Big Conference, Big Ideas
Amazon Web Services’ re:Invent extravaganza at
the Venetian Las Vegas is a window into innovations
and trends that make for a singular event.
Created in Collaboration with the Venetian Las Vegas
Anyone who’s ever organized and designed a conference knows
how hard it can be to attract and engage attendees. And as the
events space grows more crowded and more complex, the task is
only getting harder. That’s why some of the world’s biggest compa-
nies seek a true hospitality partner to help them think outside the
box—and the hotel ballroom.
Take Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) popular conference, re:Invent.
In 2016, AWS hosted around 32,000 attendees across five days at the
Venetian Las Vegas and the resort’s adjoining conference facilities.
As the five-year-old conference has grown by leaps and bounds,
re:Invent has tapped the Venetian’s expertise, working hand in hand
to achieve the sort of creativity and innovation that has established
re:Invent as a model event.
“We’re experts at serving and entertaining people,” says Chan-dra Allison, senior vice president of sales for the Venetian and the
Palazzo. “And we have a lot to work with—luxury hotels, retail, dining
and entertainment, meeting and convention facilities—all in one place.
We’re passionate about understanding our partners’ objectives, then
utilizing our amenities to bring them to life in new and creative ways.”
According to Ariel Kelman,
vice president of worldwide
marketing at AWS, the con-
ference uses the Venetian
and the adjoining Palazzo
as a “blank canvas,” creating
shareable experiences that
today’s attendees demand.
“We really pride ourselves on
making re:Invent not only a
great learning environment
and experience for attendees,”
says Kelman, “but also a place
to network, have fun, and col-
laborate with their peers.”
Here, Kelman discusses
the most compelling confer-
ence trends and how AWS is
using them to raise the bar
on their own event.
“If you’re going to ask customers to give you days of their time, they
can’t just be in one technical session after another,” says Kelman.
Re:Invent breaks up the vast venue (the world’s second-largest
hotel) through branded spaces such as the re:Invent Park, an outdoor
area where attendees can relax between sessions. They watch speakers remotely, connect over a beer, listen to a live DJ, or play one of
Amazon’s interactive activities, like Dead Computer Junkyard Mini Golf.
There’s even a nightlife area dubbed re:Play and a grub crawl
that encourages attendees to mix, mingle, and eat their way through
some of the Venetian’s dozens of restaurants and lounges, instead of
corralling them into a single dining hall.
Re:Invent has a dedicated mobile app, featuring a live map, push
notifications, and instantaneous attendee reviews on speakers and
workshops. “Things change, locations move, or we add new sessions,”
says Kelman. “The app allows us to give people their schedule in real
time and, if we know they’re interested in a particular topic, we can
push a notification about a
Attendees have the op-
portunity to RSVP to ses-
sions up to two months in
advance, allowing organizers
to adjust accordingly. “We
might have planned one ses-
sion for 300 people,” Kelman
says, “but if there are actually
700 who want to do it, we
can add some repeats and
keep everyone happy.”
Once on site, attendees
wear conference badges out-
fitted with RFID chips, creat-
ing a seamless check-in and
allowing re:Invent to track
and react to session atten-
dance midweek as needed. MANY OF TODAY’S CONFERENCES, SUCH AS AWS’S RE:INVENT, HAVE TAKEN A CUE FROM MUSIC FESTIVALS IN CREATING PUBLIC SPACES WHERE ATTENDEES CAN RELAX BETWEEN SEGMENTS.