Conference Management Case Study
Vice President of Client Services, XCM
The XCM Conference Case Study
About the Conference
The old process, we really handled it manually, so we handled it by having the manual sign-in sheets. What that meant is prior to the conference preparing those, so making sure that each classroom had a folder that included that sign-in sheet. It had all the information that was there, and then physically needing a person or several people to be in the room to facilitate that to make sure that it got around the room, that every single person signed in, and then also made sure that they signed out or if a person came in late. Physically onsite, that was a huge challenge.
Also just making sure that in each room that the right folder was in the right room at the right time. As you know, it’s not unusual that we might end up moving a room because we’ll find out well this room’s not big enough and this has to happen on the fly, so now that folder is also flying around the conference center. On-site there was a lot of chaos with the manual tracking CPE process, and then subsequently, when you get back to the office, it’s making sure did we get everyone one of those folders? Do we have all of them?
Without a doubt, there’s always going to be one or two people that “I forgot to sign in,” or “I didn’t sign in,” or “the sign-in sheet never got to me.” You now have all that followup as well that you’re handling. When we get back to the office is really when the real effort came into play because now you had to find a way to consolidate all of these pieces of paper. What we would end up doing is really creating this giant spreadsheet with all of the attendees names and then being able to mark off what session did they attend, did they sign in, did they sign out, did they do an evaluation for that session. The reconciliation of that was just an enormous task. It really required one to two, sometimes even three people to just be heads down working on that. It could take anywhere from a month to maybe a month-and-a-half to get all of that done because once you reconcile it all, you then have to go and actually prepare their certificate. Take that information, transferred it into a certificate. Once the certificate is complete, now you have to find a way to distribute it. We would distribute it by email, but again, doing that 250, 300 times, it’s just an incredibly timely process.
For us, Eventur has been a huge help to be able to handle this and to get it done so quickly. For us, a big challenge that we had is that many people would be looking to renew their license just shortly after the conference. We would, without fail, have 10 people that would come to us the very next week and say, “Hey, I need my CPE certificate.” Now you’re doing a separate process for these 10 people because they need them right away. That was a huge effort that went into it.
Another challenge that we have around that is that people, without fail, they are going to lose their CPE certificate. We have folks that it’s only every two years that they have to renew their license, so they’ll two years later say, “Hey, I don’t have my certificate for this.” Now we’re digging through and sending files. It may only happen a dozen times, but every time that you do that, it’s just an extra effort that we have to do. Really having all of this consolidated into the technology, it helps us, one, to just be more efficient on our end and reduce the amount of time on my team, but also it provides a better value to the attendees. Letting them get that right away, they’re happy to see, “Oh, I’ve got it. It’s all set. I don’t have to keep looking for it. I know where it is.” That’s been a huge difference for us.
Yeah so, as a client service member, I don’t have a development background. I work with developers, but it’s not my day job. What we found with our prior vendor is that there was actually quite a bit of development involved, even though it appeared on the surface to not require that, we got into it, it really required us to have an interaction. We almost had to rely heavily on a developer through the entire process.
So, it was really refreshing for us when we got to using Eventur. The content management system is really user friendly, it does not require a development background, it’s really for the everyday user. Just sort of the drag and drop, the drop-down features, it allowed us to go in to customize it, to make it match our branding for the conference as well as for XCM.
And I was able to do that. So, I could do that and if I got stuck, I had somebody that I could ask a question to, but it was really nice to see that we were able to do all of that and what took us, last year, about five months to create with maybe one to two resources almost dedicated to it, we were able to go live this year and get it from start to finish in just five weeks. So, I think that just speaks to the ease of use and the ability to use that CMS seamlessly.
We found that the app, the reporting that was available to us on site was huge. So as you know, even though you might plan for a room, or a session to take place in a specific room, because the attendees had the ability to check off, in advance, what sessions they wanted to attend, we were able to periodically review the dashboard, in the content management system. And it allowed us to see, okay this session, we had anticipated that this would be well attended. But it looks like this session is actually going to be more popular.
So throughout the day, we were able to monitor that, see what people were thinking, if they changed their mind, and if we needed to, we could also shift. So if we had something that was previously in a small room, but looks like it’s going to have a higher attendance, we could easily swap that in the background. And then, we could also go into the content management system, and actually change the location.
So when an attendee went in, to say, “Okay, this is what session I’m going to,” the room change would have been automatically updated. And we would also be able to send out a push notification. So if it was something that we didn’t have time, or people might not be looking, we could send them out a quick pop up, that they get on their screen, that says, “Session A has now moved to 301, and session B is in room 302.”
So, that made a lot of the chaos that happens, when those room changes sometimes can take place … Previously would have to put signs up on the door, or would have people physically standing there, and redirecting attendees to someplace different. That just created a lot of commotion. By doing this, in the app, it was seamless, and we had people that knew exactly where to go. And it seemed like, for them, it was a better experience.
That was definitely a game-changer for us, and part of us making the decision to go with Eventur was the ability to have somebody on the team. Again, all the effort that I mentioned before that goes into that. Even though we’re in such a highly technological world today, there are still people out there that don’t use technology like I do.
I’m on my phone all day, every day. There are some people that don’t even have a smart phone, or they have a smart phone but they don’t necessarily know how to download an app. Then when they’re in the app, they might not know how to actually take the actions that we want them to.
So having somebody available that is an expert in the tool to be able to send people to, to talk to, that was just a huge relief for our team. Because in the past, what we’ve had to do, is to have a dedicated resource that’s available to handle each one of those inquiries. Being able to simply say, “See the Eventur booth. Somebody’s there to help you and ask any questions,” took that all off of our hands, and made sure that we didn’t have to be the people to be focusing in that intention. Instead, we could focus on the important things to be done during the conference.
I absolutely think we’d use the on-site services again. Again, for the purpose that it would free up somebody from our team. It also gave me a different level of confidence. As you go into the conference, again, you’re thinking about, “Did we do everything we were supposed to do? Is there anything that we forgot?” There’s always going to be something that goes wrong, and as long as nobody knows that, that’s the best case scenario.
But with the technology, if something went wrong there, I would much rather have somebody on site, that I could say, “Hey, this is our problem, can you go take care of it,” versus having somebody be on the phone or behind a computer trying to troubleshoot that from afar.
As, you know, we’re using it for the conference, but similar to the conference we also have weekly webinars which we provide CPE’s for. And the process is exactly the same, one slight difference is that it’s not group live, it’s not in-person. It’s through a web-based tool. And what we do there is we have several touchpoints, so instead of folks checking at the beginning of the session or the end of the session, we have various checkpoints throughout the webinar, and at the end we have to go through that same manual process that I described before. Where, we have to go back, audit, make sure that somebody was in attendance for the full time, and then we have to generate that CPE certificate and deliver it to the participants.
Knowing that the webinar feature is coming is going to be a huge help for us. We host somewhere, three to five webinars a week, sometimes those are a handful of people, but they could be as great as 300 people. So the amount of resource effort that it takes to create those certificates and to distribute them is enormous. That is going to be a game changer for us, having that automation available. It’ll certainly save on resource time, it’ll also make the attendees much happier, to be able to see that they’re getting their certificate immediately. So a huge value for us, and we’re super excited to see it.
Some of the things that we’ve talked about Mike, that I’m really looking forward too and using Eventur for, the beacons we’ve talked about. The ability to use beacons as an automatic way to check somebody in and out is exciting.
Again, I think that the technology is great as it is today, but sometimes people forget, so having that happen automatically is something that I’m really looking forward to. I also think the enhancements along with the polling questions, that has been a game changer for us, it’s a nice way to get the audience engaged.
I think that seeing the results on-screen, makes it just a little bit easier for folks to understand what the response is in the room, versus the old fashioned hand in the air. So, those are two things that we’re looking forward to seeing next year and really being able to apply them in our conference.