Rising to the Virtual Challenge
For 20 years, NEC had been hosting the Annual C&C User Forum & iExpo every November, as a forum to showcase their latest technologies and solutions, attract customers and co-creators, and activate business negotiations. The multi-day conference was attended by representatives of major IT corporations from around the world. However, during the global health crisis of 2020, NEC was unsure how to proceed with planning their highly successful flagship event. After months of deliberation, they decided to shift this conference from in-person to virtual and rebrand it as ‘NEC Visionary Week’.
Since this was their largest annual event, NEC was expecting an attendee count of more than 15,000 at the virtual conference. Kei Noguchi, Manager of NEC Corporation, says, “We wanted to attract people from rural areas who had not been able to attend the event before.” Attracting so many people at their first virtual conference meant they had to guarantee a stellar and flawless event experience to their attendees. This was a challenge, considering by the time the decision to go virtual was made, they had only two months left to plan the entire event. On top of that, NEC started out with just two people working on planning the 3-week long conference that consisted of 150 webinar-style sessions and 25 networking sessions.
Prior to using Cvent, the NEC team did not have much experience with event technology. Earlier, they used a web content management platform to create their event websites and manually handled other tasks like registrations, appointments etc. But with their transition to virtual, NEC realised they needed an event technology partner that offered a robust, secure, and reliable solution that could automate their event lifecycle from start to end.
An Engaging Virtual Event Experience
Since the NEC Visionary Week was a complex event, NEC decided to host the event on the Cvent platform. The team felt the functionalities offered by Cvent would help simulate the experience they had offered at their physical conferences over the years. They were comforted by the fact that Cvent had already managed 60,000+ virtual events since the start of the pandemic and realised they could use this expertise to ensure a smooth transition to virtual.
Prior to Cvent, NEC had to depend on a separate tool to manage their event websites. Using Event Management™, the NEC team was able to create a website through which their prospective attendees could register for the event. Adds Kei Noguchi, “We built a professional looking modern website in both Japanese and English language easily, using Cvent.”
NEC then set up their session content in the Attendee Hub®. To ensure maximum engagement levels at the virtual conference, NEC set up digital exhibitor booths on the Attendee Hub, encouraging their attendees to visit and network there. Though initially worried about how to attract sponsors to their event, NEC was able to get 11 different sponsors by offering them the opportunity to display their brand in the hub through tiered sponsorship packages. The hub also enabled the team to capture key attendee data across their various sessions and, integrated with Cvent’s Survey tool, helped provide a single source of truth for post-event analysis, which could then be shared with sponsors.
The webinars were mostly held live, while some were simulive, based on speaker preferences. The event was designed keeping their in-person conference in mind, so their live-streamed sessions also had live Q&A. With the Attendee Hub, NEC was able to accommodate all these different requirements without compromising on user experience. “We were able to solve all our various issues by adopting Cvent. With Cvent, you don’t need to waste time building, testing, and connecting multiple systems together. You don’t need to spend a lot of time and effort to build a system that can handle the load of an increasing number of participants,” says Kei Noguchi, adding, “By using Cvent, which has a proven track record globally, you only need one solution to make it all happen.”
The Attendee Hub received a great response as it was easy to navigate and helped attendees go through different sections of the event, and join/select sessions, virtual booths or sponsors of their choice, all with a click of a button. The best part was that NEC was able to offer the session content on demand once the event ended – a feature that was appreciated by several customers. As one of their attendees said in the post-event feedback, “We can listen to the presentations of various speakers in real time. We can also listen to sessions that we could not watch due to schedule conflicts, by accessing the archives.” Another attendee adds, “Compared to other companies that conducted lectures at the same time, I think it was good that the structure was designed with real-life implementation in mind, including QA support. The quality of live streaming was clear and good, and easy to view.”