When Eric Eden, vice president of marketing for Cvent, told CEO Reggie Aggarwal last March, after its first Corporate Meeting Summit, that he could expect the conference’s attendance to rise from 135 corporate meeting buyers to 500 this year, the challenge was on. Leave it to one of the most successful companies in the online event registration space, who perfected e-mail marketing invitations some 14 years ago, to achieve that goal.
More than 500 buyers, 70 Cvent employees, and 30 hoteliers converged on the Peabody Orlando June 5–7 for the second Cvent CMS, as it has been deemed, for nearly two days of not just product demos but presentations from thought leaders in the event and business travel space as well as case studies about proven strategies that work for event management,, and live events.
With stats to back up the fact that the world is going mobile (1 billion smartphones or tablet devices will be sold in 2013, three times the number of PCs that will be sold this year), Cvent is banking on mobile apps as the perfect tool to complement every event. It bought CrowdCompass, a mobile app company based in Portland, Ore. in 2012, and attendees experienced the conference app real time at the CMS, complete with polling (through a partnership with Poll Everywhere), profiles of every attendee, the ability to star rank each speaker, as well as to submit a post-session evaluation.
The attendees, most of whom use some technology in the Cvent suite of products, had opportunities for hands-on training on day one, doing deep dives into the sourcing, budgeting, event management, SMM, even healthcare professional spend tracking modules that Cvent offers. Some were prospective customers who paid their own way to attend to understand all the software has to offer.
The next day-and-a-half offered four educational tracks: basic SMM, advanced SMM, live event education, and a session for hoteliers (Cvent has more than 200,000 properties worldwide in its supplier network, a free RFP/sourcing tool for planners). On Thursday afternoon Cvent streamed its 90-minute TED-type presentation to some 1,200 online viewers. Called “The Future is Unlimited,” the session featured six meeting and travel pros giving power talks on how they see the event industry evolving, from moving from content to community at meetings to using color on your stage to affect attendees’ ability to learn and remember. Visit Orlando and PSAV, both major sponsors, made the live streaming possible.
Evening networking featured two high-energy events. The opening night was hosted by the Peabody Orlando, also acknowledged as Cvent’s number-one meetings hotel in 2012. The highlight of the rock-and-roll evening was a performance by G$ and the Rock Revolution band, whose lead singer just happened to be Gregg J. Herning, vice president of sales and marketing for Peabody Hotels. The other highlights: Kiss lead singer Gene Simmons lookalikes in stilts rocking the dance floor as well as an aerial acrobat who served champagne while hanging from a chandelier in the ceiling.
The following evening SeaWorld hosted an event that allowed attendees entry into a closed part of the park for a private reception, featuring its new Antarctica exhibit, which just opened, as well as the Kraken roller coaster.
On Friday morning, Cvent gave out its second Planner Awards, to customers who exemplified best-in-class use of different platforms in its suite of products. The Peabody Orlando General Manager Barbara Bowden accepted an award from Cvent for hotel of the year.