Most Innovative Meetings 2019: #8 Emerge Americas

Strategic layout and registration changes resulted in massive social impact.

Armando Christian Perez, better known as the artist and entrepreneur Pitbull, returned as a keynote speaker.
Armando Christian Perez, better known as the artist and entrepreneur Pitbull, returned as a keynote speaker.
Photo: David Sutta Photography

For the sixth annual Emerge Americas, a 16,000-attendee technology conference and trade show that took place in Miami in April, organizers took some big risks that paid off.

“This is not a traditional event,” explained Emerge’s director of marketing, Ashley Abdullah. “[Events] are usually a conference or trade show—Emerge is both. The challenge is, how do you elevate both without cannibalizing the other?”

The answer was by repositioning the expo floor. The new layout placed start-up booths at the center of the floor, then crisscrossed the venue with large-scale, digital activations. The new blueprint controlled foot traffic, balanced activation participation, and increased start-up exposure.

Another change was to narrow registration types to only two options: a tech pass or a V.I.P. pass. The edited ticketing method increased attendee access to daily events and content and also streamlined the analytics. A large #emergeamericas hashtag installation encouraged photo ops.A large #emergeamericas hashtag installation encouraged photo ops.Photo: David Sutta Photography

In addition, planners embraced a “digital-first” strategy to increase social-media posts. A 10-person team focused solely on digital marketing and engagement, a visible reminder of which was a large #emergeamericas hashtag installation at the convention center entrance.

And there was plenty to post about: Not only did Armando “Pitbull” Christian Perez, an investor in the conference, give the keynote, but the program also featured an exclusive interview with interim Venezuelan president Juan Guaidó, which was streamed onsite and online and teased regularly on social media. The result? Emerge reported a whopping 430 percent increase in engagement on Instagram alone. 

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