Attending Cvent CONNECT as a speaker earlier this month gave me the opportunity to sit in on a number of sessions, talk with the Cvent leadership team, and chat with other attendees. Here are eight of my key takeaways from the event:


  • Events are booming. In his opening keynote, Cvent Founder and CEO Reggie Aggarwal noted that spend on business travel had now exceeded pre-pandemic levels. He also shared that Cvent has seen a 25% increase in RFP sourcing on its platform this year. CONNECT itself saw attendance up 10% year on year, with 4,000 in-person attendees and a further 6,000 attending virtually, demonstrating that well-planned and well-executed, large-scale tier-one events can thrive despite the difficult economic climate.
  • AI is everywhere. Aggarwal shared that Cvent currently has more than 20 AI enhancements in development and more than 200 people in R&D working on AI. At last year’s CONNECT, AI was still being spoken about as a stand-alone focus, but this year, it felt much more integrated, with McNeel Keenan, VP of product management, making the point that “AI is now part of everything” and announcing new capabilities in areas including attendee personalization, predictive analytics, and event promotion. This aligns with Forrester findings showing that a majority of event leaders agree that AI will fundamentally change how they plan and execute their events within 18 months.
  • Cvent is in acquisition mode. While many event tech vendors (particularly the virtual-centric players) have struggled over the past 12 months, Cvent continues to perform strongly. On the eve of the event, it announced its third acquisition since being taken private by Blackstone one year ago. While the first two acquisitions (Jifflenow and iCapture) focused on helping clients maximize tradeshow investments, the Reposite acquisition turns the focus to sourcing, offering an AI-powered event planning workspace. Aggarwal made it clear that there will be more acquisitions to come.
  • “Centrally owned, globally operated” events was a key theme. A number of sessions at CONNECT focused on the benefits of a centralized approach to event planning, execution, and technology. During the product roadmap keynote, Keenan announced the launch of Cvent Essentials, a simplified, easy-to-use solution for smaller field events. This is timely, with Forrester data showing that these smaller in-person events are the fastest growing event format, with 58% of organizations planning more of these over the next 12 months.
  • Attendee experience is crucial. One of the key product roadmap themes was personalization. This focused on how Cvent will use a combination of attendee data and rules-based segmentation to deliver customized experiences incorporating areas such as mobile app GUIs and chatbot recommendations. With new demographics demanding greater personalization, and Forrester data showing that 90% of high-growth companies have made this a focus for their events, this move makes sense.


  • Location matters. After many years in Vegas, Cvent took the decision to move CONNECT to San Antonio for the first time. Most of the returning attendees I spoke with appreciated the new experiences offered by the change of location. The move also gave Cvent the opportunity to “take over” San Antonio, with the brand highly prominent around the city. With 68% of event attendees saying that location is a crucial factor in determining whether they will attend an event, taking a tier-one event such as CONNECT to different locations offers up exciting new engagement opportunities.
  • Hybrid has changed. Rather than delivering all of the content to virtual and in person audiences simultaneously, Cvent chose to stream around 30% of the content live to virtual attendees and focus on capturing the in-person content digitally for on-demand viewing. This mirrors the approach of other tier-one events, with livestreaming considered too resource-heavy but leaders keen to maximize the investment they’ve made in event content through on-demand access, and post-event reuse and repurpose.
  • ESG was lower-profile. While they were still on the agenda, inclusivity, accessibility, and sustainability seemed to be lower-profile this year. This reflects recent Forrester findings that saw event inclusivity/accessibility and reducing the environmental impact of events come in at the bottom of the priority list for the coming 12 months. Sustainability faired particularly poorly in North America, with just 32% of North American orgs telling us that this was a priority for them moving forward.

Forrester clients can view a Forrester on-demand webinar in which we discuss many of the trends raised in this blog and can also request a guidance session or inquiry to dive deeper into any of the topics discussed.