The future of meeting attendee satisfaction is mobile, believes Reggie Aggarwal, CEO, Cvent. That’s one reason Cvent just spent millions to buy two mobile app developers: Seed Labs, its first-ever acquisition, which is a leader in creating mobile apps for major consumer events such as ESPN’s X Games, the Kentucky Derby, the Country Music Association Awards, and various festivals across the country; and CrowdCompass, a leader in creating mobile apps for business and association events. While Seed Labs gives Cvent its first foothold in the consumer-events space, CrowdCompass dovetails with Cvent's existing client base.
Another benefit of the acquisitions, according to Aggarwal, is an infusion of startup spirit. As Cvent nears 1,000 employees worldwide, “we want to try to maintain our entrepreneurial culture,” he says.
Cvent has made mobile forays on its own, such as making event registration mobile friendly, but the two acquisitions allow it to jump right into offering apps created by established leaders in their fields.
Cvent and CrowdCompass will offer a solution that combines industry leading event management tools and the ability for planners to easily create iPhone, iPad, Android, and BlackBerry apps for their business events. CrowdCompass specializes in building mobile apps for business and association events, such as conferences, tradeshows and large-scale meetings. The company has completed apps for corporations such as E*Trade, Daimler, and Intuit; meetings industry organizations such as The Meetings Technology Expo; and associations, including the American Bar Association, Association of General Contractors and American Society of Anesthesiologists.
With Seed Labs, Cvent customers can buy their meeting apps as an à la carte product, though there are plans to integrate the app offering with Cvent’s event management packages. This will allow Seed Labs customers access to Cvent products as well.
Answering the hesitation of some planners who wonder if their attendees need or want mobile apps at meetings, Aggarwal thinks back to when he was first pitching online registration some 10 years ago. “Planners said ‘We don’t need it,’” he recalls. “Can you imagine not having online registration for a meeting today? I remember fighting people on this.”
Likewise, he believes, a mobile app will soon be a must at your meeting—and a huge advantage for planners, who will no longer have to print out all their materials on site or ship them to the venue. Apps will also help planners control and measure attendee behavior at their events through “gamification” and surveys. Apps can be revenue generators if planners sell advertising to sponsors. And there is the convenience of “push” notifications, basically sending a text message (“the reception starts in the Grand Ballroom in 15 minutes”) to all attendees. And, finally, they can be simple value-adds for attendees: For example, an app can offer suggestions of nearby restaurants where the planner has negotiated a discount for meeting-goers.