I thought that virtual conferences were still a thing of the future. I was wrong.
I recently participated in a virtual conference and was absolutely blown away on three levels:
1) The number of super-qualified leads
2) The quality of the information at the conference
3) The benefits of online communication vs. the two-minute booth handshake
Let me explain. When attendees come to a virtual conference, they register, download materials, see presentations, participate in live discussions (if they attend the first day of the conference), and participate in surveys. Companies that participate and "exhibit" by setting up a virtual booth receive all of this information regarding this particular attendee. In comparison, I know that exhibitors have trouble keeping notes, business cards, and conversations straight when they originate in booths - I've been there!
From the comfort of home/business attendees can and do log in - spend a couple of hours, receive the information they need, and move on. I'm the queen of flight delays, lost luggage, and reservation snafus. Let's see, three days of no luggage or two hours on my computer - when I want to squeeze them in--duh! Virtual conferences are archived for six months - and people do continue to come - sometimes literally in droves - so once it's over, it's not over.
In addition to real booth exhibits, there's an auditorium where you and a couple hundred others can gather to see a live presentation, complete with Q&A opportunities at the end. Except for keynotes, do you ever see this many in one room at a live conference at least recently? The conferences provide an interesting collection of panel discussions and individual conference tracks designed to provide information designers can use now.
I wrongly guessed that the communication between attendee and booth staff would be almost non-existent. Again, not true. There are visible and private IMs, emails, conferences, etc., going on -- and more than one person can be pulled in. The process of qualifying and selling actually does take place.
Do a quick Virtual Conference search on EE Times to see the number that have already taken place. Such subjects as Multicore, FPGAs , Motor Control, Medical Systems have already been covered as well as specific design-based segments such as ST's recent Virtual Conference on Robust Ecosystem = Embedded Success.
If you've attended virtual conferences already, what do you think? If not, visit some of the above links. Seems the future of these conferences is now.