Felicia: I think that is the power of events though. Like it does build that level of relationship. When I first got to Cvent, Reggie would talk about CONNECT in this very passionate way of find religion at CONNECT. CONNECT is where people come together, they meet and they do all these things.
And it sounds from a marketer like marketing talk, but to come to something, and you really do find that family feeling, building up. And I think for some people, they're doing their events for the first time and it's all work. Yeah, but the more and more you do it, like the more it becomes your baby.
Intro: Great events create great brands, and it takes a village to put on an event that engages, excites and connects audiences to your brand. And we're that village. I'm Alyssa. I'm Paulina. And I'm Rachel. And you're listening to great events, the podcast for all people interested in events and marketing,
Rachel: Hi everybody. What is going on in the wide world of events? My name is Rachel and we are here live from Cvent CONNECT in Vegas. Yay. We are so excited to be here.
Joining you, our fabulous listeners in Vegas. Yeah, we're going to hear from all of our guests, our hosts, and all of our fabulous memories from Cvent CONNECT. We also have a longtime guest host Felicia Asiedu with us on site. Hi Felicia.
Felicia: Hi. I'm glad to be here. Can I, do I still have a voice? You do.
Rachel: we shall see at the end of the party tonight. Lucky we are on day. What are we on? Paulina and I are on day what? Seven or eight, Something like that.
Alyssa: Yeah. I think we referred to it as CONNECT math last year. Yeah.
Rachel: Day one is just one long day. Yeah of 10 days in Vegas, which is a long time to be here. But, day three of the conference and we have one more day to go and we are just, Loving everything about, Cvent CONNECT.
So we're just going to give you a little bit of, behind the scenes, for our podcast. So I'm going to kick it off with Felicia, 'cause Felicia came in from the UK and she is, a first time Cvent CONNECT US attendee, but she is our a key stakeholder and works very closely with Paulina to design, Cvent CONNECT Europe.
So she came in to help be an honorary planning team member this week and helped, alongside speaking, manage onsite this innovation pavilion, which is our, if you've never been to Cvent CONNECT, it's our trade show or our tech showcase. So Felicia, I'd love to just hear from you, from your experience at your first time at CONNECT.
Felicia: Yes, it is very overwhelming. I think the first thing I can say is I've always respected you ladies like a lot. That's why I think we've developed this friendship over time, but the respect has gone through the roof and the floor and everywhere else. Like I think just the sheer scale of this event is overwhelming. When I first walked in and saw all the seats, in the general session I was like, dang, this is big. Yeah. Massive. So I think, like people give you numbers, 3000 people at a conference, but seeing it in person is overwhelming. And so I think I was ready, as to jump right in, the innovation pavilion, Allison, who normally runs it, is meticulous with her notes.
I think that level of planning beforehand has enabled me to just run with it. And implement what she said and shout at the right people and all of that. So it's been a very good, I think I understand you more. I understand our customers more. So I think yeah. Today.
Alyssa: Can I chime into that on the readiness front? We actually had a little bit of a situation and a program that I was helping to run yesterday and I was not supposed to help support that experience. But we had done dress rehearsals. Several of them. And, myself and I had three fabulous teammates who were onsite as well. They were able to jump in, I'm telling you, with 15 minutes notice and pick it up. So I feel like that is, you're seeing it from the planning eyes. I don't think of myself as a planner, but I did, I helped plan something. Yeah. and always planning for the plan B in mind. I didn't think that was going to happen, but we were all so prepared and the customers didn't know that we even skipped a beat, yeah. Yeah. It's really nice to see that echoed in other programming elements.
Felicia: Oh definitely. And I love it. And I think you obviously, you're talking about teamwork there.
Felicia: It's not like I came here and was like, oh, I ran the innovation pavilion. I helped to run the innovation pavilion. Paulina was still heavily involved. Rachel's still heavily, everyone's still doing it together. So it's just been really cool.
Alyssa: Yeah. But that preparedness. Allows everyone to feel confident. Yeah. And comfortable and able to execute the plan that we've set out to do.
Rachel: Yeah. and just to set some context for our listeners, in Cvent CONNECT Vegas, we had about 3,500 people on site and roughly 6,000, virtually. And sothat's the scale that we're dealing with here. And then Felicia and her awesome marketing team - shout out to the marketing team in Europe. They manage an event, very similar, it's mirroring this program. It's a sister event. But it's smaller. It's around a little less than a thousand. I say it smaller, but it's still a thousand people over the course a few days. It's tiny little thousand person event. It's a tiny thousand person event.
Rachel: Tell me some of your like, aha moments or things that you want to bring to Europe.
Felicia: I'm a content head always. And so a lot of my, it hasn't been aha, it's been, oh, I like this piece of content. Oh, I like the way you did that. I like the way you planned that. So that's been very good in terms of me naturally taking what I want back.
But I think the ahas have come more with Paulina actually. And she says to me, people will walk for food. And I'm like, what does she mean by that? And then now I'm like, oh, people walk for food. Like I've seen how she splits-
Alyssa: Americans will walk for food.
Paulina: I said that in our session, in the whole room started giggling and I was like, well everyone kind of gets it.
Rachel: It’s true.
Felicia: So I'm seeing when she's telling me about the design that she has in mind for Europe, with our new venue that we have this year, we know that we're going to have to think about where people are going to walk, how it's going to flow.
And she took a lot of like convincing of, I think the food should go here. But now I've seen it in real life. I've seen how general session has some food innovation, pavilion has some food. It splits the audience for the time you need, and then they walk to a place to get to something else and it just makes so much sense. So I think I've got the aha in the design, that event design moment. Yeah.
Rachel: Very cool. Paulina. I just, I know we're all exhausted. How's CONNECT going for you?
Paulina: I really hope nobody's watching the podcast and everyone's listening. Wait, flip it, reverse it 'cause I have no voice. great. yeah, I think this event has been, really interesting. I think, we're executing with a much smaller team than usual, and I've seen some of our team members really step up. And from an internal perspective, it just fills you with joy. It fills you with so much energy. It makes you feel like I can't wait to get to the next one.
And, a lot of the success we've seen is because people have been taking risks in their own skillsets. And I think I'm just really proud of the team. We've been juggling a lot and the feedback has been really positive on site. I've been having some really like authentic conversations with customers who have just said, Felicia and I actually did a session yesterday and it was really about how we did the event. And I think a lot of people sat that session thinking, all right, we're going to hear a listing of all the products that put on this event. And we intentionally said, no, we're going to tell you the story. We're going to have a conversation very much like we're doing right now. And that conversation yielded some really great post session conversations that I think have been really game changing for me this year.
Alyssa: Yeah, I will. just double click into that because I was texting with Paulina yesterday morning. Both of us had a really big day. She was speaking. And one of my favorite things about this conference is just to see people grow over time. People grow in their learning and development. They're able to like hone in on their speaking skillset.
And this group here has been able to grow a lot. I know that the podcast has given us a voice. But then we also bring those into a live setting here. Yeah. And so Paulina and I, per usual, are usually very nervous before we speak, or for whatever reason, we don't want to take the stage. and I saw her after her session and I was like, Hey, P, how did it go? And she goes, I crushed it. And I was like, yes, she did. And I, it's like that empowerment moment, that awesome moment where you're like, I did it. I saw it, I conquered it. Like that is why we come together. Like Rachel, don't want to make Rachel cry over here because it's
Paulina: I’ve been wearing tissues all day for this moment, and now I don't have them
Alyssa: But that's why we're here. We want to see each other succeed. I told somebody who was equally as nervous to speak in her session, I said, Your audience wants you to do well.
Paulina: yeah. They're rooting for you
Alyssa: They're rooting for you. And then when you go, come back and you root for yourself. Yeah.
That's the best moment. Yeah. that is such a big picture thing. And I know there's people on your team that we're going to try to make speak too. A hundred percent
Paulina: Speaking of speaking, she's spoken two sessions back to back
Alyssa: I didn't even know that.
Paulina: Good job.
Alyssa: How did you do? She crushed it. She nailed it. That answer is crushed
Rachel: I crushed it, is the appropriate response apparently. It was great. It was great. It was empowering to be up there and you roll with the punches with whatever's happening and, you plan and plan and you rehearse and yeah.
When you get up there, things happen and I, and at the end of the day, for all speakers out there, if you're speaking at any industry conference, if you're speaking about something that you do daily, you don't need your slides. Yeah. Like you, I feel like I got up there and I started flubbing my talk track and I was like, stop looking at the talk track.
Just talk. Yeah. Bye. Yeah. You literally do this every day and that's like the hardest part about it is like your nerves and being up there and speaking, but once you do it, then you're like, okay, I'm in this now.
Alyssa: Yeah. I did a unique programming element yesterday. It was the first time we've ever had our three co-founders on a stage together.
I think in at Cvent CONNECT specifically in a while. Yeah. I don't want to say it was the first ever, but it was in a while. But we gave them the questions ahead of time as one does. But we purposely didn't give them their responses, and that was it. We know that they know the answers to these, and the point of the whole conversation was to not over prepare. To be more candid, to be more vulnerable and authentic with your audience. And I think it's a learning opportunity for all speakers is be your true self, be your most authentic 'cause that's what your audience really wants to see
Paulina: Yeah. that's it. that's community building at its core. Totally right? Yeah. You just want to meet new people, have, Strong connections with them. Yes. And of course, yes, there's the educational component, there's the data conversation that's happening, but that doesn't necessarily stick until you create the relationship.
Felicia: Yeah, a hundred percent.
Alyssa: And the approachability, right?
Yeah. oh, I can stumble on my words, or whatever it is. Yeah. But yeah, that's how you foster the community.
Felicia: For sure. And like I said, like it's my first time here and I think I've loved bumping into first timers at CONNECT. they're so full of passion. Like you said about community building, we've got something we can already share. My first time. Your first time, what do you plan? Oh, I helped plan this. It's like there's comradery and I just felt a real buzz and I think that's why I'm coming off it feeling quite buzzing about it.
Paulina: Say, do it to be so British. What's, I'm buzzing.
Felicia: Buzzing. I'm buzzing, man.
Alyssa: You were also just talking though on the opposite side of the spectrum, seeing those customers here that have tenure with Cvent. And Cvent CONNECT specifically, right? Not those repeat customers. Those have been using the platform for 10 plus years. So yeah. Do you want to talk about that?
Felicia: Oh, absolutely.
Like when you speak to, so I was speaking to a group of women at the women's meetup actually that you did, Rachel, thank you very much. and. I was asking, is it your first time? And for two of them it was, but they were like, but we are long-term Cvent users. Actually, I've been using Cvent since 2012. I've been using Cvent since 2015. I was like, oh my gosh. And I've been in other places where they're like, oh yeah, since you started, I've been with you. And I'm like, it's like a, it's almost like a family. And they're coming for these reunions of, Hey, how's your Cvent life? How's your Cvent life?
Rachel: That's so funny. One of, one of my like longtime hotel partners texted me today and she said, I'm so sorry I can't make the family reunion. And I just, my heart melted a little bit because, Paulina and I have been doing this and Alyssa back in the day when she was part of the planning squad, and now you with CONNECT Europe, like it's, it is that, yeah, we're creating a community and a space where people can come every year and be together and that like those comments make it, oh God, I'm going to cry now. They make it meaningful for me, for what I do for a living. Yeah. Yeah. And just there's nothing done. She wasn't even here. She said that and I was like, I'm going to cry. You're not even here.
Paulina: We're all looking for validation in our work, in our efforts. And I think from the planning side, yes, we're validated when we see it come to life. The structures on site, the design of it. But when you hear it from someone else's voice, from their perspective, it just, it hits different
Alyssa: And you're building with that vision in mind of bringing everybody together. So when they put it into words, you're like, I did it. Yeah.
Felicia: I tell you something. I saw the award winners yesterday. well done to all award winners, obviously, but there was a particular group and they used Cvent technology to help children and every time that video ran of the children and how they'd empower these children through technology. Yeah, I tell you, I want it to burst into tears and someone, we always make a joke at Cvent, as you know we're not curing cancer, we're just selling event technology. But actually for some people, yeah, they're using event technology to, to cure problems of the world.
Alyssa: My first event CONNECT, I interviewed a customer, I won't name names here, but they are a biotechnology company that is curing cancer.
Felicia: Oh my gosh.
Alyssa: It's like that was the headline of the customer story, and I'm like stuck at this company for a really long time now because you can see the good that you're bringing through the technology.
Rachel: Our last podcast we interviewed unicef. And they're using Cvent To help bring Good, and I made that same comment that you just made, Felicia. I was like, I always make this joke that we're not saving lives here and literally you are saving lives.
Paulina: You know what's interesting? We also did save some lives this week.
Felicia: You have to tell this story. Yeah. Don't name names.
Paulina: I’m not naming names and I'm actually not going to retell like the experience.
But this has been an interesting CONNECT. There have been a lot of highs and some really low lows. And that always happens on events. But for whatever reason, I feel just more emotionally tied to the program this year. And so when I hear someone else on site. okay. I'm not going to cry. I hear someone else going through a difficult time, or I'm responding to an emergency on site, I really approached it like, this person is family. Like you're saying, could you be my father? Could you be my sister? And I think that stuck with me a little bit. We had a number of emergencies this week. None of which were, ended up being, of major concern, per se. But, and some people have had to leave last minute and it's really, like Rachel said, rolling with the punches, but we do it with a familial camaraderie kind of approach, and I feel like because it hasn't necessarily happened before It really has defined how close everyone is. When you can go through these traumatic scenarios together and get through it to the other side and know that you're helping someone to the other side, there's so much more to that than just work. There's so much more to that than just the event,
Felicia: I think that is the power of events though. Like it does build that level of relationship. And Reggie, when I first got to Cvent, Reggie would talk about CONNECT, in this very passionate way, of you know find religion at CONNECT. CONNECT is where people come together, they meet and they do all these things.And it sounds from a marketer like marketing talk, but to come to something, and you really do find that family feeling, building up. And I think for some people, they're doing their events for the first time and it's all work. Yeah, but the more and more you do it, the more it becomes your baby.
Rachel: Trust me, I know. I've been doing this a long time.
Paulina: Long time.
Rachel: How are you feeling? I'm feeling great. I'm ready to close out this conference with a bang. And we are, we just keep saying, Paulina and I are the positivity drain. Let's get this event done. Glass half full. Always. Yeah. Oh yeah. Oh yeah.
We're feeling good. I think the whole industry has staffing challenges, which I think we've talked about on another podcast. But we've rolled with the punches, we've relied on a lot of great partners. We've worked, this hotel is amazing, Cesar Forum is, they're just great at what they do. So luckily we have that in there.
Paulina: And so I actually want to call out our CSMs this week. Because we've been working with them for three years and it's been a growth, a great relationship. And this week I've just, they are so amazing. Yeah. They have been like, they're new best friends. They're family. Stasia and Kelly, if you guys are listening. This team loves you. Cvent loves you. We have just, we're so appreciative of all of the support that you and your team have provided us this week
Rachel: Kelly's new and Stasia is pregnant with twins. Twins and running around, and we are just like, Get it girls, they are just crushing it on site.
Rachel: Okay. I just want to close with one kind of final question for all of us. So what are some of the favorite moments or cool things that we've done on site that we can give our listeners a little bit of behind the scenes moments into, whoever wants to start. I don't want to put anyone in the hot seat.
Alyssa: I'll start. I have had a different vantage point this year. I've been a lot more customer facing and a lot less backend facing us. Usually I would be in the war room and like in their toiling and trying to get emails out or whatever. and I went to my first dine round.
We do dine around experiences with our customers, on every night of the conference. So we take out small select groups. You'd think of it, your account management teams, but we took out a very elite group of customers from the Fortune 500 essentially, and who are running thousands of events.
They're global leaders of events. But we were so casual and it was so nice to just set the business talk down. And I think we have a common theme here of it's all in the family, it's all community, and I just felt like this community of really amazing professionals, but also that we have all these synergies with our family lives too.
So just that, that sounds like such a basic answer here. It was nothing crazy. It was nothing over the top, but it was the coming together and the human connection and the facilitation of our global planning team. A planner who is based out of India, coordinated that entire experience for us.
Oh, lovely. And I was interfacing with her at 6:37 PM at night last night. Just troubleshooting a couple of things that we had on site thanking her and just like it means a lot to have that type of support and to facilitate those amazing conversations that we had at dinner. And the feedback was phenomenal and I've seen that across all of the dine around channels this week. yeah. I love that.
Rachel: Anyone else?
Paulina: I think what's been really exciting for me, and we still have one more to go, I'm sorry. Yeah. One more to go losing track, but the keynotes, I think we've taken a really fun approach to, Our sort of thought leadership, broad production scope of programming. I want to give a big shout out to Kayla Summers, who's been rocking it out back of house, at general session. She and I and our whole team really, we scour the internet. We partner with our speaker bureau partners on speakers who we think and know are going to relate to our customer base on a deep level, right? It's all about, like you said, this theme. And, we had to fight some battles for some of the speakers because they're not notoriously known.
Alyssa: They're not A-list celebrities.
Paulina: Yeah. They're not a-listers, they're not b-listers. But, their story and the passion at which they, the topics that they speak about were so impactful when we watched any of their sizzle reels or read any of the stories about them. And I think it's been just really exciting to hear the feedback. And yeah, I think that's one of the more creative elements. I think another piece for me that's been really exciting is we've worked with a bunch of new partners and outfitted a bunch of new spaces on site. And a lot of that has been taken into consideration for wellness purposes, inclusion purposes, accessibility purposes. I've talked about this a lot across all of the promotional channels for this Cvent CONNECT program, but, we had, sort of spiritual space. So if people wanted to take a moment away and meditate, pray, we actually had guided meditations, on site and they were session based every single time.
All day. Yeah. Every time you walk by you hear that. Sound bath, and you're like, why am I not in that room? What other spaces? We offered career coaching. So it was like this, we're really thinking about the attendee from a 360 approach. We want the whole person to feel cared for on site. And it's not just the education, it's not just the networking, but there's professional development, there's opportunities to step away. We design the space with introverts in mind, with extroverts in mind. And I think, we try to do that from the outset for every program, but I think this year I was really, really mindful about how every person who's experiencing this program can feel supported onsite.
Alyssa: It was noticeable. Yeah. You walked through it and you, I felt like there were different elements and again, I'm not as close to it, so I was surprised by it. In a good way. Yeah. seeing it from the attendee vantage point, it was so cool. There's something new here, which was really neat.
Felicia: That's really cool. Speaking of cool things, ball pit in the innovation pavilion. Brilliant.
Rachel: Did you do it? Did you get in it?
Rachel: Do you know, the escape game was next level.
Felicia: Cool. It was really good. Yeah. And I was doing a tour of the innovation, My cool thing is the innovation pavilion. Because I got to see it go from literally nothing to everything. So I think the two things there is obviously this is that honorary planner mode of working with a different type of organization, which is the people that were constructing the innovation pavilion. They are phenomenal and as much as I can joke and be like, oh my gosh, I tried to get things done. I was pulling my hair out. But actually the sheer work that goes into constructing the innovation pavilion and the trade show is something I've never really seen before. And so watching them really pull it together.
I think it was a bright moment for me. 'cause sometimes I think when we talk about staff, we often talk about hotel staff, we talk about different AV and whatnot. But we very rarely get into the building, the contractors that are on site and they work. Hard very hard,
Paulina: Shout out to Jeff and you did a great job. You’re a miracle worker.
Rachel: Las Vegas Expo.
Felicia: Crushed it. Amazing. So that for me was great. And then, as the sponsors started to turn up, where can I be, what can I do? I saw them by name on my sheet. But when I saw that actually there was sustainable swag where they're not overproducing because they're producing onsite for you here.
I was like, oh, amazing. Really cool. And the escape game that makes you as an attendee go around the innovation pavilion because there's a stop everywhere. It's just so clever. So that's my, oh wow cool moment of the innovation pavilion.
Rachel: I love. That's such a good one. I feel like it's hard when you walk into a big trade show and you're thinking, oh my gosh, where do I go first? And you walk around, you see the signage and you think, okay, I should go and just be outgoing. But something where it's an icebreaker like that. Just makes you get involved and just. You know what? There's a ball pit. I'm going to do that first and then maybe I'll go talk about technology.
Alyssa: I will I'll say one more thing. One of the newer or like really successful elements. I took a picture of this 'cause I'm going to send it to you, but the meetup zone this year was thriving.
Felicia: Oh, nice.
Rachel: Like it was people want to talk to each other
Alyssa: Yeah, they do. And those communities, but micro communities is what's really important. And so allowing that space for people to CONNECT. Yeah, I know these like little things that I noticed this year, but it is the little things and events.
Rachel: I have two more and then we'll wrap. I promise this year we're like, we'll make this too long. but yeah, it's that thoughtful event design that Paulina's team is like so freaking good at that make this event so good. But like little things, just not having death by PowerPoint and like honing in on that when you're talking about the content. And one of the things, so I was involved in two pieces of program, which is my highs for the week one was the leadership summit on Monday, first time back since 2019. And that, that's a really curated agenda for some of the top leaders in the industry. And it was really nice to be back. And one of the things I said to our leadership team was, we want to just talk to each other. We don't want death by PowerPoint. Yeah. Let's not do this to them. Because I think every conference goer, not even just event prof feels like that when they go to a conference, they're just like, oh my God, if I look at one more PowerPoint tech, I'm going to, I'm going to die. And we tried to infuse some workshop moments so that people could talk to each other. And at the end of it, and I told Paulina this, later after the session, and I was like, emotions are high on site. I said, I almost cried at the end because one attendee stood up and said, I just want to say thank you so much for allowing us to speak to each other.
And then she said, I don't know who this woman was, but if it was you, please reach out to me because I will email you and we should connect on LinkedIn. I want to give you a hug because she said, I just felt so alone until I talked about all my challenges with all of these other leaders, and I was like, see this. This is why we needed to have this format. Yeah. So that actually people could talk to each other. Yeah. And talk about their challenges with building their teams and their, who they're working with in the ecosystem and all these other things that are going on, staffing issues, whatever it is, and just talk and not let some tech company tell you what they are thinking. Let them let your attendees tell each other what they're thinking
Alyssa: Makes easier for you to create the content. Oh, if they create it on site.
Felicia: I said the same thing
Alyssa: No chatgpt here. It's all the attendee generated content. It's an attendee. Ai. Yeah, attendee. Attendee intelligence. That's a good note to end on.
Felicia: A lady from Partner Summit, who said something similar, and I said, I'm, I want to make content for you, so you tell me what you want I'm going to go make it in Europe. And she was so happy that we took, she said, You guys really listened to what I said last year at Partner Summit. 'Cause I saw the change this year and are you going to take that to Europe? I was like, yes I am. And she said, will they then bring it back to the us? Yes, they will. So she was blown away.
Alyssa: So iterative, right? Yes. Yeah. Attendee intelligence.
Rachel: Attendee intelligence. Oh my gosh. That's AI is now attendee intelligence. Love it. I love that. yeah, I, there were so many amazing moments at Cvent CONNECT and we're so happy that you joined us today on the Great Events podcast. We are exhausted, but so happy that we were able to share with you all the fun moments that we had on site. There's so many more we didn't mention, and I just want to give a special shout out to the entire meeting and event team, the marketing teams, the customer, teams that help produce this amazing event. Probably forgetting some other teams
Alyssa: Sales for staying out late with the customers and doing all that
Rachel: Yeah, honestly it takes a village to put on a user and industry conference and it was, I say it ‘was’, we're still on site, but it's still going.
It has been such a great experience and we're happy and thrilled that, if you were on site and listening, thank you for coming. But if you did not attend, we hope to see you in the future. We had an amazing experience and as you learned, even though it's a big conference, we have a lot of unique programming for each of you, no matter who you are.
So with that, thank you. we're so excited to be here, live in Las Vegas, and we will see you next podcast. If you want to chat with us, please reach out to us on LinkedIn or dm us on Instagram, or reach out to email@example.com.