Posts Tagged Events

Pros and Cons of Designing in Cvent Flex

Cvent Flex Event Website Design

Written by Staci Simmons | Manager, Marketing Communications & Creative Services

Cvent, an event management software used by many top-tier travel and meetings management companies, recently released its new drag-and-drop website builder—Flex. This new functionality lives up to its name with easy-to-use features and a beautifully designed interface, allowing users to create and publish their own event websites.

At first glance, this is a fantastic opportunity for small businesses and program managers. They have the means to build their own registration websites without a web developer or knowledge of HTML, CSS or JavaScript. Upon further consideration, you may uncover what most web, graphic, and marketing communications professionals already know—it’s not that easy.

In the last ten years, drag-and-drop email, website, and app builders have taken complicated coding and simplified it for the masses. It’s been an excellent tool for professionals who understand the principles of design, saving clients thousands of dollars and countless hours in web development. On the other side of the coin, those without that knowledge may cost themselves thousands of dollars and countless hours trying to figure it out for the sake of “doing it themselves.” Cvent Flex is no different.

If you’ve ever tried to build your own email or website with a drag-and-drop builder, you probably had several “pull-your-hair-out” moments— you’re not alone. Most website builders are harder to use than they appear. They claim to offer an easy way to build a beautiful, functional website, but more often than not that’s not the case.

While Cvent’s design showcases look absolutely stunning, mimicking that level of design and functionality is nearly impossible “in just a few clicks.” Trying to achieve a great design yourself is often cumbersome, and not quite as easy as advertised. At the end of the day, the people who built those showcases are seasoned designers who know how to leverage the tool correctly and know how to maneuver through its limitations in order to create a functional, unique, and on-brand design.

The Pros of Cvent Flex

– Easy-to-use drag and drop functionality
– Allows for easy, real-time editing and updating
– Provides a live preview feature without publication
– Fully responsive on all devices (desktop, tablet and phone)

The Cons of Cvent Flex

– Big Learning curve for first-time users
– Customization options are limited
– Differentiating your event from other templates will be difficult
– Layering text and images for legibility is time-consuming

Cvent does offer many support options to help build and publish your event registration website. If you have the time and means to take creative control, click here to learn the platforms design and development best practices.

If, however, you’d like to focus on the other seventy-five percent of your event’s needs, let Flex be a tool for your friendly, neighborhood web designer. Ultimately, the time it takes for a professional to leverage this tool will simplify your workload and allow you to focus on the rest of your event’s needs—managing its infinite amount of moving parts.

For more firsthand information about Cvent Flex, email Meetings & Incentives Worldwide at marketing@meetings-incentives.com to connect with our event technology and creative service experts.

Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows, Data Analytics, Business Intelligence & Consulting, Event Marketing & Communications, Event Technology & Mobility Solutions, Incentive Travel Programs, Program Management & Event Design

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Benefits of Attending IMEX America 2018

conferences, attending, benefits, IMEX, 2018

Written by Anne Zambrano | Marketing Project Lead

Offering dozens of brilliant speakers, days of fresh ideas and continuous inspiration at 180-plus educational and networking events over four days, IMEX America is a must attend event in the industry. M&IW had a large team of meeting industry professionals within various disciplines attend this year’s event. We couldn’t wait for their return to dive in to discuss their experience, biggest take-aways and how they can use their newfound knowledge to better serve our clients. And, of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t share it with our community.

Here is what our team had to say about IMEX America 2018:

Q. What were your biggest take-aways?

“Networking! It was so great to meet hoteliers that I book business with regularly and meet new friends at different properties/chains.” – Brianna Barclay – Associate Buyer, Hotel Procurement

“Face to face communication is still and always will be the best way to do business. In this time of increasing efficiencies, email and phone are going to be our primary modes of communication, but it is fundamental to build relationships and live meetings help us to better communicate the needs of our client, as well as sharing our issues, concerns and successes.” – Natalie Spacco, HMCC – Sr. Buyer & Team Lead, Hotel Procurement

“It was amazing to see the respect our partners and colleagues have for our organization. I felt a lot of love for M&IW. It was priceless experiencing the interactions our entire team had with other attendees and suppliers.” – Christine Matias, MA – Director, Program Management

Q. What were the newest trends or hot topics that were widely discussed?

“Busy, busy, busy. All hotels, especially US hotels, expressed that the industry is busier than ever and have very little availability for large programs through 2020. Some hotels could name only one or two weeks in the entire 2020 calendar year where they knew they had availability.” – Natalie Spacco, HMCC – Sr. Buyer & Team Lead, Hotel Procurement

“It was apparent that wellness and self-care are definitely an emerging event trend. There was a dedicated meditation and self-care room that was available during the entire conference. There were two rooms with low lights, essential oils and sound-proofing. One room featured padded mats and pillows. The other room featured quiet stations that allowed for intimate discussions. An amazing moment of calm to escape the event chaos for a moment if needed.” – Sarah Piggott, CMP – Meeting & Tradeshow Specialist, Attendee Registration
“I loved the cool custom-made gifts. They displayed amazing samples at IMEX and were super impressive with the level of customization that we do for our clients.” – Christine Matias, MA – Director, Program Management

Q. What was your favorite moment during the event?

“The concert put on by Marriott! All acts were amazing – but Journey was my favorite!” – Brianna Barclay – Associate Buyer, Hotel Procurement

“I greatly enjoyed having a special dinner with my host group and learning about hotels in special destinations in Asia and Europe. Several in which I will have a chance to visit in person over the next year.” – Natalie Spacco, HMCC – Sr. Buyer & Team Lead, Hotel Procurement

“Being invited to toast the anniversaries and success with two of our valued partners. It was very cool to be considered a special partner and be valued to be present at those moments.” – Christine Matias, MA – Director, Program Management

Q. How did the event help you grow in your area of expertise?

“This event helped me grow because it allowed me time face-to-face with hotels that I do not see on a regular basis. It gave me time to create a deeper partnership with that hotel/sales manager that will benefit both my client and the hotel. We also were able to brainstorm ways to make the small meetings fit within the hotel as well as work for my client.” – Brianna Barclay – Associate Buyer, Hotel Procurement

“Making face-to face connections and shaking hands really solidifies many of my partnerships. Now we are able to communicate and work together on a more personal level which makes business that much easier and more effective. We have a better sense of TEAM and partnership.” – Christine Matias, MA – Director, Program Management

“I came home with much more information than I had when I left. It helps to sit down with a hotel and see visuals of the property and how that property could be a potential good fit for my groups. Learning about location of the hotel and what is nearby for groups for offsite events, dinner, and shopping was an added bonus!” – Jennifer Kamps – Buyer, Hotel Procurement

“By meeting face-to-face with so many of our supplier partners and expanding my relationships and connections in the industry, I feel this will directly improve my ability to find good availability and negotiate on behalf of my clients. I also expanded my knowledge of legal issues on Smart Monday and learned about some new destinations.” – Natalie Spacco, HMCC – Sr. Buyer & Team Lead, Hotel Procurement

In Closing:

M&IW is committed to the professional development and personal enrichment of our team members. The focused nature of learning at a conference gives our team members tools and skills which cannot be taught in-house or online. The recurring theme we hear is the ability to network. There is no direct message, Skype, email or tweet that can rival a face to face meet up. Social media makes it easy for us to stay connected with our current network, but it also hinders branching out and expanding our networks.

As an innovative organization, it is imperative for us to stay on top of emerging trends and positive changes in our industry. So, keep an eye out for our team at other industry-leading events. Upcoming conferences are posted on our homepage. If you want to set up a time to connect with any of our team members attending, email us at marketing@meetings-incentives.com.

Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows, Event Marketing & Communications, Incentive Travel Programs, Program Management & Event Design, Sourcing, Negotiating & Contracting

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WiFi 101: Do You have Enough Bandwidth for your Event?

Technology WiFi Bandwidth

Written by Anne Zambrano | Manager, Communications and Creative Services

Next week, our very own Tim LaFleur, will be presenting at MPI-WEC on the very engaging topic of WiFi and what planners need to know to really understand it and tips on how to negotiate it with venues, hotel partners, and suppliers. Speaking with Tim about WiFi is seriously as exciting as it would be to talk to Steve Jobs about the iPhone. As M&IW’s Director of Mobile Strategy, Tim lives, breathes, eats and sleeps technology, and lucky for us, he is always willing to share his vast knowledge on the topic with our audience. Here are a few things Tim and I discussed.

Some of the key points he made are…

Personal experience with WiFi doesn’t always translate into WiFi experience at events.

WiFi is all around us in our daily lives. The majority of us have personal networks at home and are very used to going into the nearest coffee shop, restaurant and sometimes even outdoor park to pick up a free and reliable WiFi network. Mobility has blurred the line between personal and professional environments, so it is easy to understand why it is a common misconception that the WiFi at a meeting or event is easily accessible, ready-to-use, fast, and even free.

What used to ruin a meeting quicker than anything else is bad food. Now it is bad food and bad WiFi.

Free isn’t always free. If the WiFi doesn’t provide enough bandwidth, network strength or throughput to support the participants, the meeting or event experience is in serious jeopardy. The cost of free WiFi can be an expensive opportunity cost.

But we have enough bandwidth, right?

Bandwidth is such a commonly used termed, even to typically describe one’s ability to complete their workload, that the question begs to be asked, ‘do we really understand what bandwidth is?’ Upload speeds, download speeds; sure we get the basic concept. A planner doesn’t need to know everything about how a network works. However, they do need to understand enough of the terms and technology to have an intelligent conversation to know what they are getting. A good WiFi experience isn’t simply about bandwidth. It is also about network strength, throughput, latency, bandwidth and how it is partitioned. All too often, a planner who is speaking with a venue technician doesn’t have a full understanding of what they are receiving and the venue technician doesn’t necessarily understand the dynamics of the meeting needs. It is critical for the success of the event that we continue to close this gap or our programs may suffer as a result from slowed networks and a lack of connectivity.

Bandwidth, throughput, partitioning – please explain.

The simplest way to explain bandwidth is to relate it to the size of a water hose. There is only so much water that can fit through the limited size of the hose. When the water that comes through the hose is sectioned off and allocated toward people that is the same thing as using some of the bandwidth of the network.

Throughput, on the other hand, is how much data can actually transmit through an access point or the hardware that transmits the internet signal. Throughput is limited by how many people can connect to a certain access point. Typically, each access point allows for 75-100 connections at a time. If too many devices are trying to connect to the same access point, users can experience a DOS (denial of service) and not be allowed into the network.

We have all experienced a slow network or the inability to access the WiFi when the person sitting next to us is not experiencing any issues. This is a result of a common occurrence when the network hasn’t been designed properly to allow for enough bandwidth or throughput or is just experiencing a high volume of traffic or is noisy due to old or outdated hardware.

It is also important to note that mobile devices don’t ever really go idle when WiFi is enabled. There are always apps running in the background that are utilizing the bandwidth and connecting to an access point. So if you have a room of 1000 people connected to a couple access points and transmitting a little bit of data, it can take up significant bandwidth and throughput.

Finally, partitioning is also a key term and idea to understand. A facility may give you an overall figure for the total bandwidth. However, asking how the bandwidth is partitioned between meeting space, hotel staff and guest rooms, for instance, is extremely important to understand to be able to design a network to support the event needs. Additionally, it is important to recognize if the partition is flexible and if it can be changed to be able to allocate additional bandwidth to specific areas.

Plan and design your event network just as you would design your food & beverage needs.

The biggest mistake planners make is to simply base the needs of the network off the number of attendees. In-depth conversations regarding the program needs are imperative to the success of the network. Are we talking about basic internet surfing, downloading, polling, and/or streaming? What types of apps will be used? Where will users be located (all in one room in separate spaces)? These are all key questions to consider and to discuss with the facility or supplier partner to ensure the network is designed to meet the event’s needs. Just as a planner wouldn’t simply tell the CSM that they need food for 500 people without explaining how many at each meal function and any special food sensitivities nor should a planner skip over such important details of the WiFi needs.

Breaking down the cost of WiFi

The conversation regarding the cost and WiFi services provided needs to begin during the RFP, sourcing, and contracting process. There are two basic methods for the pricing of WiFi. It is typically either the total amount of bandwidth allocated across unlimited users or based on the total number of concurrent connections. There are pros and cons to each method, however the number of connections tends to be easier to plan around. Having these conversations up-front will go a long way to keeping costs under control while providing planners with the appropriate network needs.

People tend to look at internet and events in two ways, either a cost of doing business or a profit center. Planners tend to think that it should be a cost of doing business and properties tend to think it should be a profit center and this is where negotiating becomes important. All conversations around the network should be addressed at the time of contract signing.

A final note

WiFi is now the fourth utility. There is power, water, heat/AC and now you have WiFi. Planners wouldn’t put on an event without the other three critical utilities so don’t skip out on the fourth one. Interested in learning more about this hot topic or receiving a complimentary copy of our Internet Health Checklist, sign up to receive news, invite and updates from M&IW.

Posted in: Event Technology & Mobility Solutions, Sourcing, Negotiating & Contracting, Upcoming Events

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