This is a case study from Melissa Del Monte, Senior Marketing Associate, and Priscilla Vidal, Product Marketing Manager, Cvent. More information about Event Manager Blog’s case studies.
The National Association of Stock Plan Professionals (NASPP) is the leading stock and executive compensation event. NASPP is a membership association with a 30-year history and community. The 26th Annual NASPP Conference and Exhibition brought together nearly 1,800 equity compensation experts for valuable networking and educational opportunities.
The event had almost 100 sessions, led by 200 industry experts over the three and a half day conference. The event deep dived into everything from tax reform, regulatory and economic developments, to the latest best practices in compensation strategy, administration, design, and more.
- A long-running annual event in its 26th year
- 1,800 attendees
- 3.5 days
- 100 sessions
- 200 presenters
In 2014, the team at NASPP had used mobile event apps at other industry conferences and knew other associations were using apps. They wanted to introduce their own event app for NASPP to increase attendee engagement but also to cut down on the time and costs of printing the conference brochure.
NASPP has a broad audience covering all generations and a mix of attendees that love or loathe technology, so they needed a native app that supported both iOS and Android devices and also offered an alternate web version for association members with Windows phones or work devices. It was crucial that the app was easy to use for repeat, long-term attendees who had been loyal event attendees before technology was introduced. NASPP also wanted to satisfy newer and first-time attendees who had never attended the conference before and had a high appetite for technology. The wanted to give all members easy access to the schedule, speakers, other members, and materials in one convenient place. Most importantly, NASPP needed all of this functionality for just one price.
NASPP knew that it would be a big change for the whole conference delegation to adopt the app and accept digital over paper so they laid out a three-year timeframe to gradually reduce and phase out printing and a longer-term plan to increase engagement via the event app year-on-year.
There were a number of challenges for the NASPP conference:
- A wide range of generations of members; from those fresh out of college joining the industry to those established and about to retire.
- Some attendees seemed reluctant to change and give up paper while others expected technology to be present and available at events.
- Providing an interactive component during educational sessions was a requirement for issuing continuing education credits.
- Promoting attendee participation overall was a challenge.
People generally attend conferences for two primary reasons, to absorb content and to network. The app needed to support this and CrowdCompass by Cvent provides event marketers and planners with the tools and resources to build a mobile event app that strikes a perfect balance between the two.
NASPP’s members use a variety of devices and it was important that members could access their event app on whatever device they are most comfortable. CrowdCompass gave the freedom for access via a web app or a native app.
The NASPP event objectives were to:
- Build a unique community of members including, equity compensation experts, compensation designers, brokerage firms, and administrators.
- Deliver an engaging event where members can network and connect with the industry’s top minds.
- Provide certified continued education sessions and materials.
How Were the Objectives Achieved?
The Annual NASPP Conference and Exhibition kicks off with an all-day boot camp that covers highly-specialized content focused on key industry topics. The boot camp is a smaller pre-conference activity and this is where NASPP initially likes to test out technology without impacting the main conference.
Every year for the last four years NASPP have increased app adoption and engagement for the main conference and exhibition. By delivering interesting educational content, opportunities to network, and interactivity during sessions within a mobile event app they have successfully won over members. They used the CrowdCompass app to incrementally phase out paper resources in favor of a solely digital event and get even the most traditional attendees acclimatized to the idea.
During the conference, every hour there are 6 sessions occurring concurrently. For years, NASPP printed 8lb session binders and members carried these heavy book sets around all day. The team spent over 150 hours assembling these conference materials and it was a big expense providing over 2,000 sets of printed materials each year. NASPP was spending $30,000 printing, shipping, and hotel storage fees. There was a big need for the NASPP to phase out print.
The first year NASPP used both an event app and some printed materials. Then the second year, NASPP offered hard-copy materials for an additional $50 fee. By the third year, the pre-conference materials moved into the app. Each year less printed materials were offered app adoption increased.
The event app adoption and engagement has grown in popularity over the last five years. Members love scrolling through the event schedule, bookmarking sessions, and creating their own personal schedules. They enjoy how easy it is to network and that they can view the attendee list. They also appreciate that their contact information is hidden until they connect with another attendee. Gamification features have also been a fun addition.
The certification courses and educational materials cover regulatory rules and recent or upcoming changes to federal laws enacted by the Securities and Exchange Commissions and Internal Revenue Services. Since NASPP provides continued education opportunities, it is critical that their sessions and app include a way for attendees to actively participate. Using live polls helps NASPP meet that requirement and show audience engagement.
Achievements Over Time:
Year-on-Year increase in app adoption
- 2014 – 46%
- 2015 – 82%
- 2016 – 90%
- 2017 – 97%
2018 had the highest levels of engagement:
- 121K total engagements in 2018
- 73K session engagements (e.g. viewing session details and taking survey/polls)
- 13.4K attendee interactions (e.g. social shares and attendee messages)
- 3.4K map views (views of all maps)
Takeaways for Event Planners
- Before you begin researching mobile event app providers, define your event objectives and goals. This will help you identify which event app features are important to you and enable you to ask specific questions during the sales process.
- Introducing a new technology to your event may seem scary and your attendees may be slow to adopt, but the year-over-year savings and benefits you will see from using an app are worth it.
- By taking an incremental approach to innovation you will keep the support of your attendees and gradually get them accustomed to the change.
- As easy as an event app can be to use, attendees don’t always realize all of the app features. It is recommended to take time before the conference to provide an overview of the app or a tutorial to help drive awareness of the full features.
- Simply cutting out paper handouts results in huge time and cost savings.
- The app became a way for attendees to become active participants in the event, not just passive attendees.
The National Association of Stock Plan Professionals took a long-term commitment and approach to their event app, which enabled them to introduce changes gradually and achieve greater buy-in and acceptance. For the most recent conference, they achieved an enviable 97% engagement with their event app, a massive increase of 51% over four years. By eliminating paper and moving to an event app $30,000 has been saved each year, as well as 150 staff hours preparing the printed materials. The NASPP have seen huge results by going digital, proving how integral an event app can be and never looking back.