Tech News: Bizzabo, MeetingPlay + Aventri, Splash Enhancements; SXSW, Grip Deal for 2022 Event

February 25, 2022

While the industry continues to ramp up to in-person formats again in 2022, the need for technology hasn’t waned, with event professionals relying more than ever on the latest innovations to streamline planning and engage attendees, whether for in-person, virtual or hybrid gatherings. Event tech companies are delivering on the increasing demand. Check out some of the newest offerings!



Bizzabo, which significantly expanded in 2021 with the acquisition of four companies (Whalebone,, TeeVid and Klik), the launch of its Event Experience category and the development of an open, integrated Event Experience Operating System (OS), is continuing the momentum in 2022 with the release of a new book, the addition of new site features and the expansion of its offices.

Bizzabo’s co-founders, Eran Ben-Shushan Alon Alroy, and Boaz Katz, have written the book “Event Success,” which explores why the evolution in hybrid events was long-needed,and how event professionals can be successful in this new hybrid world. Published by Wiley, the book is available for pre-order now and will be released globally March 29.

Meanwhile, Bizzabo is planning to continue developing and incorporating many new features into its Event Experience OS, including new tools powered by the technology and talent from its recent acquisitions.

Additionally, in 2021, Bizzabo’s team grew to nearly 400 people working from five global offices in New York, Montreal, London, Tel Aviv and Kyiv, as well as remotely around the world. The company recently signed deals to move or expand its offices in New York, Tel Aviv and Kyiv. In New York and Tel Aviv, Bizzabo is beginning construction on hybrid-first offices that are designed to facilitate community and meaningful connections.

“Flexibility and agility are two important themes for 2022—both at work and events,” Alroy said. “We’re proud to be building technology and workplaces that are hybrid-first. Regardless of where people are, we’re committed to delivering memorable experiences that help us all feel more connected.” 

Bizzabo’s Event Experience OS hosted 43% more events in 2021 compared to 2020, with customers creating in-person, virtual, and hybrid event experiences for millions of people. On average, each of these events included 16 sessions with an average session rating of 4.5 out of 5.


MeetingPlay + Aventri

On the heels of its merger in January, event software company MeetingPlay + Aventri launched MeetingPlay + Aventri University, a new knowledge hub for event professionals. 

MPA University is a free virtual offering that was designed to provide event education to the community and transform the planning process into something easy, accessible and innovative.

Each six-week-long course features bite-sized webinars from industry experts and professionals on the hottest tech, trends and industry topics, engaging content driven by attendees and downloadable resources with actionable content. The university also offers digital library with on-demand access to each class.

The course schedule is as follows:

  • February 24: Setting hybrid goals and building event timelines
  • March 3: Seamlessly transition to a hybrid event
  • March 10: Reskilling the events’ workforce
  • March 17: Choosing the right tech partners for your hybrid events
  • March 24: Market your hybrid event and build sponsorships
  • March 31: Top hybrid lessons from the experts

Additionally, MeetingPlay + Aventri recently launched their 2022 Strategic Event Bible to further aid meeting planners in planning their hybrid and virtual events.



Event marketing technology company Splash unveiled Splash Studio, a new solution that enables event professionals to easily design and execute virtual, hybrid and in-person events.

Splash Studio gives event teams and marketers the ability to plan and execute all phases of an event without the limitation of traditional (and outdated) tools and formats. With Splash Studio, marketers now have the tools they need to improve productivity and drive attendee engagement by incorporating live streaming and new engagement capabilities.

Splash Studio features include:

  • Quality, native live streaming functionality, where users don’t need additional software or subscriptions to host virtual and hybrid events
  • Full suite of engagement tools, including Q&A, chat, polling, networking hubs and more
  • Fully automated data integration that syncs back to existing CRM and marketing automation systems
  • Easy program set up for all users to create beautiful, on-brand event programs
  • Add-on options that include Studio, Studio+ and Studio Custom to meet teams’ and guests’ changing needs

"We've been saying this for a while now: As much as we want in-person events to return permanently—and they will—virtual and hybrid events are here to stay," said Eric Holmen, CEO of Splash. "Splash Studio supports our customers' needs in a constantly changing events landscape by helping to deliver engaging virtual, hybrid and in-person experiences that make a business impact."

This quarter, the company is also adding new and enhanced integrations to its event marketing platform. In addition, a new sessions feature will let users run multi-track events with simultaneous video streams hosted within a branded virtual venue.


SXSW and Grip

Organizers of the South by Southwest Conference and Festivals (SXSW) selected Grip, the AI-powered event, networking and matchmaking platform, as its event technology partner for its first in-person event since 2019.

This year’s SXSW Conference in Austin, Texas, set for March 11-20, is a hybrid event focused on connecting people from all over the world, bringing together a diverse range of forward-thinking exhibitors—from promising startups to established industry leaders. These connections will be facilitated by the Grip platform, which is being used at the Creative Industries Expo, Wellness Expo, XR Experience and Flatstock 77 exhibitions. Grip will make it easier for thousands of attendees, 500 exhibitors and hundreds of sponsors to connect with each other.  

Grip’s AI-powered recommendations will help participants discover new services, products and experiences and enable them to navigate the expos and schedule meetings, either virtually or in-person using a mobile app. 

“SXSW proves that the most unexpected discoveries happen when diverse topics and people come together,” said Justin Bankston, chief technical officer at SXSW. “That’s why we selected Grip. We wanted a technology partner that has a proven track record connecting conference participants, so they discover more and walk away with an amazing, valuable event experience.

Since SXSW hasn’t had an in-person format since 2019, organizers wanted an event app that delivers more value to its in-person and virtual participants than ever before, according to Bankston.

“We’re reinventing SXSW for 2022, and technologies like Grip help us with that mission,” he said. 

Tim Groot, co-founder and CEO of Grip, called the partnership “a dream come true.”

“SXSW is one of the world’s best events, and I’m proud we're providing our AI-powered technology to power moments of connection at the event,” he said. “Our platform will be instrumental in helping attendees, exhibitors and sponsors connect with each other.”

Tyler Conley, vice president of business development at Grip, said the win underscores the company’s further expansion into the North American market.

“The Grip platform has now become the leading choice for large conferences and trade shows in North America, such as Money20/20 USA and Shoptalk,” he said.  

At SXSW, connections between attendees, sponsors and exhibitors will be facilitated by Grip’s award-winning artificial intelligence algorithms. Its recommendation engine will provide instant matches for all participants based on their profiles, areas of interest and products they viewed via the SXSW Expo app. As they interact with sponsors and exhibitor’s products or staff, the AI will learn and make more personalized recommendations, leading to an intensity of connections and meetings never seen before at the conference.

Grip’s platform will help participants to:

  • Discover relevant products and exhibitors via listings in the branded mobile app
  • Exchange contact details by scanning badges via the app
  • Connect and schedule meetings with attendees, exhibitors and sponsors both virtually and in-person, on-site
  • Navigate the Expo, finding relevant exhibitors and available locations to have meetings using the fully interactive venue floor plan 
  • Manage meeting schedules inside the app
  • View analytics on intent so exhibitors and sponsors can understand which attendees are interested in their products and services 

Exhibitors will be able to build a lead funnel from the interaction they have with attendees. They can then share these with their sales team and export them, better enabling them to track sales performance and follow up.

On 15 March, Grip will host the Event Tech Meet Up at the SXSW Creative Industry Expo Pavilion for registrants interested in event technology and innovation. The session will be the chance to meet industry professionals to discuss current trends in event technology both virtually and in-person.

Photo: Bizzabo's new "Event Success" book.

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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.