Will COMDEXvirtual match success of physical incarnation?

Most people in the event business knew of or actually participated in a COMDEX trade show. It was the largest IT event in the US with more than 200,000 attendees and about 2,500 exhibitors and it was the meeting place for the computer industry from the world over. Sure, people went to the event to see what was new and to learn in educational sessions but it was really a mecca for business development.

COMDEXvirtual will be held November 16 and 17. (Image courtesy COMDEX.)

I have to admit, I don’t recall ever attending a session at COMDEX in all the years I attended the event. For me, and I think many others, it was a once a year opportunity to schmooze and make new contacts. It’s been years since the last Vegas show (2003) and to be sure, lots of people have come and gone from the computer industry and other shows have taken segments of the orphaned COMDEX audience. So the question will be, does the new COMDEXvirtual manage to not only attract an audience for the programmed sessions, but can UBM also engage the audience and get them excited to be back at COMDEX? Can they stimulate the meetings and socializing you found at COMDEX — perhaps even facilitate hook-ups with cronies from COMDEX past?

Another thing that I recall about COMDEX was the sense that you were at the marketplace for all things computer. You could find just about anything there and you were often surprised by products that you didn’t even know existed. There’s not a chance of that happening with the first COMDEXVirtual but it would be a great goal for the future.

I think COMDEXvirtual will be successful (with well over 10,000 registrants it already is) and I suspect that this is a starting point to re-build the brand and who knows; eventually it could lead to a hybrid COMDEX. Virtual events are a terrific way to launch programs that can ultimately lead can to a physical companion event.

As UBM develops COMDEXvirtual, I’ll be watching to see how they get the connections and conversations started among attendees…how are they driving engagement? I’m wondering too if they’ll get some face-to-face parties started perhaps some hosted happy hour meet ups as that would be interesting and I for one would consider going. Finally, I know this event will be built around the content so I look forward to seeing quality education via scintillating keynotes and panels that people will be talking about the next day at the physical and virtual water cooler.

Re-launching the COMDEX brand is a huge task for UBM that will likely take years, but the payoff could be enormous—perhaps not as large as the $860 million it was once worth, but who knows? I would love to see COMDEXvirtual successful to the point of creating a viable physical companion event. No matter what happens, it will generate a tremendous amount of exposure and a new wave of interest in virtual event solutions.

michael.doyle@hypergridbusiness.com'

Michael Doyle

Michael Doyle is executive director of the Virtual Edge Institute, the leading organization dedicated to virtual meetings, events, communities and learning. Doyle is also the organizer of the industry's premier conference, the Virtual Edge Summit, taking place in January 2011.