5 Questions With Bizzabo Co-Founder Alon Alroy

March 10, 2021
5 Questions With Bizzabo Co-Founder Alon Alroy

Good luck trying to have a conversation about events in 2021 without using the word “hybrid.” The consensus is that a vast majority of conferences, conventions and trade shows will incorporate a virtual element when returning face-to-face, most convening in-person for the first time since 2019. Dig beyond that general thought process, though, and the specifics are a bit hazy. “There’s a reason you’re hearing about those generalities,” said Alon Alroy, co-founder, CMO and CCO of Bizzabo. “No one has cracked it yet.”

Truth be told, that code for hybrid success might be different for each event. In an age when customization is expected, a one-size-fits-all solution is seemingly unlikely. Just as with the conferences we’re used to attending, there will be trial and error. Those companies able to adapt quickly and understand their audience’s needs will be in a position to thrive for years to come.

While the future is unknown — and we mean really unknown — don’t bet against Bizzabo being a guiding light toward the new era of events. The popular events platform, whose client roster includes Dow Jones, Conde Nast, Forbes and Husbpot's INBOUND, was among the first to transition effectively to virtual when the pandemic struck last spring.

The company translated that momentum into a funding cycle that netted $138 million late last year. More recently, in February 2021, Bizzabo announced it had joined the Adobe Exchange Partner Program and launched its Global Partner Program, which grants access to Bizzabo’s platform and other resources to improve marketing, business development, sales and support. “We are committing ourselves to enabling a partner community that helps clients create impactful and engaging experiences while transforming events into their business growth engine,” Alroy said.

At the height of Bizzabo’s influence, Alroy shared his perspective on how technology and face-to-face events will merge.

Let’s start with the $1 million question: What will hybrid events look like?

Hybrid will be about more than just having a virtual and an in-person audience, it will be about creating a shared and integrated experience for [both] that is uniquely tailored to how and where individuals are attending. This means sessions where virtual and in-person attendees can book meetings with one another; it means live-streamed sessions that offer chat and community elements for virtual attendees and it means doubling-down on the longevity of an event so that its sessions and community can exist year-round — not just in the small amount of time around the event itself. This is an exciting new opportunity for event organizers and marketers to rethink the attendee experience with a more holistic point of view.

Will in-person events be the same again?

My prediction is that hybrid will be the new standard in events. While attendees and organizers alike miss in-person experiences, we cannot overlook the benefits of virtual — from greater audience reach to more robust data and insights. So, I believe that element will never go away.

You also have to take into account the comfort of your attendees. Even after the vaccine is widely available, it’s likely that it will take more time for people to feel comfortable going to in-person events. That’s why hybrid will become the new normal, because it allows those who are comfortable to attend in-person while creating an opportunity for those who are less comfortable or unable to join to share in the experience virtually. Events will not be the same, and due to the wave of event technology innovation of the past year, they’ll hopefully be better. 

What are some of the biggest mistakes the industry has made during the pandemic? Have you seen a learning curve as it has gone on?

At first, I believe we all underestimated the severity of COVID as well as how long we’d be facing it. But it didn’t take long for us to come to terms with it and change course. I would also say that one of the largest learning curves was shifting to virtual. Many companies were looking for a quick solution to help them shift their event online, but it’s clear now that the virtual element is here to stay. That means it’s time for event organizers to start investing in the long term and looking for future-proof hybrid solutions

In some ways, was it a good thing to go through the pandemic to push events more virtual? Or would it have happened anyway?

COVID was the “black swan” of the event technology space. It would have taken the industry 10 years to go through the technology developments we saw in the past year. So yes, I do think it was inevitable that events embrace virtual. I would also agree that virtual events were a silver lining of the pandemic. If we look at the major benefits of virtual events — audience reach, accessibility, longevity, data and so much more — it’s hard to deny that digital experiences have opened up a whole new world of opportunity for events.

What's the next great events solution no one has created yet?

A platform that creates really impactful experiences for both virtual and in-person audiences. And it just so happens that we’re already building it. Stay tuned for updates!


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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.