Thursday, January 22, 2015

What does technology mean for meetings?

I moderated the MPISCC Tech Panel on January 14, 2015. The full audio recording resides on the Meetings Podcast, thanks to Jon Trask, one of our panelists. As a follow-up, I thought I’d answer a few of my own questions since we didn’t get to all of them during the meeting.

Q: At what point do you “rip off the band-aid”? For example, when do you get rid of the printed program in favor of the mobile app or take away access to old technology (microphone) in favor of new (audience response app)

A: There are different strategies for customer events vs. employee events. You need to think about demographics as well. However, your technology will get better adoption rates if you take away the old way of providing the information or engaging with the audience.

Q: Audience interaction or attendee experience is the future of events. How would you define this, how do you use technology, and how is this different from putting on a logistically seamless event?

A: Walking in the attendees’ shoes through a successful and pleasant experience would be the traditional definition of the attendee experience. The difference is the expectations of the attendee of today vs. the attendee of yesterday. Today’s attendee expect more than a seamless event. They want to feel welcome and be given an easy way to find their tribe. They want to tweet feedback and then they expect a response. The customer service element of your event needs to be front and center.

Q: When working with technology vendors, what are the questions that event organizers and clients should be asking?

A: Ask them if they charge for customer service on nights, weekends and holidays. This is how you know you are working with an event company vs. a technology company.

Q: How can hotel and other non-technology suppliers help planners facilitate new technologies in their meetings?

A: As always, understanding the goals and objectives of the event will help you assist your clients. Do your research on the types of technologies your clients are using. Some new technologies might require different types of room setups and layouts. Some planners are getting more creative with different types of meeting design and will need much more flexibility from their venues.

Q: What’s your favorite event technology right now?  Why?

A: I love the idea of gamification but I don’t like most applications that simply reward check-ins as they aren’t always supporting the goals and objectives for the attendee or the organizer. A learning based game like SocialPoint’s Challenge Bar can be used by event organizers and by exhibitors at trade shows.

Let me know if you agree with my answers. What questions do you have about event technology?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Wrong Way - Hashtags at Trade Shows

El Pollo Loco
My friend, Jon Trask and I enjoy reading about social media fails (especially epic ones!) and we have spent many hours podcasting about the wrong way to do meetings and marketing. When I first saw this picture, I thought of him. Driving by El Pollo Loco, you'd probably never notice the small line on the bottom of this sign. I never did until I walked by it. I love the just-on-the-edge-of-offensive humor. Their name translates to The Crazy Chicken, after all. This is consistent and provocative branding. Their tagline is Crazy You Can Taste - so of course they'd want to turn that into a hashtag: #CrazyYouCanTaste.

You can start a hashtag and use it all day long with your own account, but until you get your customers to use it, there's no ROI. In the case of El Pollo Loco, however, I like that they add it to their tweets for the consistency of the branding. They also get a few people to tweet using the hashtag - and that is great! For promotional posts and re-tweeting customers' Instagram pics, it works.

Let's say you are going to exhibit at a trade show. It would be easy to let the youngest person on your staff come up will all kinds of great ideas on how to use social media in the booth. They are probably going to suggest that you promote your own hashtag because in their minds, it is just a competition. You are there to set yourself apart from the other exhibitors and therefore you should have your own hashtag. {WRONG}

You need to capitalize on the event's hashtag so all attendees will see what you are tweeting! Unless they were previously following your handle or hashtag, they won't see your tweets and they won't see the tweets/pics you are incentivizing other attendees to send. If you have created an experience in your booth that people will want to take a picture/selfie of, you want them to use the main event hashtag so that everyone at the event will see it when they are following what is going on at the event. You can setup a photo wall in your booth that only shows the pictures you want to show, even if it is aggregating the tweets/photos/videos from the overall event.

You may be wondering why you wouldn't use both the event hashtag and your own. The simple answer is length and user experience. It is hard enough for people to get one hashtag right, much less two and you don't want to take up more precious characters than you have to when you are limited to 140! Keep it simple. Always try to be part of the conversation your community is having - whether that community is the conference you are attending or the industry your business is in. Add meaningful dialogue to the conversation. If you can get your customers to share their experience with your brand in these same conversations, then you win.