I don’t like virtual exhibitions. The reason for making a website look like an exhibition hall has always eluded me, particularly as virtual bars are far less fun than real ones. So when I saw an invite to IC Virtual 365, I was a little less than enthusiastic about the opportunity to check it out.

When I got on the site, my existing prejudices were confirmed: I just don’t see the point of pictures of stands and escalators, although fortunately little time was taken up loading these images. You also have to register, which does mean that Angel Business Communications can provide a flow of leads, but must discourage some potential visitors. The flash based system takes you fairly quickly to your area of interest (Angel publishes euroasia semiconductor and Solar, so the show is mainly about process technology), and with a few minor niggles – clicking on a company logo doesn’t take you to their stand – the system works smoothly. I did, however, find myself wanting to get to the list of products/data on each stand, and felt that the pretty graphics sometimes stood between me and the information I wanted. A neat feature of the show was the rich video content, which definitely added to the experience.

Overall, however, I think that IC Virtual 365 is an interesting experiment. By taking this approach, publishers (or should that be event organisers?) can force registration and therefore create a source of leads. But there is clearly a lot more work – and by that I mean cost – than there would be if the content was simply added to a microsite. Will the leads justify the cost? It probably depends on the level of promotion, and therefore the number and quality of visitors to the site. I guess we’ll just have to wait to see the results from the companies currently exhibiting at IC Virtual 365!

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