New media - Opinion - My struggle on road to virtual enlightenment

July 1999: One night, at 3.30am, I turn to my wife in bed and say 'Wouldn't it be great to be able to offer suppliers and manufacturers the opportunity to promote, launch products and sell on-line in a virtual reality exhibition environment?'

July 1999: One night, at 3.30am, I turn to my wife in bed and say 'Wouldn't it be great to be able to offer suppliers and manufacturers the opportunity to promote, launch products and sell on-line in a virtual reality exhibition environment?'

My wife told me go to sleep, but I couldn't, so I did what all good exhibition organisers do at 3.30am - put a business plan together.

January 2000: I decided the time was right to launch the world's first interactive 3D virtual reality hospitality show. I didn't know a great deal about the Internet or web sites, but there is a company called Virtex that does. Unable to sleep I sit up in bed. 'What's a plug-in?'

March 2000: After registering virtualhospitalityshow.com we got Virtex to produce a killer sales presentation on CD. We spend the next few months out on the road selling and marketing. At 4.13am I wake up in a sweat. 'What's a cookie?'

June 2000: With the advertising schedule organised, we put our PR machine into top gear. At 5.41am I suddenly scream 'Metatag!'

August 2000: We're nearly there. The virtual stands are being prepared, the advertising campaign kicks in, there have been loads of show previews in the press. At 2.33am I'm up again. 'What about people with Apple Macs?'

September 2000: virtualhospitalityshow.com launched on 1 September. We were in the office until 1.30am watching as the show went live. 2.30am: 'Sorry I'm late love, but we've just opened the virtual show. I can get some sleep now.' 'So can I,' came the instant reply.



Lorne Cheetham is marketing director of Optimus Events, part of the CEM Group.




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