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February 3, 2009

Survey shows growing popularity of virtual events

More than three quarters of US companies have already either begun using virtual events of plan to begin using them in 2009, according to recent research.

ON24, a supplier of webcasting and virtual-event solutions, conducted an online survey in December 2008 of more than 300 enterprise business executives in the US about their plans to attend or host live trade shows, conventions and sales training seminars in 2009 against their use of virtual events.

Some 42% of respondents expect participation in physical trade shows to be down by as much as 50%, with 64% expecing to have fewer physical sales seminars or none at all. Meanwhile, 60% of executives said that they expect training, management and other internal events to be down by 20% to 50%.

Perhaps more interesting was how happy respondents said they are not to have to travel to live events. While 61% said they would miss seeing people in person, less than 35% said they would miss travelling to other locations and attending social activities.

Attending virtual events, on the other hand, has several corresponding benefits, with 75% of respondents saying they appreciate that no travel is required, 64% revealing that they like being able to attend the virtual sessions on their own schedules, and 58% saying they find it useful to be able to forward their colleagues virtual sessions that they believe are of interest to them.

In addition, more than a third of respondents cite the social networking benefits of virtual events, including the ability: to see a list of all attendees in advance (35%); to contact other attendees online throughout the event (40%); and to get information on people (32%) and companies (34%) they meet electronically.

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