Our roving blogger, Mike Fletcher, headed to the Intercontinental London – The O2 to report on two days packed with education, debate, inspiration and Cvent technology at Cvent CONNECT Europe 2019.
Taking my seat early in the UK’s largest pillar-free ballroom to await the opening keynote from Cvent’s Founder and CEO, Reggie Aggarwal, I found myself with enough minutes spare to peruse the programme for Cvent CONNECT Europe 2019, and to plan which sessions I would be attending at the Intercontinental London – The O2 over the next two days.
My first thought on opening the in-app agenda was to head straight to the Innovation Pavilion to see if Cvent had yet to invent delegate cloning technology and solve my attendee pain-point of too many session of interest clashing.
After all, as Reggie himself told the packed Arora ballroom during his inspirational tale of overcoming adversity in business, the first piece of advice for launching any new business is to find the pain-point that needs resolving and then ‘create the Aspirin’.
Cvent has of course successfully been solving event experience pain-points over a 20-year period (although human cloning isn’t part of the attendee or organiser toolkit…yet).
According to Reggie, despite tough times in the early part of the Millennium, Cvent survived and then ultimately thrived because of the loyalty of a few good people, a refusal to stay knocked down, a culture driven by values rather than rules, plus an ability to to hire well, listen well and build well – all valuable lessons from an experienced entrepreneur.
Day 1 – Event Cloud Innovations, Technology Disruptions, and Marketing Mantras
Cvent’s seemingly vast suite of products to support a more immersive, impactful and engaging attendee experience were then detailed in an Event Cloud Product Roadmap Innovations session, straight after Reggie’s keynote.
Product development leaders unveiled the latest and future innovations of Cvent’s Event Cloud platform including, among others the Cvent Marketplace, Social Tables, Cvent Supplier Network, Universal Appointments, Flex registration updates and more.
It was now time to make a choice and select one of six sessions before lunch. I opted for Event Marketing Essentials and Best Practices, hosted by Cvent’s Event Cloud Marketing Director, Judy Elvey.
Judy discussed the importance of understanding customer engagement by tracking social activity, gathering feedback and analysing permitted data in real-time, while ensuring that no lead is lost by maximising post-event follow-up. Addressing a packed room, Judy said:
“Every onsite attendee interaction can be optimised with technology. It all depends on how ‘white gloves’ you want the event experience to be.”
Over lunch, Cvent CONNECT delegates filled their plates from the buffet before exploring the Innovation Pavilion, or joining round-table discussions on topics including ‘How to Get the Most out of your Event App’, ‘Maximising your ROE, Return on Events’, ‘Strategic Meetings Management’ and ‘Venue Sourcing’.
I doubled-down on my earlier event marketing-related session by next attending a seminar on Delivering & Capitalising on the Attendee Experience, hosted by Cvent’s Business Development Executive, Gaby Proctor.
After reiterating that on average, 24% of a client’s marketing budget is spent on events, Gaby focused on seven key steps in the attendee’s event journey and how to get the most out of actions and event environments such as, registration, check-in, session tracking, lead capture, the exhibition show-floor, product visits and real-time feedback.
Other highlights of day one saw Cvent’s Content Marketing Manager, Felicia Asiedu team-up with the company’s Vice President of Sales, Event Solutions, Alex Rolfe to extol the benefits of sales and marketing working together to create effective event follow-up campaigns.
Followed by, Cvent’s Senior Vice-President, Sales, Brian Ludwig exploring future-facing technology likely to further disrupt the travel and events sector.
Disruptive technology examples included facial recognition and sentiment analysis, silent conferencing with multiple speakers sharing the same stage, plus bed cleansing robots for the hygiene-conscious business traveller.
Elsewhere, packed seminar rooms discussed topics that included utilising event apps to enhance audience engagement, taking meetings programmes global, and integrating Cvent with marketing technology stacks.
To round-off the day, everyone came back together in the ballroom to hear another inspirational tale of start-up to success and the lessons learnt along the way, from the founder of Pacific Direct, Lara Morgan.
Day 2 – Women in Leadership, Industry Trends, Sustainability and more!
Day two of Cvent CONNECT switched the emphasis from marketing and technology guidance and best practice, to more issue-led sessions.
The day began back in the Arora ballroom to hear hilarious tales of female empowerment in the male-dominated world of football from Baroness Karren Brady, CBE.
The theme of Women in Leadership then extended into an informative panel discussion led by Cvent CONNECT Europe’s overall host and compere, June Sarpong MBE. It featured inspirational female leaders from the worlds of events, business tourism and media to discuss the evolving landscape of gender equality and the benefits of mentoring and sponsorship for women’s career enhancement.
As panellist Fay Sharpe, Vice President EMEA Creative & Marketing at BCD Meetings & Events went on to share her top tips on being a confident leader, I popped next door to discover global meetings and events trends for the year ahead, as presented by American Express Meetings & Events and Banks Sadler.
Predictably, the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the continued challenges of complying with GDPR will feature highly in 2020, as they did in other standing-room only seminar sessions during the second morning of Cvent CONNECT Europe 2019. While overall, meetings spend is predicted to remain relatively flat with group hotel rates expected to rise by 2.4%.
Other issue-led sessions during day two, included a fascinating panel discussion on diversity and inclusion, plus an eye-opening and very topical talk on sustainability.
Fiona Pelham, CEO of Positive Impact spoke about how the events industry should be aligning its sustainability strategies with the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, as agreed by 193 world leaders back in 2015.
“It’s only by speaking the same language as other global industries and aligning our strategic thinking to the fight against global poverty, climate change, inequality and the rest of the UN’s SDGs that we’ll gain greater recognition on the world stage,” Fiona told delegates.
“When we ensure conference panels are fully representative, that’s grounded in gender equality; when we have processes in place to reduce event food waste, that’s tied in with the fight against global hunger. Event planners already adhere to many of the 17 global goals. We may simply need to change our language and implement better reporting.”
A hugely successful Cvent CONNECT Europe 2019 closed with another inspiring keynote, this time from conference host June Sarpong, MBE. She’d certainly earned her fee over the last couple of days by popping up on panels and attending sessions dedicated to gender equality, female leadership, diversity and future-facing technology.
With two days packed full of education, tech tours, feature flash innovation showcases, panel discussions and lunch roundtables, June Sarpong certainly wasn’t the only one to have got their money’s worth.
Relive the moments from Cvent CONNECT Europe 2019 and don’t forget to register your interest for 2020!