Since this was Bishop-McCann’s first year working with Expedia Group, our goal was to overcome the many technology challenges the group had faced managing this event in previous years. Expedia Group had never fully utilized Cvent and its capabilities, so they were not aware of all the ways it could be integrated seamlessly within the event and how it could make reporting and attendee tracking easier.
We incorporated several integrated event technology solutions to not only address Expedia Group’s requests but to solve existing challenges that the group had faced in years prior. Cvent custom registration, custom CSS design, Passkey, session selection, on-site registration, Crowd Compass integration, push notifications, live polls, live Q&A, surveys, fee collection and management, parked reports and reporting dashboards, internal fields to substitute and modify registration information, cancellation policy, discount codes, and Buy One Get One offers were all used to achieve success for Expedia Group and the explore ’19 event.
There were several issues and challenges that we faced as we began planning the explore ’19 event.
First, the previous event data we received from Expedia Group was such a large file that it caused excel to shut down and crashed computers. To top it off, the majority of the data was incomplete. The data was uploaded into Cvent with no response, using a large amount of space which made pulling registration lists a nightmare. Many contacts were labeled “reservations” and did not include the name of an individual. A substantial quantity of email addresses were also incorrect. Due to these issues, there was no way to identify true invitees and partners.
Sharing registration reports was difficult with market managers because the data file was so large. Daily reports to leadership were cumbersome due to the complex report generation process. There was no way to create pivot tables because the data was constantly changing. There were many duplicates because previous attendees had registered with a new email address and the duplicate was never found.
Additionally, Expedia Group’s decision to add an attendance fee for some of the registration types was initially not well received. Employees attended for free, but partners and VPs were charged a fee. Those that were charged a fee were given two fee options. They could purchase an executive-level pass or a regular partner pass. Therefore, there were three registration types – one registration type was free, another type had a fixed amount, and the third option was a choice between two fee structures. Because everyone was going to the same registration website, the site had to be configured expertly so that it recognized the individual who was registering in order to deliver the correct attendance fee option.
Expedia Group had never used fee collection and management software in a meeting. When we showed them what Cvent could do, they were thrilled but they were not thrilled with the appearance. The group wanted something more than the basic look and field layout.
Finally, we knew the app needed to be robust, integrate with the website, look like the website, and also be easy to use. The best option was to create a Cvent developer app for explore ’19 but we knew getting the app approved by Apple would be a huge challenge since the information had to be submitted so far in advance.
We solved the data issue by not uploading anyone into Cvent. All attendees came to the Cvent registration site through a single public link.
We set up a custom registration process with the help of Cvent phone support. An Expedia Group employee was identified by one of 30 domains. Once the domain was recognized, they were automatically given the employee registration type, path, and added to the invitation list. If anyone had an address that did not match one of the domains registered, they were given a partner registration type. Partners had a custom registration process where they were asked questions such as: “what is your title” and then they answered by selecting from a group of options. If they answered one of five options that were considered VP level, they were given the “Executive Leadership” registration type. All others were given a “Partner” registration type. Partners were charged a set fee. Executive Leaders were given an option between two admission items and shown different sessions in which they could choose from.
The automation of the Cvent site, allowed attendees to easily modify, cancel or substitute someone else in registration. Many attendees used a BOGO offer to get locked in and then substituted a different attendee name, knowing that would be the person actually attending the event. 4,454 unique discount codes were created to accommodate executive leadership, partners and the press. This relieved our staff from handling the registration and fee management manually, saving hundreds of man-hours.
Massive data dumps that were used to house Human Resource data and account owner’s information were kept offline in a large file and used to match with accepted attendees. Only the data for the accepted attendees was imported into Cvent for subsequent reporting updates. By cleaning up the event data in this way, we were able to avoid dealing with the huge amount of incomplete and incorrect information in the future.
Expedia Group had urgent and constant reporting needs and data that needed to be configured in a specific way. Pulling multiple reports and running pivot tables for each report was key for these on-demand reports. Cvent enabled us to send a link to the client and then parked reports were generated and pulled. All internal fields with the HR and account owner information were included to mimic previous years, but the data was much easier to manipulate.
We solved the registration website challenges by creating a customized Cvent site for the group to match the event graphics and branding. We added bright, splashy imagery that coordinated with the rest of our collateral material and that created a more cohesive look and feel. The customization generated a more exclusive, branded appearance.
With the customized Cvent site, attendees were able to register freely and easily entering their credit card information securely. Invoices were built out and a link was included so attendees could download a receipt to easily track charges and add to expense forms.
The event app, which was downloaded directly from Apple, was deployed earlier than in previous years and we created easy integration and added all necessary data so no other apps would be required once attendees were on site. Attendees familiarized themselves with the app before the event and they used it to collect information and plan for sessions they wanted to attend during the meeting. Once attendees registered on site, our staff communicated the ease of downloading the app and as a result, more attendees added it to their phones.
Attendees praised aspects of the programs, production, sessions, meals, and events on social media and in the app. Some attendee comments included: “It has been a long crazy, memorable and incredible journey! Waiting for explore ‘20!” and “Amazing day 1 at #explore19 Expedia Group Partner Event. Inspirational and Epic can sum it all up.”
The registration process proved to be effortless for the 3,526 attendees and even though Expedia Group had amended the registration process by charging fees, the experience was fluid and seamless. It was this ease that preserved the process in general. When we integrated the “Buy One, Get One” discount codes, early registrants felt as though they were being incentivized to register and wanted to be included to receive the discount. On-site attendees were upgrading their registration type because they saw what was being offered with an executive-level pass.
Expedia Group commented that we made the registration process and integrated event technology options more organized and developed a cataloging system so they could better track attendees and clean up their data. Once registration data was uploaded reports went from over 100,000 rows to 4,000 rows in Cvent.
Using Crowd Compass in addition to the Cvent registration system allowed for a smoother download and easier use of the app than ever before. Once attendees arrived on site, they were asked if they had downloaded the app. If not, they were given a badge with a QR code and told to scan the code which took them directly to download the app.
Attendees could engage in the social feed within the app, sharing their own experiences and conference interactions with peers. App information was updated in real-time so that information pushed out to attendees was the latest and most accurate. We employed surveys and live polls which were straightforward and were utilized greatly among participants. Even though the app development was complicated on our part, it was easy to use for attendees and as a result, 75% of all attendees downloaded the app.
Metrics on Crowd Compass are as follows: 49 notifications, 31 surveys, 17 live polls, 2,545 confirmed attendees downloaded (75% of the 3,372 invited attendees), 731,602 schedules.
All of the integrated event technology we recommended worked with Cvent and we gained the trust of the clients and the attendees. As a further result, these systems will be integrated into future events since they were so successful, making the entire process more organized and cohesive.
One attendee was so impressed they commented, “Explore’19 was truly impressive and a big step above any of our previous conferences. It felt on the same level as I imagine a Microsoft or Apple conference would be.