Trading Up

Trading Up-UnisFairBetween skyrocketing gas prices, add-on fees from travel providers and plummeting on-time rates for airlines, doing business virtually looks better than ever. That's why companies like Cisco and IBM are turning to Unisfair.

A Unisfair "virtual trade show" is really an interactive, media-rich Web site with a real-time component that emulates the real-life expo experience. Conference organizers can invite partners to exhibit, schedule speakers and set up networking lounges. But thanks to a sophisticated tracking system, attendees get qualified as leads during the event itself, which typically lasts a couple of days.

"In a live trade show, the leads you get may not be very good," says Brent Arslaner, Unisfair's vice president of marketing. "At a Unisfair show, all the registration data is tied into activity data: What chat sessions did you have within the booths? What did you download? What sessions did you attend? You can get a very good picture of someone's interest." And reps can ping hot leads for a chat on the spot.

Unlike events held in virtual worlds, marketers don't have to pay Web shops to build an outpost, and customers don't have to create an avatar or learn how to navigate in-world, Arslaner says. At the same time, the cost of a Unisfair show is about 10 percent that of schlepping an actual booth to Vegas.

Virtual booth babes, of course, are optional.
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