Recently, the events industry was turned upside down. Venues closed their doors, event managers scrambled to bring their events online, exhibitors packed away their promotional materials, and attendees said goodbye to the magic of in-person networking. 

If the drastic pivot to virtual events in 2020 wasn’t enough, the industry is shifting again in multiple ways. Event organizers are learning the art of the hybrid event model by fusing together the best components of virtual and in-person events. 

In another shift, in-person events are on the rise and making a serious comeback. Excitement is building among event organizers, attendees, and exhibitors for the chance to reunite with the event format they fell in love with in the first place.  

While event organizers are eager to open the doors to in-person events, they have many questions, including:  

  • How do you return to in-person events while leveraging newer virtual and event app technology? 
  • Who do you partner with to promote health and safety every step of the way?  
  • How do you generate buzz and excitement when your event looks drastically different from past years?  

The American Med Spa Association (AmSpa) led the return to in-person events with their annual conference and trade show, Medical Spa Show 2021 in Las Vegas. One of the first organizations to return to an in-person format in 2021, AmSpa’s event checked all the boxes for how to successfully execute an in-person event in this new era of the events industry. 

From end-to-end safety measures to an immersive brand experience, AmSpa has demonstrated that in-person events can safely return and offer attendees an experience they’ll never forget. 

Products used:

  • Branded Event App 
  • Professional Services
  • Live Display

About American Med Spa Association 

AmSpa provides legal, compliance, and business resources for medical aesthetic practices. Every year, AmSpa hosts a medical spa conference and trade show for non-invasive medical aesthetics.  

The event includes a variety of educational opportunities with sessions to keep members up-to-date on treatment trends, medical spa laws, business best practices, and the latest in medical aesthetic marketing.  

Since AmSpa’s first conference in 2018, the association has been on a mission to create an event that leaves attendees eager to return the following year.  

With the world in a much different place than it was when it staged its last conference, AmSpa was tasked with a unique challenge: create an immersive in-person event experience that prioritized safety, education, and fun for all. 

The Challenge:  

  • Create an immersive brand experience while promoting health and safety  
  • Provide value for the event’s sponsors and exhibitors  
  • Generate in-event excitement and FOMO for next year’s event 

The Solution:  

  • Use Webex Events (formerly Socio) Live Display as a multi-purpose marketing tool 
  • Promote networking and engagement via the Webex Events Branded Event App 
  • Create a selfie-worthy experience and FOMO with Webex Events Live Display and social Wall 
  • Streamline the in-person event experience with the Webex Events Mobile Event App 

“Our CEO gave a piece of feedback that we have exhibitors that have come to multiple versions of this show over the years, and even with all the restrictions and everything that could have been really inconvenient for everybody, people thought this was the best show we’ve ever done,” Eric Atienza, Digital Marketing Manager at AmSpa, says. 

Putting the In-Person Event Puzzle Together 

The AmSpa marketing team had attended and exhibited at a few virtual conferences since the start of the pandemic, but they found that the virtual exhibitor experience didn’t quite live up to the magic of the in-person event experience. 

“We received some feedback from industry folks that people were getting tired of virtual meetings and wanted to be back in-person,” Aly Boeckh, Social Media and Brand Marketing Manager at AmSpa, says.  

Given that AmSpa’s member base is primarily medical professionals who were able to get vaccinated as essential workers, hosting an in-person event became an increasingly viable option for Medical Spa Show 2021.  

AmSpa’s 2021 trade show was originally slated for January 2021, but with concerns around hosting an in-person event amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization decided to move the event to April and then subsequently rescheduled the trade show for May 2021. 

Medical Spa Show attendees had only experienced the event through an in-person capacity, so it was crucial for the AmSpa team to communicate early and often that the event would look different due to COVID-19, but it would still remain the engaging and educational experience their attendees know and love.  

The AmSpa team created a separate COVID-19 communication plan to establish safety expectations ahead of the event. In this plan, the team shared their health and safety messaging through various communication channels, leveraging infographics, videos, emails, and social media posts to effectively communicate the event’s COVID-19 guidelines. 

While there would be plenty of opportunities for engaging in-person interaction, the safety of everyone at the event was a top priority for AmSpa. 

Return to In-Person: “Face to Face but Socially Distant

AmSpa partnered with Wynn Las Vegas to host the event. The AmSpa team said that partnering with a venue committed to thorough safety protocols was key to their success.  

The venue hired three epidemiologists to help craft the event’s safety protocols. Additionally, an onsite rapid test facility doubled as a vaccination center.  

The AmSpa team recognized the importance of their event from a safety perspective. AmSpa was one of the first companies to run an in-person trade show in Las Vegas since the beginning of the pandemic. Getting their safety measures right meant setting the stage for future in-person events to take place. 

Some safety measure examples from AmSpa’s Medical Spa Show 2021 included: 

  • Before entering the event space, attendees were required to complete a temperature check.  
  • The event included no indoor, close-quarter receptions or parties.  
  • Social distancing requirements were enforced throughout the event. 
  • During sessions, attendees could move between rooms during allotted break times.  
  • Hand sanitizer stations were located throughout the event space.  
  • The venue’s security staff handed out masks that were strategically placed around the venue for easy access. 
  • Instead of show staff handing attendees a welcome bag after check-in, they were placed on hooks for attendees to take themselves.  
  • To ensure proper physical distancing, attendee and room occupancy caps were implemented.  
  • Plastic liners were placed between check-in stations to keep the registration staff members safe.  
  • Instead of serving food through a buffet, AmSpa opted to provide boxed meals. 
  • Paths between exhibitor booths in the exhibit hall were one-way and marked by floor arrows. 

Rethinking event structure: prioritizing safety and attendee engagement 

In a typical year, AmSpa runs concurrent sessions throughout the event and attendees can decide which classes to attend on-site. For the 2021 show, to ensure there was ample time for the venue to clean classrooms in between sessions, AmSpa opted to have attendees pre-select their sessions in 90-minute blocks when they registered, with one-hour breaks between. 

After attendees chose their sessions, their personal agendas were pre-loaded into Webex Events (formerly Socio). Attendees could easily log in to the app on the day of the event and find their itinerary for the weekend.  

There’s a certain buzz and excitement that comes from an event’s live presentations, and AmSpa wanted to ensure that attendees could experience these presentations while staying safe.  

When it came time for the event’s keynote presentation, the team achieved this by having one group watch the presentation in-person while live streaming it to the remaining attendees in a separate room. For the next session, the live presenters alternated rooms, so everyone was able to partake in the in-person excitement. 

While the event looked much different from past years, with spaced-out tables, attendance caps, and a plethora of hand sanitizer stations and masks throughout the space, the event’s attendees, AmSpa staff, and exhibitors alike still felt connected through the power of technology. 

“People didn’t feel removed– they still felt engaged and involved, and I think that has a lot to do with thinking through the technology and the experience, and the Webex Events app came into that as well,” Karen Spinelli, Marketing Director at AmSpa, says.  

Ready to read the full story? Download your copy of AmSpa’s journey to their reimagined in-person event.

Creating a “selfie-worthy” experience with Webex Events Live Display 

The AmSpa team seized a unique opportunity to wow attendees as they entered the event space with Webex Events Live Display, proving that event registration doesn’t have to be boring –– in fact, it can generate buzz and make for an immersive brand experience. 

The event’s Live Display spanned the entire width of the reception area, creating a “selfie-worthy” experience for attendees as they checked in at registration. While they waited, many attendees captured selfies in front of the display and posted their photos to the event app’s social Wall. 

The AmSpa team recognized that the event’s check-in process would take longer than it had in previous years because of COVID-19 protocols. Live Display was a great way to keep attendees engaged from the very moment they entered the conference. 

“We were coming out of quarantine and everyone was so excited to be at a live event. The energy was there. With the Live Display, it’s almost like people felt like they were on this billboard because the real estate was so beautiful that it just really elevated the excitement and the energy for the event, “ Karen Spinelli, Marketing Director, AmSpa 

Live Display took on a life of its own, creating buzz and even some friendly competition. Simply put, the attendees couldn’t get enough of it. In Webex Events (formerly Socio), excitement was brewing in the event app’s networking game. 

“There was one couple who were being very competitive about the networking leaderboard. I think they correctly guessed that they were winning, so they just kind of were waiting until the leaderboard came up and then took a selfie of them being in first place,“ Atienza says.  

AmSpa’s Live Display went above and beyond engaging attendees, and even served as a powerful marketing tool. 

Live Display: A multi-purpose marketing tool 

AmSpa’s Live Display was a multi-purpose marketing tool, generating buy-in from attendees and promoting the AmSpa brand by incorporating slides that featured company announcements and their own product line. 

To build excitement for next year’s event, the team connected their Live Display content to AmSpa’s website, so anyone who visited their site during the conference could view attendees’ posts and get a glimpse of what they could experience by attending the next year. 

AmSpa’s return to in-person events called for a reliable event management platform. The Webex Events Mobile Event App powered robust networking, an organized attendee experience, plenty of opportunities for attendees and exhibitors to connect, and so much more. 

“We were tasked with creating FOMO for anyone who didn’t attend. We absolutely used [Webex Events’] Live Display to achieve that by showing the experience, the excitement, and the energy that was happening on-site. We were successful before the show even started. Social media was active with people saying exactly that – ‘I didn’t register and I’m missing out, I have serious FOMO.” We were excited to see that we were creating interest for the next show,” Spinelli says.  

See how AmSpa took their in-person event to the next level with the Webex Events Branded Event App

The AmSpa team changed the game for their attendees by incorporating virtual elements into their in-person event experience. Download the complete case study to learn how AmSpa created a memorable in-person event with Webex Events’ end-to-end event management suite. Plus, discover how they leveraged on-demand content to drive revenue and engagement post-event through their Virtual After Party experience.