits – we look forward to working with our customers to explore new ways to drive value to their businesses.  We anticipate many new applications just around the horizon!


Responses

  1. How do you see this competing with the traditional face to face networking? That sort of personal touch cannot be replaced it seems.

  2. Hi Kayla,

    We don’t see virtual competing with physical events. While virtual cannot replicate the handshake, you can see the person eye-to-eye with video chat, meet new people, and forge new contacts that can be solidified at a later date with a physical meeting.

    Like email and websites, virtual is helping to augment the way we do business and forge relationships.


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