United Federation of Teachers
manual labor hours saved annually
virtual events managed annually
registrations managed annually
The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) represents a majority of teachers in New York City public schools, with nearly 200,000 members including in-service teachers, paraprofessional educators, and retired members. The nonprofit organization advocates for member rights and benefits across several chapters to ensure every member has the support needed to succeed in their jobs. UFT’s events program serves different chapter needs through conferences, trainings, continuing education events, workshops, and community events like Town Halls.
Before the start of the global health crisis, UFT’s in-person events program served hundreds of thousands of members across the state. The department was in the initial stages of centralizing their event program when the pandemic began in March 2020. Anthony Rivera, Project Manager, and Kathleen Guilbert, Program Director, moved their entire program to virtual in a matter of weeks. “We were very new as a department and we didn’t even have our full staff, so we were trying to figure out how we would manage everything,” explains Anthony. It was a significant challenge given the uncertainty of the education industry and the sheer number of events that would need to be migrated online, all under an indefinite timeline as the crisis directly impacted educators across the state.
Establishing UFT’s Virtual Event Program Goals
UFT first audited their entire program to assess the internal processes associated with maintaining a highly manual workload. They found over 100 separate Zoom licenses across various chapters, meaning every step of their established workflow required a significant amount of labor. They had to manually mark participation across Zoom events to award credits to attendees, a cumbersome process that was error-prone and difficult to maintain if attendees failed to use the correct credentials to access the event. UFT realized they needed a single solution that could integrate attendee participation data with their Salesforce instance for awarding credits. They also wanted to leverage pre-built event templates to execute events quickly and efficiently across their various chapters. “We needed to use a single virtual platform for our major conferences and all our CTLE/CEU courses because we needed duration tracking and certificates, and we had to have it talk to our Salesforce instance for participation,” Anthony summarizes.
The scope of their Continuing Teacher and Leader Education/Continuing Education Units (CTLE/CEU) program had also expanded significantly, from 550 events to over 1,500 annual events. With hundreds of hours allocated to manual program management, Anthony and Kathleen knew they needed a centralized solution that could support their rapid program growth. They wanted an all-in-one virtual platform that would streamline registration, virtual event management, awarding credits, and post-event maintenance. Moreover, they sought a true technology partner with full support offerings. They wanted a provider who would offer a collaborative approach to overlaying technology between these processes to reduce manual labor, automate internal processes, and eliminate technical support needs for members.
Fostering a True Technology Partnership with Cvent
With Cvent, UFT found a strategic partner who not only could support their program goals, but who was truly invested in their success. Working closely with a dedicated Account Manager and Client Success Manager, Anthony and Kathleen established 1,500 virtual events and 750,000 annual registrations would fall within the scope of their CEU/CTLE program. UFT was given dedicated support from two full-time resources from Cvent’s Dedicated Support team. With just weeks between kickoff and the first virtual event, they quickly created registration and event websites using Cvent’s Event Management solution. These single session virtual events were then hosted directly within the Cvent Attendee Hub virtual platform. These live collaborative sessions used an embedded Zoom integration with Cvent Video Conferencing, meaning the Zoom instance was directly integrated into the Attendee Hub for one-click access. This seamless user experience significantly reducing the number of UFT member calls to their dedicated support center, a significant metric of success for the small team.
On the backend, attendee data now flows directly between the registration and virtual event platforms, eliminating the need for dual attendee lists or manual data synchronization. All attendee data is seamlessly integrated into the centralized reporting within Cvent, with on-demand reports readily available for participation tracking and awarding credits. Custom, automated reporting provides key time savings for the UFT team. The hours spent manually tracking attendance via daily Zoom reports is now automated and directly integrates with their Salesforce instance. Kathleen says seeing this dataflow in action “gave us newfound appreciation for Cvent.” More importantly, it shows Cvent understood their programmatic needs and supported their event goals. She explains, “It was clear there was an interest and desire to take the program to the next level, and we recognized Cvent was there to help us.” In just two months, they have successfully managed over 15,000 registrants across 27 virtual events featuring 109 different sessions.
Creating Flexible Solutions to Scale Program Success
Being able to support the large volume of events through event templates, Flex sites, and attendee support means the UFT team can now focus on growing their program with efficiency at scale. Their Cvent team was able to build 10 different event templates and execute dedicated training for all UFT stakeholders in just a few weeks. With Flex templates, events are always on-brand and in line with established workflows. Anthony says the Flex site designer gives him the creative freedom to develop modern event websites with custom graphics and features suited to UFT’s needs. “I was excited to move to Flex events because the tutorials and everything online made it so easy to learn,” he explains. “It was very user-friendly and I could access all the training videos on-demand.”
These templates also provide UFT the needed flexibility for quick changes or updates to help manage their program in a crisis. They are able to easily substitute speakers within an event or create a new event in a matter of minutes. For example, a recent virtual Mayoral Town Hall for one of their chapters was originally slated to be broadcast as a livestream via Zoom. The chapter wanted to provide registrants a Zoom link to join. However, less than 24 hours before the event, the production company provided UFT a Vimeo link instead. This meant attendance tracking would not be possible, though it was a key requirement for evaluating event success. Luckily, the chapter was already leveraging the Event Management solution for registration. Working with their Cvent team, Anthony and Kathleen learned that the provided RTMP link could be easily integrated into an existing Attendee Hub event template. Kathleen explains the value of their dedicated Cvent team in finding a rapid solution to the issue. She notes, “Everyone got on a call together as soon as the concern was raised, talked it out, and made the solution happen.”
With little time to spare, their dedicated support team walked the UFT stakeholders through the process of creating a session with the embedded RTMP link and inviting attendees to join through the Attendee Hub. The new session was live in less than 20 minutes and more than 1,400 of the invited registrants joined through the Attendee hub, thereby giving UFT the ability to track attendance for the large event. “It was fantastic having 1,400 people going to the event through the Attendee Hub,” says Anthony. Not only did they quickly manage the crisis for internal stakeholders, but were able to replicate established processes with ease. With their existing workflows in place and dedicated support readily available, the quick solution helped prove the value of integrated event technology for program success.
The Value of Strategic Cvent Support
In fact, Anthony and Kathleen consider their dedicated Cvent support as key members of their team. The Cvent project managers are readily available and serve as the central point of contact for UFT stakeholders. They are actively involved in all program touchpoints, providing deep product knowledge that aligns with UFT’s goals. Anthony appreciates not only how the team is always eager to find a solution to any issue, but that they equip his team with the knowledge and resources to scale their program in the future. “I can’t say enough positive things about our dedicated support team,” says Anthony. “They always walk me through the steps and provide documentation for us, and they are just wonderful.”
These dedicated resources understand the UFT’s goals and are therefore able to provide the right solutions to sustain program growth. Anthony and Kathleen appreciate their professionalism and their willingness to find solutions whenever needed. “Our dedicated support team always find a way, and that is something that is quite special with Cvent because what they’re doing is amazing,” Kathleen insists.
Evolving Product Functionality to Meet Program Needs
With their program evolving over the next several months as they consider virtual and hybrid experiences, UFT is actively looking at new ways to engage attendees through the virtual environment. Currently, live Q&A offers attendees the means of directly engaging with content during collaborative sessions. They can upvote questions keep important topics top-of-mind for presenters. UFT is also beginning to use polling and session chat for certain event types to encourage deeper engagement, with on-demand reports available to showcase key metrics and provide attendee insights. With duration tracking for collaborative sessions, they will be able to measure how long attendees remain within sessions and assign credits automatically based on participation. By providing on-demand recordings within the Attendee Hub, attendees can access content post-event to provide additional engagement touchpoints for the UFT team. Anthony explains that these interactive features will help elevate the overall attendee experience for UFT members.
Anthony and Kathleen are also leveraging event technology in new ways to solve for unique use cases across the organization. It’s a key part of their partnership that they value with their closely aligned Cvent account team. “We have an open dialogue and figure things out together with our Cvent team,” says Kathleen. For example, UFT needed an automated solution to help support their annual meeting election process. With 100 open positions for the current election cycle, they wanted a digital means of managing nominations. Their Client Success Manager offered Cvent’s Premium Surveys as a viable solution to help orchestrate the election process across the organization. With Premium Surveys, they are able to oversee the entire nomination cycle by gathering data and accommodating various stakeholder goals, all while providing real time reporting for continuous insights. They are now able to collect digital signatures for all nominees using the Terms & Conditions functionality as a way to authorize the signature. Nominees will also maintain visibility into the process with automated notifications for those who sign the petition. This creative solution supports unique program needs and, with dedicated training, Anthony and other stakeholders can replicate the process in the future if desired.
Supporting the Future of UFT through Event Technology
UFT is actively planning for the eventual return to in-person events while continuing to harness the power of virtual for their members. They conservatively estimate 21,000 manual labor hours will be saved across the year by eliminating cumbersome manual processes. They look forward to growing the program in the near future with valuable technology solutions like automated Meeting Request Forms and a Contact website where members can pull certificates from prior events. Most importantly, they aim to continue centralizing and automating the CTLE and meetings management workflow.
With this vision in mind, Anthony and Kathleen are able to position the program as a key driver for efficiency and growth within UFT. They are actively advocating for new processes that will help support the continued evolution of their events program with scalable, sustainable solutions. “The Attendee Hub is by far the best solution because it alleviates so much stress from manual processes and reduces the potential for human error,” says Anthony. “There’s no comparison between our old process and our process with Cvent.”
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