“The Power of Live” was the theme of Cvent Connect 2018 in Las Vegas, and by the record-breaking attendance of the show, delegates seemed to take that as the importance of meeting face to face for four days of innovative content, several new product unveilings and inspiring keynotes.

“At the start of the conference, we asked our attendees ‘why are we here?’” said Reggie Aggarwal, founder and CEO of Cvent. “This question set the tone for the entire week. The simple answer is that we all believe in the power of live events. In the power of meeting face to face and the desire to harness all of the goodness that happens when we connect on a personal level.

“Our more than 25,000 customers organize extraordinary events, to make an extraordinary impact—on our businesses, on our communities and on our society, and with this being our largest Cvent CONNECT ever, it is clear that our customers truly believe in ‘The Power of Live,’” he added.

The event, held July 23-26, 2018, at The Venetian and The Palazzo, drew 4,000-plus hospitality professionals, making it the largest event technology conference in the world. The incredible growth of the conference over just the last few years highlights the strength of the meetings and events industry and illustrates the need and desire for technology to help drive that growth and success even further.

“Meeting and event professionals today need to be technologists—a successful event no longer relies solely on contracting the right meeting space and selecting the perfect food and beverage spread,” said Patrick Smith, chief marketing officer of Cvent. “The combination of the evolving meetings and events environment and our approach to developing innovative technology laid the groundwork for Cvent Connect to become the largest event technology conference in the world, where industry professionals can learn about what’s coming from a tech perspective, study best practices, engage with our products, network with their peers, and have a chance to experience—rather than plan—an event.”

Education and Training Remain As Key Elements

A high point from a content perspective was the new hands-on training camp that took place the first day and received tremendously positive feedback, according to a spokesperson for Cvent.

The classroom-style training, which sold out even after doubling the initial attendee cap, was dedicated to the event professional audience, with sessions geared toward beginner, intermediate and advanced Cvent users.

Additionally, the conference Tech Tours were one of the most popular offerings. Attendees were given a behind-the-scenes look into the on-site technology powering Cvent Connect.

Meanwhile, various Customer Advisory Boards and the first-ever Leadership Summit offered additional opportunities for Cvent to engage with other industry thought leaders and experts to discuss the future of the industry.

Both the Hospitality Cloud and Event Cloud sides of Cvent hosted popular roadmap sessions, offering a look at the future of technology relative to various elements of the Cvent platform.

Cvent’s Hospitality and Event Clouds

The Hospitality Cloud team discussed the power of partnership—with Cvent partnering with hoteliers to help them grow and own their business with the help of technology and more direct access to their customers and prospects. They highlighted exciting new products like the soon-to-be-launched CSN Microsites, a new offering with the Cvent Supplier Network that allows suppliers to create completely customized microsites within the CSN platform (video link here), and the new reporting capabilities with business intelligence tools across CSN, Passkey and Business Transient.

The Event Cloud Team stressed the importance of helping event professionals get their deserved seat at the c-suite table with the help of technology and data solutions. They announced a variety of new products and enhancements across the platform, including the widespread availability of its next-generation user experience for event management, Project Flex. Described as “Registration Reimagined,” it is the complete redesign of Cvent’s core event website and registration solution.

It was the certainly the most talked about enhancement at the show, in part because it impacts so many of the attendees. It aims to put all the design control in the hands of event professionals and marketers who can now create completely customized, mobile-responsive event websites in a user-friendly, drag-and-drop site designer. The solution will be generally available in October 2018.

“For years, building event websites has been a major pain point in the industry. Design tools on the market were cumbersome, the custom capabilities were minimal, and the result was often a boring, cookie-cutter design that didn’t properly showcase the event that it was supposed to be promoting,” said David Quattrone, co-founder and chief technology officer at Cvent.

“This groundbreaking effort, which we refer to as Project Flex, completely revolutionizes the way event professionals and marketers design their websites and hands nearly all of the controls back to them, so they can create a website that reflects the originality and excitement of their unique events,” he added.

“As one of the first touch-points event professionals have with their attendees, the registration website needs to deliver an engaging experience that makes a lasting impression, and our new user experience makes that a reality—without the added complications that are typically inherent with web design.”

Even More Product Announcements (and Some Keynote Highlights)

Additional product announcements highlighted the Event Cloud roadmap, including Universal LeadCapture + Appointments, Instant Book for small meetings, the new Cvent Salesforce App, the future of Kapow within Cvent and various enhancements and integrations across the platform.

“Over the last year, our solutions have helped support more than 740,000 events with nearly 27 million registrations worldwide,” Quattrone said. “These numbers grow every year, so not only is it getting harder and harder for event professionals to break through the noise, reach attendees and persuade them to come to their events, the ability to show proof of impact of these events and the financial investment is more prevalent than ever. As an event technology company, we have a front row seat to this growing complexity and its impact on our global community of users.”

Aside from the variety of product announcements, Cvent Connect inspired attendees with keynotes by notables such as Laura Schwartz, former White House director of events, Joby Ogwyn, a high-altitude climber, wing suit pilot and adventurer, and Bethenny Frankel, television personality, author and entrepreneur, were popular with attendees for the diverse range of perspectives and topics covered.

Additional Research and Revelations From Cvent

Meanwhile, during Cvent Connect, the company released the results of its fourth annual Global Planner Sourcing Report, which showed that companies are planning more meetings and larger meetings, while spending more on the programs, according to 3,000 worldwide corporate event planner respondents.

Lastly, Cvent unveiled its lists of the top meetings destinations worldwide for 2018, broken down by region. Following are the No. 1 destinations in each region:

  • United States: Orlando.
  • Caribbean and Latin America: Cancun.
  • Canada: Toronto.
  • Europe: London.
  • Middle East and Africa: Dubai.
  • Asia Pacific: Singapore.

[Read More: Cvent Names Top Meetings Destinations for 2018]