Reggie Aggarwal, CEO and Founder of Cvent, delivered an inspiring opening keynote offering an optimistic outlook on the future of the events industry during the company’s annual industry and customer conference, Cvent CONNECT Europe. In his address, Aggarwal reflected on the strength of the meetings and events industry, coupled with the rapid digital transformation the industry continues to undergo. “Technology adoption is accelerating at rates we haven’t seen before, enabling us to connect intentionally, purposefully and in a more measurable way,” said Aggarwal.
Highlighting the importance of embracing technology to automate processes, integrate systems and collect data across the entire customer journey, Aggarwal discussed the power of digital tools to drive greater business outcomes. He also outlined the power of AI to supercharge these efforts and went on to summarise, “The powerful intersection of people and technology is all around us, and it’s going to help all of us achieve our goals, especially with resource constraints and continued economic uncertainty.”
In his closing remarks, Aggarwal drew attention to the conference programme, highlighting its “unmatched content, best practices and new technologies that have the potential to transform event programmes and elevate MICE business strategies.” He urged attendees to embrace the value of this new, more dynamic, events environment and the immense opportunity to transform the industry and accelerate its growth.
For the first time, following his opening keynote, Aggarwal participated in an armchair-style Q&A with Cvent CONNECT Europe’s master of ceremonies, BAFTA award-winning television presenter, Claudia Winkleman. In the candid interview, Aggarwal shared an account of his personal and professional journey from a two-person start-up to becoming a global technology leader. For the audience, he distilled 24 years of business experience into three key lessons.
Reggie’s Business Lessons
Lesson 1: You Learn More On The Way Down
Learning from challenges and setbacks is an essential part of growth. “You learn more on the way down than the way up,” said Aggarwal, encouraging individuals to recognise the opportunities that exist even during the most challenging moments and to be critical of every decision. This approach helped shape Cvent’s strong foundation and culture during its formative years.
Lesson 2: Be Persistent & Consistent
Aggarwal emphasised the importance of determination when running a business and the resilience required to weather any storm. He spoke openly about his experience from 2001 when the dotcom bubble burst and a recession hit. Despite this low point, he highlighted the valuable lessons learnt and stressed that in any career, individuals, teams, and organisations will face setbacks. The key, he noted, is to believe in one’s ability to bounce back, time and time again, citing the Japanese proverb fall down seven times, get up eight.
Lesson 3: Go Back To The Fundamentals
Aggarwal stressed the significance of hiring the best people, building the best products and listening to customers, stating that this remains the formula that Cvent follows today. He also attributed Cvent’s differentiation in the event tech space to the company’s strong culture that fosters intrapreneurial thinking – encouraging employees to think and act like individual entrepreneurs and make decisions as if they were business owners themselves.
Other insights from Aggarwal’s interview
Cvent Going Private with Blackstone: Aggarwal highlighted two key benefits stemming from the Cvent/Blackstone transaction, which was completed this past June. First, Blackstone’s sector expertise in meetings and events and secondly, their commitment to investing in durable companies for the long-term, which aligns with Cvent’s vision for sustained growth and ongoing innovation. Cvent’s Inception – Event Planning Pain Point and Finding the ‘Aspirin’:From a corporate lawyer to industry disruptor, Aggarwal was working 60 hours at a law firm and an additional 30 hours organising events for a non-profit he founded. The time-consuming manual processes he used led him to identify a pain point and create the aspirin, which became Cvent. Influential Women: Aggarwal acknowledged the influential role women have played in both his personal and professional life. He recalled the positive mentorship from his first two bosses and credited his wife, mother, and two daughters for being his support and inspiration. Aggarwal went on to highlight the importance of supporting inclusivity and equity for women in the industry. The Future of The Industry: Aggarwal referred to his 2018 keynote at Cvent CONNECT, where he delved into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a technology-driven era that introduced elements such as biometrics, artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), facial recognition, and machine learning to enhance the engagement, strategy, and impact of meetings and events. Aggarwal commented on the immediate presence and impact of AI and machine learning, and urged the audience to embrace the evolving tech landscape.
Industry professionals can still register to attend Cvent CONNECT Europe virtually, which offers conference content both live and on-demand 30-days post-event, including Aggarwal’s opening keynote. To register, please visit the Cvent CONNECT Europe website.