Lincoln International LLC is a multinational investment bank and financial services company specializing in advisory services and financing on middle market transactions. They act as investment banking advisors to business owners and senior executives of leading private equity firms and public and privately held companies around the world. With more than 800 professionals across the globe, Lincoln International relies on their events program to build strong relationships with clients and investors.
Noelle Mireles, Event Manager, knows first-hand the value of Lincoln International’s events program and the impact it has on the overall business. As one of the first 20 employees in the company, she has seen the astronomic growth of the business around the globe over the last several years. In fact, Noelle helped originally spearhead the establishment of a formal events program at Lincoln International. Their portfolio has expanded to include 30 large external and internal events annually. “It ranges from 500-person conferences all the way down to 50-person dinners with speakers,” explains Noelle. “Then for our employee events, we do a global employee event every year which involves the entire company.”
Shifting conference goals to meet client needs
When the global health crisis first hit, Noelle knew her team needed to leverage the resources at their disposal to quickly pivot to virtual. This included relying on their longstanding partnership with Cvent. “We reached out to Cvent to see what virtual would look like at that point,” Noelle explains. “And Cvent was great in the beginning of the pandemic because they had a lot of virtual round tables with other planners, so I could pick their brains to get tips and tricks.” With the support of her Cvent team, Noelle decided to move forward with hosting their annual conference in a virtual format through the Cvent Attendee Hub.
The Attendee Hub proved to be the perfect platform to support this unique event format. “We needed to allow investors to watch company presentations on-demand followed by curated meetings between the investors and CEOs in a meaningful way,” explains Noelle. Leveraging the Attendee Hub gave their team the ability to not only pre-record their content, but to produce high quality session videos which would engage attendees throughout the conference.
Elevating experiences with Cvent professional services
They worked closely with Cvent’s Attendee Hub 360 production team to produce nearly 60 sessions. These dedicated Cvent team members facilitated the event build and provided reporting guidance, webcast support, video capture and editing, and much more. “The pre-recorded presentations are something people rave about,” Noelle adds. “If someone is just standing in a room with a camera, you may not be able to see their slides versus when they’re sitting down with Cvent producers, which is amazing,” adds Noelle.
To help facilitate the individual meetings that followed sessions, the team traditionally relied on an Excel file. This not only left schedules subject to human error, but also meant Noelle’s team was often scrambling to make updates until the last minute. She says, “Schedules were constantly changing up until the event started, which never allowed us to provide schedules ahead of time. It wasn’t even specific to the person, but rather based on the company name.” This meant several people could simultaneously be scheduled for the same appointment, creating confusion for the investor and presenter alike.
Automating event management processes with Cvent
To automate these highly manual processes, the team adopted Cvent’s Appointments solution. This gave them the flexibility they needed to manage hundreds of appointments with ease. They could create appointment types with predefined time slots and virtual locations. The Lincoln International team maintained full control of appointments in the backend while granting attendees the ability to manage their schedules on the frontend. Attendees could join the video conference with a single click and view all meeting details ahead of time, as well as modify, accept, or decline as needed. With the ability to access their appointment scheduler directly from within the Attendee hub, attendees never had to leave the platform. This ensured continued engagement with the event itself rather than taking them out to a separate platform.
Supporting sustainable efforts through Cvent Attendee Hub
One unexpected silver lining of Lincoln International’s switch to virtual was the reduction of printed materials to support a more sustainable event. “One of our largest hurdles was shifting from printed materials and signage to technology-forward systems that are unfamiliar to our attendees,” notes Noelle. She adds that pre-pandemic, it was often difficult to onboard attendees to a mobile app onsite. “We therefore knew the platform needed to be user-friendly for our target audience and that we would need to push communications in order to be successful in mass adoption of the new platform.”
Luckily, leveraging the Attendee Hub proved to be a success in terms of providing a seamless and engaging digital experience for their attendees. Here, they could use push notifications to keep attendees up to date, enable them to build and manage their schedules, and access session and event-level surveys. In fact, the most recent survey feedback from their 2022 event indicated attendees preferred the virtual format. “The Attendee Hub is a simple, user-friendly virtual platform that attendees at any level of technology know-how are easily able to navigate – this was proven when we hosted our virtual conference utilizing this Cvent offering,” notes Noelle.
In fact, they saw record attendance and engagement across the virtual event. “We went from what was a 400-attendee in-person conference to a global conference that was well over 1,000 attendees,” says Noelle. With this impressive 150% increase in attendance, she sees additional opportunities for growth across their program.
Powering professional event production with Cvent Studio
To continue supporting her team’s success, she also wants to further expand her skillsets as an event professional. “I can say within our industry, I had to learn how to do my job all over again in a virtual world,” she insists. “Our skillsets are definitely growing so we’re doing all kinds of creative things and loving it.” In fact, her team has adopted the new Cvent Studio video production solution to support their own production needs. While they currently partner with a Cvent Studio Support service team, they will eventually be able to self-serve within Studio. They first utilized Studio for their 2022 virtual conference in April and found it to be a user-friendly solution with impressive capabilities. “Cvent Studio works great and is very seamless,” Noelle insists. The all-in-one video production solution allows Lincoln International to capture and produce broadcast-quality content, either live or pre-recorded according to their event needs.
Cvent Studio affords Lincoln International the opportunity to control the entirety of their production process within a single platform. Using the Director View, they can easily produce a high-quality broadcast without needing technical experience. They can mix presenters, media, and screenshares, edit backgrounds and overlays, and streamline processes through multi-user collaboration. Pre-built scenes and one-click transitions ensure a seamless workflow without needing any technical know-how. They can also add custom branding elements and embed media assets, logos, and backgrounds or overlays.
Within the Presenter View, speakers join via a separate virtual room where they can edit their settings, chat with the director and other presenters, and share their screen with a single click – all without needing any system downloads or expertise. Noelle explains, “We can record our presenters from anywhere in the world, and the producers are amazing in helping them with any issues they may have. Within an hour's time frame, we’re getting these incredible full presentations from CEOs globally. And within just a few hours they get uploaded to our team, and we can brand them or add any elements we need.”
Showcasing impressive event ROI
Overall, the success of Lincoln International's virtual conferences and their impact on the business is clear. Noelle insists that while the pivot to virtual wasn’t necessarily easy, it nevertheless benefited the business as a whole. She explains, “It was a real effort but a successful one,” adding that the ROI resulted in millions of dollars in engagement. She notes they received rave reviews from their clients not only for the overall event experience, but for leaving sessions open for on-demand viewing after the close of the event. “This was an added convenience factor that set our conference apart from other similar events,” she says. “The virtual conference format exceeded our expectations!”
Noelle is looking forward to further growing her partnership with Cvent as the event landscape continues to evolve. “When I’m looking at vendors, relationships are hugely important,” Noelle says. She finds key support from her Cvent account team members, who have partnered closely with Lincoln International for more than seven years. “We had a great relationship with them pre-COVID when they would come onsite and help with our events,” she explains. “Then, rolling into the virtual world, I knew they were still there to help me and walk us through what we could do. It’s been a great, trusted relationship.”
As she looks forward to expanding into hybrid events, Noelle knows she has a trusted team behind her. “I’ve already had conversations with my Cvent team about it to see what other people are doing and what’s the best route to go into this hybrid world now,” she says. No matter what the future holds, Noelle knows Cvent will continue to support Lincoln International’s total event program with innovative solutions.