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AK Consulting Group

Powering impactful virtual and hybrid events with Cvent technology
3,500+

attendees at first-ever virtual Attendee Hub event

25%

increase in attendance for client virtual event

550+

attendees at hybrid event using Attendee Hub

Established in 2007, AK Consulting Group is a third-party meeting planning agency serving organizations across the United States. Amy Karimipour, President, and her team manage hundreds of client events ranging from single-day meetings to multi-day conferences. AK Consulting relies on integrated event technology solutions to expertly manage a wide array of meetings and events for government agencies, state and national associations, and nonprofit organizations.

Empowering Clients with Cvent Technology

Amy and her team leverage their longstanding relationship with Cvent to help support their clients’ goals. “We’ve been doing business with Cvent for 14 years,” explains Amy. With a keen understanding of how to leverage event technology to support a client’s holistic event goals, Amy’s team has grown their solution suite to include the Event Management platform, CrowdCompass mobile event app, Onsite Solutions, Appointments, and the Cvent Attendee Hub®.

Having these different tools at their disposal was vital for AK Consulting in the early days of the global health crisis. “This past year for everyone in the meetings and events industry has been challenging, of course, and it’s no different for us or our clients,” explains Amy. As they navigated the crisis, AK Consulting sought to support their clients as they needed to gather and share vital knowledge across their respective industries. AK Consulting quickly transitioned to executing high quality virtual experiences for their clients. “It was a challenge at first, and we looked to all of our partners,” notes Amy. She adds, “We looked to Cvent, we looked to our AV company, and we looked to our team. We asked, ‘What skills do we have? What skills do we need? And what do we need to bring together to really make an excellent experience for attendees?’.”

Knowing that any chosen virtual platform needed to be customizable for clients of all sizes and industries, Amy was cautious in her approach to selecting a virtual solution. “It’s not just one size fits all,” she insists. “At AK Consulting Group, we support our client's goals holistically, so it’s really important for us to understand what each client’s desired outcome is.” This includes customized services and solutions designed to fit each client’s needs. These challenges were amplified when first pivoting to virtual. Knowing that she could rely on AK Consulting’s longstanding relationship with Cvent, Amy saw an opportunity to leverage event technology to help create innovative virtual experiences.

AK Consulting initially used the Cvent Mobile Event App to engage attendees virtually. “For our first virtual conference, in fact, it was a three-day event for 175 people. We utilized the CrowdCompass Mobile App as the one place for attendees to access all of the event content and sessions,” she notes. She adds that the client agreed to use the app after seeing the many available attendee interactions, use of push notifications, and ease of moving through the schedule with one-click access to virtual sessions via Zoom.

Crafting Innovative Virtual Experiences with the Cvent Attendee Hub

However, Amy saw an opportunity arise with the advent of the new Cvent Attendee Hub in the early fall of 2020.  A four-day annual conference for over 3,500 attendees meant they needed a more robust virtual platform solution that could manage a vast number of livestream sessions, offer a means of virtual networking, and support a virtual exhibit hall. As such, AK Consulting became the first organization to use the Cvent Attendee Hub after its initial development. “We were the first to use the Attendee Hub with one of our clients,” says Amy. “The trust factor of knowing we had done business with Cvent for 14 years gave us confidence in using the new product.”

While the Attendee Hub functionality grew in scope over the next several months, Amy notes that the initial product experience was positive for the client. They were able to livestream 92 plenary and breakout sessions through the Cvent Video Player.

They worked collaboratively with their technology partners to produce and execute these high-quality sessions within the virtual environment. Amy explains, “AK Consulting Group, with our audio-visual team partners and Cvent team, closely cooperated to produce a polished final product.”

They partnered with Cvent’s Virtual Event 360 and day-of support teams to ensure a seamless attendee experience. She adds that they integrated nine virtual networking sessions using a third-party tool and included a virtual exhibit hall for 25 exhibitors to help meet the client’s sponsorship goals. The virtual environment also meant the client saw an impressive 10% increase in attendance.

As the platform evolved, AK Consulting continued to manage complex virtual events for their clients using the Attendee Hub. In return, Amy and her experienced team were able to provide key product feedback in real time. “I feel like the two-way partnership with Cvent was really valuable, and I always felt listened to,” she adds. This meant each new interaction of the platform allowed AK Consulting to deliver quality client events with a mix of livestream sessions via the Cvent Video Player and collaborative sessions via Cvent Video Conferencing. Session content could also be produced as entirely live, simulive, or pre-recorded.

They also used integrated engagement functionality like polling, Q&A, and chat to engage attendees. Moreover, event and session-level surveys meant AK Consulting could gauge audience feedback in real time. Exhibitors and sponsors could be featured in key areas of the virtual platform or sponsor sessions. They could also leverage integrated collaborative virtual booths to meet directly with attendees. Each sponsor or exhibitor could include contact information, social media links, web links, and featured content. They also could follow up with high value leads thanks to on-demand reporting in Cvent.

Leading the Future with Successful and Safe Hybrid Events

As the industry evolved and people began to meet safely once again, Amy’s team saw the value of hybrid events for their clients. One hybrid meeting in November 2020 saw over 400 virtual attendees and 150 gather onsite. AK Consulting used the Cvent Event Management platform to manage custom registration paths for both virtual and in-person attendees, syncing all registration data automatically within a single source of truth. The virtual audience was able to join via the Attendee Hub with secure, dual-factor authentication.

Onsite presentations were livestreamed to the virtual audience with access to on-demand content for 90 days after the close of the event. This meant in-person attendees could review content at their leisure and virtual audiences could view additional content as needed for continuing education. Integrated engagement functionality like live Q&A allowed presenters to connect with attendees during live sessions. Post-event surveys and on-demand reporting gave the AK Consulting team key insights into event performance and allowed them to determine if they met their clients’ goals.

In reflecting on the current state of the industry, Amy believes that the value of virtual, whether as a standalone event or as part of a hybrid experience, is now clear. The increased reach means organizations are now attracting new audiences. Amy says, “Two of our long-term clients saw increased participation in their events due to the Cvent virtual platform, including one national association with  25% increase in registration and another large state conference with a 16% increase in registration.”

She also appreciates the thoughtful evolution of the Attendee Hub as new features have been integrated over time. “Now there’s chat and Q&A with the moderator, and it’s moving into a whole community piece, with discussions and other functionality, which will be really great,” Amy explains. “It’s nice to see all that grow together, and as new items are added, we can then add each piece to our bag of tools.”

As the industry continues to evolve, Amy believes the value of offering both virtual and in-person experiences will continue to grow. “There’s a benefit of having people excited about virtual or hybrid events, and I think we’ll see that continue to increase,” she insists.

She adds that AK Consulting’s strategic approach to supporting their clients’ events with the right technology -- whether virtual, hybrid, or in-person -- means the value of those partnerships can withstand challenges like the global health crisis. “80% of our clients pivoted with us to a virtual or hybrid component, which was really nice,” she says. “We were able to keep those relationships and provide a resource that can help them with whatever we’re faced with in the future.”


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