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TECHNOLOGY32 . . February 2012February and to generate $18.6bn revenues over the same period.Three in four brand marketers anticipate exhibitions will include a virtual element in the future. Weetwood Hall Conference Centre and Hotel in Leeds has invested in a data conferencing suite which uses SMART technology to deliver virtual meetings. The venue has a licence that facilitates access for up to 25 delegates and the suite can accomodate up to 10 delegates.Weetwood Hall's GM Peter Chubb says it has not been popular. "We continuously promote this offering as part of our services. We may be at the forefront of technology at this stage, but we need organisers and trainers to become more confi dent in using the equipment," says Chubb.Three virtual conferences were held in the suite during 2011, which costs £350 for half a day and £500 for a full day, including VAT and refreshments.The most successful event the venue has hosted in the suite was for 40 delegates attending a forum at The Windown in islington, London. Delegates could view on screen what was being presented from the data suite."People are not engaging with this service as yet, but we still envisage this to be a service of the future," the spokesman adds.Global virtual event company INXPO has conducted 2,500 l virtual events and experiences for global corporations, associations and publishers including: 3M, AAA, Bank of America, Cisco, Dell, The Gap, Hilton, HIMSS, GE Healthcare, PennWell, SAP, Sony, TechTarget, Yahoo, and Ziff Davis Enterprises.INXPO's web-based environments are used for marketing, HR, sales, and training. and features include webcasts, live chat, content socialisation and complete metrics reporting.An INXPO spokesman says: "Online communities are becoming the norm. But simply having one is not enough. You need to keep the community engaged in dialogue with your brand, interacting with one another, and generating customer intelligence."According to a 2011 survey of marketers by virtual events company Unisfair 60 per cent of respondents said they planned to increase spending on virtual environments and events, and 67 per cent contemplated hosting 10 or more virtual events in the 12 months following the survey. Forty-six percent of the respondents said they expect more than 50 percent of corporate events will be physical-virtual hybrid affairs within two years.It seems the conference and meetings industry has a long way to go before it fully embraces the idea of virtual events. Evidence to suggest the merits of virtual events over real life face-to-face networking is also yet to be seen. Will virtual events replace real life events? I dont think so. But can you afford not to investigate further? Benefi ts of organising a virtual event:Virtual event provider ON24 carried out a survey of 5,000 marketing professionals asking how virtual events may provide benefi ts:60% of people in a Unisfair study said they planned to increase spending on virtual events in the next 12 monthssaid they preferred interacting and networking interactively.of event providers said they were interested in staging virtual events to save money.of event providers were interested in virtual events to save time.of recipients said they were more likely to attend a virtual event than a face-to-face event.said they were equally confi dent networking interactively.said business travel is failing to improve and voted in favour of virtual events because of this

Full page advertQuintessentially Stylish... an extraordinary and unique city escapeThe Oxfordshire Golf Hotel and Spa Rycote Lane, Milton Common, Oxfordshire OX9 2PUTelephone: 01844 278300 Fax: 01844 278003www.theoxfordshire.com2012February 2012 . . 32