in-person conference attendees
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eXp Realty is one of the world’s fastest growing, entirely independent virtual real estate brokerages. The global organization includes a community of over 84,000 real estate professionals who are connected digitally through their cloud-based platform. Ciara Baker, Senior Event Manager, and Jorja Johnston, Events Project Lead, together support eXp Realty’s growing events portfolio. This includes their annual user conference, EXPCON, their Shareholder Summit events, and other small meetings or internal events.
Scaling events with Cvent to match unprecedented growth at eXp Realty
When Ciara joined the organization in early 2021, the company was experiencing unprecedented growth. “The last in-person event that they had was in 2019 for about 2,500 attendees, and then between 2020 and 2021, the agent base grew by 72%,” she explains. While this was a benefit to the business, their team was stretched thin. “Ultimately, we really needed to scale our efforts in terms of event space, in terms of registration process...really everything,” she adds. In outlining their vision for EXPCON 2021, Ciara and Jorja identified two primary goals. “The two things we’re looking to accomplish there are agent attraction - so bringing real estate agents into the company - and certainly providing education for our agents,” Ciara says.
With the added complications of the pandemic, Ciara and Jorja knew they needed a robust event management solution to power their annual conference so agents could stay connected with one another while navigating industry changes with the latest insights. eXp Realty’s previous event management platform simply could not scale to match the growth of their events. “It was drastically difficult to manage changes in attendees and groups,” notes Ciara. This was especially true in managing attendees for invite-only events. They also needed to improve the onsite experience by eliminating long registration lines. “Once I heard that piece of feedback, I knew Cvent was clearly where we needed to go,” Ciara says.
As a result, she and Jorja spearheaded a new partnership between Cvent and eXp Realty. They adopted several Cvent solutions to ensure their first in-person event in nearly two years was a success. These included Cvent’s Registration solution, OnArrival 360, and Exhibitor Management. These integrated tools would work together to create a seamless onsite experience for attendees while streamlining internal processes and providing a consolidated view of event data for the eXp Realty team.
Building a fully integrated MarTech stack
With a packed agenda spread across several days, Ciara and Jorja needed to manage roughly 75 sessions for nearly 5,400 in-person attendees. This included a pre-conference day, two full days of concurrent breakout sessions across several different tracks, general sessions and keynotes, an awards gala, certification sessions, and one-off experiences like VIP meet and greets. They therefore set up a complex registration process with multiple pathways and fees through Cvent’s Registration solution. Ensuring ease of registration not only reduced friction for attendees, but also eliminated hours of manual labor for the small team of two. With all their registration data seamlessly flowing from the event website to the registration site, any changes in the backend were automatically updated. This meant the team didn’t have to waste valuable time updating attendee information, modifying registrations, or syncing attendee lists. In fact, attendees could self-modify their registrations with ease. The eXp Realty team was also able to account for unique tiers of agents using differentiated attendee types and could offer more add-ons and featured ticket types like VIP tickets. With these improvements in the registration build, they increased their overall revenue from the event to over $1 million.
Moreover, Ciara and Jorja were able to integrate Cvent with HubSpot allowing for an automated flow of data within their MarTech stack. “We primarily use Cvent for our main registration pathway and then we bleed all of that information over to HubSpot,” notes Ciara. This means they could automate and optimize their marketing campaigns and better prove the impact of sales with more targeted data, all seamlessly managed through the integration. They could prioritize event leads for their sales teams faster, provide a more personalized experience to improve attendee engagement, and send more targeted and relevant follow-up communications with contacts allocated to the right scoring and lead nurturing programs. Eliminating cumbersome manual work also benefited the team greatly. Ciara notes, “It’s super helpful to avoid the manual process of having to download and reupload lists, so it’s been great.”
An exceptional in-person experience at EXPCON
Onsite, Ciara and Jorja needed to ensure a safe and comfortable experience for their attendees. They worked closely with their venue to meet safety requirements through signage, masks, and hand sanitizing stations, in addition to implementing several other measures. These efforts ensured attendees could safely enjoy the full onsite experience. “Ultimately, I can’t tell you how excited everyone was to be back,” Ciara insists. In fact, they nearly doubled their number of attendees onsite from their previous in-person event, an impressive feat given that the pandemic was still ongoing.
As an additional means of ensuring duty of care, they utilized Cvent’s OnArrival check-in and badge printing solution to create an entirely contactless first touchpoint for attendees. Here, attendees could breeze through check-in with self-service kiosks using a QR code on their phones. Up-to-the-minute reporting meant event managers could maintain accurate attendee counts at all times. On-demand badge printing also ensured attendee information was always accurate, mitigating the need to pre-print badges altogether. The experience was a clear success and Ciara notes, “The biggest piece of feedback we received was how much smoother registration was.”
In addition, onsite technicians from Cvent provided dedicated support for the eXp Realty team. “We used the OnArrival 360 team and they were truly a godsend,” Ciara shares. “We developed a really good relationship with them and I can’t recommend that team enough.” The OnArrival 360 team supported eXp Realty from initial badge design to managing the hardware shipment and onsite support coordination. They also configured all equipment, trained staff, were able troubleshoot instantaneously, and managed equipment teardown post-event. Jorja notes, “That team was so great to work with, especially when you’re under a lot of stress. They came in and saved the day, and I can’t say enough about how having that team gave us a sense of comfort just knowing there was always someone there to help.” Given the success of their OnArrival implementation, wait times were reduced by more than 50% overall. “We certainly hit our goal and check-in was less than 30 seconds per person, which was awesome to see,” adds Ciara.
Reinforcing the value of in-person events for stakeholders
Onsite, the team also managed their first in-person Expo in nearly two years. With nearly 40 featured exhibitors, Ciara and Jorja needed a technological solution to streamline processes and provide consolidated reporting. Cvent’s Exhibitor Management solution helped automate many of the time-consuming tasks associated with the Expo. All exhibitors could access key information in a central location thanks to the Exhibitor Portal. Here, they were able to self-manage tasks like registering booth staff or uploading documentation, as well as access detailed reports. This not only ensured a positive and valuable experience for exhibitors, but eliminated the need for time-consuming back-and-forth communication on the part of the eXp Realty team.
As new Cvent users, Ciara and Jorja were excited by the clear impact event tech had on their first in-person event in two years. “These events are an opportunity for everyone to get together and see how much is going on,” Jorja explains. “Everyone is so excited and already asking when the next EXPCON will be, and it’s just exciting to see that spark of interest across the entire company."
In fact, they saw increased visibility for their own department thanks to the success of the event, which they were able to present through quantifiable data to their leadership through the Cvent reports. “We’ve only used Cvent for one in-person event so far and we’ll be continuing to use Cvent for the foreseeable future,” Ciara adds. “Ultimately, just seeing that we’re already being recognized for the use of Cvent shows that we’re doing something right.”
Advancing eXp Realty's total event program
Ciara’s own professional journey has actually been directly impacted by her use of Cvent. When the pandemic first hit, she - like many in the industry - was unfortunately furloughed from her hospitality position. “I had knowledge of Cvent and decided to take the certification courses online,” she says. By accessing curated online training and taking advantage of Cvent’s industry certifications, Ciara was able to bolster her resume. “Cvent’s training and certification program was really good for personal development,” she explains. “We’re just constantly trying to level up and we can’t get there without doing things like this.” She adds that she enjoyed how widely available the program is, particularly at a time of upheaval for the industry. “One thing I love is that it's so accessible,” she shares. “I didn’t have to contract with the program in order to do the training. So I just learned a ton and getting that background was really helpful.”
Soon after, she joined eXp Realty. Ciara made immediate impact by helping to establish a dedicated events team and by bringing Cvent to the attention of their leadership. Thanks to her efforts in spearheading these initiatives as well as driving EXPCON to new heights of success, Ciara has been promoted twice since joining the team. “I think the success of our event has been getting a lot of attention, not only from our agents and stakeholders, but from our leadership as well,” she says. “We have doubled our attendee base and we are now getting into bigger and brighter opportunities within our event. Knowing what we’re doing is bringing in agents and really working is incredible.”
With their events portfolio firmly at the forefront of their organization’s marketing mix, the impact of the program on eXp Realty’s overall business is undeniable. “Events are one of our main attraction tools, and I just can’t tell you the boom that happens after each of these events and how many agents join the company,” Ciara insists. In the near future, she and Jorja foresee a growing partnership with Cvent. In fact, during their recent annual Shareholder Summit, they were able to deploy new Cvent solutions like Premium Surveys. As they continue to scale their events, both Jorja and Ciara looking forward to expanding their program’s success. “We’re excited to continue getting into bigger and brighter opportunities with our event,” Ciara says.