MeetingPlay Helps Events Honor Award Recipients Virtually in a Meaningful Way

November 19, 2020

Event technologies everywhere are stepping up to the plate in 2020, attempting to ease meeting planners’ woes that virtual experiences can never quite measure up to face-to-face events. Yet one element that hasn’t been addressed is the virtual awards show — until now.

MeetingPlay, a Maryland-based technology company for events and conferences founded in 2011, has launched a new feature designed to nearly replicate the experience of an in-person awards night, both for recipients and attendees.

The impetus for designing this feature came from MeetingPlay listening closely to its clients. “A very big portion of what we’re working on is SKOs [sales kickoffs],” says Joe Schwinger, CEO and co-founder. “With awards and recognition, it’s about celebrating your wins in 2020 and encouraging the masses for 2021.”

But how can you achieve this in a way that’s still meaningful when all participants are behind a screen? MeetingPlay tested its new feature with a client in the high-fashion industry that wanted to celebrate its top-performing employees in 2020. “I put myself in the shoes of the people walking across the stage and getting that photo with the CEO in that moment,” Schwinger says.

Through the MeetingPlay virtual platform, a page with photos of gallery winners was on display for all four days of the digital conference, and was announced to all participants during the live stream kickoff for the event. This page provided the ability to show more information about each winner than would have been able to be communicated in a live environment, including what factors led them to receive this award, as well as any previous awards they’d won. “Instead of five minutes of fame on stage,” says Schwinger, “we made it to cover four days, 24 hours a day, to replicate that energy of being on stage.”

Next, the company looked toward incorporating elements from social media. For this client in particular, sites like Facebook and Instagram are the lifelines of its winners, Schwinger says. “We took a cue off these channels, implementing a ‘like’ feature and the ability to send a virtual hug to each other,” he explains.

Now, emojis can’t replace the feeling of an in-person embrace or high-five. But the attendee response was overwhelmingly positive to this of-the-moment solution to a problem that gathering restrictions have posed to events everywhere. The result was an organic success, Schwinger says: at the high-fashion event, some 3,000 individuals sent love and emotions to a subset of 50 award winners throughout the course of the conference. Those winners received notifications to their desktop, mobile and/or email as the congratulatory notes came in.

Schwinger notes that while this social element was the perfect solution for this particular client, MeetingPlay’s recognition feature can be customized to each client based on what feels most natural to their attendees. Like with any event — be it virtual, hybrid or face-to-face — knowing your audience is, of course, critical.

As the world looks to 2021 and the expectation of more hybrid events, MeetingPlay has a game plan. When events begin hosting some attendees in-person, they’ll have the capability to incorporate sentiments of virtual attendees on the big screen, essentially doubling the recognition factor for award winners. “You’ll be able to see the likes and loves from virtual attendees who are clapping, and you can see their faces and emojis they’re sending,” Schwinger explains.

It all comes down to the capability to adapt to help award winners feel special — even replicating that handshake with the CEO virtually. One way MeetingPlay can do this is grant winners a short time (say, 30 seconds) with the CEO of a company so that person can extend his or her congratulations, Schwinger says.

“Video tells a different story than a picture,” he adds. “We used to say a picture was worth 1,000 words; now a video is worth 1 million.”

Learn more about MeetingPlay’s capabilities for recognizing your award winners virtually here.

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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.