Tokyo (SCCIJ) – The Swiss Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan has premiered a virtual event and networking space called “SCCIJ Swiss Lounge”. Online SCCIJ events will be hosted in this innovative virtual space using the platform Remo from 2022. Answering requests for alternatives to physical events, SCCIJ regular members can also rent the lounge for their events, using their chamber vouchers.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person events and networking activities have come to a near halt. But many videoconferencing applications cannot quench the thirst of employees and managers for personal exchange and talk. Virtual conferences tend to be run as a succession of scheduled webinars with logins and presentation downloads.
Most such tools do not offer the possibility for participants to interact directly with each other and discuss the topics at hand. Contrastingly, the conferencing application of Remo creates a virtual networking room where attendees can mingle, meet, talk and exchange business cards via linking their profile to a personal webpage such as their LinkedIn page.
Combining Swiss and Japanese design
The “SCCIJ Swiss Lounge” resembles a virtual copy of a club or hotel lounge. Set atop a wooden deck on a Swiss lake, the lounge reflects Swiss as well as Japanese design elements. Minimalistic architecture in light wood is combined with interior elements in various shades of red and grey, the SCCIJ colors. Adding another sustainable touch, plenty of plants create a green contrast.
The main elements of the space are the stage, two VIP sofas for up to eight guests, the main table area with tables of three to seven people, a bar with a counter and tables for two, an info desk providing support throughout the whole event, sponsor banners on the wall allowing for customization of the space, and even a chocolate fountain.
“The development of the design required a lot of brainstorming and even more online discussions. The result is putting SCCIJ to the forefront of virtual event providers among foreign chambers in Japan,” says Liselotte Schneider, Executive Director of the SCCIJ.
Exchange of business cards
After the quick creation of a personal profile, the platform software places an attendee into this virtual room full of interaction options. Announcements to all attendees are made via a big “wall screen”. “If you prefer to just talk with one person, you can head to the bar where you find tables of two,” Ms. Schneider explains. “If you like to take a small break, you can ‘go’ back to the red carpet at the lower lounge end with spots for one person.”
If attendees want to leave the current discussion one can bow out and double-click oneself to a different table, for example, if one has spotted a person one already knows. Calling other participants to your table is also possible with a simple click. Sometimes, the organizer will ask participants to finish their current talk. Then, the software shuffles them randomly to a different table or group to start new conversations and make new contacts. This option increases the networking experiences because you may get to know even more people.
A lounge “for rent”
Members got a first glimpse at the lounge and experience it first-hand at the launch event in December. From January 2022, the SCCIJ is offering its members to “rent” the virtual space and pay for its use with their vouchers. “For our regular members, like entrepreneurs, associates, and corporate members, we have created three packages”, Ms. Schneider says.
The ‘mini package’ contains an event of one hour, with up to 15 guests, a ‘midi package’ allows two hours, and up to 30 guests, and a ‘maxi package’ two hours with up to 50 guests. The SCCIJ office will support these events by helping to register and onboard participants. Besides, all SCCIJ company members can test the Remo platform for their purposes one time for free until May 31, 2022.
The “SCCIJ Swiss Lounge” and the platform offer many application options. For example, an organizer could combine a webinar with a virtual networking coffee break because the platform allows switching between both options in the same virtual location. “Also, the presenter can see the audience as dots on chairs which facilitates interactions like Q&A, and also see their constant reaction. Webinars are not one-sided anymore,” Ms. Schneider explains.
Other options are meetings for employees working from home, assistance to new foreign colleagues before their arrival, product demonstrations, panel discussions with up to eight speakers “on stage”, or intimate fireside chats. “There are endless usage possibilities for the lounge,” says Ms. Schneider.
Text: Martin Fritz for SCCIJ