Have business meetings and events changed in 2012? Absolutely. Whether you’re organizing the event or attending as a business traveler, technology is something that quickly comes to mind when considering “change.” To clarify, I’m not talking about the gadgets we use — although they are certainly changing, too. I’m talking about virtual meetings.

Just the mention of virtual meetings likely conjures different thoughts, some favorable and others not so favorable. For our purpose in the world of business travel, I’d like to focus on the worthiness of virtual meetings for deciding where and when to hold meetings and events.

Just a couple years ago the best planners and business travelers could do was to take a look at a few online brochures. We would have to search dozens of separate sites to find the basic information needed to evaluate a destination or venue, never knowing exactly how to find the right contacts. And trusted sites like BusinessTravelDestinations.com that provide a qualified third party opinion or perspective didn’t really exist.

However, last year the Spain Tourist Office tried something a bit different and certainly innovative with the use of technology. It created Conexion Spain, a virtual trade show where meeting planners and Spanish destinations and event venues could meet online and establish that initial discussion.

This year, Conexion Spain has expanded, and that virtual exhibit will be live from March 12-16, 2012. Meeting professionals can establish a unique profile now and start connecting with Spanish contacts next week. Conexion Spain will also remain live all year.

Our readers know that we are advocates of creating unique experiences — live experiences — for business travel, meetings and events. So why does this virtual exhibit interest us?

Several reasons. First, we know that many business travelers and meeting planners are trying to determine the most appropriate uses for online technology. We believe it’s a good tool that should supplement, not replace, live meetings and business travel. Conexion Spain achieves this. Let me explain.

By creating a virtual exhibition, participating Spanish destinations are essentially creating an opportunity in a single space to qualify and hold initial discussions. For example, want to know who the right contacts for a given hotel chain or tourism office in Spain for your future meeting or event? You will get a chance to know who’s who from this source.

The second reason is because the tool exists to create an online community of individuals who are interested in unified topic — in this case, a destination. Spain.

Third, because this virtual exhibition isn’t trying to replace the live experience. Conexion Spain exists to encourage people to meet in person for their meetings and events. Conexion Spain uses the virtual exhibition as a vehicle to share video presentations, and it incorporates web cam technology to interact. These are useful tools when narrowing travel decisions.

Combined, we see this as an effective way to for the industry to communicate. (And given that BusinessTravelDestinations.com is an online publication, you already know that we are fans of web technology when used properly.)

And so we’re a media affiliate. We’re interested in watching new and innovative uses of virtual technology that encourage the benefits of live meetings. We’re also part of this because BusinessTravelDestinations.com shares a fair amount of destination expertise about Spain with our readers. What we don’t know, we’re always willing to try to research resources to help you.

Sign up for Conexion Spain now, and connect with us there!