Who is doing Major Corporate Events?

I had dinner the other night with a buddy of mine who runs a company that produces major corporate events. You know the kind with a stage, lighting, stadium seating and a day or two of PowerPoint presentations designed to pump up the troops.

Interestingly enough he reported their business was off dramatically in that area.

Why? Three letters – AIG …

No corporate events person in their right mind would want to do a major event right now in the wake of the AIG scandal. They are either canceling them outright, postponing them till next year or doing them virtually.

I have been looking into virtual events with several vendors: Inexpo, ON24 and Unisfair. I also blogged about my thoughts on virtual events. Bottom line is I think there is great value there for us at BearingPoint and have it my budget again for next year.

Why do I see value in Virtual Events? – I see the opportunity to invest in this technology and have it pay for itself in one year. I estimate, if you set up your own branded virtual event area and do at least 5 webinars in that area during the cost of a year, you should be able to pay for the service for the first year since the cost of a virtual webinar is about half that of the cost of a regular webinar with a media partner.

Then you can leverage the platform to hold a virtual event internally. You can have your CEO speak to the whole company live and in person, take questions real time from about 10,000 people. All this at a fraction of the cost of a major corporate event.

One word of advice you need a good front end presentation layer. Hire a good video crew that can work with the virtual platform (email me for a recommendation) and you are good to go.

While it may be out of fashion to do a major corporate event – communicating with large groups of people in a personable style is not.

9 comments to Who is doing Major Corporate Events?

  • Cece Salomon-Lee

    Paul, For the short term, large corporate events will decline as it is also another way to quickly and easily cut costs that impact the bottom line. Cisco recently mentioned this as a reason for cutting their in-person global sales meeting next year in favor of a virtual one.

    Another benefit of a virtual event is also the ability to get detailed stats and reporting about who is there, for how long and what they watched or downloaded. Powerful when communicating ROI to the organization.

  • Paul Dunay

    Interesting to hear about Cisco – I suspect we will hear more example of this in the coming year

    and thanks for commenting CeCe
    Happy Holidays …

  • Dennis Shiao

    I agree with your points, Paul. I believe 2009 will be a major turning point in the migration from physical events to virtual events. I’ve been blogging about these trends here:


  • PH

    The key is to redefine the event for online — there are a lot of clunky online tradeshows that literally transfer the physical event into the online space, booths and all. The ability to move from topic to topic and to facilitate both realtime Q&A and backchannel conversations are unique to online. Companies that take advantage of falling video and webconferencing costswill see real benefit.

  • Cliff Allen

    Traditional trade shows combined the leverage of mass marketing with the conversational depth of face-to-face selling — within the limitations of a convention hall.

    Internet technologies allow us to achieve the same benefits of combining marketing and sales (i.e., “one-to-one marketing”). These techniques can be more effective than trade shows — and without the limitations of trade shows.

    The planning phase needs to look at which messages are timely (real-time) vs. timeless (on demand), and which messages are general (marketing materials) vs. unique to the individual (sales relationships). Then, the appropriate technologies can be applied to the mix.

  • Paul Dunay

    @ Dennis

    I agree and thanks for sharing – I am following your blog now

  • Paul Dunay

    @ PH – good point as well – as I like to say there is no “shovelware” so you cant take the physical event and “shovel” it online and expect it to have the same result

  • Paul Dunay

    @ Cliff

    Thanks for commenting – I agree online can be more targeted that a trade show environment when it comes to lead generation – but I also think online has a place in later stage pipeline efforts when you would normally use a face to face event such as a roundtable

  • Bob Davis

    I agree large corporate events have slowed down. It will be temporary and reemerge as a hybrid in later part of 2009. As humans we still need the personal experiential dynamics of “live” events and interactions. I see tradeshows specifically changing. New expenses related to new booth buildouts and elaborate launch parties are going to be tough to justify through 2010.

    Sales meetings will need to go virtual to keep any organization quick and nimble.


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