Cvent Targets Strategic Meetings Management

Tech firm automates links between meeting requests and vendor-sourcing forms.

Meetings technology provider Cvent last month said it has created more flexible meeting requests forms—tailored to client workflow and approvals processes—and further automated links between meeting requests and vendor sourcing. Though Cvent long has been a venue-sourcing and event-registration technology provider, the firm is working to bolster its position in strategic meetings management technology.

"Historically, most products in this marketplace have built the request form, then built the RFP, and there wasn't that much connection between the two, or there was a manual push of data. We're automating that process," Cvent vice president of enterprise sales and business development Anil Punyapu said this month.

Through its most recent additions to its Strategic Meetings Management toolset, Punyapu said the firm is enabling organizations "to create their own request forms and give them the ability to set up multiple requests within the organization."

Punyapu said the tool then enables meeting planners to "take data from that request form and automatically feed it into an RFP that is generated for site selection or for sourcing or a registration site that is being built for attendee management." Clients have the ability to customize the meeting request workflow, designate users and approvers and determine the thresholds for when approval is required, he said.

Punyapu said the capabilities lay the foundation for more strategic and centralized management of meetings spend. "When you take a large organization setting up an SMM solution, they have multiple request forms and multiple people in different roles. The last thing you want someone to do in the organization is look at a form, try to see what data is there, then try to create an RFP off of that. Everything should be through one point, and that's what we're focused on," Punyapu said.

Though strategic meetings management first gained traction at large corporations, Punyapu said there is a growing appetite among organizations—from government agencies to associations, and from midsize corporations to large multinationals—to get their arms around meetings spending, centralize management and standardize processes.

"In the last four or five years, what we've historically seen is the big companies—the pharmaceutical companies, big technology companies and financial companies— were implementing some of these technologies. Now we're seeing a lot of the companies—let's call them the Fortune 2000—are noticing that they can save 10 percent or 20 percent of their spend."

Punyapu said strategic meetings management goes beyond savings potential, noting, "It's about reducing the risk of having a bunch of people signing contracts within the organization. It's about reducing the liability of not knowing where your attendees are at any given point. It centralizes the process, therefore you're able to manage it more effectively."

Still, only a small portion of Cvent's overall portfolio and client base use strategic meetings management practices. "We have a little over 4,000 clients overall," Punyapu said, noting that about 25 or 30 organizations have signed on to the enterprise Strategic Meetings Management toolset.

"Historically, when a company has said, I want to track my spend and manage my spend and that's all I want to do, I want to have our planner put that data in, the price tag ranges from the $40,000 to $50,000 range," he said. "We're going into that marketplace with a price tag well under $10,000."

Originally published May 25, 2009