It’s time for another incredible episode of #EventIcons! Over the past few weeks, we’ve been focusing on bringing to the limelight the incredible stories of event profs who fought the pandemic and came out stronger on the other side. And this week, the adventure continues – with a little spin on the approach to virtual and the role of technology.
We’re more than happy to introduce the iconic Scott Lockey, Senior Director of Partnerships at Cvent. As someone who is heavily involved in the technology side of the events industry, Scott has a lot to teach us about our approach to virtual and what we should be looking out for when it comes to choosing the right technology. So join our host Sarah Christl and our phenomenal guest in yet another fascinating conversation about the world of virtual events!
When Everything Blew Up…
Before jumping into the topic of the approach to virtual, Scott tells us about Cvent’s experience. “Because of being global and because of some of our offices in the Asia Pacific, we’d already seen some of the things that were happening. So we knew that there was going to be this situation”, Scott recalls. “And so we’d started from an internal perspective. We’d started preparing for everybody having to work from home and a lot of those kinds of things. So from a backend organizational side, we’d prepare it a little bit. And when we all pivoted to working from home, that was overnight and the company did a very good job of preparing us and getting us everything we needed from a client perspective”.
A Helping Hand
Cvent’s initial approach to virtual was all about helping. “Especially with what I do with a lot of our partners, which are third-party agencies, travel management companies, event management companies. It was very much how do we help them get through this? And we’re still doing that today. So that was the first big thing, what do we need to do to kind of not only protect our business and what a lot of organizations are doing, managing costs and managing agreements but managing with our clients and our partners, how we help them through that”.
“And then obviously from a technology and a product side, being that we’re a software company, we’d already been building some new solutions, very much around engagement and online engagement. So this really just brought forward some of the focus into the fact that people aren’t attending live events right now. And so that’s what our product team has been working hard to do. So it’s only made us busier and we were already ridiculously busy”.
The Learning Process
Just like for everyone else in the industry, Cvent also had to undergo a process of reeducation. And it had a lot to do with a special approach to virtual! “Because we see ourselves as an industry thought leader, we wanted to make sure we were providing the right information. And as everyone has seen, there’s a lot of technology out there right now. So what we did was, first of all, we looked at our experience. And what I mean by that is Cvent has actually been doing a lot of virtual events for years. Because companies have been using some of the different conferencing tools and hosting events through that. So we had some visibility into how people were using our technology. We quickly looked and made sure we understood what the different technologies were that were out there to connect to”, Scott explains.
“And so while we were building things, we were also working, integrating things so as to make existing systems that people had easier to connect to our technology, but really doing a lot of research. We created internal SWAT teams to be experts in certain areas and really doing a lot of education internally. We had teams working through the night, creating content, bringing some best practices to the forefront. And then what we really quickly did was we started sharing that with our clients and our partners, putting on sessions, doing education around what is a virtual event? How do you have a successful virtual event? At that time it was really just trying to get as much information, filter out the noise, get valuable content, and get that in the hands of our clients and our partners”.
A Wake Up Call For The Industry
Scott shares the opinion of many others in the industry regarding technology. “In the last six months, we’ve seen so much from the technology perspective. It’s the first time this industry has been really forced to come up to modern times. We’ve always lagged a little bit. And it’s actually really good for the industry because now everybody’s on a level setting when it comes to technology. You have to be using technology, and that’s only going to benefit us when we go to in-person, hybrid, and going forward”, he says.
The Shiny Object Effect
“With regards to everything that’s out there, we kind of saw that with mobile, eight to 10 years ag. A mobile app comes out for an event suddenly there’s 50, 60 companies doing mobile apps for events. And over time that reduces. Because really building a long-term sustainable, scalable solution isn’t easy. And it takes a lot of resources. So I call it the shiny object effect. Where right now there are hundreds of different technologies out there. But for clients, for partners, it’s been a bit of a minefield”.
“And you spend all this time trying to do the research, and what a lot of people are doing is creating matrixes. What they’re showcasing are features and functionality. S0 the one thing I would caution people is to look behind the curtain and really understand. So that’s what we’ve been trying to do is really understand, the differences, not just the features, One of the most important things is the foundation of it all”, explains Scott.
The Approach To Virtual & Technology
What are these things people should look for behind the curtain? “When people are broadcasting live, what is that streaming platform? Because what’s different is now a lot of companies, if they take their own websites, they might get a lot of traffic throughout the month. But a lot of their websites aren’t designed for 5,000 people to click on a link at the same time. So when I talk about the foundation, it’s really making sure that it’s a technology that when everybody hits play live at that event, it’s going to work. Having that confidence in a technology is one of the behind the curtains pieces”.
“I think what people would need to be looking at is security and data privacy. So things for CCA, GDPR. We look at some of these options where you can share passwords and you can just send people your login credentials. And so really looking at security and data privacy. Because the last thing anyone wants is their organization to be in the news for all the wrong reasons. How does the data flow? What data are you getting? Stability, scale, and support, right? One of the things we’re seeing out there right now is a lot of companies weren’t designed or ready to be taking on this much business. And so we’re hearing stories and people are a little overwhelmed right now”, Scott adds.
Looking Into The Future
Scott believes that hybrid will be the next big thing, which means our approach to virtual won’t simply go away. “What is hybrid going to mean and what are people going to need? Because I think a lot of people, in the past, thought a hybrid event was just sticking a camera in the room. But when you’re doing a hybrid event, you’ve really got two audiences and somewhat two events. And you’ve got to understand, what does that mean? What does that mean for production? What does that mean for connecting people that aren’t in the same place? So our product team is very focused on what do we need to do in our technology to support hybrid”.
“We at Cvent will always have a virtual element to our program. So there’s just gonna be a mix of all different types of events, but a virtual audience is never going to go away. What people are focused on is giving the best experience and where it’s going to be 10 years from now is just going to be a much richer, personalized experience with technology providing attendees with way more value from the events they’re attending. And then for the meeting planner or the stakeholders that are putting on the events, much more clarity into who their attendees are. Where the business is coming from. How events are really driving that organization’s revenue or sale. So I would say, 10 years from now from a technology perspective, our entire events will not look a lot different than they do today”, Scott concludes.
“There are a lot of amazing people in this industry that are super creative. And a lot of them have leveraged the situation we’re in to be even more creative. So what are we doing within these events to be more creative? And so I think that long after this pandemic is over, that creativity and some of these ideas that have come forward will live on and strengthen the way we deliver events, whether in-person, virtual, hybrid, whatever it might be”.
And that’s a wrap on another amazing episode of #EventIcons! Our industry’s approach to virtual is ever-changing, so if you still have questions about anything regarding virtual events and the adjacent technology, don’t hesitate to contact us. Plus, stay tuned for more great content coming your way!