Corporate Event Marketing Association held its first online conference, CEMA Summit 2020, July 27-28. With more than 500 event marketing leaders in attendance, the event marked the highest attendance in its 30-year history—in part due to the fact that the conference was open to non-members this year for the first time. Nearly half the attendees were first-timers, including more than 100 non-members.
Since the original in-person CEMA Summit was slated to be held in Nashville, the virtual version featured various Nashville-inspired experiences. This included a live singer-songwriter experience with local artists Rivers Rutherford and Brett James; a virtual cooking class with Chef Julia Sullivan, owner of Henrietta Red restaurant; and a mixology session with Seth Weinberg, head bartender at Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak in Nashville.
“Transforming CEMA Summit 2020 into a digital event took creativity and courage, and our incredible team of content producers, platform developers, organizers and subject experts did an extraordinary job creating a truly engaging and meaningful experience,” said Kimberley Gishler, CEMA president and CEO. “I am so proud of our members, industry partners and sponsors for rallying to make Summit 2020 a huge success.”
Speakers at Summit 2020 included New York Times bestselling author Jon Acuff; entrepreneur, motivational speaker and former sports agent Molly Fletcher; and life coach, author and motivational speaker Valorie Burton.
The educational lineup featured more than 80 breakout sessions, roundtables, expert panels and personal development sessions. Topics covered ranged from event executive’s thoughts on timing of resurgence from the pandemic to how conference centers and hotels can operate safely to the pivot from live to digital, tech trends, virtual experiential marketing, sustainability and more.
CEMA Summit 2020 also hosted a live State of the Industry Townhall focused on how COVID-19 has impacted the industry and the path back to live events. Panelists agreed that the future of events is not going to be a return to normal, and the industry needs to focus on new and unique digital experiences.
Other Summit 2020 highlights included:
Participation in Summit Keynotes and Townhall ranged from 80 to 90 percent of registered attendees.
Attendees commented on presentations and discussions and interacted live with the keynote speakers via a live chat room.
The #CEMAVirtualHug, which allowed attendees to create and share virtual greetings via a virtual photo booth, fed photos into a Bringing Nashville to You digital mosaic. It transformed into a Rocky Mountain landscape upon the announcement that Gaylord Rockies will be the host site for CEMA Summit 2021.
CEMA introduced attendees to its charitable partner, Strings For Hope, and encouraged them to buy its jewelry made from recycled guitar strings by survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking and substance abuse.
The Summit 2020 virtual playground offered interactive games, a walking challenge through which attendees logged more than 1 million steps, yoga classes,a LinkedIn page makeover, online image consultation, cooking and mixology classes and a Tech Showcase.
CEMA Summit concluded with a virtual happy hour featuring musical entertainers from Song Division who had participants singing, clapping and dancing with a custom Summit 2020 song, team challenges and music trivia.