Founded in 1981, Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits markets quality wine and spirits produced by prestigious families from major wine and spirits regions of the world. By conducting effective and clear meetings and events, they continue to create better relationships with both business partners and employees.
Senior Event Planner Linda Meunier and her colleague, Event Planner Jennifer Sosiewicz, work together to closely manage the organization’s total event portfolio. In 2015, the company’s growth had outpaced their part-time event planning processes. This led Linda and Jennifer to press for a more formal department structure. As they worked to prove the value of a formal events department to their stakeholders, they knew the right technology would help support their efforts.
Outpacing Manual Processes and Part-Time Planning
Originally, Jennifer and Linda relied on an online registration system with little flexibility and no ability to customize the websites themselves. Systems were decentralized and not integrated with one another, meaning data could not be easily coalesced into a single source of truth. Sourcing was a manual and time-consuming process with no insight into the data they were sourcing. Hours of phone-tag with hotels and waiting on RFPs to arrive via email meant precious planning time was wasted. With no understanding of negotiated savings or other key metrics, they were often frustrated and overwhelmed. “Everything was manual...our room lists, our agenda, our ground transpiration were all Excel files with several versions,” says Linda. “Nobody had the correct data, and it was exhausting. Transparency between events just didn’t exist.” Without a formal events department, the organization lacked insights into the benefits of centralizing data under one platform.
During that time, they discovered the Cvent Event Marketing and Management platform and Cvent's Venue Sourcing Solution, the Cvent Supplier Network. Together, these tools began to help Linda and Jennifer plan and execute their growing events program with efficiency and important insights. Using the Event Marketing and Management tool has given Linda and Jennifer complete control over their registration process. They’re able to design and manage on-brand registration sites while collecting all needed data in a centralized location. They’ve added the travel module and other features to help manage the end-to-end registration process.
Using Flex, they are now able to create sleek, modern websites with easily customizable features and Deutsch branding. With easy-to-understand functionality, the small department no longer needs to outsource their website maintenance, providing valuable cost and time savings for the business. They also appreciate the immediacy of on-demand reports with instant insights into their registration data. “You can pull reports quickly and filter whatever way you want to see who’s registered and who hasn’t registered, who opened your invite emails, and so one,” explains Jennifer. This allows Jennifer and Linda the ability to provide stakeholders up-to-the-minute insights on event performance for total visibility.
Successfully Sourcing Valuable Venue Partners
The Cvent Supplier Network was critical in helping Jennifer and Linda upgrade their sourcing processes. “It helped us really expand our searches and improve our events overall, elevating our venue searching by giving us options we had never been privy to before,” says Jennifer. With insights into unique venues, boutique hotels, and thousands of resorts worldwide, they have sent hundreds of RFPs to over 2,000 venues globally. “To me, it has reduced the amount of time that I have wasted with inadequate venues,” insists Linda. It also allowed the small team to develop longstanding relationships with venue partners. With over 13,000 hours spent managing RFPs over five years, they calculate over $150,000 savings in manual labor costs using Cvent for their end-to-end sourcing process.
As Jennifer and Linda worked to expand Deutsch’s events program with a centralized platform at the core, the two hard working planners saw the potential for a formal events department. Over several years, they meticulously documented their reduced spend, revenue growth, increases in registration and attendance, and other data points through Cvent. This helped prove not only the true value of their events, but of their work as planners. As a result, they were finally granted their own formal events department in 2019. Jennifer explains, “That was really our start into creating something that was greater than it’s ever been before. And from there, we were expanding while Cvent was showing us these new tools.”
Expanding the Scope of Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits Events
To support their meetings processes, they adopted new Spend & Workflow tools, namely Cvent’s Strategic Meetings Management solution. This allowed the small team to manage their internal and external meetings processes with ease, as stakeholders leveraged the meeting request form to help plan their meetings within scope. It also allows Linda and Jennifer to have better visibility into meeting spend and ROI for their senior leadership, with on-demand reporting available with customizable filters. They note that their close partnership with their Cvent team has helped propel these evolutions in their event planning department over the last several years. Linda explains, “With the help of the Cvent account team and their platform, we were able to call out the risks of not implementing a team to centralize all planning and execution of Deutsch meetings and events. We showed that not only did Cvent save hundreds of people hours, but having all that data in one place enabled us to share with the company, past attendance, budget spends, venue locations, and more, all within a few clicks.”
Automating Room Block Management for Incredible Savings
Within their fully encompassing events department, Linda and Jennifer were also responsible for room block management. This was especially challenging with what Jennifer calls “painfully manual” processes. Though they automated rooming information through registration questions, the team then needed to manually export those reports to filter on rooming lists and communicate all needed arrival times, check out dates, charges, and other information to their venues. They spent days cross-checking rooming list data from the hotel with reports and their airline transportation manifest. This difficult process came to a head at one of their National Sales meetings. Multiple registration types with different grouping meant the hotel’s new system has marked over 65% of their billing instructions incorrectly. They spent hours before the event and onsite resolving over 300 rooming issues. The team of two realized there was a distinct need to move to a streamlined technology solution as their events continued growing in scope.
By adopting Cvent Passkey, they were able to fully automate their rooming lists. Attendees could secure their hotel room within the block according to registration type, saving immense amounts of time and eliminating all headaches surrounding room block management. “We turned to Cvent for a solution, and our partners came through,” Jennifer says. In fact, they’ve managed over 5,000 room nights in total, with an average cost savings of over $75 per room night managed. They calculate that to equate to over $375,000 in cost savings on room block management alone for the business.
Creating a Signature Onsite Experience through Event Tech
Onsite, the team of two often spent hours, if not days, pre-printing badges, session agendas, surveys, and collateral. Check-in was a clunky experience with long lines, misspelled badges, and multiple reprints needed from a slow printer. Last minute updates to the agendas meant more reprints. Tracking survey submissions was an entirely manual process requiring staff to enter answers into their survey tool one-by-one. These labor-intensive processes frustrated attendees and staff alike.
By expanding their solution set to include Cvent's Onsite Engagement tools, Jennifer and Linda were able to transform the onsite experience for attendees. They first implemented CrowdCompass for their attendees in 2016. They marketed the app through targeted emails to registered attendees, measuring 98% adoption as a result. They were delighted to see that the small number of printed agendas they had provided as backup were entirely untouched by the end of the event. The Deutsch team also expanded the app functionality to include engagement features like photo contests through the activity feed, push notifications for agenda changes or weather updates, and much more. Jennifer notes the app has become a staple at Deutsch events. With all important event details and session information in the app, she notes attendees turn to the app to answer any question they may have. “Our attendees are obsessed with the app. We just never imagined how easy this would be with CrowdCompass,” she says. At an event held just before the global health crisis, they had 100% app adoption with thousands of user contributions and hundreds of posts on the activity feed. With a 75% survey response rate and strong approval scores, Jennifer notes that the “mobile app experience has become a ‘signature’ feature of Deutsch events across the Wine & Spirits industry.”
In May of 2016, Jennifer and Linda released their second mobile app, this time accompanied by OnArrival. “OnArrival was an enormous success for us,” says Linda. “OnArrival speaks directly with your registration website, so everyone who registered has a name badge already when they come to the iPad to check-in.” Jennifer notes that attendees were excited to arrive using OnArrival check-in with real-time badge printing, transforming the first touchpoint into a seamless and enjoyable process for attendees. Both OnArrival and CrowdCompass have been cemented as regular features found at Deutsch events. She adds, “Our passion for creating memorable and magical on-site event experiences has become something we are known for. We could not have achieved that successful way without the CrowdCompass mobile app or OnArrival.”
Centralizing Event Program Success in the New Normal
With the growth in their tech stack and full support of their senior leadership, the future of the events department at Deutsch is clear. In line with their larger brand goals, Linda and Jennifer are working to support Deutsch in becoming a “Division One” Wine and Spirits company. In working to achieve this impressive industry standing, they only see further potential for growing their solution suite. “As Cvent grows and expands to success, we push ourselves to grow and expand as well,” explains Jennifer. They are excited to help the meetings and events industry move into a new stage of success, even with the global health crisis. In pivoting to virtual for 2020, the small team has managed Deutsch’s entire internal employee wellness program through the CrowdCompass mobile app. To keep employees engaged in a remote environment, they have constructed a feature-rich app with interactive activity sessions, photo challenges, wellness tips, and much more. They have also managed several virtual events since the start of the crisis, including their first virtual employee awards program and their Annual Sales Meeting for over 650 attendees.
Jennifer and Linda’s consistent efforts to prove the value of events for the organization through a centralized department backed by event technology has given them the flexibility to pivot during the crisis and look towards the future of in-person, virtual, and hybrid events. Jennifer says, “We believe in Cvent, and we believe in the power of centralizing events. We believe in the power of having a department to create wonderful experiences for attendees.” Linda echoes her sentiments, noting that proving event value means relying on the right tools to create efficiencies with data-driven decision making. “We’re on this march to a Division One company, and part of that is to challenge ourselves to find the best tools and the best partners. For us, that’s Cvent,” Jennifer adds. “We could not be successful, or have this department that we have today, without the tools Cvent gave us, so we feel this is a true partnership and Cvent is absolutely behind us.”
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