Held over four days in May in Minneapolis, the inaugural VeeCon, produced by VeeFriends, drew attendees from 47 states and 70 countries, of which 83% were first-time visitors to Minnesota, said VeeCon spokesperson Maha Abouelenein. VeeCon generated an economic impact of $21m in Minneapolis, according to calculations by VeeFriends.
ASM says it has seen pent-up demand at events produced at its portfolio of 350+ premier venues worldwide. “It’s more important than ever to gather communities together in person,” said Ron Bension, president and CEO of ASM Global, which manages 98 convention centres, including some of the largest and busiest US venues such as McCormick Place, Moscone Center and the Los Angeles Convention Center.
The VeeCon launch event, Bension said, continued the upcoming business-meeting boom that is being seen in Minneapolis and worldwide.
In the last month alone, ASM Global venues have hosted several high-profile events, including the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago, Connect Marketplace in Puerto Rico and the American Thoracic Society International Conference in San Francisco. The National Restaurant Association Show alone attracted 50,000 attendees and 1,200 exhibiting companies to McCormick Place at the end of May.
“VeeFriends and VeeCon was the culmination of my business and creative passions; this made it special to me to see the first inaugural VeeCon come to fruition here in Minnesota,” said Vaynerchuk, CEO and creator of VeeFriends, an NFT project inspired by his desire to build a community around his creative and business endeavours using NFT technology. “I am so grateful to bring iconic figures together to meet the VeeFriends community and speak about topics I’ve been passionate about my whole life,” he added.
Speakers who attended the in-person event included filmmaker Spike Lee; actresses Mila Kunis and Eva Longoria; author Deepak Chopra and Mark Manson; Logan Paul; Liam Paine; music artists Pharrell and Snoop Dogg.
VeeCon made use of the entire stadium venue, building activations in the concourses while using the cabins and club suites to create unique experiences for attendees. The four-day event featured nightly entertainment with concert performances by Wyclef Jean, GARZI, Lian Faz, Immasoul, Lil Polo Tee, Fresco Trey and Miguel.
Venue staff were trained on how to verify access through the show app for this first NFT-ticketed event. According to VeeCon, 10,255 NFT tokens, which included access to VeeCon for three years, were purchased before the event. “The stadium has 5G connectivity, free public Wi-Fi capability throughout the venue, and we added additional antennae on the floor to supplement the existing infrastructure,” said John Drum Jr., general manager of US Bank Stadium. “We are used to hosting large-scale events, like the Super Bowl in 2018, so we have the bandwidth to make sure the tech runs smoothly. VeeCon used the video boards and LED ribbon boards to enhance the main stage set.”
The venue and VeeCon worked closely with Meet Minneapolis to promote the event. “We were excited to welcome VeeCon attendees to Minneapolis. These large conventions play a vital role in supporting our tourism and hospitality industry,” said Melvin Tennant, CAE, president and CEO of Meet Minneapolis. “The value to our local community is supporting the tens of thousands of workers in our industry through the economic impact of visitor spending. In addition, we anticipate many of these first-time visitors to Minneapolis will return now that they have seen what our city has to offer.”