Travel Oregon’s Event Evolution
Travel Oregon is a semi-independent agency created by the Oregon Legislature to enhance Oregonians’ quality of life and strengthen the state’s booming tourism industry. Industry Services Coordinator Kendra Perry and her team have spearheaded the use of innovative event technology within the organization. By integrating seven different Cvent solutions over the last decade, they increased event attendance by 200% and expanded the use of Cvent across all internal teams.
In 2008, the team was asked to plan the annual Governor’s Conference after years of using external contractors. They realized the need for a technology solution to help manage an event of that size. A one-year trial in 2008 would eventually become a decade-long partnership with Cvent. The deep tech stack that Kendra’s team built has elevated the success of their department on the state level.
Overcoming Manual Roadblocks
For their events, the team originally processed paper registrations with separate, third-party online payments. This caused huge gaps in data and unsustainable inefficiencies. Manual badging relied on spreadsheets and required over two full days to assemble. Speaker collaboration was a complex process that lacked cohesive data and damaged the department’s reputation. Attendees and sponsors were frustrated with the lack of networking opportunities at events. Communications with attendees were sent through personal email, meaning spreadsheets had to be manually updated by each staff member and lacked consistent branding. The accounting team was also unable to evaluate smaller budgets within meetings and events, which made ROI impossible to prove.
Creating a Unified Travel Oregon Experience
In 2008, Kendra’s team adopted Cvent’s Event Management solution on a one-year trial basis. They processed over 1,000 registrations across 16 events and incorporated the platform’s Budget Module into their strategy that year. As their events grew, so did their investment in Cvent’s solutions. Kendra explains, “We realized very quickly how useful Cvent was to be our CRM in general. If we’re going to capture everybody’s event registration through Cvent, that means we also have their contact information. I pitched the idea that if you can get everybody into Cvent for all the events we’re doing across the agency, eventually you’re going to start to clean up your data.” The agency adopted Cvent across all departments to ensure brand consistency for all events. They have seen a 200% increase in registration across events as a result.
Building A Robust Tech Stack for State Success
In building their tech stack, Kendra’s team regularly sought stakeholder buy-in for each new piece of technology. “The great thing was every time we took a new idea, platform, or solution to our higher-ups, there was never really any resistance. It was very supportive,” she says. The team adopted OnArrival in 2015 to integrate their registration data with check-in and badging needs. They removed data gaps and vastly reduced check-in time. They were even able to process registrations, collect payments, and edit attendee data onsite. They cut their manual labor hours by more than 50% as a result.
Two years ago, the team attended Cvent CONNECT and found a solution for their speaker management issues. Originally using Google Docs, they adopted Cvent’s Abstract Management for their 2018 conference. The data automatically tied into their existing Cvent solutions and created easier workflows for Kendra’s team. In asking for feedback, Kendra notes “every single team member said they want to keep using Abstract Management.”
The team also used Appointments to connect attendees with the sales team and the Travel Oregon staff. Kendra explains, “Every year, they want to connect with our team. We took on Appointments as our solution. To be able to have people simply register and make this a one-click solution really was game-changing for us.” They also added on a Salesforce integration to equip their sales team with much needed attendee data from each of their events.
Modern Mobile Sponsorship Solutions
In 2016, the team adopted Cvent’s CrowdCompass for their mobile app. They created an on-brand app experience with sponsorship opportunities designed to increase revenue. “The first year we got about 60% buy-in of our attendees, which was a huge win for us. Last year there were over 2,500 engagements,” notes Kendra. Attendees could easily network with through the app, while gamification and social media kept attendees engaged. Kendra says she loves sifting through social posts after the event for the conference debrief. "We can’t be around everything all at once, so our attendees help tell our story with the pictures they’re getting and the experiences they’re having,” she adds.
Social Wall helped create a regular stream of social content to increase engagement and attendee satisfaction. They also leveraged the solution as a key sponsorship opportunity. “We’ve never not sold Social Wall. We’ve sold it every single time. Once we got comfortable, that’s when we started looking at live polling and Q&A, really encouraging our speakers to become more interactive with their workshops,” Kendra adds. In 2018, the team exceeded their app adoption goals by over 50% and were able to guarantee multiple sponsors for the next year’s conference.
Becoming a State-Wide Events Leader
Because of their growing investment in becoming event technology leaders, the team’s expertise is in high demand. When the Governor’s office asked Kendra’s team to fully manage their annual conference, it was in large part due the department’s repeat success. “The more we do these sorts of things, the more the industry is looking at us as that leader in tourism event management. Word is getting out. When you’re working with other agencies, they’re saying, ‘We’re going to trust you to take care of this for us.’ It’s a huge compliment. It helps with that credibility in building our partnerships and our relationships across the state,” Kendra explains.
She also notes that the value of their events spans across the agency. By elevating the success of events like the Governor’s Conference, she has seen a direct increase in the visibility of her own department. She says, “The work that we’re doing in the event space, the efficiencies we’ve been able to create, and the time we’ve been able to save over the years has really increased our visibility. Our team understands that we’ve got capacity and focus now, and we have tools in our toolbelt to really make events efficient.”
Most importantly, the team’s success has served as a springboard to facilitate better meetings and events. Kendra notes, “We all know meetings mean business and we know there’s power in the face-to-face meetings. Event tech is creating efficiencies and finding ways to incorporate our work into a really quick, simple solution. That’s what I love about the Cvent platforms: they talk to each other so people don’t have to. It takes all the work out of it for them, and it’s all in one place, essentially.”
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