When you’re hosting large conferences and corporate events, the stakes are high. When you’re the backbone of those events, they’re even higher. Cvent, the industry-leading meetings, events and hospitality technology provider, takes this responsibility seriously. So seriously that 80% of Fortune 100 companies, along with more than 27,000 other global organizations, rely on Cvent’s software to plan, market and execute their events.
That success has ushered in an era of rapid expansion. Cvent, which is headquartered in Tysons, Virginia, has grown to over 4,300 employees across 22 global offices, with much of that growth occurring in the past five years. Of course, growth brings new challenges. When Cvent’s CIO Pradeep Mannakkara came aboard in 2016, he was committed to simplifying and optimizing the way the company operated internally.
“We asked ourselves, ‘How do modern companies really thrive in this environment? How can our employees be more productive, more satisfied, more engaged with our technology and the culture that it brings?’ ” Mannakkara says. His answer? Slack.
At the time, Cvent was using a combination of different tools that varied from department to department. The company initially experimented with several different collaboration tools, including those that came bundled with other software, but “the adoption just wasn’t there,” the CIO says.
Employees were clamoring for a common, companywide platform. In fact, many had seen that the company’s tech teams were using Slack, and now they were asking for it by name. “After we made the decision to roll Slack out across the company, we assumed it would take months to see active usage across the board,” Mannakkara says. “Instead, we spiked to over 90% adoption within the first few weeks.” What’s more, people liked using Slack. In a recent NPS survey, which measures user satisfaction, employees gave Slack a score of 65 (the average for software and apps is around 30; scores above 50 are considered excellent).
Cvent’s rapid growth has included a string of acquisitions, such as Social Tables and Wedding Spot. To bring new companies seamlessly into the fold, Cvent relies on Slack’s shared channels, which connect two independent organizations in the same virtual workspace. With shared channels, Cvent has opened new pathways for collaboration, even as the company scales.
Today, the company’s employees send over 250,000 Slack messages a day, allowing them to connect and collaborate like never before. “There are certain products that we all kind of gravitate to, that we love,” Mannakkara says. “And Slack has the magic that simply draws people in.”
Rapidly scaling development with Release Bot
As Cvent’s product offerings have proliferated, the company’s engineers have had to accelerate their release schedule, from quarterly releases at first, to monthly and then to weekly. To support the scale and speed of these deployments, they needed a new tool. With Slack, Cvent’s engineers have streamlined the deployment process and now push new releases out faster, while also keeping other teams, such as customer success and marketing, in the loop.
To aid in this process, Cvent’s site reliability engineers developed Release Bot, an integration that allows developers to launch new releases from within Slack. The bot ensures that each new iteration follows Cvent’s best practices and keeps other stakeholders informed via Slack channels, virtual spaces where colleagues can share updates, digital tools and files. “Release Bot allows us, in real time, to make sure teams across time zones and offices are communicating correctly and aren’t doing anything that’s going to impact our customers in a negative way,” says Cvent CTO and co-founder David Quattrone.
With Release Bot, the engineering team at Cvent has doubled its release volume over the past year. Today, the team releases hundreds of times every month, multiple times a day. “The ability to deploy new releases without manual intervention, with software tools deploying new software, has really been a game changer for us,” Quattrone says.
“My team members can now work with each other regardless of where they are: They can easily access Slack on their mobile devices, whether they’re on the go or at home. When situations come up, they can seamlessly connect with colleagues to troubleshoot them.”
Of course, those new releases wouldn’t even be in the pipeline without deep collaboration among Cvent’s 90 developer teams. These geographically dispersed squads stay connected regardless of distance with Slack and the Zoom integration, which lets them start calls from within Slack in seconds. “Things that used to be very difficult for us to do over different time zones have evaporated,” Quattrone says. “My team members can now work with each other regardless of where they are: They can easily access Slack on their mobile devices, whether they’re on the go or at home. When situations come up, they can quickly collaborate and troubleshoot without having to open their computers.”
Quattrone also regularly hosts AMAs (short for “ask me anything”) via Slack to give Cvent employees the opportunity to ask about new product lines and the company’s overall tech strategy. This open forum creates a space for candid conversations, which are encouraged in Cvent’s open-door policy, and helps the company scale its unique culture. “As Cvent has grown to different locations and offices, it’s become harder to make sure that the culture of openness, innovation and collaboration continues across the organization,” Quattrone says. “Slack’s been critical for allowing us to do that.”
Streamlining the sales cycle with channels
With Cvent’s growing sales organization sprawled across 13 time zones and multiple countries globally, maintaining effective, consistent communication, both within the department and with other teams, became a critical concern. “Before Slack we had to rely completely on email for team communication,” says Franci Hirsch, VP of sales development at Cvent. “And that’s difficult when you’re dealing with many time zones and many different people. Email inboxes get flooded.”
Once the company adopted Slack, she noticed a dramatic shift. “Slack allowed us to bridge gaps and get communication flowing across a large and expanding organization,” she says. “It aligns stakeholders to make sure that we’re communicating to our customers accurately and efficiently.”
Hirsch and her sales colleagues rely on Slack channels for most of their operations, including:
- Employee development: Cvent’s two training programs, Ignite (new hire onboarding) and Accelerate (ongoing employee education), use public Slack channels so that trainees can ask questions before and after sessions and leaders can identify focus areas.
- Celebrating wins: The sales team shares day-to-day wins in the #sales-successes channel. Other team members and executives will publicly congratulate people, driving more engagement and fostering a culture of success throughout the organization.
- Managing the sales cycle: Cvent sets up new channels for high-level deals so that all stakeholders can align on strategy and sales managers can track a deal’s status and help to address potential roadblocks.
- Sourcing fast answers: Sales representatives can post questions in other departments’ channels for quick answers, often while still on the phone with a potential customer. Instead of waiting hours or days, representatives can now provide a near-instantaneous response.
Perhaps most importantly, Slack democratizes information, allowing the sales team to move quickly and close deals faster. “With Slack, we encourage everybody to go straight to the right channels to get their questions answered,” Hirsch says. “Instead of having to wait for emails that might take a long time, we can now access all the information that we need right away.”
Coordinating world-class events in Slack
Cvent is more than a behind-the-scenes event software business. The company also hosts Cvent CONNECT, the largest event technology user conference in the world. With some 5,000 attendees annually, the pressure is on to deliver a seamless experience. Rachel Andrews, Cvent’s director of meetings and events, is keenly aware of this. For her 40-person team, Cvent CONNECT is a global, all-hands-on-deck situation.
“Slack has transformed how we do events from a communication standpoint but also from an enablement, training, bonding and information-sharing standpoint—and that’s across the board.”
Yet, despite a top-notch platform, deep events expertise and months of planning, getting everyone aligned proved problematic. Case in point: Day-of event coordination for Cvent CONNECT required Andrews to juggle communication between seven different platforms, ranging from WhatsApp to phone calls to radio headsets. “We went from multiple forms of communication to one: Slack. Not having to use a headset at an event with over 5,000 people was a complete game changer," she says.
Today, Cvent’s events team relies on Slack to manage communication for CONNECT as well as 1,200 smaller events throughout the year. For each, Slack plays a key role at every stage of the event execution process.
- Pre-event planning: Global event emails that once clogged inboxes are now consolidated in Slack channels, where stakeholders can quickly find the answers they need.
- Day-of logistics: Instead of walkie-talkies onsite, Andrews now engages with Cvent’s 600+ event staffers via the Slack mobile app, making everything from check-ins to in-the-moment escalations a breeze.
- Post-event debriefing: Using Slack, Andrews’s team shares event metrics and collects feedback from across the organization. That input is then used to inform and elevate future events.
From deploying product updates to hosting world-class events, Cvent has turned to Slack as its collaboration tool of choice. By connecting Cvent employees worldwide, Slack has enabled the company to scale quicker, innovate faster and provide better support to its customers—all of which help its more than 300,000 users create truly memorable event experiences.