Virtual Events Institute Announces Inaugural Virtual & Hybrid Event Awards Winners

April 30, 2021

On April 22, event professionals from across the globe tuned in to watch the Virtual Events Institute’s inaugural Virtual & Hybrid Event Awards. Recently launched to celebrate the innovation and excellence of digital and hybrid events around the world, the event was broadcast from ExCeL London’s hybrid event studio, with technical support from audiovisual and entertainment technology company Anna Valley.

Hosted by VEI Co-Founder Simon Burton, who presented accolades across 15 categories, the Awards’ entries were judged by an expert panel of 47 industry leaders comprising a diverse mix of corporate entities, associations, exhibition organizers and agencies. The judges came together for a combined total of more than 200 hours to determine the winners, runners-up and those deserving special merit.  

“We have been overwhelmed by the number of exceptional entries we received for our first VEI Awards,” said Sophie Ahmed, VEI CEO and co-founder. “The inspirational and purposeful work that comprises this year’s winners and shortlist is a testament to the adaptability, talent and teamwork of event organizers and technology providers.”

She continued, “As virtual and hybrid experiences became an integral and established part of events, it has never been more important to recognize and celebrate outstanding talent, create a forum for education and showcase leading event technology.” 

The winners of the VEI Virtual & Hybrid Event Awards 2021 are as follows:

Best Virtual & Hybrid Consumer Event: Hub Exhibitions for Women in Business Expo Virtual

Best Virtual & Hybrid Association Event: National Council of Teachers of English for NCTE 2020 Annual Convention 

Best Virtual & Hybrid Employee Engagement Event: Live Union for Arm 30 House Party/ Special Merits: Employee Engagement Event for Marks & Spencer “Unique Peak”

Best Virtual & Hybrid Business Festival: INVNT for Effect 2020 by SAP ANZ 

Best Virtual & Hybrid Marketing Campaign: Pageant Media for EGR Operator Awards 2020

Best Virtual & Hybrid Brand Activation: SharpEnd for Fly Campari Group

Best Virtual & Hybrid Sales Team: Pageant Media for Pageant Media Commercial Team

Best Virtual & Hybrid Organizer Team: Vitafoods for Vitafoods Virtual Expo & Summit

Best Virtual & Hybrid Awards: Pageant Media for EGR Operator Awards 2020

Best Virtual & Hybrid Specialist Event: Matrix Events for Oktoberfest Bash/ Special Merits: University of the Pacific for Women’s Rights are Human Rights Exhibition

Best Virtual & Hybrid Event Start-Up: The Carrot Collective

Best Virtual & Hybrid Event Technology: Kudo

Best Virtual & Hybrid Event Platform: Glisser/ Special Merits: SURREAL and ExpoPlatform

Best Virtual & Hybrid Conference: DRPG for DRPGBIGtalk World/ Special Merits: JMB Consulting / Fundraising Everywhere for BAME Online 2020

Best Virtual & Hybrid Trade Show: Informa for Spark Change 2020: Powered by Natural Products Expo 

The event also featured magician Peter Wardell, a photo booth, prizes and networking opportunities. Cvent served as the exclusive registration and virtual event platform provider and headline sponsor, while full-service video production firm Pond Ripple Media and awards management software provider Award Force served as production partners alongside Anna Valley and ExCeL London.

“The level of creative innovation, sponsorship engagement techniques, the key performance indicators exhibited and the sheer determination of some sales and marketing teams left me in awe,” said TSNN Marketing Manager Arlene Shows, who served as judge. “If these entries are any indication of the plethora of technology at our fingertips and the human talent we are amongst, the future appears brighter than ever!”  

 

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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.