How much service personnel have you added since launching your Virtual Show platform?
We’ve grown significantly; we have 160 full-time employees at ON24 today, which is a 20% year-over-year increase. We have a dedicated team that is specifically involved with the more comprehensive virtual shows. This team specializes in consultation around virtual shows such as how to work with sponsors and doing promotions for events. They’re virtual event strategists.
Also, Ben Sullivan, our new V.P. of channels, will focus on expanding our support to existing channel partners as well as expanding our reseller network. We value these partnerships and recognize that supporting them is key to our continued growth and global reach.
What kind of growth has ON24 experienced?
2008 was a very strong year for us in many ways, with 40% revenue growth. The most significant event in 2008 was the successful launch of our leadership virtual events solution, the ON24 Virtual Show. It continues to be a primary focus. 2009 promises to be a strong year as well. In anticipation of robust demand, we’ve made some strategic hiring in key areas such as customer support and R&D.
How do you feel about physical events versus virtual events?
A virtual event can replace a physical event. I believe the hybrid approach is going to be prevalent, however. Some people attend events for networking, and it therefore might make more sense for them to go to the “real” event. Others might only be interested in listening to speakers, and the virtual event component is probably a better alternative for them.
What is the average cost to produce a virtual event?
The average event starts at about $25,000. The total cost depends on the level of customization and professional services required. Live events are not necessarily more costly. Cost is based on production complexity. The price-per-participant pricing model in a Second Life-type of environment does not apply to virtual events. However, in general, an event with 10,000 people is going to cost you bit more than an event with 500 people.
Do customers prefer live or pre-recorded events?
The majority of our events has a live component. That’s what makes them exciting to participants, but one of the advantages for the customer is the ability to archive events and make the content available on demand.
Can I couple ON24’s platform with other providers’ for the same event?
We’re a one-stop shop for virtual events applications, and we provide an end-to-end solution– we don’t need any third-party services. The less integration you have to do, the better. As you add providers, opportunities for problems increase. It’s best to keep things simple and work with a company like ON24, which can meet all your needs without involving any third parties. This is very important from a process standpoint, for reliability and for accurate reporting, as well as cost.
What advantages does ON24 have over other event providers?
ON24 has a very strong reputation in this market already and has for many years. I used to be a customer of ON24, so I’ve experienced ON24 quality and service first-hand. ON24’s reputation is based on continuous innovation, global reach and unsurpassed reliability. Bottom line: ON24 is all about quality, reliability and value. Those are key components of the ON24 brand promise on which our marketing programs are based.
How is the economy affecting how companies view this new technology?
The economy has increased interest in this technology. Companies who come to us now to reduce event costs will continue to use us for the many benefits we provide, such as high-quality demand generation and more effective communication and training. The economic climate forces many organizations to find alternatives, but, when the economy improves, they will continue to use virtual events because of the many benefits they provide.
Do you provide a self-service model as well as full-service?
Yes, but in the beginning of a new product life cycle and especially with a product like this, the customer wants more hand-holding, consultation and expertise. So, most customers are taking advantage of our professional services. But, of course, there will be a point when customers are ready to set up their own events, and ON24 will provide a self-service option. We’re probably a year or two away from seeing corporations wanting to take this on-board themselves.
Will you be working with partners to meet future demand?
Both yes and no. We’re a one-stop solution provider easily meeting the needs of all types of organizations. However, we will engage partners when needed to satisfy unique customer requirements. Here at ON24, our priority is maximizing the ROI for our customers.