How Rapid7 and emc3 Created a Las Vegas-Themed Virtual Conference Closing Party

September 24, 2020

For more than 20 years, the Black Hat USA conference has brought together attendees from the world of cybersecurity research, development and trends. As with many other live events, this year’s conference — originally scheduled for Aug. 1-6 in Las Vegas — was held virtually for the first time in response to the pandemic. Transferring the content was one thing; translating the usual end-of-conference party was a challenge in itself. 

Conference organizers and cybersecurity company Rapid 7, which sponsored the party, wanted to create a similarly immersive experience in a virtual setting. To do that, they partnered with emc3, the full-service event company Rapid 7 had worked with once before on an early 2020 event.

“Having partnered with emc3 for our company kickoff in January, they were our natural choice when looking for an agency to help with our virtual event,” said Sue Fontes, senior director of experiential marketing for Rapid 7.

Rapid 7 and emc3 started by going back to the objectives for the gathering: a chance for the Black Hat conference attendees to unwind after days of content-filled sessions and for the opportunity for Rapid 7 to interact with customers. Because of the original Las Vegas location, the event team chose a gaming theme. Emc3 created a custom, non-cash-exchange poker site that was coupled with Zoom integration and featured Rapid7 custom branding throughout — including on the playing cards. 

The event began with a virtual greeting from professional poker player Daniel Negreanu. Players were then assigned to breakout rooms where they played against table opponents, with Negreanu commentating on the play from Mexico and answering questions from attendees. 

With a virtual setting and no money at risk, players from all over the world — even those who might not have been able to attend the live conference in Las Vegas — were able to participate. The top nine earning players from the first round were then invited to the grand finale and a chance to win a trip for two to the 2021 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

“We were pleased to have an opportunity to curate an immersive virtual experience,” said Saskya Liney, emc3 account manager. “Businesses everywhere are missing the power of human connection right now so it’s vital we provide creative solutions that enable teams to connect virtually while we can’t meet in person."

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