Business News

Cvent Offers Glimpse Into Return of In-Person Events This Year

Skift Take

Cvent’s first earnings call as a public company Thursday confirmed it had a good year while forecasting strong growth ahead. As the company moves to invest in expanding its SaaS offerings, will betting on hybrid events pay off?

The event management giant pointed to fourth-quarter figures to indicate that in-person events are coming back strong and that Cvent’s comprehensive products leave it well-positioned for expansion in the new hybrid event ecosystem.

The analysts on the call seemed suitably impressed with how well Cvent has weathered the storm, especially given that until the pandemic the legacy player primarily provided services around venues and the logistics of managing in-person events. Despite the industry’s sudden pivot to virtual events — or perhaps because of it — Cvent reported strong revenue growth and increasing market share, with total fourth-quarter revenue of  $144.7 million, up 25.3 percent from the comparable period in 2020.

Much of this growth was driven by careful positioning, strategic partnerships, and product launches that saw Cvent successfully maintain and grow its already significant share of the event SaaS market in the last 18 months. Its investment relationship and integration with Zoom, the August 2020 launch of Attendee Hub, and subsequent innovations like Cvent Studio (a browser-based live stream production studio) in August 2021 were hallmarks of a successful reimagining of their operations. As a result, Chief Financial Officer Billy Newman reported $102.9 million in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2021 from Event Cloud sales, up 31.5 percent from the previous year’s fourth quarter.

Cvent Earnings Show In-Person Events Turning a Corner

Newman also reported a 12.1 percent increase in Hospitality Cloud revenue, reversing a trend of declining revenues in this area during the previous five quarters. Founder and CEO Reggie Aggarwal sounded optimistic: “We believe a recovery is underway,” he emphasized, with Cvent expecting to see many events that had been deferred going forward in the second quarter and beyond.

The temperature has changed even from six weeks ago, when the attitude was more “wait-and-see,” whereas now Cvent has good reason to believe that clients are starting to go forward with in-person events and that this will continue throughout the rest of 2022.

The Transformation of In-Person Event Tech in 2022

Both Aggarwal and Newman expressed a high degree of confidence that Cvent will continue to be a major player in the new event tech ecosystem now that it has emerged as a contender alongside relatively younger platforms like Bizzabo and Hopin. Due to its 20-year standing in the field, its size and scale, and its aggressive investment and development of virtual event tech over the last 18 months, it told their investors that “Cvent is well-positioned to capture share across in-person, virtual and hybrid events as companies invest in more ways to engage their audiences across their Total Event Programs.

Growth Driven by Combo of Event Management and Virtual Solutions

Aggarwal asserted that there is a major advantage to staging hybrid events over strictly in-person alternatives, estimating that virtual events saw a six-fold to eight-fold increase in attendees. That expanded reach was reinforced by their strong uptake of the networking, live stream, on-demand, and scheduling functions that Cvent’s Attendee Hub offers, which, he said, was “by far the fastest growing product in our history.”

Cvent sees huge opportunities here and believes that its core strengths — organizing registration and connecting vendors, booking, and safety services through its Hospitality Cloud — will complement a host of services born from the virtual event wave. It is banking on the hope that combining a wide range of event management solutions in one stop will prove irresistible to event professionals juggling intensifying expectations from clients and attendees — including the newly-recognized advantages that event tech has brought to the table over the last two years.

While attendees have come to expect strong digital infrastructure to support their experience, investing in hybrid events also means continued access to the market benefits that clients have been able to reap from virtual tech.

Year-Round Data and Auto-Booking Partnership to Extend Services

In addition, the use of the Attendee Hub for what Cvent calls the “Total Event Program” means that attendee and buyer interactions can be analyzed over a series of events to identify buyer signals and other markers of customer acquisition and retention.

In what may be an early sign of a very interesting trend, Cvent also intends to continue developing its suite of tools with an eye to attracting clients outside of its usual stable of enterprise-level firms. It is looking toward developing simpler and more consumer-friendly tools for non-professional meeting planners, including deepening its partnership with Amadeus to facilitate small meeting bookings without an RFP through Instant Book.

The Forecast

As in-person events come back, it will be very interesting to see the degree to which clients will accept Cvent’s arguments and put up the cash to provide a robust hybrid experience as a matter of course. Cvent has bet that it will, and if it’s right, it is indeed well-positioned to capture a large share of an emergent market and could help event professionals reconsider what getting together will mean in 2022.