Marrying the Physical and the Virtual World to Improve Business Impact and Reduce Costs

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Events enables partners, employees and customers to come together, build networks, gain fresh perspectives, exchange knowledge, and nurture relationships. In spite of all these significant benefits, a lot of organizations are doubtful whether events deliver business impact commensurate with their costs, especially during recession. Sky-scraping costs, limited audience reach, low flexibility, and unpredictable outcomes are some of the challenges associated with traditional events.

You can no longer assume that all attendees will travel from around the world for an event. As technology begins to offer more options, attendees will want to participate how and when they choose. Some will prefer to join an event remotely. Many of these challenges can be overcome by adding a virtual component to a traditional event. A hybrid event (marrying the Physical and the Virtual World) expands options for participation in both space and time, enabling the attendee to choose to attend in person or remotely, live or on a delayed basis, and for the entire program or just selected sessions. It offers you a great opportunity to cast a wider net and attract more attendees with smaller travel budgets or from across the globe.

Hybrid events enable you to:

  • Expand your audience and brand beyond the walls of the physical events by bringing in attendees and speakers from any location
  • Increase interactions by extending the life of your event and sharing keynotes and breakout sessions during and after the event
  • Boost operational efficiency by deploying step to just the right area at just the right time or track and monitor key areas of interest to deliver on your marketing investments.

Cisco has been a pioneer in creating highly successful next-generation events. Having successfully pulled off Cisco GSX Global Sales Meeting 2009, arguably one of the largest virtual meetings in history, the Cisco team came back in 2010 with Global Sales Experience (GSX) 2010, a hybrid event with a twist. Based on Cisco’s experience, hybrid events not only cut the cost and augment attendance, but also enhance the attendee experience and greatly increase the event’s impact. Moving to a virtual format reduced total event costs from $65 million to $9 million, a savings of $56 million. These savings came from eliminating travel and venue costs, and reflect a small increase in the planning, preparation, and technology costs. Additionally, by avoiding travel, participants saved time worth $19 million.

The scale of GSX was vast, with 600 locations spanning 24 time zones, and 88 hours ofcontinuous sessions. Engagement and participation levels were remarkable:

  • 17,306 employees attended, representing 93 percent of the 18,388 registrants
  • 450,000 hours were spent in the virtual environment (before, during, and after theevent), or 26 hours per attendee
  • 13,445 employees played The Threshold (Alternate Reality Game)
  • 10,133 participated in the mini games, with 73,092 total views
  • 8,289 interacted in group chats in Chat Zone

One of the rewards of a virtual event is that individuals can still take part after the event is over. The benefit of reporting capabilities goes way beyond determining who deserved credit hours. You can see everything your attendees do, literally. These capabilities can provide proof of lead generation, as well. And the online segment can still generate new leads after an event.

You can get tips directly from the producer of Global Sales Experience (GSX), one of the most innovative virtual endeavors ever at Virtual Edge Summit (January 12-13 in Las Vegas and online) where Angie Smith, Senior Manager, Cisco Global Sales Experience, will provide insights about Cisco’s ground breaking sales conference.

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