Upon completion of the buyout, expected in the third quarter, Cvent stockholders will receive $36 in cash per share, a premium of about 69% over Cvent’s closing price on April 15.
Skift spoke with Brian Ludwig, vice president of sales for Cvent, during the IMEX Frankfurt conference last week to get an insider look at how the acquisition might shift overall strategy and operations.
Public company Cvent, as a newly privatized enterprise, would be freed from the constraints of meeting quarterly earnings projections, Ludwig said. That should allow the company to experiment a bit more with new technological innovations, especially in terms of international customization and data analytics.
“Being a public company keeps you very structured so you don’t take those long-term risks sometimes, because it might come at the cost of hitting a quarterly number,” Ludwig said. “Without that pressure, I think we’ll try different things. We’ll try different models and see what happens with them because there won’t be those same pressures.”
The largest new initiative, which aligns with Vista’s stated goals, would have Cvent attempting to expand into more international markets. That, of course, assumes that Vista is a long-term investor that’s committed to providing new resources for Cvent’s growth.
Presently, there are seven U.S. Cvent sales offices, one in London, and another in Gurgaon, India near New Delhi.
The company is now looking at Europe with the goal of localizing different products by making them language-specific to each region, beginning with new German and Spanish platform roll-outs in the coming months.
“It’s already local from an attendee perspective, but it wasn’t local from the administrative side,” Ludwig explained. “The event organizer can’t go into the system, as of today, and do everything in it in German, French or Spanish. They could build a German website. They could build a German email campaign. They could build a German registration point. That’s no problem, but to truly deliver service and support in their language, we didn’t do that until now.”
Ludwig said Cvent is also improving the platform’s ability to automate how organizers send out calls-for-papers to more international speakers on a more global distribution network, and how those abstracts are collected and rated for final decision-making.
When organizers need speakers for a conference today, they send out a request-for-proposal email to everyone they know who speaks on certain topics. The speakers, or speaker-sourcing companies, reply with an abstract for what each individual expert is best at talking about. Planners then send those around to different departments for review, which are then collated, and the resulting data are returned to the organizers and administrators to determine the most relevant and valuable speakers.
“So I give these 17 abstracts to that group over there, and I give these 20 to this group, and then they score it manually, give it back to me so I can read all the data, and I decide what I’m going to do, and I go,” explained Ludwig. “OK, then now I have to go to my agenda and my website and update. This new system would lift that burden because you go to reach out, get the submissions back, automatically distribute, have the scores done, have the winners chosen, and it will all auto-publish into the website.”
How Big Can Cvent Get?
Since launching in 1999, Cvent has grown to somewhat dominate the events management sector, offering what it promotes as a suite of software solutions for event registration, venue sourcing, mobile apps, web surveys, and strategic meetings management, etc.
“Seventeen years later, Cvent has close to 16,000 customers and 2,000 employees around the globe,” wrote founder Reggie Aggarwal in a recent LinkedIn post following the acquisition. “Last year, our software helped manage more than 340,000 meetings, and hotels around the world received nearly $10 billion in group business from our meeting planner customers.”
Looking around the IMEX trade show floor surrounding the Cvent booth, more than a dozen other event-tech providers were promoting individual components of Cvent’s lineup of digital tools. If Cvent continues to grow and acquire new companies, however, is there room for all of the other players? At what point does the event management sector become saturated?
“What you find as you walk around is all these guys have little distinct parts of it,” Ludwig said. “One guy over there just does onsite conference management. Someone else does just the mobile app. Someone else does just registration. Someone else does just sourcing. Our concept is to handle that entire wheel, that entire lifecycle.
“So I don’t think there’s many that can successfully do it all. Most are just a points solution for this, this, or this, and I think they can survive but there’s going to be a trend towards organizations saying I don’t want 19 freaking contracts. I want one throat to choke, and I want to know how all the data works together.”
Measuring how all the available data work together is the next big frontier for Cvent. Meeting planners are struggling to show the empirical impact of meeting spend in a holistic ecosystem of metrics.
Ludwig sees more of a trend toward measuring the effectiveness of meeting strategy not only with regard to the bottom line, but also top line revenue and the ability to drive brand exposure and product sales.
That’s bringing event professionals, sales, and CMOs closer around the same table.
“Events always sat over here, and then sales and CRM (customer relationship management) systems sat over there, but our theory is those two need to be much more connected,” Ludwig said. “So how do you have deeper conversations at the C-level, especially with CMOs specifically? We didn’t used to talk to CMOs. We used to speak to travel, procurement, event types, but the CMO is now spending as much or more on technology than the CIO.”
So what does that look like? How is Cvent planning on marrying the future of event design, event marketing, and brand marketing?
“What’s really resonated for us is: Let’s get a digital footprint of what someone is doing with their event, who are they interacting with, what do they care about?” said Ludwig. “Tying together those connections and really showing what events mean as a part of the marketing mix and driving business is a hot trend. Where we’re going to take things next from an innovation standpoint will focus much more intently on that endeavor.”
[Editor’s note: A quote in the original version of this story from a representative of Associated Luxury Hotels International was removed because it was used out of context.]