The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) welcomed CEO and Founder of Cvent, Reggie Aggarwal, to share his insights on the future of meetings and events and how technology will play an even more significant role moving forward. In the webinar, Virtual, In-Person, Hybrid: What’s Next for the Meetings Industry?, GBTA Interim Executive Director Dave Hilfman engaged Aggarwal on diverse topics related to the meetings and events industry, leading to several key takeaways, including:

The necessary shift to all-virtual meetings over the past eight months will create benefits for the industry in the mid- and long-term. The positives of virtual meetings, increased attendance, cost and time savings, have allowed more participants to engage in business events they might not have before.

“Meeting and event programs will be more powerful now with companies having not just one arrow in their quiver, in-person events, but three. With the addition of virtual and hybrid meeting capabilities that allow companies to grow their audience, ushering in what we call the golden age of events,” says Reggie Aggarwal.

“Virtual event capabilities have also allowed companies to keep their meetings and events staff on board, which puts the organisations in a stronger position to hit the ground running when in-person meetings ramp up again.”

Technology has rapidly accelerated and opened the door to exciting innovations for the industry. Video conferencing technology has been around for 10–15 years, but according to Aggarwal, “growth that would normally take 5–7 years has happened in the first 30–60 days of this pandemic and will continue.”

Reggie Aggarwal cited Cvent’s new Virtual Attendee Hub, it’s all-in-one virtual meetings solution, as an example of a rapid technology .

“Just like with in-person events, meeting planners need to be able to measure the success of their virtual events. This new platform makes it simple to assess 25 different engagement actions in virtual formats specifically, giving event hosts deep insight into buyer interests and preferences, thus helping to strengthen their total meeting and event program and resulting in higher ROI.”

Early indicators show a positive outlook for meetings and events in 2021. From their insider perspective of working with hundreds of thousands of meeting and event programs around the world, Cvent is starting to see bookings for later in 2021, including their customer conference which is planned for the third quarter of next year.

“We know that attendee engagement levels are much higher for in-person events than for virtual. But I project that companies will take a hybrid approach. A combination of the in-person and virtual experience, to secure that high level of engagement while also being able to reach new attendees who may not be able, or feel comfortable, to attend in person,” says Reggie Aggarwal.

“The meetings and events industry will not only survive but find ways to thrive, coming out of this pandemic.

“People have been missing the texture of life, a big part of which is seeing customers and coworkers in person and will never again underestimate the power of the human connection. I would never bet against the determination and perseverance of those who work in meetings, events, travel, or hospitality.

“With the latest news on a vaccine, our industry is poised for a truly great resurgence in the months and years ahead.”

The webinar, “Virtual, In-Person, Hybrid: What’s Next for the Meetings Industry?”, is one of many being presented by GBTA as part of the Collaboratory 2020 series.

For the recording of this session and more information on future webinars click here.