The Virtualization of Experiential Events: Effects on Platform Users

41 Pages Posted: 1 Dec 2020

See all articles by Che-Wei Liu

Che-Wei Liu

Indiana University Bloomington - Kelley School of Business

Weiguang Wang

University of Rochester - Simon Business School

Guodong (Gordon) Gao

University of Maryland - R.H. Smith School of Business

Ritu Agarwal

University of Maryland - Robert H. Smith School of Business

Date Written: November 29, 2020

Abstract

A powerful trend in the past few years, accelerated by the recent COVID-19 pandemic, is the movement of social activities from in-person events to digital platforms. There is considerable debate about the limits of this virtualization. In particular, the question of whether virtual events on digital platforms can offer an effective substitute for settings that involve rich experiences such as concerts and races remains unanswered. We explore the impact of offering such virtual events on the users of the hosting platform in the context of racing. By leveraging the theme of the virtual races and users’ zodiac sign as instruments, we are able to estimate the causal impact of virtualization. We find that a virtual race increases the tenure of new users by 42.8 days and the number of running records (representing their engagement) by 24.2%. In addition, we find that virtual racing can complement the offline channel by encouraging new users to participate in more offline races. Finally, further analysis reveals that social interactions enabled by the digital platform play a critical role in realizing the benefits of event virtualization.

Keywords: virtual race, mobile device, social interaction, platform, long-term engagement

Suggested Citation

Liu, Che-Wei and Wang, Weiguang and Gao, Guodong (Gordon) and Agarwal, Ritu, The Virtualization of Experiential Events: Effects on Platform Users (November 29, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3739418 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3739418

Che-Wei Liu (Contact Author)

Indiana University Bloomington - Kelley School of Business ( email )

1309 E 10th Street, Hodge Hall 4100
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

Weiguang Wang

University of Rochester - Simon Business School ( email )

Rochester, NY 14627
United States

Guodong (Gordon) Gao

University of Maryland - R.H. Smith School of Business ( email )

4325 Van Munching Hall
College Park, MD 20742
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.rhsmith.umd.edu/faculty/ggao/

Ritu Agarwal

University of Maryland - Robert H. Smith School of Business ( email )

College Park, MD 20742-1815
United States

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