The Richmond Chapter of the Association of Government Accountants (AGA) offers membership to over 300 professionals in the public and private sectors who are interested in advancing government accountability at the federal, state and local levels. Active since 1973, AGA Richmond's primary mission is education and training. The organization offers courses throughout the year for members to earn continuing professional education (CPE) credits.Download Case Study
AGA Richmond hosts monthly events for which it must collect and process registration fees. Before introducing Cvent, the events team at AGA was manually handling all registrations – an informal process that posed significant challenges.
In particular, there was substantial security risk involved with manually processing credit card payments. When the AGA learned of a new federal statute requiring compliance with the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard, a worldwide information security standard, the organization realized it had a problem much greater than inefficiency on its hands.
"We were totally exposed," said Karen Conrad, President of AGA Richmond.
When an individual wanted to register for an AGA Richmond event, their credit card information was written down on a piece of paper and later transferred to an Excel spreadsheet that anyone could access. Due to these insecure payment practices and lack of PCI compliance, AGA was at risk of being hit with a $500,000 fine. Adding to AGA's concerns, registrants typically pay for events with state credit cards, which made the organization's liability even greater.
"It's one thing to misplace an individual's card number, but even scarier was the potential to misplace an entire state's private information," explained Conrad.
In addition to the financial and security risks, AGA's process was disorganized, making it difficult to effectively track registrations. Since registrations were collected through various methods (i.e., phone, fax, email, etc.) and payments weren't always made at the time of registration, AGA staff members had to keep track of various Excel spreadsheets. Tracking who had paid and what was still owed was a nightmare. Add in the extra complication of charging different registration fees for members and non-members, and AGA was fighting an uphill battle to manage its events.
In addition to AGA's event management challenges, the organization was also responsible for keeping track of attendees' CPE credits. In order to maintain their professional status with AGA, it is mandatory for financial managers to complete 40 hours of CPE credits each year. Once again, this required the maintenance of an extra spreadsheet.
What's more, creating event reports was no simple task. Because of the multitude of spreadsheets, it took hours of work to put together a single event report. The report process included many complex Excel formulas and unavoidable data manipulation, leaving AGA with a large margin for error.
AGA needed to move to a more sophisticated solution, but didn't have IT support for a complicated system.
Karen Conrad, the President of AGA Richmond, approached the Board with extreme urgency to find a new event management system to protect the association. After weeks of research and demoing event management solutions, the AGA team selected the Cvent system for its user-friendliness and sophisticated, PCI-compliant security features.
"Since AGA does not have an IS team, we needed a system that would essentially run itself," explained Brook Bredel, PR & Marketing Specialist for AGA. "Cvent is so user-friendly, everyone can learn, and the system's flexibility means new Board members and employees can quickly get up to speed. Also, the online recorded training was invaluable because I could watch it on my schedule."
However, when Bredel does have a question, she knows help is just a call away.
"In one instance, I had closed registration but had people calling and needed to open registration back up ASAP," said Bredel. "It took one minute for customer service to explain how it to get my event up and running again! I've always had great success getting instant answers."
The Cvent Event Management solution easily handles the biggest problem AGA faced: security. AGA needed to put strict controls on their payment collection process or risk being fined $500,000. The Cvent solution provides for automated credit card processing and eliminates the need to manually collect and enter credit card numbers. In addition, no one can register without paying the event fees, so AGA no longer has to worry about collecting fees at a later date or manually issuing refunds for cancellations. After someone registers, Cvent automatically sends an email confirmation to the registrants, freeing AGA staff to work on other aspects of the event instead of spending time notifying each registrant.
In addition, Cvent now does the leg work for AGA when it comes to managing the organization's contact database. AGA Richmond downloads membership status reports from its National database and imports them into Cvent. From there, Cvent presents appropriate event registration fees for members and non-members. In addition to managing contacts AGA already has, Cvent helps grow AGA's email list through the Cvent viral marketing feature, often resulting in increased registrations and membership. In fact, AGA increased the number of contacts on its mailing list 61% in just eight months by using Cvent.
Finally, Cvent Event Management makes tracking and reporting on events simple. Cvent offers over 100 one-click reports that can be easily exported into various file formats in real time and on an ad-hoc basis. AGA automatically tracks and reports on registrations, attendees, payments and CPE credits to give the organization's members up-to-the-minute information.
it's the people you talk to every day that molds my opinion of the whole product. Cvent is such a multi-faceted tool with many capabilities we're still looking to delve into
— Brook Bredel, PR & Marketing Specialist for AGA
Prior to Cvent, it took AGA over 30 minutes to process a single registration. Over the course of a year, this added up to more than 550 hours spent processing registrations manually. With the implementation of Cvent Event Management, AGA now saves approximately 47 man hours each month and about 3.5 months of staff time each year. While the majority of the time savings comes from streamlining and automating event registration and payment processing, time is also saved when it comes to reporting.
"We now run reports in 30 seconds, instead of spending hours entering formulas into Excel," said Bredel.
Thanks to these time savings, AGA has been able to host more events. Prior to implementing Cvent, the organization could only host 5-6 events per year. Now, AGA can host an event every month. Since member dues and education event fees are the source of AGA's revenue, the increase in events and attendance has had a significant impacted on AGA's bottom line. AGA Richmond continues to be impressed with the Cvent Event Management tool and its ability to constantly improve their event management processes. Bredel summed up AGA's feelings about the Cvent event management solution by saying, "it's the people you talk to every day that molds my opinion of the whole product. Cvent is such a multi-faceted tool with many capabilities we're still looking to delve into."
Founded in 1999, Cvent is the world's largest meetings and event management technology company and has 1,400+ employees worldwide. Cvent offers web-based software for online event registration, meeting site selection, event management, mobile apps for events, e-mail marketing and web surveys, and helps more than 10,000 clients in 90 countries manage hundreds of thousands of events, surveys and e-mail campaigns. Cvent's client base includes corporations from every major industry, associations, universities, and non-profit organizations. For more information, please visit www.cvent.com, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.