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On Aug. 25-26, 35,000 attendees participated in Cvent Connect, making it the largest virtual gathering of meeting and event professionals in history. Cvent Connect consisted of six different tracks, including meeting program strategy, event execution, virtual and hybrid events, and hospitality and travel trends.

The Keynote

Reggie Aggarwal

The first session kicked off with Cvent CEO and founder Reggie Aggarwal, who shared an unflaggingly optimistic view of the future for the meetings industry. “As event professionals, we have a duty, I might even say a higher calling, to bring people together, to bring unity and to drive that human connection,” Aggarwal said.

Aggarwal drove home the importance of meeting face-to-face. “The in-person experience is special, it’s second to none, but given the current reality, it’s just not possible. We can never underestimate the need for humans to connect,” he said.

“Despite what we’re going through now, the future’s not only bright, but we’re on the cusp of entering the golden age of events,” Aggarwal predicted. With the expansion of hybrid and virtual events, Aggarwal believes the meetings industry will be more impactful than ever. “Businesses will begin to realize just how effective events are in driving customer and employee engagement.”

The Panel

Following was an industry expert panel, featuring Kimberly Gishler, CEO and president of Corporate Event Marketing Association; Paul Van Deventer, CEO and president of Meetings Professionals International (check out his Smart Meetings podcast); Jason Dunn, board chairman of National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals; and Susan Robertson, president and CEO of American Society of Association Executives.

The discussion centered on the state of the industry but encompassed a wide array of topics, such as transferring skills from in-person to virtual, evolution of the relationship between planners and digital marketers, differences in designing for virtual versus live events, challenges of going hybrid, COVID-19’s disruption of the business model and positive results of the pandemic.

Tovirtually revisit the first session and more, sign up here.

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