Testing the virtual water

Events industry association Eventia and the Institute of Travel and Meetings has carried out an
experiment, looking at the delegate experience of real events versus virtual
ones.

Themed ‘An Experiment with Second Life’, the partners
ran the same content in both a real-life scenario at September’s Event
UK at The NEC, and through virtual
Second-Life technology the next day.

Delegates scored registration and joining instructions
11 per cent higher for the live event than the virtual; speaker feedback was
consistently better, too, with an average nine per cent higher score in the real
life event. However, ease of interaction with delegates and speakers was scored
higher in the virtual conference than in real life, by two per cent.

Commenting on the experiment, ITM CEO Paul Tilstone
says: “Those who attended the virtual event seemed to comment very favourably on
the format, but there are clearly some lessons to be learned on the engagement
with delegates prior to the event and people preferred hearing from real-life
speakers in the flesh.

“The statistics on interaction, however, are interesting
as it demonstrates that virtual technology actually aids interaction rather than
hinders it as one might expect, so clearly this aspect could drive the
technology application for certain types of event.”

Eventia CEO Izania Downie says the results highlight “a
potential application for the technology in the events arena but the evidence to
date seems to suggest it is predominantly on a complementary basis to real-life
events and won’t replace the benefits people get from face-to-face
interaction”.

Paul Colston

Author

Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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