University of Southern California Event Marketing

Advancing Trojan Family Weekend through strategic event marketing. 

increase in session offerings 


increase in mobile app adoption


increase in tailgate ticket revenue

At the University of Southern California’s annual Trojan Family Weekend, over 4,000 students and family members come together for an incredible four-day experience. The self-funded event relies entirely on ticket sales and sponsorship opportunities. The Cultural Relations and University Events department manages over 300 additional events throughout the year. 

Scaling USC's Event Marketing Strategy

USC saw impressive growth in registration and attendance after adopting Cvent’s Event Marketing and Management, OnArrival, and CrowdCompass solutions in 2017. For 2018, they needed to focus on new KPI’s. “We still wanted to achieve growth in registration and attendance, but we also wanted to look at things like our relationships with our campus partners,” explains Kim Sapone, Associate Event Producer. Other goals included engaging multichannel marketing strategies, improving registration, better capturing data, and creating an efficient abstract submission process. 

Using Cvent’s New Standard Registration (Flex) site designer, the team created a robust registration website. Cvent’s e-marketing capabilities helped target specific attendee types based on registration data. “In the past, we've had a lot of difficulty with collecting our email lists and cleaning them to make sure they’re all accurate,” explains Emma Suffridge, Programming Coordinator. By segmenting contact groups based on registration data, her team targeted specific groups with key offers, curated messaging, and CTA’s. They saw a 9% increase in tailgate ticket sales and a 2% increase in total registrations as a result, on top of the previous year’s 29% increase. “We attribute our growth in registration to the better website UX and registration process, as well as our targeted marketing campaign using Cvent emails,” Kim adds.

Improving Onsite Campus Involvement

By integrating the registration platform with Cvent’s Abstract Management solution, Kim and Emma created a seamless submission process for their campus partners. “We could target abandoned submissions via email, and we received a lot more submissions due to that factor,” insists Kim. The results were impressive, achieving 100% participation from campus schools for the first time. They were able to improve the scope of their content for attendees as a result, increasing session offerings by 34%. Building off their 2017 success, Kim and Emma chose to leverage OnArrival Premium for their 2018 event. They successfully moved attendees through check-in at record pace. With other departments also leveraging OnArrival, they now see the benefits of a smooth check-in process across the campus.

Marketing Mobile App Success

Kim and Emma marketed their award-winning CrowdCompass app to specific attendee groups using data captured during registration. They saw 168% increase in mobile app adoption as a result. “By being able to market the app to attendees, we almost doubled our adoption rate and had more people actively engaged in the app,” says Kim. Using Q&A, push notifications, and session feedback grew engagement levels. With an integrated activity feed, they achieved 88% increase in organic social shares. Attendees could also easily navigate the large campus using an interactive map functionality. 

Integrating the mobile app with registration data created a seamless dataflow. “I can't tell you how easy it is to just push a button and have all the sessions automatically downloaded,” insists Emma. Detailed session information linked to the interactive map for easier scheduling. The results were impressive, with 112% increase in number of users building their schedules through the app. This allowed Kim and Emma to eliminate their onsite printers, providing key cost savings while supporting the campus’ sustainability initiatives. 

There was also a significant increase in the number of surveys completed through the app to help prove ROI. “Through our survey, we learned that 72% of our registrants find out about our event from our email marketing,” adds Kim. Using on-demand reports helps solidify key sponsorships for additional revenue streams. “It’s very easy for us to get sponsors with the data that we collect on Cvent,” says Emma. “When we put a banner up in our mobile app and see exactly how many people look at that banner and for how long, that's really great data that we can give to potential sponsors.” 

Showcasing the Value of Trojan Family Weekend

On-demand reports easily showcased the increases in registration, tailgate ticket revenue, mobile app adoption, and campus engagement for stakeholders. With 72.6% app adoption and a seamless check-in process, satisfaction ratings increased. The department saw 71% of university schools increase their number of attendees by double or triple digits

As a result of their targeted marketing efforts, Kim and Emma have elevated the overall value of Trojan Family Weekend. “We’re able to promote what we’re doing with Cvent and pull real statistics, have real data, show that we’re bringing in revenue, and really show that it’s valuable to the university,” she adds. She also saw her career grow because of the success of the event. “One of the ways it helped me personally is that I ended up getting a promotion,” she says. “I think that this was a huge part of why, because it gave me a lot of visibility and showed how the changes we’ve made can actually translate into revenue.”

By integrating event technology into their MarTech stack, the department created important efficiencies that continue to support year-over-year growth. “I think it’s really important that the event management software program does speak the marketing language, because a lot of the data that you're getting from your events will help you to market in the future,” explains Kim. By incorporating data-backed decision making into their marketing strategy, they can continue to successfully scale their program.