Martech Interview with the Senior Director of EMEA and APAC Marketing, Aventri – Brecht Fourneau

Brecht Fourneau, Senior Director of EMEA and APAC Marketing at Aventri discusses the ways in which automation is facilitating secure events in the industry.


Big Data has been around for awhile, but the way companies use event data is starting to change.

1. Tell us about your role at Aventri?
My responsibilities include defining and rolling out Aventri’s marketing strategy in EMEA and APAC. I focus on building the company’s pipeline through in-person events and digital marketing.

2. Can you tell us about your journey into this industry?
Before Aventri, I was a tech entrepreneur. I co-founded the mobile event app company TapCrowd in 2009. While there, I was responsible for identifying new opportunities and executing growth strategies through marketing and product development. In 2015, I joined Aventri through its acquisition of TapCrowd.

3. How do you think automation and intelligence technology has empowered the event management arena?
Intelligence technology is a game-changer for meetings and events.

Big Data has been around for awhile, but the way companies use event data is starting to change.

For example, by integrating their event managing software (EMS) and CRM platforms, event and marketing professionals unlock a level of customer insight that was previously out of reach. Intelligence technology offers tremendous benefits for event professionals, marketers and attendees.

Event Professionals

  • Planners put time-intensive, repetitive tasks on autopilot.
  • AI algorithms help drive registration by recommending the ideal mix of attendees and optimal ways to attract them.
  • Monitoring event activity dashboards in real time, organizers can spot emerging issues and opportunities and take immediate action to improve event outcomes.
  • One of the biggest benefits of event intelligence is proving a return on investment. In a challenging economy like we have today, this is more important than ever. Yet historically, event profs have had tough time quantifying ROI.
  • Event intelligence solves this problem. By integrating EMS and digital marketing platforms, organizers and marketers can analyze buyer behavior for days, weeks, even years post-event. Using multi-touch attribution models, they can track the attendee’s path to purchase over the long term and show with hard data the role events play in driving revenue.



  • Forward-thinking companies have begun using attendee engagement data to make more informed marketing decisions outside the events world. And this is huge.
  • In the past, advertising metrics were confined largely to digital marketing and how customers connect with brands online. So you can see, this model provides an incomplete picture of the customer journey.
  • By contrast, event intelligence platforms give unprecedented visibility into how customers interact with the brand in the real world.
  • Using these platforms, marketers gain critical insights on customer preferences and buyer intent. This business intelligence can inform everything from content marketing to email campaigns, demand generation, digital advertising, product development, sales and marketing prioritization and more.
  • Next-level event intelligence gives marketers the insights they need to convert more customers faster and retain them longer. Using these solutions, events play a critical role in the new martech stack.



  • For attendees who opt in, recommendation engines leverage AI and machine learning to customize recommendations on sessions to attend, exhibitor booths to visit and other event-goers to connect with.
  • Recommendations are based on attendee event registration and engagement data, such as what sessions they sign up for and where they spend their time at the event. As attendees engage with the event, recommendation engines keep getting smarter. In this way, they enhance networking and help attendees spend their time at events where it matters most.


4. What according to you is the impact of real-time insights on meetings management?
Real-time insights enhance meetings management in many ways. Let me give you some examples.

Event Marketers
Pre-event, state-of-the-art websites can deliver different content based on real-time marketing needs. For instance, organizers can promote sessions that aren’t filling as fast as others. They can also use surveys to shape content delivery to attendees in real-time.

Onsite, organizers monitor engagement data on real-time activity dashboards to see how things are shaping up across the event. Instant visualizations display: traffic flow; sponsors who are hitting their targets (or not); lines building up at the registration desk; sessions that are resonating most/least with attendees; influential delegates; attendee preferences about sessions, exhibitors, keynotes, food, activations, and more.

Armed with real-time insights, they can address issues instantly as they arise, rather than learning about problems through post-event surveys, when analytics can only inform future programs.

Real-time insights benefit attendees, too. We spoke earlier about AI-driven recommendation engines. Real-time, location-based solutions take this technology a step further. They deliver customized recommendations that are timely and convenient right at the moment.

For instance, these solutions let you know if you’re not going to make it to your next session on time. Maybe you’re running late, and the session is too far. Location-based recommendation engines will suggest a relevant session that’s closer and identify good prospects to connect with there. They even suggest exhibitor booths to take in en route to the session.

In brief, real-time insights help event marketers achieve their event goals and curate VIP experiences for attendees.

5. How does the Aventri solution ensure privacy and security while serving hybrid events?
First, let me provide some background. In June, we unveiled the Aventri Virtual Event Platform. This is the industry’s first fully integrated solution for all event needs – before, during and after the event, for virtual, hybrid and in-person gatherings. And we’re quickly expanding the platform. Today, it can host virtual events with more than 5,000 attendees and dozens of sessions.

I believe hybrid is the future of the event industry. Post-COVID-19, virtual will continue to play a key role as a valuable addition to in-person gatherings. Face-to-face events will become more valuable when supported by a rich virtual experience.

That said, when you talk to planners today, you hear that converting to a virtual format has been complicated. Complexity isn’t going to work in the near-term post-pandemic world, when meeting planning teams will be working with reduced resources.

Simplicity is the goal of our Virtual Event Platform. The solution stores all the data for your in-person event in one place, including content, sessions, speakers, registration information, etc. In case of a last-minute change, planners can pivot to digital simply by checking a box that says, “enable virtual event.”

Our Virtual Event Platform was developed with security in mind. As a fully browser-based tool, it doesn’t require attendees to download any software. This solution features the same infrastructure and security standards as the rest of the Aventri’s platform.

In other words, it exceeds industry security standards. Our Virtual Event Platform uses regional data centers in North America, EMEA and APAC. It also features full Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption for attendees, and other security features.

6. How according to you will the integration of Google Analytics with this event management solution be useful for enterprises?
The Aventri EMS platform offers its own robust analytics and reporting tools. This is top priority for us, and for good reason.

You see, events make up one of the largest portions of corporate marketing budgets. Yet historically, marketers have been unable to measure the impact of this investment.

Fortunately, with the advent of event intelligence, marketers can capture and analyze data collected by wearable devices and event apps to measure success. They also create heat maps of foot traffic at the show and collect other valuable marketing information.

These insights benefit all stakeholders.

  • Marketers track the attendee’s journey, including sessions attended, exhibitor booths visited, dwell time and digital marketing. Then, they use this information to drive lead scoring and pipeline contributions. (See also answer to Question 3, benefits to marketers, page 2.)
  • Attendees can receive reports at the end of the event with information on connections made, sessions attended, and new opportunities created. These reports facilitate event follow-up and help attendees demonstrate event ROI to their employers.
  • Sponsors and exhibitors easily capture leads, share digital content and improve lead qualification.
  • Thanks to the data capture capabilities of modern attendee engagement tools, organizers further optimize value to sponsors and exhibitors with robust reports sharing analytics like: booth traffic, dwell time, repeat visits, questions asked, leads captured, content downloaded and more. Savvy sponsors leverage these insights to customize sales and marketing follow-up.
  • Using data and analytics, event organizers not only demonstrate ROI; they also can optimize content. Organizers can improve future events, using metrics on session attendance and dwell time, speaker ratings, questions asked, most in-demand topics, foot traffic, and more.

7. Can you explain to us your Onsite Experience in detail?
From check-in and badge printing to mobile event apps, lead retrieval, access control, data capture and analytics, Aventri enhances the experience at small meetings and large-scale events. Here are some examples.

Onsite Technologies

  • State-of-the-Art Wearables – The latest badges and wristbands use near-field communication (NFC) technologies for secure information exchange. NFC wearable devices enable quick, easy check-in, onsite payments, lead retrieval, session scanning, access control, materials distribution and more.As mentioned earlier, NFC wearables can also work with recommendation engines to suggest sessions, sponsor/exhibitor booths and other event-goers to connect with based on the attendee’s preferences, as gleaned from onsite behavioral data.
  • Seamless Check-in and Badging – Forget long lines and wait times. Our check-in application connects directly with badge printers and attendee registration platforms to streamline the process at large and small events.
    Organizers can check people in and print out a smart badge in seconds. Or, attendees can choose easy self-serve registration and badge printing onsite. We also provide self-serve kiosks at transportation hubs and hotels for added convenience.
  • Session Tracking and Access Control – These solutions are another way to create an effortless traffic flow. Attendees simply tap their badges to an NFC reader and gain access to sessions. Organizers can also opt for handheld scanners to track and regulate attendance in seconds.
  • Quick Lead Capture – Lead retrieval apps enhance the onsite experience for exhibitors as well. These tools capture contact details with a tap or scan of a smart badge or wristband.Exhibitors can qualify leads with custom surveys, notes or on-demand content delivery. Then, they can upload contacts directly to their CRM and marketing automation systems for customized sales and marketing follow-up. It’s an easy way to manage the tsunami of contacts sponsors/exhibitors can collect at major events.
  • Sustainability – Digital interactions and information exchange are not only efficient and convenient for all participants. They also reduce the use of paper handouts and business cards to improve an event’s carbon footprint.

Mobile Event Apps
The Aventri mobile event app elevates the onsite experience still more. The event app serves as an event information hub and agenda builder for attendees. It also has capabilities for networking and matchmaking, live polling, Q&A’s, communication, digital payments, gamification, monetization, and much more.

To give you a few examples, apps with matchmaking capabilities pair up attendees with shared interests. Live polling and interactive Q&A features boost attendee engagement and provide real-time insights to help speakers tailor sessions to audience needs.

In-app push notifications deliver customized recommendations based on attendee preferences and pain points. Leveraging iBeacons, our onsite technologies take personalization to the next level. They recommend location-based opportunities that are most convenient for the attendee right at the moment.

Engagement Data and Event ROI
One of the most important things about onsite technology is the engagement data it collects about attendees who opt in and their event journeys. As mentioned earlier, sophisticated companies use this business intelligence to convert more prospects faster and retain customers longer (see Event Intelligence, Question 3, pages 1 – 2).

8. Can you tell us about what does the integration of virtual meetings mean for the audience?
As mentioned, hybrid is the future of meetings and events. In fact, 91 percent of global event organizers say virtual components will remain critical post-pandemic, according to a survey of global event professionals conducted in April by Aventri.

Organizers see hybrid events as a way to expand audience reach, offer new sponsorship opportunities and reduce risk. If an emergency arises, they want a back-up plan. New integrated virtual/hybrid/in-person meeting platforms make it easy to switch. If an emergency arises, organizers can pivot simply by clicking a box to enable a virtual event.

This has many benefits to marketers, attendees and sponsors.

  • Once large face-to-face events resume, some constituents will still have health concerns and want the option to attend remotely. A hybrid approach enables participation by people unwilling or unable to travel.
  • Modern platforms create immersive experiences. Remote attendees can engage with features like real-time Q&A’s, instant polling, virtual exhibit halls, video chats, gamification, sponsored giveaways, curated breakout groups and more.
  • Hybrid events also extend audience reach. People across the globe can join the event live or on demand via digital libraries and continuing education stores.
  • What’s more, these platforms enable events to attract high-caliber speakers. Big-name experts whose schedules don’t allow them to travel to events can lead sessions remotely from their home or office.
  • Finally, hybrid events create new sponsorship opportunities, such as:
    o Virtual exhibitor booths
    o Sponsored push notifications to segmented groups of attendees regardless of physical location
    o Sponsored sessions, content pages, online networking events, product brochures, directories, chat lobbies
    o Rotating ad banners, full-screen ad bumpers
    o And more

9. How are you preparing your company for an AI-centric world amidst the COVID-19 situations?
For starters, Aventri gave employees the option to work remotely at the outset of the pandemic. We stay connected through Slack, video conferencing, virtual happy hours and more.

We also provide technologies to help marketers and organizers prepare for post-pandemic events. Our health- and safety-focused solutions cover the gamut, from enabling contactless payments and materials distribution to eliminating crowded areas and waiting lines. These solutions leverage AI to elevate the attendee experience through optimizations in content delivery, networking and personalization.

For instance, our onsite technologies power fast, contactless event and session check-in, while personalizing the attendee journey. Using beacons and NFC technology, onsite solutions track attendee movement in and out of sessions and across the show floor. Then they customize recommendations based on the attendee’s registration and onsite behavioral data. (see Event Intelligence, Question 3, pages 1 – 2).

Aventri’s access control solutions pitch in to help ensure social distancing. When attendees move in and out of event spaces, these tools read credentials and display real-time space capacity status on readers. Organizers can control access as needed to limit the number of attendees who occupy an area.

As another example, we partner with EventBot providers to deliver contactless answers to common event questions. EventBots can answer thousands of questions accurately at once, with an average response time per inquiry of a few seconds.

These tools work best on mobile devices and deliver content through SMS, WebChat, Facebook Messenger, Twitter and other popular channels. At large-scale events, EventBots cut crowds around information booths to satisfy social-distancing protocols.

10. Can you tell us about your team and how it supports you?
We have a great team of smart, creative people. One of the things I really like about them is their willingness to share ideas and strategies that build our pipeline.

We’re all passionate about technological innovation. It’s not just my team. Aventri encourages collaboration between teams, too. Everyone’s willing to jump in. We’re all excited about bringing great solutions to market.

The spirit of inclusivity comes from the top. Our CEO, Jim Sharpe, wants to hear about the projects employees are working on, changes we’d like to see and new ways for people to work together to drive results.

With a goal of inclusivity, global leadership comes together face-to-face often at our headquarter offices in the United States. We exchange ideas and keep everyone informed on major initiatives.

Inclusivity is a priority companywide. Fridays in all Aventri offices end early for socializing at a local pub. There’s a company softball team as well as foosball tournaments, boating trips, bowling nights and more.

All the fun is intended to support a creative and motivated workforce. Aventri believes good corporate culture is good business. When people are engaged, employee retention and innovation rise.

11. What book are you currently reading?
“Hungry: Eating, Road-Tripping, and Risking It All with the Greatest Chef in the World” by Jeff Gordinier

In this book, a food critic chronicles his time spent traveling with René Redzepi, renowned chef of Noma, in search of the most fantastic flavors around the world. I’m inspired by people like Chef Redzepi, who take on risk to reach the next level of creativity.

12. Which is that one quote that you swear by?
Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.
– Steve Jobs

This quote speaks to technology, too. People don’t want to know the details of how a platform is put together. Technology should amaze by how easily it gets the job done.

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Brecht Fourneau is senior director of EMEA and APAC marketing at global event technology provider Aventri. He leads the company's marketing efforts in these regions. As a tech entrepreneur, Brecht co-founded mobile app company TapCrowd, which Aventri acquired in 2015.

Aventri is the global leader in data-driven, end-to-end event and meeting management solutions for virtual, hybrid and in-person events. Their award-winning SaaS platform, virtual technology and best-in-class service offerings have enabled more than 40,000 event professionals to plan, promote, deliver, measure and optimize over 90,000 events annually.

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