The Culinary Institute of America

Curating the premier culinary mobile experience.

50,600

banner impressions in mobile app

260%

increase in shared contacts via app

9,980

in-app session views

Creating Innovative Gastronomic Experiences

The Culinary Institute of America is the world’s premier culinary college. After expanding their events program over the last fifteen years, the Culinary Institute needed a platform to manage their four largest events and maximize the non-profit’s spend. For the flagship Worlds of Flavor Conference, the Culinary Institute brings together 600 talented chefs and presenters to demonstrate innovative food and cooking techniques. For their 20th anniversary event, they wanted to blend the old and new by bringing past celebrity chefs to their new campus for an unforgettable experience.

Strategic Initiatives Manager Katie Cincotta has seen massive growth in their program due to the use of event technology. “When we did our first program in 1998, people were just getting ‘95 Windows PC’s. Twenty years later, a mobile app seems essential for every event,” she explains. Katie’s team originally struggled with slow processes. “I’ve heard horror stories about what it was like before Cvent,” says Katie. “It was like a lot of conferences, which still have manual check-in and bottlenecks. It sounds like it was very unpleasant.” After adopting the Cvent Event Management platform in 2012, her team added CrowdCompass and other key pieces of Cvent technology to improve attendee networking, streamline budget requirements, and better prove event ROI to their stakeholders.

Using Mobile Technology for a Mobile Event

For the 2018 Worlds of Flavor Conference, Katie’s team was tasked with simultaneously managing the event at not one, but two different California campuses. Located thirty minutes apart, the modern Copia Campus stands in contrast to their Napa-inspired Greystone Campus. A logistical nightmare awaited attendees, not to mention Katie’s team. “We had to coordinate the movement of 600 attendees between the campuses, and make sure that enough people showed up so that our sponsors were pleased with the turnout at both campuses,” she notes.

Using the CrowdCompass interactive map feature helped their team pull off the transition. “It actually worked really well,” Katie notes. “We got lots of positive responses through CrowdCompass feedback.” They also relied heavily on push notifications to keep attendees updated. “Our team is relatively small. We have twelve people, so we’re always running around. The app is especially important for us to help communicate with our attendees,” she explains. For example, when a presenter accidentally left before his book signing session, Katie’s team was able to quickly notify attendees of the change in schedule. When he returned, they successfully shepherded hundreds of attendees to a new, impromptu signing using push notifications.

Showcasing a Delectable Experience

Integrating CrowdCompass with other event technology has revolutionized the experience for attendees at these events. Katie’s team uses automated emails through Cvent’s Event Management platform to encourage early adoption of the app. Once onsite, push notifications welcome attendees and direct them to the OnArrival check-in experience. “They get there, and they say, ‘Oh, there is no line? This is amazing!’ It’s the fastest thing they’ve ever seen,” Katie explains.

The CrowdCompass interactive map also helps drive attendance to one of the most exciting parts of the Worlds of Flavor conference. “One of the biggest elements at the conference is the Marketplace. It’s like a street fair featuring food from any country you can think of,” Katie says. To drive attendance, Katie’s team uses the map to reveal the Marketplace’s grand opening. She explains, “We don’t put the map in the app until right before the Marketplace starts, and you can see people get really excited and antsy. We launch the map on the app and everyone rushes in the doors. It’s a really great thing to see.”

Reimagining the Recipe to Prove ROI

Katie’s team also uses CrowdCompass to prove the value of their event to senior executives and sponsors. As a way to demonstrate ROI, the team sought to cut event costs in 2018. By putting all recipes and content in the app, they were able to dramatically reduce printing costs. The strategic move resonated with attendees. “The app is actually one of the most consistently top-rated things by the attendees, and I’ve gotten a lot of verbal feedback that it really enhances their experience,” she notes.

Onsite, Katie’s team is able to pull survey feedback and analytics through CrowdCompass for their stakeholders. “I'm a data nut, so I really love seeing how we’ve been improving,” she notes. She’s now better able to demonstrate the value of the sponsors’ investment. “I love being able to show them how many people used the app this year versus the previous year. We can explain how many clicked on their banner, and so on.” At the Worlds of Flavor Conference, they were able to increase app engagement with key sponsorship opportunities, garnering over 50,000 banner impressions and 9,000 session views. “Attendees know they can go into the session and see the presentation, the speaker bios, and the recipes. That’s why our session views have really gone up recently," she adds.

Blending Technology with Attendee Success

For Katie, the most important stakeholders are her attendees. “Personally, I really want to focus on the attendee experience and attendee engagement,” she explains. Katie uses Cvent to pull reports that track attendee engagement. Knowing the top request in previous years was for increased networking opportunities, they used networking functionality within CrowdCompass to increase contact shares by 260%.

Their department’s success with Cvent’s technology has piqued the interest of others at the Culinary Institute. “They are always curious and ask about it,” Katie says. Her team’s use of CrowdCompass continues to grow their program success, as well their influence across the organization. “This year, we’re adding a fifth app for a new program because we’ve really seen the value in it,” she adds.


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