Earlier this month the Grondstedt Group helped the Trade Promotion Management Associates hold a conference in Second Life. The half-day conference consisted of a series of 45-minute panel discussions and breaks for exhibits in Gronstedt Group’s beach-resort-themed environment. The event attracted 160 registered attendees from companies as diverse as manufacturing, retail, and industry analyst firms. Most interestingly, pretty much none were involved in virtual worlds.
“It was a completely new experience for every single person involved, including speakers, moderators, exhibitors, and the TPMA staff. They were all seasoned industry professionals. Yet, the event went flawlessly,” Anders Gronstedt, President of the Grondstedt Group, explained over email. “We’ve created a speedy and fool-proof process for Second Life onboarding that is down to 30 minutes for participants and 60 minutes for speakers and exhibitors. By guiding them through our process over the phone and in-world, participants only need to spend 30 minutes of preparation to sign up for an account and learn how to walk, listen, and chat.”
The event was free to attendees and exhibitors. Combined with the lack of hotel costs, flights, and other expenses, Gronstedt says it was easily a savings of over $200,000. There’s also a significant saving in time.
“As a speaker or exhibitor, it takes about 60 minutes of preparation and rehearsal, including signing up for a Second Life account. That’s even less time than a lot of people spend in the bathroom in the morning just to get themselves ready for a live conference, never mind traveling time,” Gronstedt said. “Of course, you get some people bumping into each other and forgetting to turn their microphones on or off, but that’s a much better problem to have than to deal with the disengagement and drop-out rate of a dronathon, death-by-PowerPoint webinar.”
Of course, it’s hard to compare a free virtual event to a more costly physical event in terms of success, but TPMA was extremely satisfied and plans on offering more events, said Gronstedt, though he couldn’t discuss details.
“We were extremely pleased with the level of interaction, attendance, and discussion during our Second Life conference today,” TPMA CEO Diane Berry said in a statement. “It was a truly immersive experience and our attendees stayed for the entire three-hour session — much longer than most traditional webinars. Our speakers stimulated important discussions about how both retailers and manufacturers can and should capture market share during the current economy, place the consumer at the center of their businesses, and collaborate for the best interest of both trading partners.”
For more information on the ways virtual worlds are changing the way we collaborate, check out our upcoming 3D Training, Learning, and Collaboration (3D TLC) Conference taking place April 20-21, 2009 in Washington, DC. The program was just announced today!