We are Event Strategy Group.


GS1 Connect

GS1 Connect is GS1’s annual user conference, held in Phoenix, AZ in 2018. The conference brought together approximately 1,200 users including 51 exhibitors across several industries, including thought leaders, industry innovators, GS1 Standards experts, and trading partners, aiming to accelerate knowledge, business outcomes, and their careers.


ESG’s history with GS1 Connect started in 2015 in Austin as one of several production agencies, and has since advanced to running the show entirely in house after success in the past 3 years. We came in confidently equipped with knowledge from the years prior, and bursting at the seams with ideas for how to bring our innovation and creative touch to the conference in 2018.

The Challenges

  • As GS1 Connect evolves each year, it is important to our client to stay on trend with the most relevant innovations. Thankfully, innovation is our middle name–we were up to the challenge of implementing cutting-edge techniques and technology into the conference.
  • We needed to devise ways to eliminate the need for paper in registration, industry zones, surveys and other traditionally paper-heavy areas.
  • Staying in budget is a universal objective in all our projects. And as a boutique agency, we know the importance of cost savings. We do everything in our power (and pull all the strings) to ensure our clients stay in budget every time.
  • Managing user conferences is not a cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all kind of ordeal, and factors you might not expect, like the location’s climate, influence multiple facets of the event. It’s no secret that Phoenix is a hot destination (we’re talking about temperature here, people). We needed to be cognizant of this when planning networking and social events within the conference.
  • Without sponsors, the event simply wouldn’t happen. We needed to celebrate our client’s sponsors in a unique and effective way to communicate their desired messages, and share their brand in an interactive, memorable way.
  • In previous years, exhibitors in less-trafficked areas of the show floor often felt isolated from attendees. We needed to devise a layout in which exhibitors of all sizes would be accommodated and able to interact with their audience effectively.

Our Solution

  • We brought innovation to the table by working with our client to challenge their status quo and display their brand in ways they hadn’t before. We embraced the current wellness trend by including an optional leisure walking route into conference maps, offered yoga classes in the mornings before the conference began, and implemented the ever-popular smoothie bike in the conference passport program space. A 60-foot LED screen made for high-impact keynote presentations and offered more flexibility in branding and design. Lastly, utilizing the Coca Cola Freestyle machines (an event sponsor) with RFID-integrated cups allowed us to create unique “experience zones,” and provided our client with useful consumer data post-event.
  • To address the paperless initiative, ESG created a unique mobile app in-house, completely customized to fit GS1 Connect’s needs. We included a completely branded interface, with digital surveys as well as automated registration to eliminate the need for paper in those areas. The app also provided an opportunity for ad space and push notifications to take place of printed sponsorship pieces, engaging attendees on a personal level with sponsors.
  • In addition to the cost savings provided by the mobile app in cutting print needs, ESG also engaged a new tech partner to automate a tedious presentation review process previously done by hand for 135 speakers and sessions, saving our client both time and money. Holding the evening networking event on-site eliminated the need for transportation and concerns about getting attendees comfortably from point A to point B in the Phoenix heat, providing additional cost savings.
  • We created a unique floor plan integrating points of interest such as meals and transition spaces with exhibitor booths in order to boost foot traffic and audience engagement.
  • Thinking on our feet led to an unexpected win when a planned session room flip didn’t happen and a different layout needed to be used–the client ended up loving our solution so much that they plan to use it for similar needs in the future.

The Results

  • App adoption for the conference was at 94%, up from 69% in the inaugural year.
  • With the mobile app, we were able to make the passport program a paperless initiative, providing both cost savings and an eco friendly alternative to past options.
  • Exhibitors enjoyed increased foot traffic through their booths as a result of our RFID experience zones and updated floor plan.