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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.