Reggie Aggarwal defines ‘new events landscape’ in keynote at Cvent CONNECT® Europe

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Reggie Aggarwal defines ‘new events landscape’ in keynote at Cvent CONNECT® Europe

Global meetings, events, and hospitality technology provider, Cvent, kicked off its annual Cvent CONNECT® Europe conference at the InterContinental London – The O2, 5 October, with a keynote from CEO and founder Reggie Aggarwal.

In his address on Day 1 of the hybrid event, Aggarwal reflected on the past 18 months and offered an insightful look at the accelerated transformation of the meetings and events landscape in light of the global pandemic. “Covid hit us like a freight train and practically overnight the entire world shut down. Back then, when in-person events were mostly non-existent, none of us were feeling very optimistic about our industry,” Aggarwal said, adding that, “Even in that moment, with so many unknowns, event and hospitality professionals around the world remained resilient. Who would’ve thought that just 18 months later, we’d have the technology and expertise to deliver events that can reach and engage more people than pre-pandemic.”

Recalling his Cvent CONNECT Europe keynote presentation in 2020 where he declared the industry was on the cusp of the Golden Age of Events – a time when events will reach a broader audience and become an even more critical part of the business landscape, Aggarwal commented: “I know at the time a lot of people found it hard to believe, but I think we are entering a time where events are more numerous, more valuable, and more important to an organisation’s marketing efforts.” He added: “The pandemic has been a catalyst for innovation that I believe will change the face of our industry.”

The Cvent CEO then summarised what he considered the driving forces behind the industry’s massive transformation into four key pillars:

  1. Rapid digitisation of the industry

Organisations, Aggarwal said, had discovered the massive reach of virtual experiences, and the accessibility and flexibility they offer attendees. “By leveraging technology, such as the Cvent Attendee Hub™, organisations also discovered the depth of attendee engagement data that can be collected and utilised to drive better experiences and quality business leads.”

While Aggarwal highlighted the important role of digital transformation, he also reminded attendees of the enduring value of in-person events, “where you can shake someone’s hand, look them in the eye, and break bread”.

  1. Evolving roles of planners, hoteliers, venues, and attendees

Planners had to adapt, working more closely with marketing and technology teams as the lines between digital marketing and events blurred, the CEO noted, adding: “By working more closely with these new stakeholders, planners 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.”

He added that hoteliers and venues had recognised and adapted to the desire of their customer – the event planner – to explore and book event space completely online. The forward-looking among them, he noted, were showcasing their spaces and cities with high quality virtual tours, 3D event diagrams, and enhanced onsite technology infrastructure. “In short, we’re in an environment now where a hotel’s digital assets are becoming almost as important as their physical ones,” Aggarwal said, noting that attendees, for their part, have come to expect that virtual events will be more engaging and informative. They expect digital components that complement and enhance their in-person experience – whether that’s through more personalised 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, he said.

  1. The triple threat of in-person, virtual, and hybrid

Virtual events now play an important role as part of a more strategic Total Event ProgrammeSM, Aggarwal argued, and the industry’s success with virtual and the clear desire for in-person event experiences made a strong case for hybrid events, and he offered 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.”

  1. The arrival of 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 – even before and after events occur, the Cvent CEO pointed out. “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 organisers can engage their customers, employees, members, alumni, or donors with more content and more opportunities to connect,” Aggarwal said.

Aggarwal said the four pillars he outlined, presented “a new events landscape and engagement economy where the opportunities to engage and interact have multiplied and the event channel has become more valuable”.

He added that Cvent aimed to support its customers in their technology journey and to help them make the most of this digital transformation. “Together, I look forward to making the most of this new events landscape.”

 

 

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World. Write Paul an E-mail

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