MOBILE TECHNOLOGY IS moving from the early adopters to the early majority. We will soon see very rapid adoption rates for a range of smart phone and tablet/iPad applications, which will provide new and better ways to distribute programme content, interactive exhibit floor plans, paperless session handouts and event alerts. These tools will assist in onsite networking, lead interaction, surveys and much more.
This is important because our industry is a mobile one. We regularly do business away from our offices and from our “large screen” computers. However, 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. Yet, we constantly need to manage a wide range of data at events. For lack of a better way, until now, much of this data has been in the form of paper.
But the majority of meeting professionals, exhibitors and attendees are business travellers, and the rate of adoption of smart phones is already high and increasing. To respond to this need, there are dozens of companies providing a wide range of mobile technology for events at a price range for nearly every budget.
Social media will continue to evolve for event marketing as well. Tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Doc spreadsheets, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, TripAdvisor, Foursquare, Gowalla and Skype, as well as blogs and podcasts, will be used to manage events collaboratively in a manner that is much better than email. They can also be used to market events; to network at events and review them afterwards; to help choose meeting facilities and share event content; and to connect remote audiences or presenters in high definition.
Most meeting professionals have profiles on one or more social networking sites. The biggest challenge this year will be figuring out how to truly incorporate these tools into the business process for events, and finding the time and methods to manage them well.