In early 2019 San Francisco software services juggernaut, Handshake decided to shake up their approach to serving job-seeking college and university students and the career centers that supported them across the nation. Their mission, to give all students the opportunity to build their ideal careers regardless of geographic location, degree earned or institution graduated from, was something people could get behind! Consequently, they experienced explosive growth in only 6 short years as well as the related challenge of how to keep pace and best meet, and exceed, the needs of their expanding customer base. After an internal assessment, the Handshake team opted to evolve a single user meetup into four events across the nation that would engage nearly 1,000 product users from diverse backgrounds all throughout the US.
And they decided to make the transition in fewer than 12 weeks.
Armed with only limited internal knowledge of the systems and processes required to design standard-yet-unique, repeatable, and scaleable event experiences for users, Handshake’s task became still more challenging as they aimed to roll out the newly adopted event series with no break in the management of day-to-day operations of their exponentially growing organization. The team had limited time to dedicate to event planning and production, let alone additional time to create, from scratch, an experience design plan for four events in four distinct geographic locals at the same price point as a single user meetup the year prior.
“It was truly a pleasure working with G+A. Mallory and her team were extremely thoughtful in their approach to keeping our priorities at the forefront. Specifically, they learned early on that we had little event planning experience and were very anxious about the process and making sure everything would run smoothly. They, in turn, ensured nothing was falling through the cracks.”
Katie Williams, Head of University Success, marketing and operations
Cognizant of equally critical priorities to design stellar events on budget and within a seriously tight planning timeline, the G+A crew rolled up our super stylish sleeves and got to work. We started at the very best place, the beginning, establishing a baseline for the reimagined event experience by reviewing existing assets and gauging team + company priorities. Then, we applied our impact-to-investment ratio approach to identify the experiential enhancements which would require the lowest investment of human and financial resources while yielding the highest positive impact: streamlining the registration process, improving hotel access for attendees and ensuring they received stellar service from contracted lodging partners, x and o-ing out a plan to avoid attrition penalties by collaborating with, rather than warring with, hotel partners. We focused on keeping our XD work simple, easy, + fun for the Handshake team and in so doing, established a rock-solid foundation on which to construct + manage the more complex elements of series planning. From multi-faceted, multi-event, dashboards to sold-out meetups, to post-event analytics, we scaffolded up series planning tactics and tools in a way that would have made Michelangelo proud*.
*In case you didn\’t know, Michelangelo is the original king of scaffolding. He spent four years on his back painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling.