How to Leverage AI to Drive Digital and In-Person Event Success

February 1, 2023

Rodney Hart

Rodney Hart is the vice president of events at RainFocus, defining the company’s event portfolio while showcasing the power of the RainFocus event platform. He is focused on using event data to comprehensively measure event ROI across event types and specific event behaviors. Previously, Hart worked at Dell Technologies optimizing the onsite tech stack of in-person enterprise events of over 15,000 attendees and most recently pivoted to build large-scale digital and hybrid experiences.

Business leaders are increasingly asking their marketing teams to innovate upon key performance metricsthat’s how we create, assess and use measurements to drive superior outcomes. Consumer preferences and trends today are evolving at a rapid speed and frequency. To keep pace, the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is needed for organizations to collect data, analyze and extract actionable insights. 

Event marketers have long been siloed, operating under the assumption that events were the sole critical touchpoint in a buyer’s journey. That’s no longer the case, as event leaders realize AI isn’t just the future, it’s heavily ingrained in the presentinforming data-driven experiences from a user’s first touchpoint to their last. 

Digitally Led Engagement 

Whether you’re targeting a customer at a digital or in-person event, it’s become increasingly difficult for event marketers to map a “perfect” buyer journey. In reality, perfection doesn’t exist, and striving for such a goal can make marketers too near-sighted. Actual value comes from connecting your event data with deep learning processes to develop prescriptive recommendations. AI supports this initiative.  

For decades, collecting event data was a menial task due to the limited resources needed to combine, create and test its accuracy. Now, it’s become the cornerstone of enterprises’ internal operations across industries, allowing leaders to measure their strategies’ impact and success through real-time customer feedback. 

Marketers must contextualize their event information to get the most out of their datasets by combining their first-, second- and third-party data. Then they can deploy the use of AI to automate the process of interpreting data to recognize patterns, adding a layer of reasoning to develop personalized and relevant recommendations based on each individual’s specific content needs.  

Over time, this repetition will fundamentally change how marketers detect and influence users’ behaviors that matter most with the right messages, reducing the potential for missed opportunities. Subsequently, end-to-end event management platforms that prioritize building contextualized data catalogs will continuously enrich attendees’ experiences by delivering intuitive content. 

Eliminating Binary Thinking 

Faced with heightened customer expectations, event marketers require a mindset shift to eliminate binary thinking that has long pitted physical and virtual events against one another. For the last few years, the name of the game was agilityhow quickly marketers can pivot the format of an event. We’ve always known the event format affects whether a customer’s journey is relevant or not, but to date, the ability to measure its impact positively or negatively on a customer’s experience has been just out of reach.  

By integrating AI into an end-to-end event management platform, marketing leaders can standardize the array of sources from which they collect information, including registration, social profiles and previous channel interactions. This enables the achievement of a new level of sophistication that allows marketers to forecast the effectiveness of their event portfolios and strategies to best connect with their target audience. 

Looking ahead, eliminating looming customer uncertainties will be key for marketing leaders’ ability to achieve optimal engagement across big, small and mid-sized events without straining their budgets.

AI Introduces a New Chapter for Event Marketing  

Marketers often want to precisely allocate their resources to the most effective channels to achieve the highest ROI, prioritizing profit instead of relevancy for the customer. It’s important to infuse your marketing processes with AI to avoid being stuck in a loop of perpetual uncertainty. Meaningful change begins by understanding the effectiveness of current efforts and learning how to elevate them to deliver more impact to stakeholders, customers and end-consumers.  

Experimentation and curiosity are key parts of a marketer’s DNA. By continuing to consider new avenues and strategies, marketers will usher in a new age of hyper-personalized attendee experiences that earn customer loyalty again and again.

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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.