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InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) is introducing a unique way to conduct business meetings through its Crowne Plaza brand, which involves communicating through the virtual world of Second Life.
Established in 2003, Second Life is a web-based virtual world with its own currency, the Linden dollar and almost 8,000,000 ”residents”. The currency is transferable to US dollars and members can make very real sums of money through real estate and selling their services, as they would in the real world.
IHG has decided to become involved with the latest online trend, extending Crowne Plaza”s premier meetings service to new communities and enabling the company to learn more about the ways in which this new media is, and is not, used by the consumer.
The company states that its decision to enter the world of Second Life is primarily to learn about how the world of meeting, both socially and professionally, is evolving.
”It”s all part of a larger interactive, social and emerging media programme that”s deeply rooted in strategy and not just tactics for tactics sake, or short-term PR ”buzz”,” it said in a statement.
Although not the first major hotel group to enter Second Life ” Starwood gained valuable feedback on its new aloft brand concept via a virtual hotel that it will use to modify the real properties ” IHG will be the first to offer a secure, independent space for all resident companies to use.
IHG”s target audience for this newly emerged media trend is marketing executives at all types of companies. ”Web 2.0 affects so many industries so there is a real need to bring everyone together to garner insights and learnings that will help businesses moving forward,” the company said in a statement.
On its dedicated ”The Place to Meet Island”, Second Life residents and corporations will be able to conduct real business meetings, in rooms that have all the facilities of a real Crowne Plaza function room.
Each meeting facility will be equipped with audio and video streaming and presentation and image viewing capacities. The three meeting areas include an Executive room with a round table to accommodate up to 12 delegates; a Lounge Room ideal for informal gatherings of up to 20; and a Theatre Room for larger audiences with space for 30.
The island will also have a dedicated Crowne Meetings Director, available from 06:00 to 14:00 PDT (Second Life time), whose avatar (virtual persona) will assist with reservations, tours of the island and other meetings needs.
Booking meeting space in Second Life will, for the time being, be free although IHG may begin charging for the facilities should demand for the service reach a considerable level.