At the end of the day people still do business with people and face time is still an important part of creating and sustaining relationships, but there is and continues to be new discoveries on how to strengthen and improve these ties via emerging technology.
Todd M. Mickey, President, Applied Meetings and Incentives, LLC, worked for years in the hotel industry, is now on the planning side. He finds that while some things have changed, others have remained the same. While acknowledging that technology is good for gathering info it’s not replaced the traditional methods he uses for planning/executing.
“I’ve worked with a variety of planners, from people who have doing it for decades to those fresh out of college. The younger planner is usually more technically savvy. Does technology assist in you planning? Yes, but in specific areas, and not necessarily the planning. For example, Facebook and Linked In are great to bounce ideas off of with peers, and it’s also a great way to get the word out about your company or organization, as well as promote your events, but at the end of the day, I’m still calling and emailing sources.”
Julie Randles, Communications Specialist and Events Manager, Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau, Inc. shares her insights, “Here in Wisconsin Dells we’re seeing the trend of “reverse mentorship” really take hold. The twenty-somethings are tutoring the baby boomers on the merits of social media and technology, while the seasoned meeting planners are helping their younger counterparts, the next generation of meeting planners, with understanding the ways of business. By the way, it’s not always age-based pairing either, as sometimes it’s based on the level of experience.”
A great tool Mickey uses are online websites that provide reviews of the properties he and his client are considering. While all comments are not considered equal, these sites can help during the initial planning stages. People often check out potential locations via websites and Facebook pages, as well as third party sites like Trip Advisor, a top resource he uses to filter his options.
“It’s a reverse cone process with the large end facing up. For example you pick out 14 potential cities, gather the info and start making eliminations, i.e. City A is out due to rates, then we get down to the top city with maybe 9 hotels, and this is where you start exploring Trip Advisor to get some “real” feedback from people who have held events and/or stayed at the hotel you’re considering.”
Text alerts come in handy for quickly notifying attendees of changes during the conference. Planners can easily alert people of room or time changes. Exhibitors can get the numbers of their key target customers and hone in on sending specialized texts to get their message across, and invite them to their booth during the event.
Mickey utilized this tool when exhibiting at trade shows, “When I did trade shows like Springtime in the Park, I’d do research and get info on the planners I wanted to see, then I’d text them, I’m here in Aisle 28.”