by Michael J. Shapiro | July 25, 2018
The annual Cvent Connect user conference officially kicked off today in Las Vegas, drawing the biggest crowd to date. This year's event, which Cvent calls the largest meetings-technology conference in the world, has enticed 4,000 attendees to gather in the Venetian, where the temperature outside is in excess of 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Eleven years ago, Cvent's inaugural Connect gathering drew just a few hundred attendees.
About 2,500 of those in attendance are event professionals, according to Cvent; 1,000 work in the hospitality industry and 500 are employees of the meetings-tech giant. "This is our Super Bowl," said co-founder and CEO Reggie Aggarwal in the opening session. "This is our World Cup. Our employees literally compete to come here."
That competition is fairly intense, as Cvent's workforce now numbers 3,300 globally, including recently opened offices in Singapore and Australia. The past year represents the fastest growth trajectory the company has ever experienced, Aggarwal noted, up from 2,500 people at the time of last year's Connect.
But it isn't just about expansion, Aggarwal told the crowd. "You can't trade away trust for growth." Cvent remains committed to maintaining current relationships and enhancing the current product lineup, Aggarwal said, even as it invests an estimated 10 times more in research and development than any other company in the space. About 1,100 employees work on Cvent's technology-development team, and the customer-success team employs 1,000.
Among the latest developments Cvent will introduce to customers is Project Flex, a reimagining of the site design and registration process that streamlines initial setup and introduces drag-and-drop simplicity. The company teased it last year and has been piloting the platform with early adopters ever since. New features, such as one-touch email design styles, have been introduced as a result of customer feedback; the new platform is set to go live for all clients in October. 
Universal LeadCapture, another new feature, is a mobile solution that will be introduced late this year and promises to dramatically improve the quality and efficiency of lead capture at trade shows, as well as the integration of that information into marketing and sales automation platforms.
Long awaited Instant Booking for small meetings is another big feature on the horizon, coming for early adopters late this year and set for a 2019 release. Just as it sounds, planners will be able to book smaller meetings instantly, without an RFP process: Customers will be able shop and book quickly while remaining in compliance with company policy and maintaining an audit trail, promise Cvent product managers.
Stay tuned for more information over the next few days, as well as more announcements from the meetings tech giant.