Tech News: MeetingPlay Funding, Encore-Cvent and Explori-Evolvio Partnerships; Bizzabo and Event Farm Additions

June 23, 2021
Tech News: MeetingPlay Funding, Encore-Cvent and Explori-Evolvio Partnerships; Bizzabo and Event Farm Additions

Just because in-person events are returning doesn’t mean technology is going to take a back seat. The past few weeks have been filled with news of mergers, partnerships, innovation and the funding to make it all possible. See how the event tech world is positioning itself for the future of gatherings.


Hybrid technology company MeetingPlay has secured $75 million in funding from Sunstone Partners, a growth-oriented private equity firm focused on software and tech-enabled services companies.

The move allows for vast expansion of MeetingPlay’s already impressive capabilities. Founded in 2012 by former Marriott director Joe Schwinger and Lisa Vann, MeetingPlay has been a leader in the event tech space for years. Its services are uniquely positioned to assist meeting planners and trade show organizers develop strategies to attract and retain as vast an audience as possible. It is already a major factor in Marriott’s hybrid offerings and data labs.

MeetingPlay has become the event platform of choice for numerous market-leading companies such as Marriott, Databricks and Autodesk. The client list figures to grow with the massive investment. MeetingPlay announced this week it will be the hybrid event technology partner for BizBash at Connect Tampa 2021.

“We’re just getting started,” said Schwinger. “Sunstone’s investment strategy, which puts people and innovation first, will help us grow our product offerings and enable our customers to deliver even more exciting, on-brand and transformative events.”

Sunstone Co-Founder and Managing Director Michael Biggee said MeetingPlay is a natural for its portfolio of technology innovators. 

“MeetingPlay delivers unparalleled digital experiences that blend personalization, networking, content and unprecedented engagement that are scalable to support audiences of 100,000 or more,” said Biggee. “We couldn’t be more delighted to partner with MeetingPlay on their exciting future.”

Cvent and Encore

What happens when the longest-tenured event marketing and management platform joins forces with the industry’s premier production company? We’re about to find out after Cvent and Encore announced a partnership that could very well become the cornerstone for many hybrid meetings.

The arrangement makes for a truly all-in-one experience for planners mapping out innovative strategies in a post-pandemic world. Cvent Connect, Aug. 1-4 in Las Vegas and online, will offer first-hand look at how the strategic partnership will work.

“The pandemic has revolutionized the way organizations plan and manage their events, and successful organizations now offer a mix of in-person, virtual, and hybrid events across their total event program,” said Cvent CEO and Founder Reggie Aggarwal. “With the digitization of events driven in part by the pandemic, events can be more impactful than ever before, but that also means it’s more complex to manage an event program that drives results. Together, Cvent and Encore present marketers and event planners with a truly differentiated offering that combines the strengths of two trusted industry leaders.”

Ben Erwin, president and CEO of Encore, added: “Rarely do core competencies of two organizations offer such a strategic complement of services for a shared customer base. Cvent is an ideal partner for Encore to continue to create transformative events around the world wherever and however our customers choose to meet.”


Bizzabo is about to make meeting and connecting a lot easier and more efficient for event participants. On June 3, the event success software provider announced it had acquired leading AI-powered scheduling and matchmaking tool, which automates the meeting scheduling process by generating compatible times to meet across time zones, sending follow-ups and reminders and managing cancellation and reschedule requests. 

“As professional events are being redefined with hybrid experiences, we wanted to find the best scheduling engine in the market to support these new generation events,” said Eran Ben-Shushan, co-founder and CEO of Bizzabo. “And it’s not just about meetings, there is a massive demand for personalization and matchmaking at events, and will serve as the technological AI backbone to do exactly that.” 

  • Meeting Scheduler: Allows attendees to easily schedule meetings with each other, whether in-person or virtual.
  • Bizzabo For Exhibitors: Enables companies presenting at events with state-of-the-art meeting management technology to find and engage their most relevant customers.
  • Smart Recommendations: Increases participant satisfaction by personalizing their event journey and proactively recommending relevant content and people to meet with.

Explori and Evolio

Event measurement powerhouses Explori and Evolio Marketing have joined forces via a strategic partnership to further expand their expo and corporate event measurement services in North America.

“Not only does this relationship deliver new resources, but it brings years of exhibit measurement specialism that is already adding value,” said Explori CEO Mark Brewster.  

Evolio President Joe Federbush has assumed the role of executive vice president, North America, at Explori and will oversee customer success, business development, and talent acquisition for B2B and B2C events, while continuing his leadership role Evolio.

“One of the most sought-after components of a strategic approach to measurement is the ability to provide large-scale industry and client benchmarks. Explori leads the market in this respect, and through our partnership, we can further accelerate the development of our event and exhibit benchmarks for in-person, virtual, and hybrid events, benefitting our clients significantly,” Federbush said. 

Event Farm

Engagement platform Event Farm, a leader in bringing back meetings safely, has reached a partnership to become the first company to integrate CLEAR's Health Pass technology into its registration system. This simplifies the process to identify who has received COVID-19 vaccinations and to implement suggested measures like wearing masks and social distancing. 

The partnership adds to Event Farm’s Safety Toolkit, a suite of purposely built applications to keep event staff and attendees safe at in-person events, and will enable attendees to bypass health screening questions to enter the event faster.


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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.