Virtual Events Co. Zuddl Goes Big, Raises $13M

Hybrid and virtual event enterprise software Zuddl had raised $13.35 million in a Series A round, the company announced Thursday.

The round was led by Alpha Wave Incubation, with participation from Qualcomm Ventures, GrowX Ventures and Waveform Ventures. 

Since its founding in May 2020, Zuddl has launched features and improvements to enable organizations to build virtual replicas of their physical office spaces, favorite venues and themed event spaces. 

With the funding, Zuddl intends to develop one platform for all enterprise events, internal or external, hybrid or virtual, according to the company. It will also invest in data and integrations to enable data-driven, post-event decisions, and revamp the organizer event setup experience to be simpler and more intuitive. The San Francisco-based company also plans to open a new office in Abu Dhabi this month.

Zuddl’s move into primetime is the latest indicator of red-hot interest in meeting technology. Meetingstech companies Aventri and MeetingPlay announced Thursday that they planned to merge, while Cvent has plans to go public through a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company.

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Biden and Xi, once travel companions, face off in virtual meeting | News

WASHINGTON — Nearly a decade ago, Joe Biden hosted Xi Jinping for a tour of America that ended in Los Angeles, where they visited a school dedicated to teaching Asian languages. As they mingled casually with students, the two vice presidents couldn’t avoid the geopolitics hanging over what was supposed to be a lighthearted affair.

U.S. relations with China would determine the course of the century, Biden said, calling it “the single most important engagement we have.”

Years later, Biden and Xi are presidents of their respective countries, responsible for navigating a relationship that has slipped from wary optimism into bitter pessimism. There are no more goodwill trips, no more hopeful statements about fostering mutual understanding.

As the two leaders prepare to meet via videoconference on Monday, there is only the cold language of global strategy as the two superpowers become entrenched in opposition that some analysts have described as a second cold war.

It’s a tense dynamic that has generated warnings about the potential for armed conflict, most notably over Taiwan, an island democracy that China considers a breakaway province and has vowed to reclaim. A senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss Biden’s plans, said one goal for the meeting was to create “common-sense guardrails to avoid miscalculation or misunderstanding.”

The official said the meeting could last several hours and will touch on American concerns about China’s economic practices, its regional aggression and its record of human rights abuses.

“The president will be very direct and candid,” the official said, adding that Biden expects Xi to “play by the rules of the road, which is what other responsible nations do.”

Xi has not left China since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, skipping recent summits of world leaders in Italy and Scotland. Although he and Biden have spoken twice on the phone since Biden’s inauguration in January, Monday’s virtual meeting will be their first face-to-face encounter.

There’s no expectation that the session will end with a joint statement or an announcement of new agreements, a reflection of the widening gap between the two countries.

“Both have an incentive to demonstrate resolve, to look strong. But you want to look strong without things getting out of control,” said Ja-Ian Chong, an associate professor of political science at the National University of Singapore. “It’s a matter of how are they going to thread this needle?”

Chong said he believes that the risk of conflict remains low, “but that depends on everybody playing by the script.” However, that can be difficult when there are nervous or excitable service members at the controls of planes and ships that circle each other in the South China Sea, which Washington considers international waters and Beijing claims as part of its territory.

“In some ways, it’s a bit of a game of chicken,” he said.

Dean Cheng, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said China hasn’t always cooperated with efforts to deescalate tensions in the region, saying “the Chinese don’t pick up the hotlines” that are typically reserved for crisis communications between superpowers.

He was skeptical that the meeting will prove to be productive because China routinely rejects American concerns about oppression of Uyghurs, a Muslim ethnic group in the Xinjiang region, or its tightening grip on Hong Kong, where Beijing has used a new national security law to stomp out dissent.

“Realistically, we’re going to end up in all likelihood talking past each other,” Cheng said.

Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, said last week that there’s no reason to believe Washington and Beijing are fated to conflict.

“China has a different value system. It has different interests. And that’s part of what the ongoing competition will be about,” he told the Lowy Institute, a think tank based in Sydney, Australia. “But there’s no reason that that competition has to turn into conflict or confrontation.”

There was a thaw in the relationship during the recent United Nations summit on climate change in Glasgow, Scotland, where the U.S. and China announced a surprise agreement over the weekend to increase their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Details were scarce, but it was a sign that some lines of communication remain open and potentially productive.

“There are areas where our interests align and we should be able to work together,” the senior administration official said.

However, the official rejected Beijing’s attempts to tie cooperation on climate change to other issues between the U.S. and China. Addressing global warming is necessary to prevent an existential crisis for the planet, the official said — it’s “not a favor to us.”

Biden and Xi enter Monday’s meeting at a time when they’re trying to strengthen their political standing at home.

Hours before he sits down to speak with Xi, Biden signed legislation with more than $1 trillion of spending on roads, bridges, water pipes, broadband access and other infrastructure, an investment that he has described as a way to keep pace with China’s aggressive program of public works projects.

He’s still pushing for another, $1.85 trillion piece of legislation to create universal access to free preschool, expand public healthcare coverage and boost clean energy to fight climate change.

Meanwhile, Xi is consolidating power in China as he seeks an unprecedented third term as president. The Communist Party’s Central Committee passed a resolution last week declaring Xi’s position “as the core of the entire party” and saying his role reflects “the common wishes of the entire party, military, state and peoples of all ethnicities.”

Only two previous Chinese leaders, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, had similar statements issued while they were in power.

Xi and Biden have known each other for years, although the intimacy does not seem to have generated harmony.

In addition to the time that Biden hosted Xi in 2012, Biden visited China in 2011 and 2013. Xi had become president by the time of the second trip, and he praised Biden as an “old friend.” Biden responded by saying “the possibilities are limitless” if the two countries form a good relationship.

But Biden has been much harsher recently, describing Xi as a “thug” and saying he doesn’t have a “democratic bone in his body.”

His hardening sentiment reflects a broader shift in the American foreign policy establishment. Despite concerns about President Trump’s chaotic and aggressive approach to China, a bipartisan consensus has emerged that more needs to be done to counter Beijing’s growing influence.

Daniel Russel, a former State Department official who works at the Asia Society Policy Institute, said Biden has always believed “that America, as a free society, had huge advantages over China, ones that China could not overcome.”

“I don’t think his faith in the U.S. is shaken at all,” he said. “But I do believe that he feels we’re faced with a much more formidable competitor than in the past, and we damn well better get our act together.”


©2021 Los Angeles Times. Visit at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Tip your hat to seniors by bidding in CASI’s virtual silent auction

The Quad Cities Center for Active Seniors (CASI) is spreading holiday cheer virtually with its annual Holiday Hat Bash.

Bidding for the virtual silent auction begins noon on Nov. 10 and runs until 9 p.m. on Nov. 18.

Close to 80 packages and baskets are available for bidding this year, with 100% of the proceeds going toward CASI’s mission to support Quad Cities seniors.

“We’ve got something for everyone, from travel to jewelry, from fair trade items to wine and spirits, from toys to tools and so much more,” said the center in a news release.

Just like last year’s event, this year’s Holiday Hat Bash looks a little different, allowing bidders to participate from the safety and comfort of their own homes.

“Holiday Hat Bash 2021 is different again this year. No glamour and glitz, no big party to throw and no yummy food from our senior living partners,” said the center. “However, there is also no need to purchase a ticket, no need to purchase a dress or have your suit cleaned, no need for a babysitter, no raffle tickets to purchase and no bartenders to tip.”

Preregister and preview the auction here.

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WTM London Virtual to return next week | News

WTM & TF Virtual – the two-day virtual event that takes place on Monday and Tuesday – has finalised its programme of on-demand sessions.

WTM & TF Virtual follows on from the WTM London and Travel Forward in-person events held at ExCeL this week, where global brands and leaders once again came together to do business and plan for the future of the travel industry.

For those who were unable to attend the live event, WTM & TF Virtual will run from 07:00-22:00 GMT to allow travel and tourism visitors to access at different times zones across the globe.

A whole host of sessions and conferences that took place during WTM London and Travel Forward in-person shows will be available on demand on the virtual platform, covering the whole spectrum of the industry.

On-demand sessions include the chance to find out about Changing Trends as Domestic Demand Leads European Recovery, with insight from Oxford Economics managing director, Europe and Middle East, David Goodger, and Evan Saunders, vice president, global tourism and hospitality,

Responsible Tourism sessions will also be available on demand, including Conversations with Tourism Leaders, led by WTM’s responsible tourism advisor, Harold Goodwin, and bosses from across the travel spectrum, including airlines, hotel groups and travel organisers

As expected, other Responsible Tourism session will look at issues such as sustainability and reducing carbon emissions.

The Future Development of World Tourism Cities will be discussed, led by the World Tourism Cities Foundation, while rebuilding tourism, destination briefings and wellness developments all also feature.

In separate interviews, aviation analyst John Strickland speaks to Ryanair chief executive, Michael O’Leary, and easyJet chief executive, Johan Lundgren.

Simon Press, WTM London and Travel Forward exhibition director, said: “The success of WTM London’s and Travel Forward’s in-person events have proved beyond doubt that face-to-face networking is back, but for those unable to attend the in-person event, WTM & TF Virtual is the perfect solution.”

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Chile Invites Travel Advisors To Make New Connections Through Virtual Event

Chile officially reopened its borders on October 1 with stringent protocols in place. Shortly after opening, the Chilean government announced changes to its Protected Borders Plan. After witnessing a successful week with “very low” COVID-19 infection rates, officials made plans to update COVID-19 protocols.

Beginning November 1, vaccinated international travelers will no longer have to quarantine upon arrival if the PCR test they take when they arrive in the country is negative.


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Reopening from COVID-19

This is welcome news to the travel industry, and now is an ideal time for travel advisors to learn more about this interesting country and all it has to offer their clients. Whether it’s exploring the stunning lake and volcanoes, taking a road trip down the 770-mile Austral Highway, visiting Torres del Paine National Park or discovering the picturesque city of Punta Arenas, Chile has experiences on offer for all types of travelers.

Travel professionals are invited to discover the Chilean Patagonia and network and make new connections through an upcoming virtual event hosted by the Chile Tourism Board and ProChile, the Chilean Export Promotion Bureau.

Chilean tour operators, agencies, hotels and other members of the industry that encourage travel to the Patagonia region will be available to connect with for potential business opportunities.

The event will take place virtually from October 19 through October 21, and agents can schedule virtual matchmaking sessions for these dates.

In addition to making important new connections, participants have the opportunity to win two roundtrip tickets to Chile. To be eligible, advisors must present a potential collaboration idea following the event.

Torres del Paine National Park
A traveler exploring Torres del Paine National Park (photo via Chile)

As clients regain the excitement for travel after months spent at home, they are looking for adventurous escapes, and the Chilean Patagonia is an ideal option to present to them. Learn all about what this place has to offer travelers through this informative virtual event.

Travel advisors hoping to participate must register by October 15 by completing this form.

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Tips For Getting on Disney Rides That Use a Virtual Queue

When you visit Walt Disney World or Disneyland, you want to be in the action, going on rides. You certainly don’t want to spend your entire vacation waiting in line. Disney knows this, so the brand’s introduced a virtual-queue system to help you spend less time in line and more time making magical memories. Currently, there are two major rides that are compatible with the virtual-queue system: Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disney World and Disneyland, and Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure at California Adventure’s Avengers Campus. Once you join the queue, you’ll be given a boarding-group number, and you can enjoy the rest of the park until it’s your turn to ride. Unfortunately, there’s only so many virtual-queue spots to go around, and they disappear quickly (like, within seconds).

We can’t make any promises, but we’ve put together some helpful tips that will maximize your chances of getting a highly coveted spot in the queue. May the Force (or the Spidey sense) be with you.

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Booker’s Madisonville campaign stop turns virtual after travel delays | Local News

U.S. Senate candidate Charles Booker didn’t let the weather or canceled flights stop him from speaking to Madisonville residents Friday evening.

The African American Coalition of Hopkins County organized the “From the Hood to the Holler” event at the Ballard Convention Center to allow residence to learn more about Booker.

Booker was scheduled to attend the event but inclement weather in New York — where he was traveling as part of his campaign efforts — cancelled the candidate’s flight and forced him to speak to the crowd virtually instead.

AAC President Bill McReynolds expected around 130 people to attend, and although the crowd didn’t meet Booker in person, they still used the opportunity to learn about his platform.

In attendance was Alethea West, who said she came because she wanted to learn more about Booker’s stance on education, law enforcement, and bipartisanship.

“As a country, we need that, we need leaders who are interested in trying to bring us back together,” she said. “Having unity does not mean that we agree on everything, but it means we have a sameness in agenda.”

Also at the event was Kerri Scisney, who said she is supporting Booker because she thinks he will consider all people and do what is best for Kentucky once elected.

“We need people in office that are going to work their hardest to help the people they represent,” she said.

In an earlier interview, Booker said he wanted to let the people of Hopkins County know he is fighting for them.

“I just want everyone to know we can change things, we can come together and build a better future,” he said.

Booker said his message is that people have more in common with each other than they realize and if they stand together, they can win.

“We deserve to have safe communities that are thriving, and we deserve the opportunity to be owners and investors and creators all over the commonwealth,” he said.

He said his platform addresses the systemic and structural challenges that Kentuckians have been facing.

“My focus is making sure every Kentuckian can have economic opportunities and live gainful lives,” said Booker. “That we are not handing poverty down from generation to generation, that we can be healthy, that we can be safe.

“I am proud to help tell the story of what it looks like when regular people come together, resist hate and stand up in love and unity to say that we are proud of Kentucky and we are going to lead in a different direction,” he said.

Booker is running for the seat currently held by Republican Senator Rand Paul.

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Capita goes ‘virtual first’ as it targets 75% corporate travel reduction

Consulting and services giant Capita
is aiming to cut its corporate travel by 75 per cent by 2030, compared to a 2019 baseline, by making meetings virtual by default. 

The company has announced its “virtual
first” approach will be used for all meetings, including client meetings and
regular team check-ins, following its “successful hybrid working model” during Covid.

“While office spaces will still
be used for colleagues, clients and partners to benefit from collaborative working,
offices will be used carefully and appropriately to ensure people only travel
when they need to,” the company said in a statement.

The company has committed to be
net zero across all parts of its business by 2035 and said that corporate travel emissions were
reduced by 71 per cent in Covid-hit 2020 when travel ground to a standstill.

Jon Lewis, the company’s CEO,
said, “I believe passionately that businesses have a vital role to play in
helping tackle the climate emergency, and as leaders we must step up to drive
through significant, sustainable changes to how our organisations operate.”

In March this year, the company
announced that it planned to sell off is travel management division Capita
Travel and Events; the division was rebranded as agiito in July.

James Parkhouse, agiito’s CEO, said: “Agiito, as a
responsible travel, meetings and events provider, work with all our clients and
partners to help them deliver on their climate, sustainability and business
goals by ensuring they have the tools and capabilities to connect their people,
whether in person or virtually.

“Whilst some of our customers are encouraging
employees to think about whether more meetings can be held virtually,
face-to-face meetings will remain an important way for people to do business.”

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Take a virtual Roman Holiday ahead of travel season | 69News at Sunrise

Times are happier in Rome, Italy where tourism has been frozen in the Eternal city for the past year. Many are itching to travel and that could include a Roman Holiday this Summer. 

The 69 News Sunrise team was able to take a virtual trip to Rome to hear how things are going and find out if it is safe to travel. 

The team spoke with tour guide extraordinaire Mark Winds.

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