Elevate 2023 sure was magic! Last week, FACTS hosted our 12th Elevate conference at the Swan and Dolphin Resorts in Orlando, Florida. This was our largest Elevate conference so far, with nearly 1600 attendees from FACTS schools across the country gathering to attend thought leadership and training sessions, network, and have some fun!

Inspired by our special setting, this year’s theme was The Magic Starts Here. This not only hints at the magic of our Walt Disney World location – which many attendees took advantage of with discounted twilight theme park tickets – but also at what we hope Elevate is for our attendees. We want Elevate to be a place where they can get inspired, grow the spark of magic they already have, and create incredible stories for their schools.

Sessions, Sessions, and More Sessions

This year, we hosted over 250 thought leadership and training sessions from industry leaders and FACTS experts. Perfect for both new and experienced FACTS users, attendees were able to select classes based on specific tracks that laid out sessions of special interest for Marketing, Enrollment, Financial Aid, and more. Our Whova app made scheduling simple, and classes filled up quickly.

We were especially excited to host sessions from our first annual FACTS Teacher Innovation Awards winners. The five recipients led sessions throughout the conference, presenting on their winning projects and inspiring their fellow educators with the ways they’re making a difference in their schools through innovation. Winners also attended a special lunch with FACTS leadership and were acknowledged onstage during our Wednesday keynote.

Returning Favorites

Feedback is incredibly important in the Elevate planning process, so we made sure to bring back fan favorites! This meant hosting our popular Preconference Workshops for a second year. Offered the first day of the conference, these in-depth hands-on workshops are perfect for beginners and offer a deep dive into specific FACTS products. Additionally, we brought back our Expert Bar, where attendees can meet one-on-one with FACTS product experts and get personalized advice on the best way to tackle their school’s challenges through technology.

While our Exhibition Hall returned this year as well, it was bigger than ever before! We were proud to host 30 sponsors and exhibitors at Elevate 2023, with booths located right beside the main breakfast area to encourage attendees to stop and chat with each vendor. We even hosted an Exhibitor Passport contest through Whova, where at the end of the week, all attendees that got their badges scanned at every exhibitor booth was automatically entered to win AirPods Pro! Our five lucky winners were chosen the last day of the conference and were excited to go home with such a great prize.

Noteworthy Keynotes

This year’s keynote speaker was the inspiring George Couros. Kicking us off Tuesday morning, he set a great tone for the week, reminding attendees of the true meaning of education and that no matter how many negatives there seem to be, we can always drown them out with positives and stay focused on our mission.

On Wednesday, FACTS President Scott Spethman and Managing Director of Product Jeremy Penner took to the stage to share some of FACTS’ most recent accomplishments, important product updates, and what’s next in our story. This main stage session was capped off with an appearance from Courtney Haindel, Product Marketing Manager and our resident FACTS^SPACE expert, who introduced the top FACTS^SPACE users and helped “launch” FACTS^SPACE shirts into the crowd.

An Enchanted Evening

While we always host an evening reception for attendees, this year’s was even more special. Our Tuesday night reception was full of delicious food, drinks, and engaging extras like a 360-degree photo booth, but nothing tops the appearances from some Disney VIPs – Mickey and Minnie Mouse! Attendees lined up for pictures with their favorite characters as they networked and enjoyed special Disney snacks like Mickey ice cream bars. We even offered special Elevate 3D glasses, which made lights show the FACTS logo, and could be used for firework displays the rest of the week in Disney.

New This Year

One final way that we brought the Disney magic into Elevate was through our new scavenger hunt! Owlie’s Magical Mission encouraged attendees to search for 15 versions of our mascot, Owlie, hidden throughout the conference space. Once completing their map and returning to Guest Services, attendees would receive their very own Owlie plushie. It was great to see lots of attendees getting their children and families involved in this activity, as well as hearing from others that they’d love to bring the idea back to their schools. We’re excited to keep this new tradition going!

Elevate 2023 was also home to the first in-person meeting of the Analytics Advisory Board. Comprised of school and diocesan contacts that are advancing analytics in their organizations, this group helps to drive the direction of analytics at FACTS as we develop FACTS Data Insights. The meeting at Elevate focused on dashboards, sparking great discussions and providing the FACTS team with tangible feedback that we can use to continue to refine the dashboards we are creating.

Overall, Elevate 2023 was a huge success, and we’re so grateful to everyone that helped create such a special event. With client feedback, we look forward to improving this conference every year and can’t wait to do it again in Atlanta in 2024. We hope to see you there!