If there is any question that meeting and event planner shows are roaring back, last week’s Cvent Connect, held April 11-14 at Caesars Forum in Las Vegas, provided a resounding answer: Yes. Participation more than doubled over its 2019 peak, with more than 11,000 registrants, 1,800 of whom were in-person attendees who traveled to Las Vegas for the show that highlights event marketing and management technologies. With event staff and budgets already constrained, and in-person attendance unpredictable, Cvent’s technology tools that streamline venue selection, registration, marketing, event management, and engagement were of particular interest.
Are big, branded events like Cvent Connect going to be the format of the future, muscling out smaller association meetings? Not necessarily, Patrick Smith, Cvent Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, said. “If that’s the fear, associations can co-op with larger shows instead of running their own branded events.”
If they do host their events, to stay relevant, they must provide an event experience that makes attending worthwhile in terms of time, energy, and cost. “It’s especially important to provide well-produced, compelling content,” Smith said. “Will someone pay to attend a virtual event when in 2020 it may have been free? If you’re going to convince someone to pay for it, you must provide up-level content, and that’s where technology helps deliver the experience.”
Technology is more important than ever as planners face the challenges of managing three types of events: in-person, virtual, and hybrid.
“Now that you have digitization in the event space, organizations can make events extremely metrics-driven to understand how people are engaging with your event,” said Smith. “At an in-person event, you can set up ways to identify when and where people go on the exhibit floor, what sessions they attend, how long they stay, and how they interact with the mobile app. Likewise, with virtual and hybrid events, there is also a virtual trail.” Last year’s Cvent Connect generated 750K unique engagement points on the attendees, Smith added.
Income generation opportunity
Another advantage to Cvent Connect’s hybrid model: Income generation. “Associations are looking for ways to monetize the virtual side of their events, and having online content can be a significant source of revenue,” said Smith. “In our case, we will have people registering for Cvent Connect weeks and months after the show, viewing on-demand content at their convenience.”
Besides the convenience, virtual content is an important accessibility extension — meaning that users can access it if they are physically unable to attend because of a time conflict, travel restrictions, or a tight budget. “Event technology essentially offers associations more opportunities to reach and engage a broader audience outside their traditional member base,” Smith said.
Speaking of budgets, another lesson event planners can learn from Cvent Connect is how to use technology to make the planning process more time- and cost-effective. Cvent launched its new Cvent Vendor Marketplace, an expansion of the Cvent Supplier Network, on the first day of the show.
By providing a few details about their event, the Marketplace lets planners browse matching vendors, automate requests for information (RFIs), make and save notes, and track and compare responses in a graphics tool rather than on multiple spreadsheets. A search engine helps source vendors across nearly all event categories — A/V and production, content and design, destination management companies, event management, health and safety, and travel and transportation. From there, it’s an easy jump to the automated RFP process and then the booking.
Integrated software tools
Another new Cvent tool, the App Marketplace that integrates various third-party SaaS platforms with the Cvent platform, was also launched at the show. Initial participants include Salesforce, Google Analytics, Adobe Marketo, Uber for Business, American Express, and SAP Concur. The App Marketplace will continue to grow as more technology partners, and third parties develop on top of the Cvent platform and build ready-to-use apps for meeting and event professionals.