BtoB

Real impact of virtual meetings?

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If your media company is like ours, you're talking a lot about how events will be important to your future, and you are executing many more in-person and virtual events than in the past.

So I'm wondering: Will the rapid proliferation of virtual events, be they webinars or trade shows, start really impacting the long-term viability of large and small in-person events?

I, for one, had thought that wouldn't happen and that the drain on in-person events brought about by the recession would rectify itself with the resurgence of the U.S. economy.

Yet I am quite surprised at the levels of attendance and interest from both attendees and sponsors for virtual events. At the pace they are occurring, there must be a lessening of desire to attend seminar-type events in person as well as trade shows.

Networking demand will continue at in-person events, but networking is also being absorbed in a different fashion by Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Recently, I have heard over and over from our BtoB marketer audience that they have grown very tired of the costs of exhibiting at in-person events and the failure to achieve efficient lead generation from them. Sponsors now want their own customer events, and they want virtual events, without so much cost and headache.

I know travel is coming back, but I feel pretty certain that we will be seeing continued smaller attendance at many events this year, and probably an overall downsizing of events over the next couple of years. Virtual is the future for events.

Bob Felsenthal can be reached at bfelsenthal@crain.com.

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