And In This Corner…
I have been tasked to help coordinate a virtual trade show next year. Obviously on my list are the big two players, Unisfair and InXpo. I’ve also got Design Reactor, On24, GoExhibit, and iCongo on my list. While I have been in contact with some of them, I only have really participated (as a vendor and visitor) to shows run on InXpo’s platform so far.
I have been trying to find comparisons of each, as well as other platforms, to give my client a run-down of which would fit best. Searching on the web, I have found some posts here and there, but pretty little as far as I imagined. So that was the genesis of this and a few more future blog entries!
As I get more information about the various platforms I will discuss them here. Right now, it’s just the beginning.
From what I know, both Unisfair and InXpo use AS 2 (Flash 7/8), but I’m going to find out if they’ve updated their system to AS 3 (note: requirements for both of these list Flash Player 9, so maybe they’ve taken the leap–stay tuned). In the last trade show I exhibited at, I used Flash extensively to customize the booth, and, according to the organizers, did some things that no other vendors were doing in terms of building out interactions. I will discuss some of this in future posts. I think this is a huge potential area for interactive marketing, but honestly the reactions I’ve gotten so far from Unisfair and InXpo have been lukewarm at best.
Of course web conferencing software like WebEx, GoToMeeting, etc. can have similar functionality in some areas, so I will need to go through some of those to see how they might fit the needs.
One of the trickiest things to find out, of course, is pricing. From my investigative work, it seems that the starting price is in the neighborhood of $30,000, but it’s onward and upward from there.
Even with the limited investigation I’ve done, I keep seeing people talk about Second Life as an environment for business. I made a character there last year and tried moving around to get a sense of what’s there, but I’m very skeptical that it can deliver results anywhere near what a dedicated platform can do.
Some discussions like this talk about “improving the level of reality they offer in the virtual environment.” While the statement is sufficiently vague so as to obscure what really needs improving, it sounds to me like a throwback to when the virtual shows started — they wanted to imitate real trade shows. I would argue that this can be a red herring, and this is why I’m skeptical of Second Life. The online trade show should exploit the medium to offer visitors and vendors the right level of detail, not just imitate reality more closely (there are a lot of things in live, on-site trade shows that are not particularly efficient).
Here are some links I’ve found that relate:
- It’s All Virtual, a vendor-neutral blog about virtual meetings, shows, etc. by Dennis Shiao
- Forbes: Kill the Business Trip (talks about Webinars, not virtual shows)
- Folio Magazine: A Perfect Storm for Web Events
- Business Week: Virtual Conferences’ Home Advantage
- ON24 Launches Virtual Tradeshow Platform (ON24)
- Trade Shows Go Virtual (Unisfair)
- First Impressions of The InformationWeek Virtual Trade Show (InXpo)