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A virtual event is an online event that involves people interacting in a virtual environment on the web, rather than meeting in a physical location. Virtual events are typically multi-session online events that often feature webinars and webcasts. They are highly interactive, often aiming to create as similar an experience as possible to their physical counterparts.
Popular uses of virtual events include virtual tradeshows, virtual job fairs, virtual conferences such as virtual translation conferences, virtual sales-meetings,, virtual college open days, virtual company-wide gatherings. Virtual events are used by companies to deliver presentations, training, job fairs, expos, internal meetings and sessions. They are led by a range of key stakeholders, including company executives, marketing managers, product management, human resources and more.
"Virtual event" can also refer to aspects of an event that are brought to users through an online experience. This can range from live-streaming the event online to creating on-demand video content for users to view after the conclusion of the event.
Origins and history
The "virtual tradeshow" was first publicly described and presented as "ConventionView" by Alan Saperstein and Randy Selman of Visual Data Corporation now known as Onstream Media in April 1993 in a presentation to investors at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York city. The company was videotaping trade show exhibitors booths and then attaching the videos to HTML floor maps. Although ConventionView was met with some early success the company closed it down returning to the market with a multimedia virtual tradeshow platform called MarketPlace365 in November 2010.
Virtual events started to become increasingly popular during the late-2000s recession as they offered an economically and environmentally effective way to bring thousands of attendees to an event from around the globe. In some cases, traditional physical events now offer a parallel virtual component – creating a 'hybrid event'.
Virtual environments are becoming an increasingly important part of the marketing mix. For marketers, virtual events can provide a rich source of marketing data, because the activities of each participant can be tracked and evaluated. A virtual engagement index is a variable to measure interaction quantity and quality of participants. This is a very useful tool for sales people who would then know the quality of the lead they are pursuing, however not all providers offer this feature yet.
Virtual events can offer a number of ways for participants to connect and communicate. Webcasts include live presentations or pre-recorded videos where the presenters are available for questions and answers at the end of the session – a technique called Simulive. Virtual booths, forums and designated meeting places allow participants to connect with event staff or fellow attendees using online chat, video and voice. Participants can leverage their social network within the event to form interest groups or find like-minded individuals. They can also share the findings with their online communities, often leading to viral popularity of an event.
One of the key differences between virtual worlds and virtual events is that a virtual world is available as a persistent (perpetual) environment, even after the live part of the event is over. Many organizers are moving from episodic events to a continuous virtual engagement of their customer and prospect communities, (archive of the event). This permits attendees to return to parts of the event to see a complete session again, review content or gather additional information. Typically, virtual event organizers allow attendees to store the information gathered in a virtual briefcase, which can contain marketing collateral, as well as contact information of people they met, presentations they attended and content of conversations they held.
Companies are increasingly transitioning their physical events and conferences to virtual events, due to unforeseen circumstances, like the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in the cancellation or modification of events. This modification has proven resourceful and lucrative for virtual corporate emcees. During the COVID-19 pandemic, The National Speakers Association found that 14% of members said that MC/facilitation became their top source of revenue in 2020, up from 3% in 2016.
On November 29, 2020, Miss Earth 2020 will be held virtually, the first time in history. It will be participated by 84 countries worldwide.(ADD CITATION)
Global "round-the-clock" events
During the Covid-19 pandemics, the new format of so called global events emerged, which "virtually travel the globe" "with the sun from East to West". The International Association of Constitutional Law and Alma Mater Europaea university organized the first such event in July 2020, calling it a "unique round-the-clock and round-the-globe" event, which featured 52 speakers from 28 countries.
- Clancy, Heather (12 September 2007). "Cyberspace Trade Shows Bring Action to the Desktop". New York Times. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
- Bruzzese, Anita (2008-07-25). "On The Job: Virtual job fairs expand search options". USA Today.
- Virtual Conferences' Home AdvantageBusinessweek – Business News, Stock Market & Financial Advice. Businessweek (2008-05-05). Retrieved on 2012-07-04.
- Cisco takes its global sales meeting virtual – Technology. Event Marketer. Retrieved on 2012-07-04.
- Lee-Potter, Emma; Pozniak, Helena (2019-09-16). "The inside story on university open days - are they really worth it?". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2020-02-27.
- The (Virtual) Global OfficeBusinessweek – Business News, Stock Market & Financial Advice. Businessweek (2008-05-02). Retrieved on 2012-07-04.
- virtual trade shows: A Realistic Alternative to Business Travel?
- "Coronavirus: Ted to go virtual or be postponed". BBC News. 2020-03-05. Retrieved 2020-03-06.
- James, Cordilia (2020-11-08). "The Virtual MCs Charged With Saving Company Morale in 2020". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2020-11-10.
- "RSA Global Webinar Series". RSA Main. Retrieved 2020-10-27.
- "Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard Professors at the Alma Mater Europaea Symposium". www.sloveniatimes.com. Retrieved 2020-10-27.
- "Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard Professors at the Alma Mater Europaea symposium". en.almamater.si. Retrieved 2020-10-27.
- Cyberspace Tradeshow Brings Action to the Desktop, Heather Clancy, NYT, Sept 12 2007
- Virtual Conferences Home Advantage, Rachel King, Business Week, May 5, 2008
- The Virtual Global Office, Rachel King, Business Week, May 2, 2008
- Cisco takes its global sales meeting virtual, Kenneth Briodagh, Event Marketer, November/December 2009 Issue
- Next Generation of Business Software, Brian Bergstein, USA Today (AP), May 11, 2008
- On the Job: Virtual Jobfairs expand search options, Anita Bruzzese,USA Today (AP), July 25, 2008
- Interview in your Pajamas, Tara Weiss, Forbes.com, Oct 8, 2008