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14 December 2019 

6 Takeaways from the IN-PERSON Collective Breakfast: The Power of Live Events

Bianca Galvez

Learn about Bizzabo’s inaugural IN-PERSON Collective Series, get insights from event leaders from CNBC, Money 20/20, M&T Bank, and more. Here’s the scoop.

This week, Bizzabo launched the IN-PERSON Collective, an event series focused on the power of live events and thought leadership around in-person connections. We had a slew of fantastic guests including Jonathan Meyers at CNBC, Monique Ruff-Bell at Money20/20, Margaret Immordino Borner at M&T Bank, Lacey Rose at Frost & Sullivan, and Eleni Thomas at KPMG.

The exclusive event was hosted at the Crosby Hotel in Manhattan’s trendy Soho neighborhood. Attendees joined Bizzabo for breakfast, a fireside chat with CNBC, a live IN-PERSON Podcast episode, and an interactive panel discussion around the challenges event organizers face today.


We rounded out the morning with more great coffee and a take-home gift of the newly published IN-PERSON Book: Perspectives from Event Leaders.

IN-PERSON Book - 6 Takeaways from IN-PERSON Collective 2019Source: Bizzabo

Here are our top 6 takeaways from our inaugural IN-PERSON Collective event.

1. In a disloyal world, events build lasting relationships


During our fireside chat, Jonathan Meyers, General Manager at CNBC discussed the meteoric rise of CNBC hosted events under his leadership. For a media company, fostering the personal face of the brand through event programming delivers incredible value. It helps build lasting and more impactful relationships with viewers, attendees, sponsors, and speakers.

“It’s an increasingly disloyal world, there are so many options to occupy your time, and we find that events help us with our sponsors, our speakers, or our users and viewers.”

-Jonathan Meyers, CNBC

CNBC Fireside Chat - 6 Takeaways from IN-PERSON Collective 2019Source: Bizzabo

2. Curate the content your attendees walk away with

When thinking about content at events, CNBC starts at the end. What do you want attendees to walk away with?

In order to create a cohesive content curriculum, Jonathan Meyer’s team focuses on five key questions:

  • Whom am I going to hear from?
  • What am I going to learn?
  • Who am I going to meet?
  • What can I share?
  • What can I experience?

These questions help to inform the kind of content, speakers, and experiential activations CNBC produces at their events.

Attendee Breakfast - 6 Takeaways from IN-PERSON Collective 2019Source: Bizzabo

3. Making a big event feel small


When producing Money2020, an annual gathering of thousands of financial visionaries and innovators, Monique Ruff-Bell puts her energy and focus on making the event feel smaller, more targeted, and more personalized for each attendee. How? It begins by looking at qualitative data from attendee surveys and then categorizing the main personas coming to their shows.

Once the Money 20/20 team defined their three main event personas, they worked to incorporate different activations, networking opportunities, closed-door sessions, and content that would serve each persona’s needs.

“The core is ease. You want to create opportunities in your event that allow attendees to find the content and the networking opportunities they’re looking for in an easy way.”

-Monique Ruff-Bell, Money 20/20

You can learn more about creating attendee-specific experiences in our Event Personalization Guide.

IN-PERSON Podcast Live - 6 Takeaways from IN-PERSON Collective 2019Source: Bizzabo

4. Find a sponsor for your career


Monique Ruff-Bell has been in the events industry for 20 years and as she looks back, she stresses the value of finding a sponsor to level up your career.

Monique makes an important distinction between a sponsor and a mentor. Whereas a mentor may lend expert advice or career guidance, a sponsor, “is the person helping to move your career. They are actually putting in the work to bring you up within that company or within your career.”

To carve out a dream career, event professionals should seek out sponsorship to assist in getting access to critical resources, connections, and roles or companies that will lead to their dream job.

“You have to be really intentional. Look at who in your company is doing what you’re doing or needs help in areas where you can play a bigger role. That’s what I had with my sponsor—we made a great team. When he moved on to other companies, he would bring me along to build out their events business. During those times, I would learn the skills I needed to jump up within my career.”

-Monique Ruff-Bell, Money 20/20

Monique Ruff-Bell - 6 Takeaways from IN-PERSON Collective 2019Source: Bizzabo

5. Put the philosophical strategy before the tactical execution

Margaret Immordino Borner, M&T Bank, moderated our final panel discussion with Lacey Rose, Frost & Sullivan, and Eleni Thomas, KPMG, to discuss top of mind challenges for event organizers. (Listen to Eleni Thomas on the IN-PERSON Podcast here.)

An important topic during the panel discussion was the power of influence. Specifically, how to influence other business units and leadership teams to build credibility around an event program.

The panelists agreed that understanding the objectives behind each event was key in making them successful and encouraged event professionals to begin by asking why.

“Never start with the food or the flowers, because that should be dictated based on the objective.”

-Margaret Immordino Borner, M&T Bank

M&T Bank, Frost & Sullivan, KPMG - 6 Takeaways from IN-PERSON Collective 2019Source: Bizzabo

6. Focus on Engagement

For many brands, capturing the event ROI is critical for the success of an event program. Event metrics to surface can include attendee registrations, session registrations, NPs scores, sponsor satisfaction, and more. Gathering qualitative data can be cumbersome when a team is lacking event technology to provide insights.

“Not only do we have to get the content right and the networking activities right, we also have to get the attendee right. That’s a big component for our event sponsors.” 

-Lacey Rose, Frost and Sullivan

A key point in the discussion was the idea of layering different metrics from attendee engagement and looking at the entire attendee journey to gauge event success. Additionally, while metrics like brand perception can be hard to measure, our panelists agreed that it is an impactful metric that drives business.

“Return on investment is more than just the numbers. From an events perspective it’s the engagement.”

-Eleni Thomas, KPMG

Attendee Networking - 6 Takeaways from IN-PERSON Collective 2019Source: Bizzabo

Looking back at the day, we were humbled by the insightful perspectives that our speakers and attendees brought to the table. We can’t wait to do it again. Look out for our next IN-PERSON Collective event in early 2020. 

Want to join the movement around IN-PERSON? Check out our first volume of collected insights from event leaders at IBM, SXSW, Forbes, and more compiled in the IN-PERSON Collection.

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