Department - Global

August 2016

On the Scene: Cvent Connect, Las Vegas

by Lori Tenny

  • Jillian Michaels book signing

    /Portals/0/images/Magazine/2016/0816/OnScene_JillianMichaels.jpg

    Jillian Michaels book signing

    Jillian Michaels book signing
  • Cvent Connect Evening Reception

    /Portals/0/images/Magazine/2016/0816/OnScene_EveningReception.jpg

    Cvent Connect Evening Reception

    Cvent Connect Evening Reception
  • Chuck Gorrah and planner

    /Portals/0/images/Magazine/2016/0816/OnScene_ChuckGoorah_and_planner.jpg

    Chuck Gorrah and planner

    Chuck Gorrah and planner

Growth was the buzzword at Cvent’s annual client conference, Cvent Connect, held June 26-30 at The Palazzo and The Venetian in Las Vegas. The show drew 3,000-plus attendees, including roughly 2,000 planners, 700 suppliers and 300 Cvent employees, approximately 600 more people than last year’s show.

With the recent news of Cvent’s upcoming $1.65 billion acquisition by Vista Equity Partners, the optimistic outlook from Reggie Aggarwal, CEO and founder of Cvent, during his keynote address during the planner portion of the show could not have been clearer.

“We know the first question from all of you is, ‘What’s the impact to me, our company and the industry?’” he told a packed ballroom June 28. “Let me assure you that our 2,000 ‘Cventers’ around the world are just as focused as ever to make sure that you are successful. The good thing is that people now know what we all know in the industry and have always known: Even in the digital age, physical meetings and events are still the best way to build relationships and to make sure you drive revenue.”

According to Aggarwal, the new and innovative technologies being built by companies like Cvent are driving massive change in the industry, making the strategic value of face-to-face events more and more apparent to the C-suite.

“Anytime there’s an alignment in the C-suite, I can tell you Wall Street and Silicon Valley are not far behind,” he said. “And what you’re going to see is a massive investment into our space, into our industry that will continue to drive innovation. I can promise you that together with Vista, Cvent will continue to be that visionary company that you’ve gotten to know over so many years.”

To that end, Aggarwal said Cvent will continue to invest and remain focused on hiring the best people, building the best products and listening to its customers.

“That’s been our secret sauce for 17 years and is not going to change,” he said, pointing to major investments such as growing its technology team by 25 percent in the past year, from 550 people to 680 people; and increasing its customer-facing support team by 45 percent in the past year, from 435 people to 625 people.

Since the acquisition was announced in April, 100 “customer-success” team members were hired.

Cvent is also expanding its offices both domestically and internationally. The company broke ground on an expansion at its Tysons Corner, Va., headquarters in June and is in the middle of an expansion at its Austin, Texas, office. Globally, its London office was recently expanded, and it will open a Singapore office later this year. 

“We have lots of change happening in our company, but let me tell you what’s not going to change: our people, our commitment to our customers, our culture, our leadership,” he said. “I am committed to being here for many years to come because I believe in this space, I believe in this company, and I know our employees around the world also believe.”

The next major investment will be in its products, according to Aggarwal. 

“You are probably wondering what those 680 technology people are doing,” he said. “In addition to having several releases a week now, they’ve responded to over 12,000 enhancement requests from all of you over the past year. Because of your feedback, that’s what’s making us evolve our product.”

Aggarwal pointed to new products and features such as next-generation venue search, abstract management and one-on-one appointments that attendees could explore at Cvent Connect’s Innovation Pavilion.

“Investing in people and products are important to us, but the most important investment is investing in you,” he told attendees. “We believe the road to being the best event management platform is paved with a great customer journey.”

Aside from aggressively scaling up its customer success team, another area where Cvent is heavily catering to its clients is with its Customer Success Groups (CSGs), launched last year. Dubbed “mini Cvent Connects,” they allow planners to meet with other Cvent users in their area.

Cvent hosted 16 CSGs last year and plans to hold 125 this year. It will also begin Hotel Success Groups (HSGs), holding 15 such events for the supplier side in the coming months.

Cvent Connect included a supplier portion and a planner portion, featuring dozens of seminars on trending industry topics, a tradeshow with one-on-one appointments, and impressive evening events.

Another highlight of the show was an inspirational keynote by fitness and health guru Jillian Michaels and a closing address by Richard Harper, co-chair of the Meetings Mean Business Coalition.

“You are part of something far greater than what you think,” Harper, also executive vice president of HelmsBriscoe, told planners. “We are bigger than the automotive industry, the spectator sports industry and the motion picture industry.”

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