Web Worker Daily recently published a nice summary of the key elements needed to set up a virtual world event intended to happen simultaneously with a real world event. Aliza Sherman, the author, is familiar only with Second Life, where she has held two events.
There are eight key points that Sherman recognizes:
1 - Get Virtual Help: Sherman suggests help from talent in both the real and virtual worlds
2 - Know the Lay of the Land: In other words, co-own an island in Second Life. This helps immensely when clients come to you lacking their own SL land.
3 - Think 3-D and Interactive: Offer 3D notecards (in addition to the standard billboards) that avatars can pick up and stick in their pocket. Er, inventory.
4 - Think Promo Items (Freebies): Give away things like virtual t-shirts, or, if the promo is for a food company, virtual food that the avatar can eat. Yay freebies!
5 - Show the Virtual Event in the Actual Conference Location: Self-explanatory, really. Set up a few laptops and if possible project onto a large screen.
6 - Stay on Message Virtually: As in the RW, staying on message applies virtually as well. Hosts can keep avatars from being distracted by the novelty of Second Life or other virtual worlds by communicating key messages.
7 - Hire Security: “It is so easy to build and create objects in Second Life, and it is just as easy for a troublemaker - or “griefer” - to do the same at your event,” writes Sherman. Security can eject griefers quickly and effectively.
8 - Spread the Virtual Word: Playing on the advent of SL bloggers, an event can attract decent word-of-mouth through SLers writing about it in-world.
Finally: “Don’t skimp on your Second Life event or treat it as an afterthought. Virtual world events are valuable to, and attended by, people from all over the world. You can expand your reach quickly and exponentially when you hold a virtual world event.”