Global spend for meetings and events amounts to approximately US$565 billion, accounting for about a third of total spend on travel. Cvent anticipates that by 2015, US$10 billion of that pie will go through its event management platforms. Needless to say, as one of the foremost cloud-based event management platforms on the market, Cvent has a lot of ideas for what the meetings industry can achieve by harnessing the power of technology.
Last week, I had the opportunity to hear Reggie Aggarwal, Founder and CEO of Cvent, share his perspective of where the meetings industry is headed, and how Cvent intends to make the most of emerging technologies to deepen our human interactions at these events.
Based on past participation profile -- whether as an attendee, sponsor, exhibitor or speaker -- today's technology can provide us personalized discovery and recommendations for future events. This can be purely location based, for example, I live in the Bay Area, so Cvent could suggest events that interest me within a certain number of miles. Or this can be based on activity in my social network. If Cvent recognizes that several friends are registered for a conference, it may recommend it to me as well.
And suggestions don't end there. They can be incorporated into any particular event itself by recommending which sessions to attend, which exhibitors to visit, or who to connect with based on similar interests.
For some events, the registration and check in process has been somewhat digitalized. However, Reggie described the use of iBeacon technology, which allows smart devices to determine their location at events, to compltely automate the check in process. For example, as you walk past a registration iBeacon, it can trigger a badge to be immediately printed and then picked up at a kiosk -- all without interacting with a human being.
Another example could be as conference attendees arrive at baggage claim, an iBeacon can gather intelligence on how many have arrived and corral them all to one pick up location for on-demand transportation to the event itself.
By a similar token, proximity-based connections can also happen from person to person. Reggie shared a "Big Brother"-esque vision of each conference attendee selecting their top five must-meet people, and as you move through the conference, your phone can alert you of when your target contacts are close by.
Digital contact exchange, social walls and appointment setting capabilities are all additional functions that Cvent is looking to build out further. The common thread is they all take advantage of our mobile capacity and build that capacity into the overall event experience.
Reggie mentioned that Cvent is also looking at the post-event attendee experience of keeping all conference materials and notes archived and available in one place. Keeping track of who you met and what you learned is one part of it; being able to share it with the right people back at work is another step in the process.
They are also looking at making event content immediately available. Instead of waiting a few weeks after an event for presenter and speaker materials to be processed, edited and uploaded, Reggie is challenging the industry to think about how knowledge can be captured in real time and immediately sharable.
What does this mean for DMOs?
One of Reggie's most interesting observations is that the meetings and events industry has largely been slow in its disruption, due to its size and nature of doing business. He said that in this industry, "Disruption takes time. But it's going to happen all the same." The changes that have been taking place however, has largely been spurred by demands that attendees are making.
Attendees expect a certain kind of experience. They expect certain services and support. They are accustomed to a mobile environment and will continue to be the driving force (with torches and pitchforks) behind the meetings industry's adoption of new technologies.
As a DMO, you have the unique opportunity of helping planners through the growing pains. What services or solutions can you recommend that promotes discovery, automation, connecting and sharing? Make sure your destination is business ready for the future of meetings.