The basics: ServiceTitan—an all-in-one software solution for home and commercial contractors—last hosted its in-person customer conference in 2019. So as COVID rates were once again climbing during the planning process for the 2022 event, the team knew they had a big decision to make: Cancel, go virtual, or host a fully outdoor conference, where the virus' transmission rates would arguably be lower.
Ultimately, they opted for the third option, marking the first time the event had been held fully outdoors—and the first time the venue had ever hosted an outdoor conference.
The conference, known as Pantheon, ultimately drew more than 2,000 attendees to the famed Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on April 20, 2022. Produced by CDE Productions, the gathering featured 30 breakout sessions, six keynotes, and even a concert from country star Brad Paisley.
Steal-worthy innovations: Hosting a business conference completely outdoors—particularly one that was planned in just four months—was no easy feat, said Tenny Andriassian, ServiceTitan's director of events and field marketing. "One of the biggest challenges was creating the intimate experience we wanted but in such a large outdoor space. ... So we had to be very thoughtful in how we laid out the event so attendees wouldn’t get lost in the venue and could easily connect with one another," she explained.
Working outside also added challenges in terms of weather, power, and sound issues. "It rained overnight between day one and two, and was extremely windy one day," remembered Andriassian. "Infrastructure was also something when indoors you take for granted, [as well as] power for all of the tent structures as well as additional lighting for all mainstage, breakouts, and VIP areas. Additionally, we had to use supplemental vendors to create hotspots in order to accommodate Internet across the coliseum footprint.”
For simultaneous breakout sessions, the team built out tents and used wireless headphones so the noise wouldn't travel.
But the outdoor setting also lent itself to some unique touches, like keynotes held on the field of the famed stadium. Guests sat in the stands and enjoyed speakers like Simon Sinek, Kat Cole, and Magic Johnson in addition to executive keynotes.
Memorable moments: Andriassian cites the conference's customer appreciation party as one of her favorite moments. The gathering had a country theme, complete with the Brad Paisley concert and a fireworks display.
"We would typically go off-site for this event—instead we decided to have it at the coliseum, which involved getting 2,300 attendees onto buses back to their hotels at the end of the first day and completely transforming the space to our theme in less than 2.5 hours for them to come back and have a completely different experience and environment from the conference set up," explained Andriassian. "It was quite a transformation.”
Growing attendance: Fun fact: The event doubled in size from its previous in-person iterations, which Andriassian attributes to the attendees' desire to gather in person after two years of cancelations and virtual events.
"And to hold it at such a historic and cool venue, with big-name speakers and entertainment, only added to the experience," she said, adding: "We did some out-of-the-box promotions for the event as well, like driving around a taco truck wrapped in ServiceTitan branding around the Los Angeles area, stopping by our customer shops providing breakfast and lunch and promoting the event.”
Lessons learned: To Andriassian, the event's success underscored the importance of working with quality partners. “Working with vendors you trust can make or break your event. With such little time to plan it and a new venue that had little to no experience in hosting an event like ours, if I didn’t have a team of vendors and employees that I trusted, we wouldn't have been able to create the incredible experience we did.”
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