Cvent, a market-leading meetings, events, and hospitality technology provider, today concluded its annual Cvent CONNECT® conference. The event was hosted as a hybrid experience, delivering one event with two unique experiences for the in-person and virtual audience. In addition to unveiling new products and services, speakers and industry experts provided insights on the future of meetings and events and how best to leverage technology in the new meetings and events landscape. Cvent CEO & Founder Reggie Aggarwal delivered the opening keynote address, offering a thoughtful look at the transformation, accelerated by the global pandemic, of the meetings and events industry. “We’ve witnessed the transformation of our industry in a matter of months—not years,” Aggarwal noted.
Taking attendees through the last 18 months, Aggarwal recounted the pandemic’s impact on the global economy. “In the early days of the pandemic, when in-person events were practically nonexistent, none of us were feeling very optimistic about our industry,” he said. “COVID hit us like a freight train and practically overnight the entire world effectively shut down.” Yet, Aggarwal added, even in that moment, with so many unknowns, Cvent customers, employees, and meetings and events professionals around the world never lost hope: “Who would’ve thought that we’d be here, 18 months later, with the technology and expertise to deliver events that could reach and engage more people than pre-pandemic.”
Aggarwal condensed this transformation into four key pillars that define the new events landscape:
1. The Rapid Digitization of the Industry
During the pandemic, many meetings and events professionals had to embrace technology to fill the in-person events void. Because of this digital transformation, organizations discovered the massive reach of virtual experiences—and the accessibility and flexibility they offer. By leveraging technology, such as the Cvent Attendee Hub™, organizations also discovered the depth of attendee engagement data that can be collected and utilized to drive better business outcomes.
2. Evolving Roles of Planners, Hoteliers, and Attendees
When everything went virtual, planners had to adapt; working more closely with marketing and technology teams as the lines between digital marketing, technology, and events blurred. In turn, they have taken on roles as data scientists—working to ensure data flows from one event to the next and measuring event impact across the customer or employee journey.
Hoteliers, meanwhile, recognized and adapted to the desire of their customer – the event planner – to explore and book event space completely online. Forward-looking hoteliers are showing off their space with high quality virtual tours, 3D event diagrams, and enhanced onsite technology infrastructure. Aggarwal noted, “In short, we’re in an environment now where a hotel’s digital assets are becoming almost as important as their physical ones.”
Attendees, for their part, have come to expect that virtual events be more engaging and informative. They expect digital components that complement and enhance their in-person experience–whether that’s through more personalized pre-event networking sessions, interactive mobile event apps, access to on-demand content for the sessions they missed, or online communities to continue the conversation post-event.
3. The Triple Threat: The Combination of In-Person, Virtual, Hybrid Events
Virtual events now play an important role as part of a more strategic Total Event ProgramSM, and the industry’s success with virtual and the clear desire for in-person event experiences make a strong case for hybrid events, which offer the best of both worlds: the deep engagement of in-person and the scale of virtual. “As a planner, you have to be proficient in managing, producing, and executing all three because we believe your attendees won’t just expect it, they’ll demand it,” said Aggarwal. “And it’s the combination of these three event types that we believe will lead to even greater success for our industry.”
4. The Continuous Event
With the combination of in-person, virtual, and hybrid events, attendees have more ways to interact with events than they did pre-pandemic. “And frankly, when you factor in that content is now on-demand, the traditional start and end dates of events start to blur – because in the digital world, engagement never stops. We believe planners and marketers now have a tremendous opportunity to embrace what we’re calling the continuous event. These ‘always on’ digital environments are where event organizers can engage their customers, employees, members, alumni, or donors with more content and more opportunities to connect.”
To conclude, Aggarwal highlighted Cvent’s continued commitment to its customers.
“You’ll always have a partner that understands your business, the complexities of your role, and some of the pain points that you experience. We’re here to support you in your technology journey and to help you make the most of this digital transformation. Together, I look forward to making the most of this new events landscape.”
Read the full opening keynote transcript here.