January 21, 2021
By Brittany Estes

2020 was the year unlike any other for the meetings and events industry. When faced with personal and professional difficulties, you rose to the challenge with resilience and determination. As we look towards 2021, we’d like to take a moment to put the spotlight on you -- the incredible event professionals who kept our industry moving forward.

Overcoming the Challenges of 2020

This past year meant throwing the playbook out the window when it came to meetings and events. You pivoted entire programs to virtual events in just weeks or even days. Armed with valuable new skills, you learned new ways to use event tech to capture the interest -- and imagination -- of your attendees.

As we look forward to what Cvent CEO Reggie Aggarwal calls the “coming golden age of events,” let’s take a moment to highlight some of the most impressive virtual and hybrid experiences we saw during a truly unprecedented year.

IMEX Group: PlanetIMEX

It was during the first few months of the global health crisis that Carina Bauer, CEO Of IMEX Group, decided to host the organization’s first fully-virtual event, PlanetIMEX. Partnering with Cvent, her team devoted hours on the weekends and even the U.K. bank holiday to ensure its success. In just six weeks, they created a truly immersive digital experience using the Cvent Event Management solution, CrowdCompass, and an integration with the 6Connex virtual platform.

PlanetIMEX virtual hub


PlanetIMEX Virtual Islands

Relying on their longstanding partnership with Cvent, the IMEX Group created an on-brand registration site with an easily navigable agenda for attendees. They developed 3D virtual “islands” as a way for attendees to navigate the digital space with a focus on Community, Education, and Networking. These were hosted within the CrowdCompass mobile app and the virtual platform for a seamless user experience. One-click access allowed attendees to jump directly from their selected session in the app into the integrated Zoom environment. Registration data flowed smoothly between Cvent and the 6Connex virtual platform as a single system of record.

PlanetIMEX Virtual Event CrowdCompass Mobile App

The IMEX Group gave back to the industry by providing free educational sessions, networking opportunities, keynotes, panels, and social events. They also used CrowdCompass to foster engagement through live polling, Q&A, and networking within the app. The multi-day event saw an impressive 95% app adoption, with 9,000 user contributions and 42,00 engagement points across 38,000 minutes spent in the app. Carina’s team tracked 12,500 seats filled across 45 sessions with 25,000 unique users accessing PlanetIMEX in total.  She says, “Feedback has been phenomenal in terms of the engagement on the sessions, social activities, the IMEX run, and the 1,500 individual appointments that were made. All of those things have been great successes.” 

Carina emphasizes the support across teams as the linchpin in this successful virtual event, especially in such a short timeframe. Everyone involved understood the benefit to the attendees, organizers, and the overall industry. It paid off as this event set the standards for the resilience of the events industry as the IMEX Group conquered the challenge of successfully flipping this monumental event to virtual.

Learn more about PlanetImex

Siemens: Americas Solution Partner Conference

Siemens wanted to bring an incredible live experience to the screen for their annual Americas Solution Partner Conference. The four-day event included general sessions, breakouts, interactive workshops, networking opportunities, and a live awards program for over 800 virtual attendees. Relying on the Cvent Virtual Attendee Hub® and Cvent’s Virtual Event 360 Advanced Production services, Siemens created an impressive digital experience that captured attendee insights to help prove virtual event ROI.

Siemens partner conference General Session with Cvent

Brenda Ainsburg, Channel Program Manager for the Americas Partner Channel, partnered with Cvent’s Advanced Production services to help with the enormous challenge of managing content production and session flow. They relied on the Cvent Video Player to power the live opening general session featuring both in-studio and remote executive speakers. They also coupled the video player with a Brightcove backend for over 25 interactive breakout sessions. Presenters were free to engage with attendees without having to manage technical requirements, and Brenda’s team could seed and upvote questions within the live Q&A to guide discussion. Content was instantly recorded and stored in the Cvent backend for easy post-event follow-up, remaining open to attendees for 90 days.

For longer, interactive workshop sessions, Brenda relied on full Zoom collaborative instances within the Virtual Attendee Hub. To encourage attendee interactions, session managers created sub-breakouts using Cvent Video Conferencing with an integrated Zoom environment. Without having to manually manage and populate meeting links for hundreds of attendees, Brenda’s team was free to focus on ensuring high levels of attendee engagement.

Siemens partner conference session

Importantly, Brenda needed to provide live Spanish and Portuguese translation services for key sessions. She used the Cvent Event Management session management feature to integrate a third-party Zoom environment. With segmented attendee lists housed directly within Cvent, she could  target those specific invitees in their native language with instructions for viewing that content in real-time with live audio translation within the third-party Zoom environment.

Capturing engagement scores, session attendance, and other key data points helped showcase event success through on-demand reporting directly within Cvent. Siemens more than doubled registrations and tracked an 83% attendance rate, easily surpassing industry benchmarks.  A post-event survey also indicated a 91% satisfaction rating for ease of access and navigability within the Virtual Attendee Hub. Importantly, Siemens tracked over $400,000 in savings when compared to the previous in-person event. Brenda sees the successful execution of the virtual event as a huge win for the business and for her team as they look towards virtual and hybrid programs in 2021.

Read about the Americas Solution Partners Conference

FIS: Virtual User Conferences

When Fidelity Information Services (FIS) found their events program affected by the start of the global health crisis in March, they knew it would directly impact their sales pipeline. Cynda Covert, Events & Trade Show Advisor Senior, saw virtual events as the way forward to keep their pipeline active. In April, her team made the decision to move two of their client conferences, InFocus and Connect, to virtual. “We took the time to really show our stakeholders the importance of keeping events moving as virtual events,” she says.

FIS Conference home

The easiest part of the process, says Cynda, was trusting the Cvent solutions already in their tech stack. FIS had seen great success using various Cvent solutions for previous in-person events. In 2019, they increased lead volume by 38% versus the previous year’s events and influenced $750M in TCV, a 300% increase. They also saw a 68% more new deals, 131% growth in existing deals, and an 89% increase in sponsorship revenue using Cvent.

FIS conference virtual event Cvent

For the 2020 virtual event, FIS integrated the Cvent Event Management solution with a select virtual platform. They expanded their global marketing reach using Cvent with a Marketo integration, targeting invitees worldwide with tailored messaging while tracking against campaign performance. Ultimately, FIS saw an impressive 3,000 live attendees from 45 countries. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think we’d get more than 1,000 clients to attend. We ended with over 3,000 attendees, so we tripled our expected attendance for the virtual event,” says Cynda. They also saw 1,000 additional attendees register to watch the on-demand content after the close of the live event. Cynda was able to provide up-to-the minute reports across the event lifecycle through Cvent to keep key stakeholders informed of event success.

FIS’ senior leadership was thrilled that the virtual conference outpaced the previous year’s already incredible performance. They saw 14% more new deals created, 45% more existing deals, and a total TCV of $509M across 682 influenced opportunities. They also tracked 119 MQLs and 57 SQLs.  With the clear success of these virtual events, Cynda’s team was looking forward to hosting their first event on the Cvent Virtual Attendee Hub in late 2020.

See how FIS used virtual events to drive pipeline

Mary O’Connor & Company: Client Conference

Kristin Huben, Account Director at Mary O’Connor & Company, first saw the global health crisis affect her organization in early March. With the uncertainty of the global pandemic, the meetings and events planning agency needed to pivot to virtual as quickly as possible to support their clients. Months into the crisis, a client sought her guidance in finding a centralized platform that could serve both their virtual and eventual in-person event needs. The association planned to combine three separate conferences into one virtual experience and needed a platform that could support complicated registration logic, offer customizable features, and provide an easily navigable user experience. Kristen quickly recommended the new Cvent Virtual Attendee Hub.

The virtual event required advanced logic to manage multiple registration pathways, with content packages tailored to unique business services and verticals, à la cart options, and pre-registration sessions with headcount ceilings. The flexibility of the Virtual Attendee Hub and integrated Cvent Event Management system were a perfect fit. “Cvent is certainly the industry leader by leaps and bounds, especially in terms of the need for complicated registration advanced logic to drive a really custom experience for attendees, and with the Virtual Attendee Hub,” says Kristin.

Registration data flowed seamlessly from Cvent into the Virtual Attendee Hub and provided a secure login experience with one-click access to the virtual environment protected by two-factor authentication and built-in privacy controls. To manage the complexity of the build and high-touch virtual experience, Kristin’s team partnered with Cvent’s Virtual Event 360 Advanced Production services. They offered session production, strategy consultation, custom graphics and overlays, and video layout and configuration. Content capture and casting from various remote locations across multiple time zones required a down-to-the-minute production schedule. “Cvent’s advanced production team was really the linchpin in this process and the most important person on this entire team was our Virtual Event 360 project manager,” Kristin insists.

Within the hub, the fully-branded, personalized home screen gave attendees access to live sessions, upcoming sessions, and networking events, all dynamically displayed based on registration type. Content included a daily mix of plenary speakers, breakout sessions, and networking opportunities. Kristin’s team used the Cvent Video Player for embedded streaming directly within the hub, offering live, simulive, and fully pre-recorded content based on session type and audience. They also used the Cvent Video Conferencing tool and a Zoom integration to manage interactive networking experiences. Live Q&A allowed attendees to engage with one another and was configured as a type of chat feature.

The fully-sponsored event featured multiple levels of sponsor engagement packages. Kristin’s team used the Exhibitor Management solution to streamline workflows and automate processes. She explains, “We had about 35 sponsors at different levels. We were able to offer them activations at different levels, using various parts of the hub to feature them in unique ways.” With over 350 live event registrations and a steady stream of additional registrations after the event closed, they were able to use engagement scoring to help prove sponsor ROI.

Ultimately, the event was a clear success for both Mary O’Connor & Company and their client. Kristin adds, “We produced a fantastic event and got to work with great people from Cvent who were really knowledgeable in tool. They helped us meet business objectives and our budget goals, so that was incredible.”

See how Mary O'Connor & Company ensured client success

MPI: WEC Grapevine

As the largest meeting and event industry association in the world, Meeting Professionals International (MPI)  understands the value of providing powerful in-person experiences for attendees. With a community of over 60,000 industry professionals and 70 different chapters and clubs around the globe, the industry-leading organization has been at the forefront of the changing events landscape during the global health crisis. With the incredible reach of virtual events, MPI’s team knew they needed a bold approach for their WEC Grapevine 2020 conference. With the goal of leading the industry in returning to safer in-person experiences, they decided to host a hybrid event in early November.

MPI WEC Grapevine conference Cvent onsite

Safely executing the hybrid event meant crafting a strategic plan for both the digital and in-person experiences. Most importantly, MPI needed to track and measure data points across both audiences using a centralized platform. They used Cvent’s Event Management solution to ensure a seamless registration process, allowing attendees to choose the right experience for their comfort level and education needs. MPI knew the flexibility of the system could field changing attendee needs as the global situation evolved. For example, the registration system could easily manage cancellations or conversions to digital with unique price points and other mitigating factors. MPI also integrated the registration tool with a select virtual platform to ensure a seamless data flow between systems with on-demand reporting to help prove event ROI.

MPI WEC Grapevine check-in

WEC Grapevine included 23 concurrent sessions and five general sessions attended by 1,739 total attendees. Of those, 1,131 attended digitally and the other 608 attended in-person. In addition to both general sessions and concurrent education sessions, the event included onsite food and beverage as well as offsite receptions and fundraisers. The program also consisted of a Hosted Buyer Program, live Digital Connections for business appointments, and a Thought Leaders Summit. Virtual attendees accessed a special live broadcast while in-person sessions followed all designated safety protocols.

MPI used Social Tables to manage seating and diagramming requirements that would meet detailed safety protocols. Using Social Tables, they were able to collaboratively design the space using 72-inch rounds with four at a table, rather than the usual eight. They also diagrammed ingress and egress pathways in education spaces and created color-coded General Session zones for a controlled exit strategy. For hosted buyer appointments, the team created one-way lanes and used plexiglass barriers between suppliers and planners. Real-time edits allowed the team to adjust as needed based on changing registration numbers and safety requirements. This eliminated the cumbersome back-and-forth with the hotel, creating a truly streamlined process. They were also able to run diagram checks to ensure layouts met all health and safety guidelines. They also used Cvent’s OnArrival 360 solution to create contactless check-in by pre-printing over 600 badges to mail in advance through designated safety kits. This ensured a controlled access point to enter the conference without any queuing. They also tracked onsite session attendance through session scanning and partnered with the Gaylord Texan Resort to ensure mask, sanitization, and social distancing guidelines were met.

MPI WEC Grapevine Cvent CrowdCompass mobile event app

The MPI team relied on the CrowdCompass mobile event app to facilitate daily health checks. Every morning, attendees had to attest to their health status within the app and InHouse Physicians completed required temperature checks with color-coded wristbands to guarantee only approved attendees and staff were present. They used daily push notifications within the app to remind attendees to complete their safety form and temperature checks onsite. The app also housed a variety of other tools used to engage attendees across the event, including interactive maps, sponsors, schedules, agenda items, an integrated social feed, and gamification to encourage attendee interaction through safe, digital means.

MPI WEC Grapevine Cvent onsite experience

With a 93% approval rating in the post-event survey and safe onsite experience completed, the hybrid event was a clear success. MPI tracked over 51,000 engagement points, 9,630 social shares and messages, and 46,500 minutes spent in the app. With thousands of attendees, a third of which registered in the last two weeks before the event, the flexibility of the registration platform was key. The MPI team looks forward to the incredible opportunities for hybrid experiences in 2021.

Cvent: Cvent CONNECT Virtual

In August 2020, Cvent held our first-ever fully virtual conference, Cvent CONNECT Virtual. Cvent’s cross-functional teams worked tirelessly to ensure success of the incredible virtual experience in just three months.

Cvent CONNECT Virtual General Session

Quickly adapting to meet new demands, Cvent’s Onsite Solutions department transitioned from managing traditional onsite responsibilities to virtual production. Producing session content within the new Virtual Attendee Hub platform meant event producers needed to have a strategic plan in place. The event included 28 breakout sessions across seven different tracks in addition to keynotes, industry panels, and entertainment general sessions. Virtual booths and other sponsor and exhibitor opportunities were also featured within the Virtual Attendee Hub.

Cvent CONNECT Virtual Behind the Scenes Session

Cvent partnered with Socialive, an industry-leading video production company, in addition to relying on best practices from our own Virtual Event 360 and Advanced Production services. Digital producers managed speakers, sessions, content delivery, shot setup, graphics and video, and much more. They also managed each session’s run-of-show to ensure a dynamic viewing experience that would keep over 43,000 virtual attendees glued to their screens.

Cvent CONNECT Virtual Industry Panel

With a mix of live sessions and pre-recorded breakouts, the unique configurations of each session presented challenges for the production and planning teams. Producers worked with dedicated event managers to configure events from strategy to build, coordinating exhibitor and sponsor management, session creation, and post-event reporting. Full webcast support ensured a smooth digital experience for attendees.

Ultimately, the event saw an incredible 43,000 registrations, with over 25,000 unique logins during the live event. Almost 60% live attendance and an average 2,800-person session attendance rate surpassed standard industry benchmarks, with over 17,000 attendees joining CEO Reggie Aggarwal’s keynote live.

Learn more about Cvent CONNECT Virtual 

Forging the Path Forward with Virtual and Hybrid Events

These impressive virtual and hybrid events embody the spirit of the industry in 2020, with organizations continuing to prove the value of events during times of crisis. This is by no means an exhaustive list, with thousands of virtual and even in-person experiences taking place worldwide. While 2020 was undoubtedly one of the most difficult years we have faced as a collective industry, we look forward to the exciting opportunities for meetings and events in 2021. Our industry will continue to inspire with ingenuity and a truly indomitable spirit. At Cvent, we can’t wait to power the world’s best virtual, hybrid, and in-person events in the new year.

Learn how you can power your 2021 virtual and hybrid events with Cvent.

Brittany Estes Headshot

Brittany Estes

After completing graduate school at Vanderbilt University, I spent over a decade writing in the nonprofit, education, and creative fields.

In my free time, I enjoy rummaging through old book shops for a rare find, traveling, and learning photography. 

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