By: JT Long | From: Smart Meetings

At the annual user conference Cvent Connect for a record 4,000 attendees in San Antonio this week, the event technology company which was purchased by Blackstone last year announced new products and acquisitions designed to better meet the needs of meeting professionals, whether planning simple events or complex hybrid affairs.

The conference, which moved to Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center from Las Vegas for the first time, focused on making moments that matter. Stage discussions included the state of DEI in the meetings and events industry, empowering women leaders and using conference food waste to feed those who are food insecure (Goodr CEO Jasmine Crowe-Houston led attendees through a snack box-making exercise).

Visit San Antonio President and CEO Mark Anderson, called his destination “one of the most authentic, fastest-growing and walkable cities in the United States.” It is a place that is expanding its airport, convention center (reopened in 2016) and its downtown while preserving its history and amenities such as the famed San Antonio River Walk.

Read More: What to Expect at Cvent Connect in San Antonio

Attendees experienced the culture with a “Neon Rodeo” at Smoke Skybar, indoor-outdoor venue featuring BBQ, beer and live music, and Lone Star Jam at The Espee live entertainment venue a block from San Antonio’s Pearl restaurant and brewery district. For those looking to see more of the area, morning “brisk walking tours” started the days with insight.

AI Event Tools Ruled

The conference kicked off with announcements of new AI integrations—acquisition of Reposite AI sourcing, integration with FeedomPay for hotel reservation tokenization and a partnership with AMGiNE for automated business travel management.

“AI is going to transform the events industry,” said Cvent Senior Vice President of Sales Brian Ludwig. “It’s gonna create an ‘easy button’ that you can click, and boom, it will analyze years of unwieldy data, build an event based on those insights with suggested locations, amount of space, speakers, content, length of time for sessions and all the marketing materials you need to promote it. All of these things that take time goes away.”

Reposite, an AI-powered supplier-sourcing platform, streamlines the planning process with a curated database of more than 35,000 group-friendly offerings, robust request for proposal (RFP) creation tools, and AI-powered quote matching solutions. Thousands of event professionals and leading third-party planners already rely on Reposite for their vendor sourcing needs and now they will be part of Cvent’s supplier discovery and coordination engine that sources more than $16 billion in 2023.

Reposite’s AI Matching technology pairs planner RFPs with the best-fit suppliers based on geography, group size, event dates, target audience and other user preferences. The sourcing process is based on a centralized workspace that searches for suppliers and generates RFPs, manages quotes, customizes proposals and monitors payments.

AMGiNE automates and streamlines the Group Air booking process for Travel Management Companies, a tedious job that can take hours without the ability to automatically generate compliant trips from registration data. Travelers also benefit from this integration as they will receive trip proposals, including flight options and seat maps, within minutes of registering for a meeting or event.

The integration with FreedomPay enables direct tokenization of credit cards which allows for credit card numbers to be exchanged between Cvent Passkey and a hotel’s central reservation system via secure credit card tokens. Tokenization helps protect hoteliers against the threat of payment fraud and data breaches and offers enhanced security features for managing and processing group reservations.

“We are solving a need for our customers and bringing smart AI concepts to the broader Cvent ecosystem,” said Ludwig.

Event Tech Gets Personal

Bespoke moments that speak to individual attendees are the ones that are remembered. New Cvent product announcements will make those touches easier according to Cvent Vice President of Product Management McNeel Keenan. “From the website to the post-event feedback survey, new tools will allow planners to tailor audience segments and leverage AI to make each experience more conversational,” he said.

He pointed to global profiles that will allow planners to draw on deeper data sets to deliver personalized event follow-up and marketing. Attendees can access almost instant summaries of sessions with actionable takeaways to enhance content impact.

Event marketing and management product announcements expected to be launched later this year included an enhancement to the AI Writing Assistant that will feature “context-aware” tech that removes the need for planners to train the assistant on the details of each new event or program. Conversational prompts can be used to adjust copy for event websites, attendee communications, email marketing and mobile event apps.

Read More: Reposite’s Alexa Berube on the Power of AI

Chatbot concierges embedded in event websites will allow attendees to get questions answered and build personalized event agendas. Registration will be enhanced with predictive modeling to track attendance goals and manage room blocks, F&B orders and inform marketing.

Read More: Cvent Connect 2023 Streamline Lessons

AI will also help with natural language venue searches to find properties that meet their specific needs, such as “venue with a spa” or “ballroom with natural light.” The filtering could reduce the need for sending RFPs to dozens of properties that are not a fit. And AI tools being rolled out to hotels and venues could result in more of those RFPs being responded to faster.

AI could also help with sorting data, extracting insights from feedback forms and behavior and creating the mountains of content associated with each event. “Content creation is a hidden job of meeting planners that could be made more efficient with technology,” Keenan said.

He shared that customers are designating full-time event technology experts to make the most of the tools, not unlike the shift that happened in mar-tech 15 years ago. Attendee satisfaction is important, but beyond registration counts and show rates, measuring influence on the business, how many dollars are in the room, the influence of the event on the bottom line and comparing that to the cost of producing in time and dollars is where the true bottom line lives. “You don’t have unlimited resources, so you’ve got to put that matrix of level of effort versus impact together,” said Keenan.

Beyond those power users, improvements offered self-service usage with templates that make it easy to deploy events with guardrails that will automatically include branding and data capture. That way the meeting professional doesn’t have to manage each event personally. By setting up an environment, remote employees and administrative assistants can do the basics effectively. Cvent Essentials allows anyone to spin up simple meetings at scale. That includes websites, registration tools and agendas that might otherwise rely on paper and pencil.

Read More: San Antonio is for Meetings

The acquisition of Jifflenow and iCapture in January enhances Trade Show Solutions to address a big chunk of most marketing budgets that needs to be managed. That includes orchestrating travel and logistics for staff, scheduling and measuring activity in the booth, lead distribution and analytics. Like all Cvent products, that tool is protected with security and compliance for GDPR, CCPA and SOC2.

After a move to creating event tech stacks, planners are realizing the pain of stitching together multiple solutions to execute and analyze a single event and all-in-one solutions that are configurable, Keenan observed.

Cvent Connect also featured the company’s product divisions and third-party partners that integrate to customize the platform for complex singular events via APIs, plugins and modules built on the base platform.