Cvent CEO and Founder, Reggie Aggarwal, delivered an inspiring keynote to more than 7,000 event, marketing, and hospitality professionals at Cvent CONNECT Europe today. In his opening presentation, Aggarwal urged attendees of the virtual event to seize the digital transformation opportunity in front of them to drive the industry’s recovery in 2021 and beyond.
Acknowledging his own personal and professional challenges as well as the industry’s in light of the global pandemic, Aggarwal delivered an emotive message to attendees describing the last few months as a ‘forged through fire’ moment that would be the catalyst to a bigger, stronger, and more impactful global meetings and events industry.
“The pandemic has forced all of us to adapt our practices, evolve our mindset, and adopt technology to drive our businesses forward,” said Aggarwal. “Technology has taken centre stage. It has become the new medium for our industry to drive the human connection, and it is revolutionising the way we interact with one another. The industry is still connecting, learning and lifting each other up – just in a virtual environment. It is this technological revolution that will ultimately accelerate our road to recovery.”
Aggarwal’s overriding message for attendees was that the future is not just about recovery and survival alone but crucially, adapting and embracing technology, and laying the foundations for what he termed the “Golden Age” of events – a time in which events reach a broader audience and when they become an even more critical part of the business landscape. The three event models now available to event professionals, in-person, virtual and hybrid, will allow the industry to uncover untapped potential across an organisation’s entire event programme.
“The combined power and opportunities these event models can offer our industry is huge. A smart mix of virtual, hybrid, and in-person events is our future. The quicker we accept and work towards this events outlook, the faster we can take advantage of it. We truly have never had this much potential just waiting for us to harness,” he continued.
Referring to Cvent CONNECT Europe as an example, Aggarwal illustrated that this year’s virtual event saw a more than 400% increase in attendance over 2019’s in-person event, and stated that there are firm plans to continue this exponential growth by hosting next year’s CONNECT Europe conference in 2021 as a hybrid event.
While Aggarwal highlighted the important role technology and digital transformation will play in the recovery and ultimate growth of the meetings industry, he also reminded attendees of the enduring value of in-person events – and the power of the human connection.
“We learned during the pandemic that face-to-face meetings are more important than we ever imagined. Organisations have felt the loss of fewer business opportunities and a reduced sales pipeline. And most importantly, the loss of that emotional connection with their customers and their employees. The silver lining is that from now on, organisations will never underestimate just how integral events are to driving collaboration, building relationships, and powering their businesses. So, as event professionals, we have a duty – I’d even say a higher calling – to bring people together and to drive the human connection.
“We will emerge stronger, more connected, and better equipped to harness the power of events. The events industry will not only recover, but together, we will transform it and usher in a Golden Age.”