Archive for November, 2011

12 of 12 Meetings Technology Trends to Watch for 2012: “Indoor Positioning Systems” will assist in event and trade show way-finding and navigation.

November 29, 2011

This is the twelfth in a series of 12 weekly blog postings covering the major technology trends affecting conferences, events and trade shows:

12. “Indoor Positioning Systems” will greatly assist in event and trade show way-finding and navigation.

Standard GPS does not work indoors. Standard Wi-Fi triangulation only gets to about a 100 foot (30 meter) accuracy — not good enough for precise tracking though an exhibit hall, venue or for person-to-person finding at an event.

New technology from at least two companies (Wifarer.com and Sherpa-Solutions.com) promise to overcome these challenges to provide very precise positioning (as fine as 1 meter) by tracking Wi-Fi enabled smart phones, carried by an increasingly larger percentage of the population. These tools will be able to provide:

  • precise positioning
  • personal navigation through a venue/exhibit hall with optimized routing
  • friend/contact finding and networking (with permission)
  • location-based content delivery (exhibit discounts or video as examples)
  • optimized exhibit hall viewing by product category
  • exhibit hall “hot spot” and traffic flow analytics
  • several other features will likely develop from this exciting technology.

In addition to venues and convention centers, this technology holds great promise for shopping centers, airports, hospitals and museums. A short video demonstrating the application in a museum can be seen below:

Wayfarer Indoor Positioning System

Check in next week for a bonus trend and a summary of the impact of technology innovation for events.

11 of 12 Meetings Technology Trends to Watch for 2012: Free, easy to access Wi-Fi is increasing expected by meeting planners

November 23, 2011

This is the eleventh in a series of 12 weekly blog postings covering the major technology trends affecting conferences, events and trade shows:

11. Free, easy to access Wi-Fi is increasing expected by meeting planners

Free basic Wi-Fi broadband internet access is expected by planners for attendees in the meeting room, guest rooms and the lobby. Although some luxury properties are clinging to internet fees as a profit center, internet access is viewed by attendees as a utility similar to lights and water. Planners are saying “do not nickel-and-dime us with add-on charges for basic internet access.” If “Motel 6” can provide free Wi-Fi, so should meeting hotels and venues.

However, the does not mean unlimited access. Internet bandwidth can be expensive and most venues cannot handle unexpected, very large demands.  If 500 event attendees pulled out their iPads to access HD video simultaneously, there are few venues in the country that could handle this without making special arrangements. If a group needs dedicated bandwidth, a dedicated IP address or other internet services, it is reasonable to charge for these. But basic, throttled access (with a minimum of 500kb/second download — fast enough to access email and limited video streaming) should be free.

Additionally, venues need to make logging onto the Wi-Fi network easier. Opening the browser and clicking “OK” is all that should be required.  As mobile devices are being used for internet access with greater frequency, make the logon screen readable in smaller formats as well. Better yet, use autosensing technology and provide a mobile web log-in page optimized for a smaller screen.

See more on the advances of hotel guest room technology at: http://ow.ly/6kJqx.

10 of 12 Meetings Technology Trends to Watch for 2012: iPads and tablets will provide a new medium for accessing data at events.

November 16, 2011

This is the tenth in a series of 12 weekly blog postings covering the major technology trends affecting conferences, events and trade shows:

10. iPads and tablets will provide a new medium for accessing data at events.

The iPad is the most recent of the long-running, game-changing innovations from Apple.  The Mac brought the widespread use of the mouse and graphical user interface to portable computing (1984); the iPod changed how we listened to music (2001); the iPhone revolutionized mobile phones  (2007), the App Store is changing the software procurement model (2008), and the iPad (2010)/iPad2 (2011) is having similar long-term ramifications.

The iPad and other tablet devices represent new ways to access information. Light weight, highly mobile, highly intuitive. The larger screen allow for bigger fonts, easier readability and more real estate to display material in a page-like format. The navigation is intuitive (with your fingers instead of a keyboard and mouse).

Tablets are a natural for events as our industry is a mobile one:

  • We do business away from our offices and from our “large screen” computers on a regular basis.
  • Most of us don’t carry around notebook computers at events for a number of reasons: weight, security, the inability to access easily while standing, etc
  • We constantly need to manage a wide range of data at events. For lack of a better way until now, much of these data have been in the form of paper.

Tablets will increasingly be used at events for interactive conference programs, course notes distributions, surveys, interactive exhibit floor plans, product displays, information kiosks, lead exchange, speaker Q&A, onsite blogging/social networking and more.

See more on the impact and benefits of iPads and tablets at: http://ow.ly/6jdGw

9 of 12 Meetings Technology Trends to Watch for 2012: Social gaming tools will be used to engage face-to-face and virtual attendees at events

November 9, 2011

This is the ninth in a series of 12 weekly blog postings covering the major technology trends affecting conferences, events and trade shows:

9. Social gaming tools will be used to engage face-to-face and virtual attendees at events

People spend more than 3 billion hours a week globally playing online games! Jane McGonigal in her noted TEDTalk speaks of how gaming can make a better world by deeply engaging people and by encouraging collaboration and cooperation. She proposes to harness gamer power to solve real-world problems.

Online gaming engages people. It can immerse in a different reality. It can be very fun!  …And it will find its way increasingly into events.

On a basic level, location-aware programs such as Gowalla.comFourSquare.com and Facebook.com/places encourage people to check in at locations. People will win badges and prizes and receive tips from others. This, however, is much more than building loyalty at a favorite restaurant. All of these free online tools have developed options for checking in at events. I believe that these location-aware gaming options can help networking at events.

Scvngr.com  is another online social gaming tool (free for non-profit groups and associations) that engages attendees with treks and challenges. This tool has been used recently at the Consumer Electronic Show and SIGGRAPH shows to guide people through the exhibit hall and to win prizes by performing a challenge such as signing up at an exhibitor web site.

Social gaming is also being used to engage virtual and hybrid meetings attendees. Contests and challenges have been proven to engage people attending virtually. The Cisco GSX hybrid conference had 19,000 virtual attendees with one million views, 13,000 active players of the “Threshold” an interactive espionage immersive reality thriller, 8,000 participants in group chats and 9,5000 playing GSX mini games.

8 out of 12 Meetings Technology Trends to Watch for 2012: YouTube and other social publishing tools will be used increasingly to promote and manage meetings and to engage attendees

November 3, 2011

This is the eight in a series of 12 weekly blog postings covering the major technology trends affecting conferences, events and trade shows

8. YouTube and other social publishing tools will be used increasingly to promote and manage meetings and to engage attendees

Much has been written about the power of Facebook.com and the other social networking sites to engage potential attendees before and event to increase attendance and networking onsite. I believe the wide range of free social publishing tools will also be used increasingly for similar purposes:

  • Twitter.com (technically a micro-blog and, therefore, a social publishing tool) is widely used at events with event hashtags to engage attendees before, during and after an event. Planners should advertise the event hashtag well in advance of their events for the broadest utilization.
  • Free blogging tools (such as WordPress.com) can be used to create event blogs to increase attendance. Ask your speakers to participate to add comments about their sessions. Invite influential bloggers to your event, and give them internet connections to spread the word.
  • Encourage attendees to upload their event photos under a designated event name (using the Twitter hashtag) to Flickr.com so everyone can share their experience. This page can then be used to help promote future events.
  • Speakers can share their slides using SlideShare.com.
  • YouTube.com (the world’s second largest search site after its owner Google) is potentially one of the most promising event promotion tools around. The old saying goes that “A picture is worth a thousand words.”  A video can be worth a thousand pictures and be far more compelling than web pages or brochures full of text! Video is the most compelling language of the internet.

A few YouTube tips:

a.)   Encourage your speakers to make short video describing what they will speak on and upload this to YouTube.

b.)   Link or embed these videos at your event site.

c.)   Keep the videos short (no more than 3 minutes).

d.)   Record in HD.

e.)   Choose a compelling thumbnail image using the posting tools YouTube provides.

f.)    Enable the comments and sharing options.

g.)   Rename the videos using meaningful names (MPI-WEC-speakers.mov is much better than 38404949.mov)

h.)   Use a keyword laden, meaningful description of the video.