Cisco targets event planners with virtual platforms for event venues

Event, expo and trade-show hosts could get more from their investment in venues for hire by using virtual attendance technology, video conferencing company Cisco has claimed as it launches a new product for the events industry.

This week Cisco unveiled its commercial package for the events industry, Cisco’s Collaboration for Events.

This service aims to provide event planners with options for collaboration both before and during an exposition or trade show as well as expand their reach through video footage, the use of telepresence for high-quality video speeches and archival footage and data for post-event reviews.

PJ Boatwright, vice president of events at Fortune – a company who tested the system with Cisco – said that by using virtual platforms, they were able to extend their event “well beyond our four walls and previous physical limitations.”

“For example…we were able to unite our 300 in-person attendees with nearly 1,000 virtual participants around the world,” said Boatwright. “In addition, by making video content available on the Web via Cisco Show and Share, we are converting our conferences into Web communities lasting long after the event doors closed.”

Cisco says that using virtual platforms at its event venues has helped the company both cuts its spend and increase engagement with delegates, reports C&IT Magazine. Speaking at the magazines Corporate Forum, Cisco project manager of European Marketing James Bedford said that in 2008, his company decided that all internal events would be virtual and that all external events would be “hybrid” – mixing both physical and virtual attendance.

“As an events manager I was quite concerned about that – would it cannibalise physical attendance?” said Bedford. Yet he says that use of the technology has expanded attendance without adding extra costs and had little to no affect on physical attendance, instead allowing those unable to attend due to travel or timing issues to participate and observe industry events.

Furthermore, Cisco says that with virtual platforms organisers can help direct the focus of delegates onto key speeches and activities as well as more effectively track the value of specific arrangements and guest speakers.