As discussed in an earlier post, overall travel demand is expected to fall 11% in the year. The biggest impact will likely be on corporate travel, where budgets are expected to be down 15%. While the current quarter’s trends might suggest that demand is bottoming out, there is no denying that businesses are still restricting travel. Today we focus on a company that sees business opportunities in higher travel costs, the difficulties that are increasingly associated with travel, and technological advances relating to user experience over the Internet.
InXpo, a virtual events solution provider to help organizations connect, educate, and engage audiences, was founded by Malcolm Lotzof, Rich Hawkinson, and Drew VanVooren. The company is headquartered in Chicago. When it started out, InXpo did not have to worry about competition but rather about client skepticism. InXpo’s major challenge was that people greatly underestimated the production requirements for a virtual event by comparing it to producing a web site. No one believed that anyone would come to a virtual event, and if people did, there would be no interaction. The founders always got the comment, “With no handshake, it can never work.” The company has come a long way since then and have delivered 600 successful virtual events attended by over 500,000 participants.
When InXpo started to develop its “InXpo Virtual Event platform”, they identified two industry trends that would determine the architecture of the platform. First, they realized that the new Web 2.0 and social media applications coming onto the market would be at the core of any communication, education, or business application. Second, they saw that all future applications would require their own unique front ends for branding, navigation and aesthetic purposes. The company’s virtual events and virtual communities have been created such that they can be integrated or aggregated with any Web 2.0 or social media application into a new, consolidated application. Also, customers can choose from or create their own themed environments which can be customized or changed on a regular basis.
InXpo’s pricing is based on the number of events and participants as well as the level of branding and customization that customers require. For a company seeking minimal branding and customization, there is library of established environments available, such as an event campus, an auditorium, and a lounge area. This, with 10 exhibit booths and a few webcasts, would cost companies $25,000 to $35,000. More complex requirements, such as extensive branding, environment customizing, booths and webcasts, events, sales kick-off meetings, and career fairs could run into six figures.
InXpo estimates a US market size of $7.5 billion and a worldwide market that is twice that size. Their primary targets are media companies for revenue-generating events and corporations for communication, education, lead generation and educational events. The company has delivered over 600 virtual events to publishers and media companies, enterprise companies and associations, such as AAA, Cisco, HIMSS, PennWell, TechTarget, and Ziff Davis Enterprises thus far. They also have strong reseller and strategic partnerships with top event-management companies, including George P. Johnson in experience marketing, and Maritz, which specializes in motivational, sales and marketing programs.
InXpo’s main competitors include On24 and WebEx. Compared to On24, its biggest competitor, which has been around since 1998, InXpo is relatively new to the market. The company started delivering virtual solutions in 2004. Though InXpo did not disclose its funding or other financial information, it did say that the number of virtual events delivered from 2004–2008 has almost doubled this year.
This segment is a part in the series : Deal Radar 2009