Virtual events continue to eat away at the real world conference business. The latest sign is fast growth at Unisfair. The virtual events company said it added 20 new event customers in the first half and grew revenues 60 percent compared to a year ago.
Menlo Park, Calif.-based Unisfair created a web-based virtual events platform that customers can use to stage their own online events, from virtual job fairs to trade shows. New customers include EMC, Genentech, Q-Center and Tourism Fiji. The latter used the virtual event to provide training for real world travel professionals. Unisfair said it has staged hundreds of virtual events for customers like Ariba, IBM, CA Intuit and others.
The virtual trade shows have precise analytics that tell the customers exactly what was useful about the virtual event. It can also tell you how engaged each attendee is. You can now sign up for one event and keep your same virtual presence for subsequent events. A report by Forrester Research ranked Unisfair highest among the event providers in categories such as virtual environment, collaboration, networking, integration, security and localization.
Investors include Sequoia Capital and Norwest Venture Partners. The company was founded in 2000 and has 60 employees. Rivals include InXpo and On24. As we noted at the VirtualEdge conference in March, virtual events are catching on because of concerns about saving travel costs and the greater efficiency of networking online. All of the major rivals in the space are also adding social networking and game-like features to make their events more fun.