In the run up to Cvent Connect Europe, CMW asked Cvent CEO Reggie Aggarwal to pick out the likely trends and themes of discussion.
Describe the key themes of this year’s conference.
This year’s event is all about helping our attendees overcome current challenges and prepare for the future. If you take a look at the agenda, you’ll see some recurring themes and phrases, like ‘new normal’, ‘virtual and hybrid meetings’, and ‘what’s next?’ These are absolutely reflective of where we all are as an industry. Event organisers and hoteliers are looking for insights and best practices on how to adapt, evolve, and accelerate their road to recovery – and we’ve built the entire two-day conference around that need.
How do you see virtual/hybrid events and business recovery?
In my opening keynote, I’ll be talking a lot about the role virtual and hybrid events will play in our industry’s recovery because they’ll be a critical part of making our industry stronger and better than before. Technology has allowed us to continue meeting and connecting virtually – often in record numbers – giving organisations a way to keep their businesses running in the middle of a pandemic. When you combine the value virtual events offer with the in-person experience for a hybrid event, you’re looking at nearly unlimited event potential. A smart mix of in-person, virtual, and hybrid events is our future – and there is so much opportunity.
How can the industry unite and adapt, evolve and accelerate business recovery?
Industry professionals and industry groups have done a good job covering those first two. When the pandemic really started impacting the MICE space, it took very little time for our industry to come together not just for support, but more importantly, for idea-sharing on how to pivot and adjust.
Event organisers are, and always have been, professional adaptors. The challenge now for the industry will be how to permanently evolve to accelerate our recovery.
One of the drivers for this recovery is embracing technology. The industry has historically been somewhat resistant to adopting technology on a broader scale, but the pandemic has forced all of us to adapt our practices, evolve our mindset, and adopt technology to drive our businesses forward – and as long as we continue to do that, we will not just recover, but thrive post-pandemic.
What does digital transformation mean for 2021?
The phrase ‘Digital transformation’ has been used quite a bit over the last couple of years, but it is no longer just a buzzword – it’s our reality. Technology has become the new medium for our industry to drive the human connection and it is revolutionising the way we interact with one another. And, as the world recovers, delegate expectations will have changed.
They’ll want to experience events on their terms – while event organisers will need to tie together data from their in-person events, virtual events, and hybrid events to understand attendee actions, buying preferences, and overall event ROI. None of this would be possible without digital transformation – which is why we have several sessions across the two-day conference dedicated to helping organisers and hoteliers making technology work for their business needs and not against them.
We understand your keynote address will discuss the Golden Age of events/ hospitality in 2021. What does this mean?
The Golden Age of events is a time where events become an even more critical part of the business landscape. The pandemic has shown just how resilient our industry is because people have pivoted and events are still happening, just in a virtual environment. It has opened up a whole new way for people to connect and we’ve seen in most cases that event attendance has gone up.
We also learned that face-to-face meetings are more important than we ever imagined. Humans are social beings and businesses need that emotional connection with their customers and employees in order to grow and succeed.
The silver lining is that from now on organisations will never underestimate the positive impact events have on their business.
With virtual, in-person, and hybrid events now making up the total event landscape, event organisers have more options to gain greater ROI from their Golden Age of events. There’s no doubt that the future of events is more valuable than ever.