Technology has changed nearly every part of our lives – including our own industry. A few businesses are already on the cutting edge, providing technology to streamline event planning processes – from virtualization and venue selection to personalized agendas and text campaigns for attendees. Learn about five of our favorites for 2013 in today’s post.
Trend #1: Save time setting up virtual seating at tables!
Don’t let the name fool you. Just because you see the word “social,” doesn’t mean this new tool can’t save you loads of time for your next association function. Social Tables, based in DC, is a cloud-based technology and software provider delivering diagramming and event management tools for meetings and events. This service allows planners to set up meetings with a team, manage attendee information easily and integrate social media seamlessly to execute meetings and events with a measurable return on investment. Association member attendees also have the ability to see who’s going beforehand so they can connect with other attendees before, during and after the event!
Insider Tip: Watch the online videos to get some inspiration about how to apply this to your own meeting.
Trend #2: Let your attendees “be” there thanks to Google!
Indianapolis|360, a.k.a. NAP|360, provide Google Virtual Tours of event spaces. Using the same technology as Google Business Photos and Google Street View and Google Maps, Google Virtual Tours allow venues to invite potential planners inside, from anywhere in the world. The technology is a godsend for association planners that may not be able to physically get to venues to see them before making contact. Association planners can also put an embedded copy of the meeting location’s virtual tour on their own conference site, thus allowing the attendees to walk and navigate the space in advance to plan their meeting agenda and space route.
Insider Tip: Planners can go to a Google map of any city, drag the street view buddy icon onto the map and see a complete list of properties with tours – those that turn orange.
Trend #3: Take care of the meeting, hotel, dinner and drinks with one search!
Even the selection of an event venue or event planner is simplified through the use of technology. Indianapolis-basedSnappening is an online service allowing users to easily search and select event venues (in more than 40 venue types mind you) and professional third-party independent planners (in case your association function is so large you need extra hands). Venues and planners use their Snappening profile to showcase their best features, but association planners can use the site to research both quickly and seamlessly. From the meeting itself, to the hotel, as well as small group dinners and after-party drinks, Snappening can help connect planners to any of these venue types with the same search and interface.
Insider Tip: Planners can contact Snappening.com for free, get dedicated support and suggestions for properties in the greater Indianapolis area that are “planner” friendly for every aspect of the meeting or event. Snappening can also help issue customized RFPs for any aspect of the function.
Trend #4: Personalized attendee experiences and scheduling tools
It seems like today that every attendee wants an experience entirely dedicated to their unique needs and expectations. But, clearly the association cannot produce individual conferences or meetings to meet every single perspective. Enter attendee personalization tools! We took a quick peek at Guidebook and DoubleDutch which all give your event attendees the ability to manage their event schedules securely and efficiently. Applications like these can increase attendee participation and also give planners invaluable feedback immediately. It also allows you to connect with attendees in the event of changes.
Insider Tip: Guidebook has a nice set of feature tours available online to inspire planners about adding difference pieces to their meetings.
Trend #5: Text live with attendees to get immediate feedback
Locally based Tetherball, LLC offers a variety of mobile marketing tools such as live texting campaigns, promotions, games and surveys that can be incorporated into any event or association function. Depending on whether or not association planners want to reach members before, during or after an event, the technology can do anything from increase member loyalty, drive an early-bird price break, sound off on a speaker or simply redirect traffic should a venue change arise. It’s a fun and interesting way to connect to attendees on the spot and get immediate feedback on their experience.
Insider Tip: Ask for a live demonstration from a Tetherball rep with your own phone and see how other events and brands are using the tool to come up with your own text-based marketing plan.
Technology is changing the ways our events, meetings and lives are run. Embracing these new technologies can help our industry stay current and be as useful to our members as possible. Welcome to Events 2.0! Is your association ready?