9 Questions with Convene, New York’s Premiere Network of Meeting and Event Venues

Convene is one of the nation’s fastest growing network of meeting, event, and conference venues that combine technology, culinary, production, and human-centered design into a transformative user experience.

The company also leverages its workplace-as-a-service platform to provide on-demand solutions for building tenants and their employees.

We’re proud to call Convene a partner of #SMWNYC, where 15+ workshops will take place at their 117 West 46th Street location during Social Media Week New York. We spoke with Jenna Wollemann Convene’s Corporate Communications & PR Manager to discuss some of the amazing things her team is doing in the conferences, meetings, and events space.

1. What does Convene provide, offer, or do that is unlike any other event space?

Founded in 2009, Convene combines sleek and customizable meeting and event spaces with the latest technologies to help clients host events of all types and sizes.

Our trusted event management staff takes care of all event logistics and execution in-house, from imagining and developing inventive food and drink menus, managing state-of-the-art technology for various events, and making sure the visions of our enterprise clients become a reality in a variety of modern and unique venues in the tri-state area.

2. What does the Convene brand represent?

Convene is a values-based company. Everything we do is centered around what we call GRIT. All of our employees, partners and vendors must encompass this value, as it’s critical to our success of our work together. GRIT is an acronym that stands for Genuine, Relentless, Integrity and Teamwork, and this philosophy helps Convene execute, grow and innovate.

3. Is each Convene space different from the other? Are there any parallels that can be drawn from all Convene spaces?

All of Convene’s locations are found in contemporary urban settings, many of them occupying an entire floor (or multiple floors) of commercial office buildings.

While the layout of each Convene venue is different, most have a large common area at the center of each location, with various styles and sizes of meeting space and breakout rooms around the perimeter – called Studios, Hubs and Forums. Convene can host meetings varying in size from 2-700 attendees, with our largest venues in the heart of NYC.

All Convene venues look and feel slightly different in order to accommodate different types of industries and meeting styles. For example, some spaces are geared towards trainings or large-scale conferences and town halls, and others are for more intimate meetings. However, all of our venues have an integrated and holistic approach to meetings. Each Convene location combines human-centered design, technology, culinary and hospitality to provide an engaging, interactive and unique experience for event attendees.

When designing our spaces, Convene conducted focus groups with enterprise clients and asked what an ideal event space would look like. There were many commonalities in the feedback, including the importance of flexible/adaptable event space, the need for easy, seamless and state-of-the-art technology as well as communal work areas.

We also have an in-house design team, Assemble, that works tirelessly to track workplace and event trends. By putting ourselves in the seats of meeting planners and participants, we have created a network of human-centered, design-friendly spaces – build with the end use in mind.

4. What are some of the most common things your team hears as positive feedback about the space?

Clients that host meetings of all sizes with Convene love the modern and sleek design of our spaces, the advanced technical capabilities of our rooms, the healthy, locally-sourced food and drink menus, the dedicated meeting planners that help accomplish their goals, and the thoughtful details in each of our venues.

The thoughtful details can be attributed to human-centered design, which focuses on the unmet needs of the people that will be using the space. A few examples of services that our clients love, that also represent human-centered design principles, are our Nourish café stations and our resource trays.

All Convene locations have a Nourish café, with unlimited sweet and savory snacks and a variety of caffeinated and non-caffeinated drinks. Meeting attendees can access Nourish at any time during their day, to help power them through their meetings. It is set up to feel like your own kitchen and bring the comforts of home into the workday.

Additionally, all Convene meeting rooms are equipped with a resource tray with extra pens, paper and office supplies to ensure participants are never short on anything they may need to host a productive meeting.

5. How does Convene approach conferences and meetings different from other venues?

Our team’s commitment to hospitality and our holistic approach to meetings and events set Convene apart from other venues. From the minute we receive an inquiry about a space to the day of their event, our team is all-hands on deck, making sure every last detail and request is taken care of. Since Convene has dedicated in-house technology, culinary, service and production teams, additional vendors do not need to be brought in to our space, making the event planning experience seamless and simple for our clients.

6. How does Convene use social media channels? Any interesting things about content creation from a venue POV?

We leverage Instagram to showcase the design and usability of our spaces, showcasing beautiful photos of our venues and how they can be used for different types of events and meetings.

Our blog on Convene.com is also an important channel for us to share thought leadership on various topics related to the future of real estate, workplace and design trends, and various technology and culinary topics, as well as useful tips for our meeting planner audience.

Focusing on longer-form content such as e-books allows us to highlight the value proposition of our spaces as well.

7. What are some of the most exciting events that Convene has hosted or been involved with?

More than 65% of Fortune 100 companies partner with Convene to host events, meetings and conferences of all sizes annually.

8. Any plans to expand beyond NYC, Philly and DC?

Convene’s near-term expansion plans include opening new locations in Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago, as well as further national and international expansion in the longer-term.

9. What is the one thing you/Convene wants others to know about the space?

Convene is simply the easiest place to host a better meeting or event.

View the full schedule to see the official events taking place at Convene at 117 West 46th Street. We’re thrilled to host our Workshops there on Tuesday and Wednesday of #SMWNYC. Convene is also providing #SMWNYC pass holders a lounge and communal workspace area to unwind and relax in between sessions, complete with snacks and coffee. Don’t miss it!

Adaptly at #SMWNYC: Forecasting The E-Commerce Power of Pinterest and Balancing Facebook vs. Instagram

At SMW New York, Adaptly will bring their social marketing expertise to the #SMWNYC stage for two sessions that digital marketers will want to pay attention to.

Adaptly uses powerful technology and social marketing expertise to empower digital media buyers to maximize marketing experiences across Facebook, Twitter, and other emerging platforms.

Pinterest: From Inspiration To Conversion

Their first session, “Pinterest: From Inspiration To Conversion” will explore the visual social network that now has 100 million active users, and is the second-largest source of social media traffic for e-commerce companies.

The highly-visual platform allows retail marketers to achieve not only scale, but also relevancy through granular targeting like specific product categories and competitors.

This session takes place Thursday the 25th at 10:30am at The TimesCenter. Speakers Michael Akkerman (Head of Marketing Developer Partnerships, Pinterest) and Brian Magida (Director, Digital Marketing, Warby Parker) will discuss how to bridge the gap between brand and direct response campaigns on Pinterest, and how this growing platform represents the future of e-commerce. Joining Michael and Brian will be Sean O’Neal (President, Adaptly).

Friends, Not Frenemies: Facebook And Instagram

Adaptly’s second session features Ruth Arber (Director of Solutions, Adaptly), Josh Machiz (Director of Integrated Marketing, Nasdaq), Kristin Rolla Mirek (VP, Multi-Platform Development & Marketing, TV Land at Viacom), and Jessica Sherrets (Brand Development Lead, Instagram) for a discussion on the effectiveness of Facebook vs. Instagram for driving advertising performance at scale.

Many advertisers wonder how these two platforms coexist, and whether they’re complementary media opportunities or stand-alone channels.

On Thursday the 25th at 1:00pm at the SVA Theatre, attendees of “Friends, Not Frenemies: Facebook And Instagram” will join the conversation to explore which brands and strategies are the most successful tapping into Facebook and Instagram simultaneously, and how measuring your social marketing efforts is an essential process to develop within your organization.

5 Minutes With Eventbrite

Eventbrite is an online service that people everywhere use to create, share, and join events. Whether a photography class with a local artist, or a sold-out concert in a city stadium, Eventbrite makes it happen. This year, Eventbrite joins SMW NYC as our Premium Pass Sponsor, so we sat down with Eventbrite’s Sara Altier to talk about all things social marketing:

1. Eventbrite relies heavily on social marketing. How has your social media strategy changed over the last year?
Events are social, right? They’re more fun to attend with your friends — so we’ve focused on empowering our attendees to find and share more events.  Based on the data we’ve released with our Social Commerce report, we’ve know that Facebook drives quite a bit of traffic to events. Since our recent integration with Facebook Open Graph, we’ve changed the way we allow attendees to find and share events. We send out monthly “Event Picks” newsletters using data from previous events with high attendance rates, as well as events the recipient’s Facebook friends have signed up for. We’ve also started sending out social notification emails, so if two of your friends are attending the same event, you’ll get a notification.

2. In 2010, Eventbrite was the first company to offer data about the financial benefits of “sharing,” revealing that every time someone shared a paid event on Facebook, it drove an additional $2.52 in revenue back to the event organizer, and 11 additional page views of their event page. Are there any over overwhelming data points, like that one, that inform your social strategy?
This past fall, we released our Global Social Commerce report. Aside from interesting data points like Italy sharing the most and the UK clicking the most, we found that while Twitter shares increase traffic to an event page, Facebook still drives the most revenue. You can check out the report here!

3. Eventbrite was used in over 175 countries in the last year. Do you tailor your social marketing strategy for each country? If so, how do they differ?
In the past year we’ve launched localized sites in 13 countries outside of the US. We offer localized support in 7 different languages and have local City Marketing Managers in 8 of our major metros. We tailor each country’s strategy to best align with the trends and communication patterns of each location.

4. Do you find that marketing “Cause” events requires a different strategy than events with a charitable component? How so?
At the end of the day, marketing all events is essentially the same. Sure, there are differences between marketing cause-related events and marketing sporting events, for example, but the underlying strategy for marketing all events can be boiled down to three points: 1. Know your target audience. 2. Decide on a goal. (Are you more focused on general awareness or a specific amount of money you want to raise?) 3. Craft regular, tailored information that will inspire your target audience to act. Our blog is an excellent resource for event organizers that need a bit more assistance figuring out their strategy!

5. What do you think is the most exciting thing happening in the emerging technology and/or new media space right now? How will that inform your work?
Where to begin! It’s hard to just mention one specific thing, but I think the fact that so many people are embracing new technology to change their lives for the better is the most exciting to me. It’s so humbling that Eventbrite is being used everywhere — from rallying people around an important cause to helping them acquire skills that will empower them to enter a new line of work. We aim to provide a product that will continue evolving and helping our users achieve success in whatever they set out to do.

6. Tell us about your goals for SMW. As a 2013 Premium Pass Sponsor, what do you hope attendees will take away from the experience?
Social media is changing the way we do business in a very fundamental way. I think that a lot of non-industry people’s perception of social media is tainted by the prevalence of cheap buzzwords and too many people claiming to be ‘social media ninjas’. I hope that Premium Pass Holders will come to SMWNYC to make sincere connections and share knowledge about how social media is making measurable impact at companies like Eventbrite.

7. This year, our global theme is “Open & Connected: Principles for a Collaborative World.” How does Eventbrite embody and/or support this idea?
There’s something really magical about bringing an online interaction offline. The fact that our self-service platform enables event organizers from all around the world (179 different countries last year alone!) to bring people together is a true testament to how we support the global theme of Social Media Week, and we couldn’t be happier to be involved!

5 Minutes with BuzzFeed’s Jon Steinberg

We sat down with SMWNYC Supporting Sponsor Buzzfeed’s Jon Steinberg to talk journalism, branding and more. BuzzFeed is the leading social news organization, intensely focused on delivering high-quality original reporting, insight, and social content across a rapidly expanding array of subject areas. Here’s what he had to say:

What is BuzzFeed’s greatest success with social media to date?
I’d largely attribute it to our singular focus on social, which really comes from Jonah’s vision and focus for the company from day one. Our technology, editorial, and ad products all focus on creating and optimizing things that excite and inspire people to share. This has allowed us to grow the site rapidly and do only truly social advertising in lieu of banners.

What do you think is the most exciting thing happening in the emerging technology and/or new media space right now?
Well, it’s certainly the big move to social and mobile. And I think that’s one trend. This summer, the BuzzFeed Partner, which includes 300 million unique visitors from sites like Time, Daily Mail, and Huff Post got more traffic in aggregate from Facebook than from Google. And at BuzzFeed we now get about 30% to 40% of traffic from mobile. People are literally discovering and consuming media in a completely different channel then even a few years ago.

What are you looking forward to most at SMWNYC 2013?
I always like to hear about what brands that I’m unfamiliar with are doing. It’s always a great place to get ideas, and the sessions tend to always have people who are eager to chat after their panels. I love catching a few sessions each day.

Tell us about your goals for SMW. As the 2013 Official Supporting Sponsor and a host of several events, what do you hope attendees will take away from the experience?
I hope that people who have never heard of us will get to understand what BuzzFeed does in Social Advertising and that those who are curious already will attend events and panels where we can answer their questions.

What is the most creative way you’ve seen social media used?
I love these new social illustrations and infographics we’re doing for brands like AT&T and AMC’s Walking Dead.


It’s a new genre for our social ad products that our new Chief Creative Officer Jeff Greenspan has rolled out.  They are very native to the web are a designed to be shareable and relatable to fans (of say Zombies) or people interested in a given area (Classic Literature).

This year, our global theme is “Open & Connected: Principles for a Collaborative World.” How does BuzzFeed embody or support this idea? 
In many ways BuzzFeed is a site that couldn’t exist without a connected world where people collaborated to share and and inform each other with all varieties of content. BuzzFeed is the oposite of an isolated, individual in front-of-a-disconnected-terminal scenario.

What brands do you think are leading the way in innovation with social and digital?
I look every week at the campaigns we’re running and think about which one interests me the most and why. I’d honestly say the answer is different every week. This week I’m loving the AT&T and AMC campaigns. From a longer term perspective, GE and Virgin Mobile have been working with us in a deep and long term fashion and are consistently pushing and innovating in what it means to be a social, always-on publisher.

We couldn’t be more excited to have Buzzfeed on board for SMW NYC! Stay tuned to the special announcements coming out on Buzzfeed, like this video reminding us how to do social media. Then, see them in action during the week at JWT with Genuine Appeal — Creativity and Authenticity in the Social Age on Wednesday, February 20th; at The Golden Age of Storytelling on Thursday at Hearst; Longform in a Shortform World at 92Y on Friday; and at our Opening Reception on Tuesday!

Spotlight on Nathaniel Perez, Head of Social Marketing at SapientNitro

Continuing our breakdown of local sponsors, we’re taking a deeper look at SapientNitro, an integrated marketing and technology company, building relationships between consumers and brands.

Nathaniel Perez, head of social marketing for SapientNitro, shares his insights on where marketing and technology are taking companies. He’ll also talk a little about how SapientNitro is challenging the way you look at education and just how they’ll be involving you in SMWNYC.

Read on, and keep up with this team on Facebook and Twitter.

How did SapientNitroSM get involved in Social Media Week? 
This is SapientNitro’s second year participating in Social Media Week NY and our first in DC, Miami, and San Francisco. The organic, collaborative approach of the festival draws people who are truly passionate about the space and are shaping its role for tomorrow. The quality of the content, the speakers, and the attendees is first class. But it’s the spirit and energy of the festival and the connections we make that bring us back.

SapientNitro has been involved with SMW NYC in the past and is continuing their involvement in SMW NYC’s Social & Environmental Change space. How is social change a part of your ethos/culture? 
SapientNitro has a human-centric mindset: from HR policies focused on human capital, to deep research skills in human-centered experience design and anthropology, to social experience. Our people are organically and heavily involved in social change and social good activities. In addition, we often takes on pro-bono work that is aimed at leveraging digital for social change, such as Malaria No More and Communication Shutdown (global autism campaign). We pride ourselves in having the heart to apply our digital skills to effect change. And we do so at SMW again, hoping to create change through a dialogue about the very things we do.

SapientNitro is a leader in integrated marketing & technology. What interesting trends are you seeing in this space and where do you see it going in the next few years? 
The next few years will not only be about harnessing Big Data, but about monetizing it. Transformation in the creative, social and digital media arenas will be required in order to make media much more reactive to trends, which we will soon be able to analyze in the moment. There will be a reversing of the social engagement model, widely moving from reactive to proactive models, with live insights always on tap.


As an international brand, what differences do you see in these trends across cultural borders and how does Sapient incorporate this into your strategies?
Technology today is the expression of human and advertising behavior. As the technology and audience landscape vary dramatically across regions, we are seeing different patterns of digital and social ecosystem formation. We study human behavior across cultures, understanding the differences in passions and pathways to engagement. Once we understand what relevant technologies will lead to the expression of local behaviors, we can activate locally relevant strategies successfully. That being said, the trends we see are global. The approaches we envision to monetize them are also global. Different regions will however require implementations that are locally sensitive, especially to language, linguistics, media behavior, social networks, social data sources and technographics.

Can you give us a sneak peek at what SapientNitro has in store for SMW NYC? 
On Tuesday, Feb 14 we’ll be leading a discussion in the Social & Environmental Change hub about the Classroom of the Future. Through a series of group exercise, videos, and discussion around new ways to get students the resources they need, we’re going to ask these innovators to envision a futuristic classroom – and we’re going to ask you to help. By the end, we want everyone to have a vision of what a socially empowered, and more equal, educational system in American could look like.

On Thursday, Feb 16 in in the same hub, we’re going to bring history to life. We’ll assemble some of the voices of both Berkeley and Zuccotti Park and explore how technology has, or hasn’t, changed social mobilization and protest over the course of 40 years. We’ll look at images, video, hear stories from the protestors, as well as members of the media, to understand how much the dynamic of civic movements has been affected by the technology boom. We want good, healthy debate, so we’ll provide opportunities for our speakers to challenge and learn from each other, as well as from you.

What are you most looking forward to regarding participating in SMW NYC again? 
Creating experiences that spark dialogue and connections, long after the festival ends. (And, we admit, the closing party is a hoot.)

Spotlight on SocialVibe

Last week, we began looking at the organizations behind SMWNYC, making it all happen. Second in our series highlighting our local sponsors is SocialVibe, digital advertising company that builds philanthropy into its core. SVP Sales of North America, Mike Barbeau tells us the story of how it evolved into an award-winning, game changing company- and the lack of singing ability on their team. Learn more about this inspiring sponsor and make sure to keep up with them online on Facebook and Twitter.

Mike, our global theme for SMW12 is “Empowering Change through Collaboration.” How does SocialVibe support this?
The theme is very fitting for what SocialVibe is doing to try to change the way advertising works today. Collaboration in digital media is something that starts in the media itself as consumers are finally being brought into the fold when it comes to advertising online. Instead of being bombarded by advertising desperate for their attention, consumers are being invited into experiences or even initiating ad experiences on their own.

This focus on a consumer’s attention is one that requires advertisers and publishers to work together to respect that attention and deliver a positive consumer experience. The beauty of this transition is that it means the experience starts with the consumer. Solving the “attention riddle” is something that requires collaboration at every level of the digital media world, and we need to empower each other with the tools and know-how to fix online advertising.

What new trends do you expect to see more of in 2012? 
From a creative standpoint, I expect to see more consumer-driven ad experiences. Not just interactive ads, but ads that are built to let the consumer truly control the experience. We’ll be seeing more ads that are built where the consumer is at the forefront and the brand is actually “helping” them get something they actually want in the form of information, offers or content. Mobile will probably be at the forefront of this as it’s the most personal platform for consumers and one in which the market is ripe for innovation. I also expect to see new forms of accepted online ad measurement and accountability making their way into digital discussions. Lastly, I think we’ll see more publishers adopting new, alternative ad models to monetize their sites and provide better experiences for their users.

SocialVibe has reinvented digital advertising, and been awarded by Forbes “Best Social Media Campaign” in 2010 for your work with Bing. Why have your campaigns been so successful, and how have you been able to engage such large number of users around brands? 
It’s actually pretty simple — we put the consumer first in the experience. By giving them something of value endemic to their online experience, we built a model around the one thing all advertisers want: consumer attention.

In exchange for social currency, access to content, or charitable donations, we’re able to drive millions of consumers to invite themselves into ad experiences. In doing so, we solved for the core goal of media anywhere — to get consumers to pay attention to a brand message. Instead of needing 1000 impressions to get a single user to see a brand message, we only need one experience to drive over a minute of active attention on a message. This performance brand advertising model guarantees that the message is actually seen, and it helps brands achieve their intended back-end effects (i.e. purchase, signup, etc.).

SocialVibe is digital advertising company with a charitable component. Can you tell us a bit more about the platform and how it got started? 
SocialVibe started out as a cause-motivated social media community where people could complete brand activities in order to generate free micro-donations to charity. The engagement advertising model that you now see across Zynga games, Pandora, IMVU and other consumer sites was born out of this innovative technology, and we’re really proud of our charity roots.


The work that SocialVibe is doing to fundraise for users’ personal causes is inspiring. How has this evolved and what have been some of the most inspirational or motivational stories from this? 
Many of us started working at SocialVibe at least in part because of the aspect of philanthropy, and it remains at the center of our culture even as we build our ad model into other types of partner sites. One of my favorite stories was very early on when the folks at PowerBar’s marketing center got a call from a consumer who wanted to thank them for supporting their cause. The call center had no idea what the consumer was talking about, and it ended up getting passed along all the way to the brand manager who had bought the campaign with us. It was a pretty fun way to show that consumers actually cared about the impact a brand could make in the real world.

We also did a campaign one year with a brand supporting Dress for Success, a non-profit that provide professional business attire for low-income women. During the campaign,SocialVibe received a call from a woman who wanted to donate boxes of clothes but didn’t have a “drop” center near her house. We ended up paying for her to ship the clothes to the nearest center, whereupon the brand got a call saying it had been their biggest individual donation from a consumer, ever. Pretty cool stuff.

What are you hoping to see in this year’s SMW? 
Besides the industry’s greatest minds bellying up to the bar, I’d love to see people working together to identify new ways to measure the digital landscape. We all need to define a metric for the industry, because online measurement seems to be heading in the wrong direction. So whether it’s on a bar napkin or in a panel, getting a few people to sketch out how we can define successes in the industry would be a great start as we head into our 3rd decade of digital media.

What can New Yorkers expect to see from SocialVibe at SMW this February? 
Hopefully no singing from any member of the SocialVibe team, no one sleeping through my panel, and also no snow. (But I can’t promise any of these.)