A Virtual Event replicates or complement a real time exhibition or trade show in an online environment removing the obstacles that surround physical location so broadening attendance.
Many online environments also offer a Virtual Presence Manager (VPM). A VPM creates a virtual presence within the event so that an event can run constantly without having to be constantly staffed.
Visitors can leave messages, or Business Cards (an online profile with contact details so staff can contact later), they can chat and use various social networking tools to collaborate with other visitors or the exhibitors themselves and much data is captured using Webmetrics for the exhibition organiser to examine later.
Using personalisation various user groups can be set up which define who can view various areas of the site, meaning that confidential information is kept safe. This also makes it possible to run various trade shows from one portal.
Virtual events are often broken up into various areas:
Firstly there’s the auditorium
, this is area of the site where the conference takes place, pre recorded or live video streams are set up showing the various presentations that are to take place during the event.
Then there’s the exhibition hall
; this is where the exhibitors create their virtual booths. Generally they show various pieces of information and allow downloads of documents, video and audio. Additionally they usually allow interested visitors to leave their business card for later contact by the company.
is where visitors/exhibitors can have group or private conversations. This is the main networking area of the virtual event and usually has a live chat function.
Finally, there’s the social network
, this varies dependant on the platform (and some offer none), and allows users to create a database of contacts, to get in touch and collaborate with them, to write articles, upload files and network.