Posted by: Dennis Shiao | April 10, 2009

“Less Is More” With Virtual Events

Source: Web 2.0 Expo (SF)
Source: Web 2.0 Expo (SF)

A few of us from InXpo attended Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco recently.  Given the economic environment we find ourselves in, it was apt that the event’s theme was  “Less Is More”.  My initial observation upon walking the show floor, however, was “more”, as the attendance this year was fairly impressive.  Of course, we’re not talking the same crowds of years past – but, in relative terms (and, considering  the economy), I was glad to see a healthy turn-out.

As I strolled past (and through) the impressive booths from Microsoft, Facebook,, ooVoo and many others, my thoughts continually returned to our virtual event space.  After all, virtual events are a Web 2.0 application, where social networking comes to life via direct interaction (e.g. text or webcam chat in a private or group setting).

What struck me more, however, is how virtual events tie into the show’s theme.  While virtual events don’t necessarily deliver less features, they do help lessen cost factors in flooring an event – and hence, the less factor ends up creating more overall value.  For an event producer, a virtual event can lessen the following costs:

  1. Physical event elements (booths, printed collateral, the actual exhibit hall, the associated shipping costs, etc.).
  2. Travel costs (air travel, gasoline, mass transit, etc.).
  3. Lodging costs.
  4. The “soft cost” of being out of the office (despite the power of mobile computing, most of us are less productive when traveling).

Should you eliminate all physical events and go purely virtual?  Not necessarily.  However, you might want to leverage virtual events to complement physical events – which give you the flexibility to floor a slightly smaller physical event, optimize your costs and make your event content available online (to a global audience).

I don’t want to focus purely on cost savings, however.  With virtual events, I believe the right phrase is, “More Is More“, based on the following capabilities:

  1. Extensive activity tracking – for events with an objective of lead generation, activity tracking results in key data points that allow exhibitors to more intelligently follow up with these sales prospects. For an educational or internal-facing event, activity tracking provides useful metrics on the value or worthiness of event content (e.g. Webcasts, booths, resources, documents, etc.).
  2. Ongoing showcase – the event remains “alive” as long as you want – and you have the option to “light it up” at a later date to bring a critical mass of live attendees back into the environment. Otherwise, new and returning visitors can still login and access the environment on-demand.
  3. Global access – your event is available to anyone who has access to the Internet.  For live events, the only limitation becomes concurrent access across timezones.  Some virtual event organizers utilize a “follow the sun” methodology for a live virtual event, where the event is available (with support staff online) for a continuous 24 hour period.

These combination of factors excite us very much at InXpo – where we believe that not only “Less Is More“, but “More Is More” as well.

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“Less is More” with Virtual Events and remarks about Web 2.0 by @dshiao via @InXpoLive blog:

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