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Abstract

Virtual world technology platforms, which allow users from distant places to congregate virtually for entertainment or other purposes, are growing into useful tools for businesses and consumers. Besides other applications, the concept of same-time, different-place gatherings can also be used to organize virtual trade fairs that are complements or extensions of physical tradeshows. This paper describes a design-science approach to the development of a virtual world technolo-gy platform specifically aimed at creating virtual tradeshow events that bring show attendees and exhibitors together. After describing the design and development of the virtual world tech-nology platform and some of its applications, we report its implementation in a career fair setting organized to facilitate interaction between would-be employers and students at a university.. We also conducted a preliminary evaluation of the effectiveness and efficiency of this virtual event by surveying employers and attendees. Although the event effectiveness is rated aver-age, this exploratory analysis reveals that the virtual events are quite efficient in terms of use of resources. The overall effort to develop the virtual events is minimal as compared to the number of additional attendees that can participate in the event, reducing the cost per new lead gener-ated. As the technology evolves further to enhance richness of the interactions, these virtual events will become major applications of virtual worlds.

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