5 key take-aways from Cvent Connect Europe

5 key take-aways from Cvent Connect Europe

You can’t keep a good events planner down – although 2020 has tried its very best. The pandemic has certainly presented obstacles for the industry, but at Cvent Connect Europe experts looked forward to a different kind of events environment in 2021 and beyond.

1. It’s the perfect time to embrace sustainability

Sustainability has been a high priority for several years, but the pandemic has pushed environmental issues even more to the fore. Charlotte Bygraves, director of marketing events at Bain & Company, said: “What gives us a great opportunity for change right now is that we’re all virtual. So at the moment we are fully sustainable. And it’s about making that positive change as we all step back into the in-person world.”

Bygraves said there were numerous things events teams could do, but as a starting point they should be collaborating with like-minded people in their organisation to form a ‘green team’; identifying the ‘low-hanging fruit’ such as limiting their printing and providing reusable cups/badge holders/face masks; and asking tough questions about vendors’ sustainability credentials.

2. Hybrid events will help bridge the return to normal

Even with a vaccine on the horizon, there’s likely to be a nervousness about large in-person events for some time. Add regional travel restrictions and limited travel budgets to the mix and it’s clear that virtual experiences are here to stay.

But hybrid events – which bring together virtual and in-person audiences in a single event – will help bridge this gap. The benefits of hybrid events include attracting more attendees, being more environmentally sustainable and offering more opportunities for monetisation. But there’s more to making an event hybrid than simply putting a camera at the back of a room and recording a keynote speech. Felicia Asiedu, European marketing manager at Cvent, says hybrid events should  “leave both virtual and in-person attendees feeling they’ve had an amazing experience”.

3. Strategic meetings management is now vital

Jean Squires, global enterprise account manager at Cvent, said, “Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) is a series of processes that enables all organisations to manage their events – it’s been around for many years but never has it been more important than it is at the moment. 

“Duty of care – the safety, security and wellbeing of employees – is now as important, possibly more important, than the objectives of return on investment, cost savings and revenue generation.”

Jean said that 2020 had exposed organisations who didn’t have robust processes in place. Data protection is vital – if there’s a data breach at a virtual event it can have a massive impact. She said, “We simply can’t afford not to have a comprehensive, relevant, workable framework that the whole organisation understands, can buy into and implement.”

4. Metrics matter even more in a virtual world

ICE has just published its second annual benchmarking research report,  and it found that virtual events were measured less often than live events. Using metrics to measure the effectiveness of events – attendance, customer feedback, year-on-year performance tracking and app usage – remains a top challenge for events professionals.

In live events, 90% of event professionals were gathering customer feedback, but that dropped to 70% for virtual events. And if event organisers don’t have the data about what went well and what didn’t, they can’t make the next virtual experience even better. 

5.  Use technology to work better together

Cvent realised that, in adapting quickly to the pandemic, organisations were patching together different technologies to run virtual events. This didn’t give attendees a great experience, it wasn’t good for stakeholders and sponsors, and it was difficult to collect data.

McNeel Keenan, Cvent vice president of product management, said: “Challenging times like this, oddly enough, are a great breeding ground for innovation. Our industry has been experimenting and adapting  at a rapid pace.”

So in August Cvent rolled out its Virtual Attendee Hub, which runs an entire event – from promotion and registration, to the event itself, to after-event surveys – on one platform. It also has a mobile app version.

Crucially, it’s secure and it collects rich data. This keeps attendees, sponsors and key stakeholders happy as everyone adjusts to a new way of  working and sharing ideas.

There’s nothing like meeting in person – this year we’ve all missed that social connection and its opportunities for networking and sparking ideas. Virtual and hybrid events will be around for a while yet, but event planners are now looking ahead to a post-COVID era and thinking about which venues will create the most inspiring in-person events. 

While we all still believe in the power of meeting people face-to-face, it is unlikely that events will immediately transition from virtual to in-person overnight. When done correctly, a hybrid event can broaden your audience and exposure, offer an international perspective, and provide a richer experience.