TL; DR: Live events provide valuable marketing and engagement opportunities for brands as well as revenue streams for hotels, destinations and venues. But without the right integrated digital technology, it’s challenging to put on seamless, engaging experiences for attendees or track ROI from your event investment. Cvent, a SaaS company founded in 1999, offers a solution with its Event Cloud platform, a comprehensive set of event management software that simplifies and streamlines event organization and heightens on-site engagement with tracking and analytics to evaluate success. Cvent also designed its Hospitality Cloud platform for venues & destinations to showcase their meeting and event hosting services to event planners, provide business transient services, upsell group hotel attendees, and manage client relationships. With these solutions, Cvent enables both marketers and hospitality professionals to realize and maximize the ROI of live events.
In the age of automation, live events give businesses the opportunity to make the personal brand connection that consumers desire. Executives and marketing teams recognize that value, but can find events tedious to plan and execute — whether manually compiling registration data or outsourcing the task to services that don’t integrate with branded websites and internal applications.
During an event, manual check-in processes and poor traffic flow can hurt attendees’ impression of a brand, while the lack of on-site feedback and post-event analytics leaves businesses blind to their impact.
Cvent, a software company founded in 1999, is a leading provider of cloud-based event management solutions for businesses and the hospitality industry. Cvent plays a unique role in connecting supply and demand in the event management space by providing an end-to-end platform for organizers to plan and execute their total event program, and a networking platform for hoteliers and venues to market themselves as hosts.
Clients using Cvent software solutions often note that the right digital tools help events shift from a tedious expense on the income statement to a recognized valuable asset on the balance sheet. “The power of live events has served client companies very well,” said Patrick Smith, Cvent’s Chief Marketing Officer. Cvent enables organizations to not only host events more seamlessly but also to show the value and revenue live events bring in. “That’s making events a true asset to the business.”
From Solving Registration to Providing Complete Event Management
Cvent originated as the internet was still in its infancy. Founder Reggie Aggarwal faced many challenges while organizing a high-tech council of Indian-American CEOs in the Washington DC area. “He was sending individual emails, managing replies, and organizing event details on spreadsheets,” Patrick said. “It was a manual process, and he knew there had to be a better way.”
Reggie’s idea was to automate the entire registration process, and he launched Cvent with the purpose of streamlining that side of event planning.
Over the next decade, Cvent weathered both the technology bubble and the Great Recession, gained momentum and expanded its focus. “Cvent created a great experience for registering, inviting people, and having a branded website for a host, but it stopped after the event took place,” Patrick said.
Cvent first developed a digital application for the manual check-in process, then added other on-site solutions for event management — such as mobile event apps, attendee tracking with real-time analytics and integration with other mission-critical business software tools. Later at the request of planners, Cvent built and incorporated the Cvent Supplier Network, to connect meeting organizers with venue & destination sourcing options. Today, Cvent offers a comprehensive platform of solutions that allow event planners to create technologically engaging, seamless experiences with measurable success.
“We started in one place and kept adding components along the way to be more valuable to the buyer,” Patrick said. “You may be able to get a piece of what Cvent offers from another company, but, when you’re a CMO like I am, you want a unified way to take people through the entire process of an event — along with measuring multiple aspects of an event along the way to keep making them better.”
An Integrated Cloud Platform Creates Branded Experiences, Engages Attendees, and Tracks Success
Cvent’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) structure provides businesses with access to high-tech applications without the need to invest in internal hardware. Collectively, The Event Cloud can function as a complete event management platform or businesses can select the individual software solutions they need to plan and execute their meetings and design events with a consistent brand experience from start to finish.
Before an event, Cvent offers fast website setup, access to email marketing tools, and online registration. “We don’t want you to have to have an IT background to design an event, so we make it easy to build an event website, registration experience, or mobile event app that reflects your brand,” Patrick said.
Cvent’s OnArrival application streamlines and modernizes on-site check-in by allowing attendees to Check- in immediately — on a mobile device or at a designated kiosk — when they arrive and print badges on demand. The CrowdCompass mobile event app allows event planners to communicate and connect with attendees during an event, and gives attendees a powerful platform to engage more deeply with event content and other attendees.
CrowdCompass includes informational tools and interactive features to encourage personal connections among speakers, brands, and attendees while enabling organizers to gain valuable feedback through live polls and Q&As.
“It’s not just pushing messages. It’s a way to engage people on-site,” Patrick said.
An example of a company that is doing mobile event engagement right is Checkers and Rally’s restaurants who started using CrowdCompass to supplement print materials and boost engagement at its large national events after witnessing its effectiveness. Organizers were able to quickly notify convention attendees of last-minute changes and draw them to points of interest. Checkers and Rally’s also gained an additional revenue stream from in-app advertising.
Attendee tracking is another Cvent solution that uses RFID technology to provide planners with deep insight into audience behavior. “It helps event planners understand the attendee journey, attendee preferences, see how they’re interacting, where traffic flows, and use that information to make the next event better,” Patrick said.
Reporting and Analytics built into the Cvent product allow planners to evaluate on-site activity alongside registration and check-ins. Cvent’s platform can even be linked to a business’s marketing automation system or customer relationship management (CRM) system to present deeper insights into attendee preferences, and provide a powerful path to track – and prove event ROI.
Cvent’s end-to-end event management solutions have been instrumental in boosting the engagement and profitability of more than 1.4 million brand events and business meetings, worldwide.
Hospitality Solution Helps Connect Venues with the Right Clients
As Cvent expanded its event management solutions for planners, it saw similar pain points within the hospitality industry. On one side, planners were asking for a single source to find and search for event & meeting venues and, on the other hand, venues & destinations around the globe needed an efficient way to advertise their space and services and connect with event planners. “In 2009, we introduced Cvent Supplier Network, part of our Hospitality Cloud to connect the planner that needs a location and the hotelier, destination or venue that has space available for meeting groups,” Patrick said.
“Today, Cvent is the global event technology standard for hospitality professionals with over 75,000 event & meeting planners and almost $15 Billion of RFP’s that flowed through the network in 2017 alone (around $48 billion since inception).”
At its core, Cvent’s Hospitality Cloud provides various marketing solutions tools including media-rich profiles and displays to connect planners and increase visibility to target clients. In addition, management and analytics tools help score leads, evaluate performance, benchmark against competitive sets and ultimately provide insights for optimization of their group business.
“Beyond just the network, there is Cvent Passkey, an on-site technology solution for managing room blocks which allows hoteliers to gain more revenue through upgrades and add-ons while increasing efficiency and delivering a superior planner experience with customized event websites,” Patrick said.
The Ritz Carlton San Francisco, a 300-room luxury hotel located in the Nob Hill neighborhood, uses the Cvent Hospitality Cloud to maximize group business and keep its market edge as the city expands. With Cvent, the Ritz Carlton benefits from relevant data on both the supplier and planner sides and gets a better understanding of its group customers. Cvent is the Ritz Carlton San Francisco’s best source of leads, helping the hotel keep a competitive advantage by closing 35% of its deals — compared to a city-wide average of 20%.
Cvent’s Hospitality Cloud platform helps both hosts and planners benefit from successful events. “If you can create that ecosystem and be the solution connecting the supply and demand, then you’re in a unique spot,” Patrick said.
Helping Brands Create Meaningful Experiences and Maximize the Power of Live Events
Despite the push for automation and AI, consumers and professionals still look for personal interaction — and live events facilitate those connections. “We want tactile experiences now, and that’s why the power of live events is so important,” Patrick said.
Cvent was founded to streamline the planning process and has since grown into a software company with comprehensive solutions for all aspects of event coordination.
And companies are able to create memorable experiences with the digital engagement consumers expect thanks to Cvent’s event management solutions. The company also helps organizers discern the marketing and bottom-line value of events and helps planners gain the insight on where to improve. On the hospitality side, Cvent enables venues to maximize revenue by marketing their location and closing deals to host events.
Cvent holds a unique place in connecting both the supply and demand sectors of the event marketplace — and has the digital technology to meet the needs of each. “We continue to innovate our offerings to make better experiences, whether on the Event Cloud side or the Hospitality Cloud side,” Patrick said.