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Suwannee River Area Health Education Center

Supporting business growth for any and every event with Cvent solutions

40%

total business growth YoY

2x

increase in team size due to business growth

700+

leads generated at one hybrid conference

Suwannee River Area Health Education Center (AHEC) is a public health nonprofit with a Meeting and Association Services department, partnering with organizations nationally to develop and execute professional events. With a team of five event managers, Suwannee River AHEC provides a range of services including event websites and registration, venue coordination, webinars, onsite management, speaker and exhibitor management, and session facilitation for in-person, virtual, and hybrid events.

Creating automated efficiencies with event technology

Laura Moore, Program Manager for Meeting & Association Services, and Amaris Spina, Professional Education Coordinator, have seen the scope of their program expand significantly over the last several years. “Our meetings program has evolved over the last 10 years with technology,” Laura explains. Their previous processes were largely manual, creating inefficiencies for the organization. She says, “We used to have a highly manual process to collect registrations and download the registration reports.” She adds that Suwannee River AHEC couldn’t easily track payments or send automated emails, resulting in potential human error. “It was very manual and very time consuming, with a lot of manual data entry, pulling Excel lists, and so on,” Laura notes.

Using an automated event management solution was key in helping the organization increase their efficiencies. By adopting the Cvent Event Marketing and Management platform, the Suwannee River AHEC team found they were able to ultimately grow the scope of their program. “We are saving a lot of time with Cvent compared to what it was seven or eight years ago,” notes Amaris. She adds that they previously sent manual invoices, which could take up to four weeks to process. This left the organization without payment for already completed events, meaning accounting was often behind and lacked efficiency. “One of the main points to our leadership when we adopted Cvent was it was so valuable because it was saving so much money in terms of time,” notes Laura. With Cvent, invoices could be automatically processed and payments were always up to date. “That was huge in terms of time savings and I think it became clear that these were the tools we needed to effectively do our job,” Laura insists.

Adopting virtual solutions to navigate through the pandemic

When the pandemic first began, Amaris and Laura foresaw significant challenges in navigating the quickly changing event landscape.  “When COVID first hit, we were worried that if we couldn’t have events in person, then we may not even have a job,” Laura says. They realized they needed a platform to support the new shift to virtual events. With an attendee base that may not necessarily be quick to adapt to new technologies, the platform needed to be user-friendly and easy to navigate. They also wanted a platform that would automate processes for maximum efficiency and provide detailed metrics to evaluate event performance in light of overall impact to the business. “Beyond attendee engagement or a balanced and profitable event, our largest metric of success is our client’s satisfaction and return business,” Laura explains.

Suwannee River AHEC initially relied on a technology platform that ultimately did not have the ability to scale. This became apparent as virtual and hybrid events became increasingly complex. Laura explains, “We first used a tool that did not integrate with our registration site and was intended to be an onsite app. We were only allowed to have the site open for two weeks post-conference, though we wanted to give attendees 30 days to watch the recorded materials.” With these limitations, they knew they needed a more comprehensive and flexible technology solution.

They soon adopted the Cvent Attendee Hub platform to support their virtual events. “Adopting a virtual format and onboarding with Cvent to use the Attendee Hub actually helped us take on more clients that needed our services,” Laura shares. Amaris agrees, noting that learning the platform has also increased their skillsets as event professionals. “It’s been so exciting to see how Attendee Hub has evolved to allow us to take on even more functionality and more offerings for our clients,” adds Amaris.

Amaris explains that they use nearly every offered feature in the Attendee Hub to support their various client events. She says, “We use Discussions, Exhibitor Management, sponsorship features, live streaming, webinar format, Premium Surveys, and more.” They now also offer the Mobile Event App, the native app version of Attendee Hub, for their in-person and hybrid events.

Supporting virtual and in-person experiences with the Cvent Attendee Hub

Using Attendee Hub and the integrated Registration tool, they are able to send automated emails to help drive registrations. These tools ensure all virtual and in-person attendee data is automatically synced in the backend for data accuracy. The intuitive registration process reduces friction for attendees and has eliminated untold hours of manual labor for the Suwannee River team. Automated dataflows mean the team doesn’t waste time manually updating attendee information, modifying registrations, or syncing attendee lists.

Within the Attendee Hub, attendees can view sessions, use engagement tools, and access exhibitor information. They can also view custom cards and pages, complete surveys, manage their appointments, and participate in networking.  For those using the mobile app, the personalized home screen allowed for easy access to session materials, speaker details, sponsors and exhibitor information, and much more. They can also access engagement features, view exhibitor information, chat via direct messaging, and provide feedback through embedded surveys.

Each session in Attendee Hub includes session details and speaker information, as well as associated documents and links. Push notifications ensure event organizers can communicate with their attendees in real time. Moreover, attendees can connect with one another through one-to-one messaging directly in the tool. Digital networking is even easier thanks to Discussions, where attendees can meet via collaborative video chat. They can also connect via instant networking and attendee recommendations.

Engagement features like moderated Q&A allowed attendees to ask questions in real time and even receive written responses while upvoting favorites. Polling gives speakers a pulse on attendee sentiment and gamification encourages specific attendee behaviors like completing surveys. Also, session chat ensures attendees feel engaged with one another. Embedded event and session-level surveys allow for deeper insight into performance, while quantifiable engagement metrics can be coalesced into an engagement score for more targeted follow-up.

In addition to sponsored sessions, sponsors and exhibitors can reach more attendees through virtual booths. These allow for embedded videos, document uploads, and collaborative video chat. Moreover, sponsored sessions give exhibitors more visibility in front of attendees, with sessions being featured on the homepage of the Attendee Hub. Exhibitors can also drive inbound leads through contact forms and embedded social media links designed to foster continued engagement. Cvent’s Exhibitor Resource center ensures sponsors and exhibitors can self-manage key tasks like uploading content, updating staff details, setting up email communications, and managing appointments. Exhibitors are also able to access detailed reports via the Exhibitor Portal to track leads and measure engagement. 

Creating an incredible onsite experience with Onsite Solutions

Onsite, the Suwannee River team is able to utilize Cvent’s Onsite Solutions to support a seamless in-person experience. They can use OnArrival to guarantee a fully contactless check-in process, with attendees quickly scanning QR codes on their phone. They can also use kiosk mode so attendees can check themselves in for expediency. On-demand badge printing ensures the team does not waste time pre-printing and organizing badges ahead of time.

Suwannee River also offers LeadCapture so exhibitors could easily scan, qualify, and rate leads in real time. This means better qualified leads for quicker, more accurate follow up. They are also able to export leads directly from the Exhibitor Portal in seconds, giving them a clearer picture of their ROI. Amaris and Laura offer an example of a recent hybrid event which included a large trade show floor. Laura explains, “We were able to use LeadCapture to allow exhibitors to capture those leads, and they loved the lead scanning.” She adds that the user-friendly nature of the tool was instrumental in not only driving leads, but in increasing exhibitor satisfaction. “The leads they were generating with LeadCapture were amazing and our exhibitors were really happy with the reports that they could pull themselves,” says Amaris. “With a click of the button, they could pull their lead report right away before they even got on their plane home, which was truly amazing.”

Showcasing the impact of event technology for any and every event

With these tools in hand, Suwannee River is able to support client events of all formats and types. They offer several examples of recent successful events, such as a hybrid event for over 1,200 emergency medical service professional attendees. Utilizing the Attendee Hub meant the virtual audience could directly interact with the in-person audience during small groups and general sessions. They also provided value to their exhibitors both virtually and onsite. Laura explains, “We used Exhibitor Management and LeadCapture with 60 exhibitors, generating more than 700 leads with the onsite trade show and exhibitor pages within the attendee website and app.” With Onsite Solutions, volunteers can also utilize session scanning to track session attendance and evaluate peak times for future planning.

For another event featuring 220 attendees from more than 25 countries, they used several Attendee Hub features to drive engagement. This included one-to-one attendee messaging and Discussions. “Cvent technology made it possible for us to successfully manage a virtual international conference with 96 speakers, 132 sessions, and more than 35 hours of credit,” notes Laura. “We were also able to record these sessions and make them available to participants post-conference. The board members were relieved and astounded by how smoothly their online event went and credited our team.” They add that the support they received from their Cvent team was instrumental in the success of this event. “We also cannot understate the support we have received from Cvent staff, from the product consultants over the phone, to our account manager and client success advisor,” notes Laura. “Knowing we are not alone in any difficulty we come across or question we have helps our team be fearless in the services we offer.”

They also note that Cvent solutions have helped with awarding continuing education credits. “Some of our clients do enduring content that requires a posttest, so we were able to use Premium Surveys to issue those posttests and get scores back so that we could issue their credit,” notes Amaris. “So that was a game changer for us, being able to use surveys in the same platform instead of having to send an external link, and we are a big proponent of keeping as much inside Cvent as we can and not going outside of the platform.” She adds that before using the Attendee Hub, it took 30 days to issue credit and certificates. Now, they are issued almost immediately after survey completion. She adds, “It reduced the amount of work we are doing on the backend after an event, so that’s been fantastic.”

Another benefit they have seen has been the increased consumption of content on behalf of the attendees. With limited time during an event, attendees can now access content on-demand. Amaris explains how this benefits their continuing education. She says, “They can now go back and almost triple the amount of credit they are earning, so that’s a real value-add to our partners that are providing this education.”

Expanding event technology use for Suwannee River AHEC webinars

With the success of these various events, the Suwannee River team saw new opportunities to utilize event technology. They decided to use Registration and the Attendee Hub to support their webinar programs. “We used the webinar format with a unique set up, as our client wanted to have four sessions across an entire month,” notes Laura. With the Attendee Hub, the webinars offered an integrated registration experience and one-click access. This meant all registration website data flowed automatically to the Attendee Hub, with one platform to drive all content and engagement. Here, attendees could view the webinars and engage in real-time through chat, polling, and Q&A. Since they were supporting high-profile speakers, Laura and Amaris’ team helped moderate questions and ensure no interruptions were encountered. They also measured engagement and overall webinar performance through on-demand reports in Cvent. “The webinars ultimately provided our customers with the most professional experience for their speakers and the participants as well,” notes Amaris.

Planning for the future of events at Suwannee River AHEC

The flexibility of the Cvent platform to adapt to events of all sizes, scopes, formats, and types is key for Suwannee River.  In fact, Laura explains that a slated hybrid event helped showcase the adaptability of the platform. “We weren’t sure for some time if the event would even happen or what format it would be in,” she explains. “In the end, we said it didn’t matter because the content is on the platform either way.  So we can make it a website where they go for virtual or hybrid, or we can make it an app where they’re onsite.” While the hybrid event eventually did go forward, they were able to be prepared for any and every event thanks to their use of event technology.

Ultimately, Suwannee River AHEC has shown impressive growth over the last few years thanks to their investment in event technology. Quickly pivoting to meet their clients’ needs for virtual, hybrid, and in-person events has ultimately helped grow the business. “In the past two years, we have utilized more Cvent solutions than ever before and have more new and returning clients than our department has ever seen,” Laura insists. “We believe Cvent’s solutions are helping us to chart a course to a profitable and expanding department that can support our nonprofit organization and its mission to support healthcare professionals treating underserved populations.”

Amaris agrees, noting that almost all new business comes through referrals from satisfied clients. “Because of our work with Cvent and learning the Attendee Hub, our business grew 40% in total,” she says. Thanks to the explosive growth of the business, they have expanded their team and created valuable efficiencies for the organization. Amaris summarizes, “Moving to Cvent allowed us to save staff time and ultimately contract with more partners to provide more conferences and more registrations - whether virtual, live, or in-person.”


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