Is there a next Gen version of the Meeting Professional? How have the emerging technologies and the way people communicate changed the way events are being planned and executed?
There have and continue to be major changes influenced by smartphones, tablets, and numerous other technologies for presenting, gathering, and sharing information. In addition, social media is changing the way we reach and connect with our peers and attendees.
Technology is evolving and changing your attendee’s expectations with how they are connected before, during, and after your event.
Timothy La Fleur, CMP, Manager, Innovative Mobility Solutions with M&I, a meeting, incentive and association management company is on the forefront of merging the latest technology with meetings and events. Uniquely qualified since he was on the meeting planning side, he’s able to use his experience in both areas to maximize the impact for attendees. To give you an example, at a previous planning company he managed a 7,000 person meeting from his cell phone.
“I am always looking to try new things, whether it’s a keynote speaker promotion or breakout session handouts through Quick Response (QR) code management, or introducing a new Audience Response System (ARS) paradigm with live text polling that updates in real time thus negating the need for large production sets or helping our clients provide cost saving options or just generally infusing mobility into their conference as a whole, there is so much cool stuff happening.”
ARS has been around for a while now, one of the newest trends is responding via your cell phone. There is now software available that you can get licensing rights for, saving you the expense of hiring a third party to manage. It’s all web based so the results are live and you can view the results on a website or imbed them into the body of your PowerPoint (provided its connected to internet you can do ARS via live in real time).
Since it is text message based, there are no worries about the data and it’s just a normal text message.
You can also set up additional ARS to happen outside of sessions offering informal questions, where do you want to go next year, what sessions do you want to see in the future, what was the most valuable breakout you attended, etc. and catch the attendees in smaller chunks while engaging them. You can do open texts, as well as multiple-choice options that include a text to code.
“People are always looking to the next thing, they’re interested in what’s the latest app… they’re embracing the whole idea of mobility and people love their mobile smart phones, they love their operating system… hot topics are now politics, religion and their operating system,” said La Fleur.
La Fleur shares some current hot topics and trends for planners:
Save on renting an LCD projector and rent a flat screen for presentations (when appropriate based on audience size). You can now run your presentation using your Smart Phone or tablet eliminating the need for the old laptop/projector paradigm.
Infuse mobility into your conference, even if it’s just to make it a nicer time, this is a major part of the conference experience, and the modern attendee is changing. They want all of the same technology available that they enjoy in their personal life. Good Wi-Fi is expected.
The new hot buttons for negotiations are wireless access and quality of network at venues. Hotels vary even among brands and most don’t have specialized staff on hand.
All tablets are not created equal. Different brands and models have different compatibility issues when it comes to how the app reads an excel or word document and how it interacts and behaves with certain cloud networks, which needs to be figured out before applications or approaches can be applied using these devices. You can create things that will work on both, but they will work differently and you need to know how to navigate it.
Good wireless can be expensive, however, free and insufficient wireless is not acceptable either. Find out what the hotel is charging for and ask the right questions about access, points, bandwidth, and network switches. It can be a train wreck if you are trying to use a system that can’t accommodate the needs of the conference. The best solution is to connect with the venue’s staff and ask these questions, preplan, and run speed tests. “It’s important to understand bandwidth is a shared medium. Based on the occupancy (if occupancy is low) of the hotel during your preplan, speed tests can return a “false positive” based on the virtue of no one else being on it at that time. Utilize a speed test in conjunction with other questions - the speed test is one more tool to assess a facilities wireless capabilities.”
Note: You can learn more from Timothy La Fleur on various mobility topics on his Twitter handle (@tjlafleur110) his blog (tjlafleurmobility.wordpress.com/) and curate trending topics on my daily newsletter (www.scoop.it/t/tjlafleur-mobility).