lnXpress is an international parcel, freight, and shipping company who partners with the world's best carriers. lnXpress shipping specialists provide customers unrivaled shipping solutions and their events program celebrates the success and achievements of their franchise owners.
The InXpress Americas annual convention is held alternating between the east coast and west coast in America. The 2020 convention was held in Orlando, Florida. The conference served as InXpress’ prime opportunity to engage directly with their franchise owners.
Navigating the Changing Events Landscape
The travel and safety restrictions presented by the global pandemic introduced significant challenges to the typical planning process for InXpress. They wanted to offer a safe and engaging onsite experience for franchise owners who could attend, but needed to provide a virtual solution for those who were under travel restrictions or simply did not feel comfortable in-person. “It was really important to InXpress to be able to continue to have that same energy that you always get in-person for this event,” explains Yvette Mignerey Atkin, Global Strategic Event Planner & Coordinator. In considering various options, they realized a hybrid event would serve both audiences best.
With the daunting challenge of logistically planning a hybrid experience in February 2021 during the global health crisis, Yvette’s team set to work. One of the first obstacles they encountered was planning the onsite experience in Las Vegas. The city had implemented capacity restrictions of no more than 100 attendees in following strict CDC guidelines. This would of course limit onsite attendance, but InXpress wanted to offer reasonable price points to ensure they were at capacity while still creating an engaging virtual experience for the rest of their attendees.
As they prepared to execute one of the first hybrid events in Las Vegas in 2021, InXpress needed a streamlined technology solution that could support both their in-person and virtual experiences. They created dual registration paths and integrated their registration data with the Cvent Event Management platform. Yvette’s team also wanted key details like assigned seating for their awards banquet to carry over to the printed badge details. They also decided to shorten their programming to keep attendees as safe as possible and reduce virtual fatigue. The typical three-day event was scaled down to be one-and-a-half days. All content would be livestreamed directly from their venue in Las Vegas. They would also need allow exhibitors to facilitate buyer appointments across both experiences.
Ensuring a High-Value Hybrid Event with Cvent Technology
They chose to use the Cvent Attendee Hub® to support their virtual experience along with Cvent’s Onsite Solutions, the Cvent Mobile Event App, and the Appointments tool. By streamlining the registration process, Yvette’s team was able to manage all attendee information in one location. All key details carried over to the onsite experience for in-person attendees and online for virtual attendees. “Cvent really helped streamline everything because it was all tucked in one place for me,” says Yvette. InXpress was able to expand their virtual audience by targeting personas who had never been able to attend in-person, including Sales Reps who were able to join for the first time. Yvette notes that the value that provided for the business was immeasurable. Ultimately, InXpress saw 300 combined virtual and in-person attendees, with the onsite experience limited to 100 max capacity due to the city’s restrictions at that time.
Virtually, the twelve sessions and awards banquet were livestreamed for attendees via the Cvent Video Player inside the Attendee Hub. With virtual networking and a virtual Exhibit Hall, remote attendees “felt like they were included in everything,” says Yvette. With full support services from Cvent’s professional services teams, they were able to execute all sessions through the Attendee Hub for a seamless user experience. The team assisted with strategy creation, event build, reporting, webcast support, and much more. With a limited staff of two managing both the onsite and virtual experience simultaneously, a close partnership between the two teams was key.
Sessions include two keynotes from InXpress executives, carrier-specific sessions from UPS and DHL, training labs with small groups, and the awards banquet. These various sessions created the energy and engagement Yvette’s team sought to imbue across the hybrid experience. The feedback from their speakers and attendees was phenomenal. “UPS was brand new to InXpress and it was the first time they’ve ever been to our convention,” explains Yvette. “They were blown away and so incredibly happy with what they experienced.” InXpress was also able to provide additional value for their attendees by offering on-demand session recordings after the close of the event through a proprietary system.
Proving ROI with a Virtual Exhibit Hall
A key aspect of the hybrid experience was managing a virtual exhibit hall in addition to the onsite exhibit hall. This would provide value for exhibitors in reaching the widest audience possible. All exhibitors were given the option of leveraging both onsite booths and virtual booths, with the vast majority opting for both. They were able to operate one-on-one appointments with attendees using Cvent’s Appointments solution. Onsite, this meant they could easily manage their appointments through the integrated functionality in the Cvent Mobile Event App. Virtually, they could meet face-to-face with attendees during pre-scheduled appointments through the Cvent Video Conferencing tool. Attendees could also join the virtual booth ad hoc to talk directly with a representative, mirroring the in-person walk-up experience. Within the virtual booth, exhibitors were also able to feature key collateral, links, and contact information for inbound lead generation.
As an added bonus, InXpress created sponsorship packages with the option for featured video promotions during virtual breaks between livestream sessions. These played on loop for 30 to 90 seconds, depending on level of sponsorship, and provided an always-on experience for exhibitors. With this in mind, exhibitors and sponsors were immensely impressed with the hybrid event structure, granting InXpress more sponsorships than ever before. In fact, they doubled their average in their sponsor revenue thanks to the hybrid experience. “The results were more impactful than we could have ever imagined, and our team was just so incredibly pleased that we received more funding this year for our sponsorships than we ever have in the past,” explains Yvette. “In fact, one of our platinum vendors told us they had more appointments from different franchise owners than they have ever had. For them, every penny spent was worth the revenue they will receive in the future.”
Partnering with Venues to Ensure Duty of Care
Ensuring duty of care for onsite attendees was one of the top priorities for the InXpress team. They worked closely with their chosen venue to institute COVID-precautions in line with CDC guidelines, including temperature checks, mask requirements, sanitizer stations, strict cleaning protocols, and much more. InXpress expanded the initiative to include colored bands which helped indicate attendee comfort levels with social interactions (red, yellow, or green). “Since shots were just starting, this gave everyone a visual cue as to what people were feeling, “ notes Yvette. They also carefully diagrammed their event space and seating requirements to suit social distancing rules. “We did our due diligence to spread out the tables with four to a round to ensure attendee safety, and of course required masks and other safety measures,” Yvette notes.
Using OnArrival and the Cvent Mobile Event App for a Safe Attendee Experience
A significant challenge in managing the onsite experience was in creating a truly contactless first touchpoint for check-in and badging. To prevent any unnecessary handling of attendee badges, Yvette’s team moved from pre-printed badges to leveraging OnArrival Touchless Event Check-In and Badge Printing solution. This provided all attendees a dedicated QR code they could access before the event. They could then simply scan the QR code from their phone upon arrival to check-in and print their badge instantaneously. “We made sure we were limiting the number of hands that were on things for attendees, and the QR code made it really easy for our attendees and our staff,” says Yvette. All necessary attendee details carried over from the Event Management system to ensure key information was correct and included directly on the badge, including the required banquet selection and table number. She adds, “I was incredibly pleased to have OnArrival work so successfully and so fast for our attendees.”
As a part of their efforts to ensure attendee safety onsite, InXpress used the Cvent Mobile Event app. Having used the mobile app in the past, Yvette’s team was familiar with the capabilities of the app to engage onsite attendees while providing up-to-the minute communications. This was especially critical during the pandemic where announcements and safety requirements needed to remain top of mind. The app housed the attendees’ agendas with integrated appointments, the full attendee list, speaker information, interactive maps, the convention song, and other important details. It also allowed Yvette’s team to communicate key information at a moment’s notice through push notifications to ensure attendees were up to date at all times.
Fostering a Hybrid Future at InXpress
Ultimately, the success of the event was two-fold. First, InXpress executed a truly impressive hybrid experience that was not only engaging, but safe for their entire audience. By being an early leader in the industry, they were able to help assess what requirements were vital in managing a hybrid event.
Second, Yvette was able to showcase the impressive metrics of the event to InXpress stakeholders by using Cvent reporting. In review with executive leadership, she could highlight attendance rates, app downloads, virtual exhibit hall visits, revenue generation, and much more. “The ROI was phenomenal and now we’ve got the data to show when we plan for next year,” says Yvette. Not only did they roughly double their average sponsorship revenue to $45,000, but InXpress also tracked 166 app downloads, 1,489 check-ins both virtually and onsite, 281 virtual exhibitor views, and dozens of actualized appointments.
Due to the success of the event, Yvette and the entire InXpress team are eager to begin planning their 2022 experience with Cvent solutions at the core of the experience. She adds, “lnXpress feels that for our first hybrid event, it was extraordinarily successful and look forward to continuing this new medium in 2022 and beyond.”
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