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Top tech trends for meeting planners

Since it is so important to stay current with technology in today’s business travel world, I’ve created a list of top tech trends for meeting planners. Go through this list and see how many of these technological trends you already use or could incorporate into your next event.


1.) Emphasis on content security:

Network Security should be at the forefront of designing spaces where BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is the intended day-to-day use. Depending on the users to have their own security and assuming their machines are entering your space without virus’s or malware can lead to data loss, system failure and overall guest dissatisfaction.

Since there is little to no control over what is brought into your network from the outside, more emphasis on network traps and software controls should be where the majority of where ones efforts are directed towards.


2.) Customized apps for events:

Event planners can create downloadable apps for attendees to use. Apps provide real time schedule, directions, and check-in, as well as polling and note taking.

This is a growing trend that we have seen at Apella. One way to assist planners is by implementing a mobile optimized site that will make it ideal for them to incorporate links to your business in their existing apps. The mobile site should not be a duplicate of your web site. Mobile needs are more streamlined. The priority of the mobile site should be contact information, mapping directions and other information that is relevant to quick access.


3.) Tablets and iPads:

Event organizers are using iPads or tablets to plan meetings because they are paperless and portable, bringing the end to an era of notebooks and binders. It is also eco-friendly. Instead of printing all the documents for the meeting, they are easily downloaded.

Designing for the BYOD (bring your own device) environment  is essential in today’s hospitality/public networks. Coverage, speed, and ease of access should be the core principles of your design.


4.) Social Media:

Aside from engaging the attendees, social media can help an event become more memorable and shareable. Events are commonly integrating with Twitter, Four Square, Pinterest and Instagram.

Registering on all social media outlets even the ones you may not use should be a common practice. Even if you do not intend on using the platform it is a good practice to register to avoid others from registering in your name and not acting in your company’s best interest. Having outlets that allow guests to follow and provide feedback to you can be a double edge sword. It can be positive and negative. The important thing is to stay active and involved. Address negative comments and positive comments as they present themselves. Respecting privacy should also be a priority, and only join the conversation that you are invited to or are public.


5.) Gamification:

In an effort to keep events interesting, planners have started bringing in elements of games into meetings. Activities involving prizes, tracking achievements, team-building exercises bring a new dynamic to an otherwise static meeting.

Games provide a great way for colleagues to learn about each other. Scavenger hunts and polling questionnaire games allow the groups to become more aware of their colleagues talents, interests, strengths and weaknesses. They provide both a learning tool for the individual and the company. With live polling allowing the users to interact with their day-to-day devices and see the group results in real time help with perspective. Knowing what the group thinks allows for better brainstorming and strategy.


6.) Using the Cloud:

More event organizers are using programs such as DropBox and Evernote to seamlessly move information from different devices.

Registering for the major cloud file sharing services is essential. With so many guests migrating to offline cloud storage, it is important that your company stay relevant and easy to do business with. Tools such as Evernote are great for delivering a uniform message across one platform to multiple users.

At Apella we personally leverage our use of Evernote to allow our team to see meeting notes and changes to events in real time. The app allows us to stay in sync and with accurate information in real time.


7.) Hybrid Meetings:

Hybrid, an event that offers both an in-person component and some content live via the Internet to groups of attendees participating from organized satellite locations, is now a requirement. The purpose of a hybrid event is to engage participants both in-person and those attending virtually. In-person meetings are being blended with virtual, with an increase in webinars and the use of Skype. Virtual meetings are becoming a popular and necessary tool of the business world. Skype is much cheaper and more efficient than flying in somebody to attend a meeting.

Hybrid events are becoming more popular for two reasons – cost control and expanding the audience. By hosting events at venues with either the bandwidth or the hardware to host such Hybrid events you can have attendees or guest speakers be anywhere in the world, but feel as if they are right there in the room with you. This is a growing trend amongst companies that have offices in other countries since all offices can participate regardless of physical location.


8.) Sustainability:

What has been an increasingly popular trend in the green meeting space is companies that have replaced their traditional printed training materials with tablets/iPads that are more interactive and reusable. With these technologies, edits and revisions no longer require wasting the old materials and printing new ones. It has become as simple as an update. Facilities need to be prepared to host more events with more devices than ever. Strong bandwidth and scalability of the networks are essential.


9.) Online Collaborations:

Thanks to programs like GoogleDocs, multiple people can edit a document or presentation simultaneously from different devices.

Google docs and Prezi are exceptionally user friendly platforms that not only provides a place for your team to edit documents in real time to ensure your presentations, proposals etc remain current but it also keeps them safe. The data is continually backed up in real time and Google/Prezi have security protocols in place to keep them only accessible by the right team members. It is not public unless you want it published. They are great resource for the road warrior presenter.


Arthur Backal is CEO and founder of Backal Management Group, LLC, as well as consulting director of catering at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York. Backal has worked with some of New York’s most renowned hoteliers, including the Helmsley Palace, The Plaza and St. Regis, where he oversaw the entire food and beverage operation. Backal was also credited with restoring the Pierre to its legendary grandeur during his time there as director of catering. He was inducted into the BizBash Hall of Fame in 2010 in honor of his contributions in the event industry and philanthropy. Backal Management Group facilitates the planning and execution of all events at Apella, an event space at the Alexandria Center in New York.