“The recession, green movement, costs to exhibit, travel hassles, generation Y’s social networking predilections (pick one) have opened the door to virtual events with good reason—they save money and environmental resources while attracting a new audience of exhibitors and attendees. […] It’s time to take stock of the real opportunities that virtual event platforms offer to stimulate live attendance and grow face-to-face events.
Extract of one of the articles of Michelle Bruno’s blog. The whole article can be viewed here : http://forkintheroadblog.com/archives/the-virtual-rescue-plan-for-face-to-face-events/
The bad news
At the same time virtual events are on the rise, face-to-face trade show producers are experiencing their share of challenges. Many organizers are struggling to get a handle on how to grow their events in the face of increased competition from new media channels, continued economic volatility, and rising costs. Exhibitors remain irritated by the ever-increasing costs to exhibit. The recent uptick in attendance numbers at some shows doesn’t change the general lack of industry growth overall.
The good news
When done well, virtual experiences stimulate immersion, flow, and presence—the primary reasons why virtual games like World of Warcraft (WOW) are so addictive. To a lesser extent, virtual trade shows and conferences perform in the same way. Like every great concert, sporting event, or cocktail party next door, watching and listening to the action from a distance only makes you crave being there when the opportunity comes along. […]
The Hybrid Event
Stream content live from the physical trade show and conference to the virtual audience. This is an opportunity to appeal to serious potential participants—remote attendees, exhibitors, and even sponsors—who want to learn about the event with the intention of participating the following year. This is your opportunity to showcase your product in a three-dimensional way. The best way to do that is to not treat the virtual audience as voyeurs or second-class citizens. You have to engage them, give them a voice, allow them to participate, and frustrate them (in a good way) so that they regret not having attended the live event.