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
Just when it seems like Las Vegas can’t get any bigger, brighter or more exciting for groups, MGM Resorts raises the bar again. The company continues to invest and innovate across its portfolio of Las Vegas resorts, with new attractions and upgraded experiences for attendees of all interests.  Remodeled Guest Rooms MGM Grand is the largest single hotel in the world with over 5,000 guest rooms and an 850,000-square-foot conference center. It is home to the newly remodeled MGM Grand Studio Tower—700 reimagined guest rooms with a fun mid-century vibe. Nearby, the iconic New York-New York Las Vegas Hotel & Casino recently completed a $63M redesign and remodel of its 1,830 guest rooms and 155 suites. Down the street, Bellagio Las Vegas is sporting renovated rooms in the Spa Tower with sunrise-inspired decor and luxurious soaking tubs in Premier King rooms after a $110-million transformation. Reinvented Luxury Experiences The Luxury Meetings District, made up of Bellagio Las Vegas, ARIA Resort & Casino, Vdara Hotel & Spa, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Park MGM and NoMad Las Vegas, is now more connected than ever before. A new interior walkway opened this October for a seamless attendee experience – connecting Vdara, Bellagio, and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, guests can now walk from Park MGM to Bellagio in around 15 minutes. New on the scene in the Luxury Meetings District is Cathedrale at ARIA, TAO Group’s upscale establishment specializing in exquisite French-Mediterranean cuisine offering elevated private dining experiences that opened in May. Heralded by World’s Best 50 Restaurants, GQ and VOGUE, LPM at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is opening this fall and will deliver its signature spontaneity and imaginative celebration of France’s Mediterranean cuisine, art, and culture to the unique luxury resort in impeccable fashion.  A “New Wave  for Mandalay Bay A new wave of enhancements and experiences has arrived at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, including Flanker Kitchen + Sports Bar, an 8,445-square-foot restaurant that opened this June, perfect for pre- and post-game eats and drinks. Event planner’s favorite, Chef Michael Mina’s StripSteak, received a full renovation and now includes one of the largest private dining rooms on The Strip. Retro by Voltaggio debuts a one-year residency with a fun take on pop culture of the 80s and 90s with classic American dishes. An exciting addition planned for 2024 is Swingers, a 40,000-square-foot oasis of street food, miniature golf and art at Mandalay Bay. Most exciting for meeting planners, the 2.1 million-square-foot Mandalay Bay Convention Center  is undergoing a complete refresh, with lightened space, added eye-catching art, and improved technology infrastructure for even more flexible space. Energy-efficient digital signage now leads the way with faster internet speeds and new AV options. From renovated guest rooms and meeting spaces to celebrated dining options and dedicated teams, MGM Resorts is dedicated to delivering exceptional and innovative meeting experiences.