Wisconsin Bankers Association
increase in education event attendance YoY
increase in program net profit in 2020
increase in annual convention profit YoY
The Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA) is a not for profit trade association whose membership includes 98% of the banks with a presence in the state of Wisconsin. The WBA works to promote a healthy environment for Wisconsin banks through advocating, educating, and supporting their members. With membership dues as their main source of revenue, education events are a key driver in maintaining organizational success.
Overcoming Manual Roadblocks
As such, the WBA offers nearly 100 unique hosted education programs annually for over 8,000 attendees. These events are vital to the longevity of the organization and in providing continuing education, networking, and professional development opportunities for WBA members. Lori Kalscheuer, Director – Education at the WBA, notes that their previous manual processes were labor-intensive. “Before using Cvent, we had a very inefficient, manual registration process that took a full-time person to just manage registrations,” she explains. Adopting the Cvent Event Management solution helped the organization make “a complete 180,” she adds. The integrated platform not only improved internal workflows, but also elevated the member experience as a whole.
Using a HubSpot integration, all registration activity now automatically flows from Cvent into the CRM via the API. In the banking industry, a high number of mergers and acquisitions means contact information changes often. With the integration in place, new or updated contact data is automatically integrated into the CRM via their Cvent contact database. This means even non-admins can access this data through HubSpot, allowing the WBA team to better track member engagement and attendance.
The platform also allowed the WBA to automate email marketing through Cvent’s eMarketing tool, meaning all emails are now automated and tracked. Importantly, they were able to save the equivalent time of a full-time data staff member by automating registration and online payments via credit card or invoice. They can easily pull reports in Cvent to identify past-due invoices, ensuring the WBA can consistently collect payments within 60 days following live programs. As Lori notes, “We no longer need to spend staff time manually entering data and spending so much time with inefficient processes. There is no way that we could deliver the number of events that we do in a year if we had to spend staff time manually entering registration data and all the other manual processes that we used to do!”
Powering WBA’s Virtual Events with the Cvent Attendee Hub
At the outset of the global health crisis, the shift to virtual worried WBA leadership. As much of their in-person programming focused on in-person networking, the board feared a drop in registrations. “Our board became very concerned for the financial wellbeing of our trade association and how we would manage to cover all the expenses if one of our two main revenue sources, event registration, was significantly impacted,” says Lori. The Education team acted quickly, learning as much as possible about the changing world of virtual events and working closely with stakeholders to chart the best path forward.
WBA’s Management Conference needed to go virtual in September 2020. “We reached out to Cvent to see, what are we going to do?” explains Lori. “And it just so happened Cvent was about to announce the launch of the Cvent Attendee Hub, so we were able to learn as the product was developed and have an awesome support team to get us prepared.” Two weeks later, she says, they went live with the Attendee Hub. With an average of 250 in-person attendees, including exhibitors and sponsors, WBA wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of turnout. They decided to offer group pricing to drive registrations. This meant a single price included unlimited registrations for each of their bank members. Lori explains this pricing structure not only broadened their reach, but allowed the association to go “deeper” into the bank as they engaged with more bankers in different roles. “Typically, one or two C-level or high level attendees might be able to come in person,” she says. “Going virtual actually allowed us to get deeper into the bank, make new contacts, learn more about our members, and get more of their team to participate and expose them to WBA. So it brought us a lot of new contacts and a lot of new connections.” This meant they not only expanded their contact base, but also saw nearly double their usual attendance. While their typical conference attendance sat between 230-250, the virtual conference had over 470 attendees, nearly doubling their expected registration.
The conference included a mix of general sessions and breakout sessions, as well as on-demand content livestreamed via the Cvent Video Player. “We had about a dozen on-demand sessions that were prerecorded and uploaded,” explains Lori. Importantly, the conference included a virtual exhibit hall, with the ability for attendees to meet with exhibitors via virtual booths. It was a key differentiator for WBA’s exhibitors. “The feature that stood out to our exhibitors was the option to meet via video, as they had been working with other states and exhibiting virtually, finding it wasn’t as beneficial when they didn’t have that ‘face-to-face’ option,” says Lori. Exhibitors could also receive inbound leads via a contact functionality, as well as showcase videos, links, and content within their profile. “They were really pleased with that in the end,” says Lori. Her team was ecstatic to see 39 exhibitors join virtually, nearly on-par with their usual 42-45 exhibitors in-person.