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Tech Giant Cvent Teams Up With Encore to Get an Edge on Hybrid Events

Skift Take

Event tech giant Cvent announced a strategic partnership with leading event production company Encore, signaling a new trend in event tech that redefines the term ‘end-to-end’ as in-person events return.

Event professionals across the industry spent much of the last 15 months upskilling as events moved online and production value became a key differentiator. To lessen the burden and respond to market demand, event tech companies upskilled in kind, adding to their standard offerings a level of production support that ranged from dedicated virtual production coordinators to entire virtual production studios in remote venues.

But what becomes of these investments in the wake of rapidly returning in-person events?

Many event tech platforms are doubling down. As things return to relative normalcy and in-person events begin to fill supplier sales pipelines, event tech companies like Cvent are levelling-up once again by strategically partnering with AV and event production specialists to bridge the online and onsite production needs.

For more on what motivated the partnership and what this means for the future of events, EventMB sat down with Patrick Smith, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Cvent, and Ben Erwin, president and CEO of Encore.


What’s In It For Event Professionals?

Many companies have invested in production support solutions to compete on the frontier of virtual events, but this has not necessarily translated into a readiness for in-person events. “We have the platform you need to run a hybrid event, but organizations also need all the other services around it,” explains Smith. “It’s the production, the show calling, the staging.”

This has led many companies capable of leveraging their footprint in the industry to form strategic partnerships with similarly sized industry leaders who bring complementary experience and scale to the relationship.

“The strategy behind the partnership was to deliver the benefits of two of the most trusted names in the industry in an end-to-end solution that combines Cvent’s deep expertise around digital tools and Encore’s highly trained technical teams to support the planner in making sense of a hybrid future.”

– Ben Erwin, President and CEO, Encore

The utility of this ‘best in class’ approach was highlighted by Socio Chief Marketing Officer Andrew Pearson in our recent Event Tech Innovation Summit. The benefits on the provider side are clear: a lower risk, lower lift, higher value investment for all involved that allows these companies to bring reputable, well-established skill specialization and experience to bear on their offerings without having to develop them themselves.

This translates into a series of benefits for the event planner, too. From an event planner’s perspective, they are buying into one end-to-end solution with one point of contact that covers a range of needs behind the scenes, thereby saving themselves the trouble of having to rummage around their supplier networks for disparate providers who may or may not be used to working with one another.

“Executing high quality hybrid events can be challenging. There are a lot of parties involved and a lot of different hands in the pie. This unified partnership just makes planners’ lives easier. There’s one strategic face to the event, making hybrid that much more achievable. The more comfortable we can make this transition, the better off the industry will be.”

– Patrick Smith, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Cvent

And what discussion about event tech would be complete without a nod to data?

All virtual event platforms worth their salt track every movement and point of engagement that happens on them. “We think that philosophy is going to cascade itself into in-person more than before,” says Smith. Unfortunately, it turns out that not all platforms are well suited to collate the data they collect with separate onsite tracking solutions.

“What we don’t want is one picture of the virtual ROI for this hybrid event, and a separate one for in-person. You have to be able to understand the total ROI, and you really need one platform to be able to pull that off.”

– Patrick Smith, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Cvent


So Does This Mean the Future Is Really Hybrid?

Yes and no.

Erwin reported that while the demand for hybrid has been high over the last two or three quarters, the demand for in-person events is surging and only 30 to 40 percent of the events in Encore’s pipeline are looking to experiment with hybrid. Whether or not Encore’s clients ultimately decide to plan a hybrid event, “it is a significant part of what customers want to talk about.”

Naturally, the resurgence of onsite events is also apparent to Cvent as well. For Smith, the primary factor in the longevity of hybrid is reach: “How do I get the massive audiences obtainable online for my in-person event?” Hybrid events allow planners to “tap into these big audiences online” and potentially attract new, previously untapped audiences.

As a result, Smith explains, what we can expect is for virtual, hybrid, and onsite-only events to each have their rightful place within a larger event and marketing strategy.

“With all the tools and formats available, how should a planner construct the right total event program to maximize all their needs and all three options (and possibly a fourth, which is purely on-demand content)?”

– Patrick Smith, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Cvent

Erwin adds that significant and scalable virtual layers will likely exist on top of most onsite events in one form or another. Hybrid “isn’t going to be one thing” so much as “shades of gray” as events come back on site and event production companies work to close the loop on the attendee journey (what Erwin calls “the last mile” of hybrid event execution). “Depending on the goal of the specific event, [production requirements] may cater more towards the remote attendees or on the in-person attendees, so our focus is accelerating the education around how to serve each.”


Practical Production Tips from the Experts

A high production value is invaluable for both audiences, but the requirements can be very different. Onsite, production has to focus on providing an immersive sensory experience, whereas the technical knowledge for online content delivery focuses on expertise in video production. Translating onsite sessions into online content adds yet another layer, making the reliance on well-established, reputable experts a must-have.

The content itself should also be designed with the audience in mind, says Smith: “Not all sessions at a hybrid event should necessarily be available virtually to everyone. The event design strategy decisions you make all have cost and value impacts, and you need to give each audience something differentiated.”

This is especially true as content moves to on demand, and as soon as evergreen content enters the picture, the need for a professional level of production is that much more compelling.

“The content created at the event should be used to extend the event lifecycle and create community, and the engagement you see on demand after the event can inform decisions about how to improve the next one.”

– Ben Erwin, President and CEO, Encore



The transition back to in-person events seems to be rapidly accelerating, and with it comes a lot of crucial decisions about how to balance and execute virtual and in-person components, and what role each will have in a larger event and marketing strategy.

This latest strategic partnership between Cvent and Encore positions both competitively for servicing the range of virtual, hybrid, and onsite-only events within a given client’s larger program.

The primary benefit for planners is simplicity — something we could all use a little more of.