August 25, 2019
By Brian Chee

Just wait, my colleagues told me. You have never experienced anything like it, ever. So get your rest. Start hydrating. And just know that Cvent CONNECT is unique.

I smiled. Sure it is.

As a new employee, I appreciated the friendly and helpful advice. And it sure seemed that people were especially eager to help when the topic was Cvent CONNECT. They explained how to best prepare and what to do. They warned me of the long hours.

I smiled. Long hours? HAH. It’s a show, I thought to myself. Cvent CONNECT might be big but it ain’t my first rodeo. I had already spent many years going to events such as the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) Show, National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Show, and countless auto shows around the world. I’m jaded. A bit skeptical. And certainly not prone to an overabundance of enthusiasm.

Yet I have never experienced anything quite like Cvent CONNECT.

Celebrating Meetings and Events

This year, there were roughly 4,000 professionals at Cvent CONNECT. And that doesn’t include the 600 Cvent employees working hard to ensure the best possible experience for all. Frankly, the event was so large that it defied categorization: There were tech tours and knowledge sessions, an Innovation Pavilion, and a trade show to go with seminal keynotes from headliner personalities. An attendee could spend the entire three days in one area — and come away feeling rewarded and exhausted.

In person, the show was like a motivational rally, tech laboratory, and networking party all mixed up and spread out across three floors of the MGM Grand’s spacious conference center. It is arguably the annual block party for the meetings and events industry. And in that spirit, founder and CEO Reggie Aggarwal’s opening keynote was a fusion of color, sound, and movement; his story set the mood and turned Cvent CONNECT into a celebration of how technology empowers ideas and creates connections.

Which is what it's really all about, right? Cvent CONNECT is the personification of what it means to be a part of something altogether larger than life, inspirational, and connected. It’s a symbol of an industry that’s fundamentally about creating relevant moments between people. Sure, this year’s amazing keynote LED screen (the largest continuous LED screen ever to be used worldwide, at 235 feet) and new Notch technology (used for the first time in the United States) wowed the crowd. But its real power was in how it lifted each story up and amplified the meaning. The relevance of soccer legend Abby Wambach’s message — her discovery of belief and purpose — was brought forth in very real and vivid ways. Chef and humanitarian José Andrés spoke with compassion about liberating the receivers of kindness and showed how the start of something simple can adapt and grow, naturally, into a great and mighty purpose. That enormous LED screen added a palpable, almost gritty feel to his story and passion.

Technology Enabling Storytelling

In that way, Cvent CONNECT showed technology as something truly relevant. Seeing innovative solutions in action — what they facilitate, empower, and amplify — defied the stereotype of clean rooms, robots, and buttons to push. It’s a show about technology that actually used technology, in real terms and as a practical enabler. As a member of the Cvent Hospitality Cloud team, I had the task of helping achieve that objective through the Hospitality Professionals Program. A daylong session of education and thought leadership, the program covered everything from Cvent product innovations to peer-to-peer sharing across a spectrum of topics. Like-minded professionals came together to learn new things and share knowledge meant to empower one another with best practices. Speakers covered the state of the industry, offered advice on how to engage with event planners, gave suggestions on optimizing operations, and introduced ways to build better relationships. Panelists provided real-world examples of how to put ideas into action and apply technology to daily operations. Across the hall, the Innovation Pavilion served as a library of knowledge about Cvent technology and how to use it, apply it to business, and leverage its capabilities. All of it meant to share with and empower attendees. So what did I learn? Ari Garber, the “Goat” of Heavy Goat Industries and speaker at Cvent CONNECT’s Hospitality Professionals Program, probably put it best: “The people are the most impressive thing. It’s all about the attendees, the organizers, and the interaction. We travel to meet other great humans, and that’s what this does.” Cvent CONNECT is that place. It’s where thousands of planners and hoteliers put aside the competitive nature of the business and come together to celebrate bright ideas, lasting relationships, and great opportunities.  That’s what I learned — and why I can’t wait for 2020.

Want to Check Out More of the Action?

Read all of our recaps about hospitality events:

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Brian Chee

Brian started out as a beat reporter in Los Angeles, covering pretty much anything newsworthy or interesting. It was a deeply formative experience — and one that has helped define his writing career. Since then, he's tackled everything that tells a story, from advertising to marketing, now as a Martech writer in the B2B space. Brian has enjoyed a diverse career of writing about topics including software, hospitality, automotive, digital marketing, and retail. 

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