Cvent, the global meeting, event, and travel management technology company, may be best known for its industry software solutions, but it also plans some pretty intense meetings of its own. Not the least of these is Cvent Connect, which drew 3,400 to Las Vegas earlier this summer.
MeetingsNet recently caught up with Rachel Andrews, Cvent’s director of meetings and events, to find out more about what makes her, and her meetings, tick.
How did you become involved in meeting and event planning?
I’ve always been pretty organized and involved with all sorts of events. While I was a communications major with a focus on public relations in college—at the time, there was not an option for a degree in event management—I had the opportunity to plan the 25th anniversary of the Virginia Tech Communications Department. I immediately agreed to lead the charge. It was a year-round project that earned me credit and helped me get my start on my calling.
After school I worked in events and PR in New York City and ended up at Morgan Stanley working on small client gatherings and multiday C-level events.
I joined the Cvent team in 2011, at the time we only had two event planners. Since then we have grown to more 20 event planners globally.
Did you always want a career in meeting planning?
Yes, I always wanted to go into corporate event management. Social event planning, while fun—and I have had tons of great experiences—has never really been my passion. I’m driven by the business and marketing side of planning and helping drive growth for a company through the power of live events.
Which meeting planning technology can you not live without?
Cvent of course! I’m not just saying that because I work for the company. Cvent’s platform enables my team to plan our full spectrum of events. Cvent’s platform also enables our planners to analyze the data from an event and tie it to our event’s return on investment.
I will say that Cvent’s on-site check-in solution OnArrival 360 is essential to all events we produce. Without OnArrival we would need a larger staff and the on-site attendee-management process would be more manual.
How do you handle planning events for professional planners?
When I plan an event, I think of the attendee experience and journey whether the audience members are fellow planners or not. Certainly the pressure is on because we know the attendees of Cvent Connect are some of the best planners in the world, but we look at it from the attendees’ perspective. For example, many planners in the industry have seen the same food and beverage repeatedly, therefore we look for innovative ways of how to serve or package meals. My team is always on the lookout for new trends so we’re not boring our attendees with what they see at every other event.
Planners give the most feedback and we love that…it helps us shape the conference and makes my team better planners. I look at every comment that comes through our survey tool, and we look to follow that feedback to a T, that is why we’ve changed the conference every year.
In fact, we’ve had planners so impressed by certain things at Cvent Connect, they’ve asked us for our project plans or for some of our vendors because they want to incorporate something we did for their event. That’s an incredibly validating feeling.
After Cvent Connect, planners have reached out to me just wanting to talk about the event they are working on. Being an event planner at an event-planning technology company is the best of both worlds. We have some of the world’s best planners as our customers, and I can reach out to, and collaborate with, them on event strategy.
What do you think is the future of meeting and events planning?
Greater adoption of technology to alleviate manual processing. I think one thing to come is better functionality for networking on site. People want to get more peer-to-peer interactions through social walls or pairing people up based on their personas or registration data. One of the great things about events is bringing people together, and finding new ways for people to connect and network on site is one area that I think our industry continues to get better at.
What might someone be surprised to learn about you?
I travel on average three out of four weekends a month. I’m often never home, but I thrive on adventure.