On May 18 the Cleaning Innovations Virtual Conference & Expo was held, attracting more than 400 commercial cleaning industry professionals. Presented by Sanitary Maintenance and its sister publications Contracting Profits and Housekeeping Solutions magazines, the online event used the innovative virtual platform to extend educational and networking benefits to suppliers and professionals in the cleaning industry.

“Cleaning Innovations was a great way to talk with several manufacturers that we represent and to see what was new,” says Renae Hesselink, vice president of sustainability, Nichols, Muskegon, Mich. “It was also easy to navigate and I could access it from my laptop on my time schedule.”

The Virtual Trade Show exposed new products and solutions to jan/san distributors, building service contractors, in-house service providers and facility executives. Five conference sessions were led by industry experts such as Steve Epner of Brown Smith Wallace Consulting Group; Robert Wendover of the Center for Generational Studies; Chuck Levine of Instructional Design Associates; Steve Spencer, facility manager for State Farm Insurance; and Steve Hendrickson of Porter Industries. Topics included supply chain issues, recruiting the next generation of workers, training, day cleaning and immigration problems.

“I liked being able to have all of our employees to attend vs. only our top three or four that goes to shows with travel involved,” says Ryan Myers, vice president of Myers Supply & Chemical, Little Rock, Ark.

The Cleaning Innovations Virtual Conference & Expo provided attendees multiple online locations to meet their specific educational and business needs including a plaza, exhibit hall, auditorium, lounge and resource library. Interactions were conducted via webcasts, scheduled group chats and message boards. Exhibitors also provided information and demonstrations via virtual booths and engaged with attendees using online chat for private conversations. Attendees benefited from additional online networking tools such as text chat, vCard exchange and more.

“[At a virtual event] you’re able to look around at everything with a click of a button,” says Isaac Parker, vice president and owner, Chemco Inc., Sioux City, S.D. “It’s a new way to do business.”

An archive of the event will be available for three months at www.cleanlink.com/virtual.

The second virtual event of the year — Cleaning Innovations: Green. Sustainable. Smart. — will be held September 14, 2011. Visit www.cleanlink.com for updates.