What’s hot when it comes to meeting planner technology? And how do you keep up with emerging technologies?
James Spellos, CMP, president of Meeting-U, shared his answers in a recent talk on Hot Technologies for Meeting Planners at an event hosted by Meeting Professionals International of Greater New York.
In a discussion with Travel Market Report, Spellos discussed specific technologies that planners should look into – as well as general advice for keeping up.
Twitter is tops
“I preach and practice Twitter as the best tool out there, if you want to be educated on content for our industry,” Spellos said. The trick is to “follow the right people.”
One “fantastic” Twitter group to follow, according to Spellos, is Event Profs (as in event professionals). “This is a great resource, because it’s important that planners keep learning. Aside from regular Tweets, they hold twice-weekly chat sessions, which are great opportunities for sharing.”
Facebook for planners
While almost everybody is aware of Facebook, many are not aware of the tools Facebook offers specific groups – including meeting planners.
MeCo’s Social Media Headquarters is one Spellos recommended for finding out what’s new in social media. (MeCo stands for Meeting Community.) It is technically a closed group, but “anybody can get an invitation,” Spellos said. “It’s a great resource for what’s very hot.”
Mobile apps, on the move
Meeting planning is going mobile, as more and more business is conducted on smartphones. “Apps are moving well beyond their initial roles, like registering delegates. We can now look at phone apps as a central point of information, including the way you connect with colleagues when you are at a meeting,” Spellos said.
To find out what phone apps are available, check out Meetingapps.com, Spellos advised.
Expect location-based apps like Foursquare to be integrated into overall meeting technology, Spellos said. Location-based services like Foursquare and Scavenger are “hot and exploding.”
New in the mobile arena is something called “alternative reality browsing – a web browser for phones that adds layers of information to what’s available on the original app,” Spellos explained.
Spellos illustrated how alternative reality browsing can be applied: “You’re walking through the exhibit floor, using the trade show app, and the layer pops up showing where the main sponsors of the trade show are – or it will show you where a contest is being held or a presentation at that time.”
Also hot: QR codes
QR codes refers to Quick Response codes, a form of bar code. “Instead of traditional networking, QR Codes are a great way to quickly distribute information using a smartphone. Instead of a paper business card, you can exchange cards via QR codes onto your phones.”
Audience response pooling
A natural for meetings is text-based audience response pooling, which allows speakers to get responses in real time from the room. “It’s based on the philosophy that you want to make all of our technology experiences as interactive as possible,” he said.
Hot – on the horizon
Near Field Communications, or NFC, is emerging, according to Spellos. What NFC will do, he said, is allow hotels to text attendees their (virtual) room key, prior to arrival. Then they can use their phones to unlock their room doors – no standing in long convention check-in lines.
Similarly, mobile payment on sites like Square and PayPal will become more available. “The phone will be your payment tool,” said Spellos.
Resources for Planners
On Twitter – Event Profs: @eventprofs
On Facebook – MeCo’s Social Media Headquarters
For mobile phone apps – Meetingapps.com