Ask The Expert: Events

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Virtual events no longer a novelty in b-to-b world

Malcolm Lotzof, CEO of virtual platform provider InXpo, has seen static webcasts evolve into trade shows and privately branded events that incorporate Web 2.0 communication tools. “There's been a transition over the last two years from [the virtual event] being a novelty experience to a place where normal business is taking place,” he said. He shared his insight on content development.
BtoB: What kind of material is most effective?

Lotzof: A virtual event brings together all the Web 2.0 technologies that make up social media and uses the ones that are important for the host of that event, whatever their need is. If the need is education, the Web 2.0 technology used the most is presentation. If the reason to have the event is to network, the No. 1 Web 2.0 technology is to chat. Then you have blogs and message boards. [In a virtual trade show booth], one of the things we really encourage is not to have a lot of links to text and static Web pages because you can get that off the Web site at any point. Things like a group chat, a blog, a message board—those need to be included in a booth, but not necessarily all at once.
BtoB: How do trade show exhibitors ensure the value of the event?

The success of the booth depends on how seriously the exhibitor is taking the booth. There's not much difference between a physical and a virtual event. If you spend the time and effort upfront planning and understanding what you want and putting the right content together, you'll get better attendance and better results. You need to have a strategy, plan it out, staff it—all of the things you would do during a physical event.
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