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Then kind of nothing in the middle. Then at the other extreme, just the

rote dissemination of — via technology — traditional content. Digital content is changing, and the dissemina- tion of content can be much more rich with multimedia.

[The conference model] that is the plain vanilla — let’s sit in a room all day to listen to talking heads … then let’s go to the restaurant, we get drunk and go back to the hotel. That model is — I would say people will be much more selective, once they have experienced a kick-ass experience. You go to Orlando and you go to [The Wizarding World of ] Harry Potter, or you go to [the Amazing Adven- tures of ] Spider-Man [thrill ride] at Universal. It’s very hard to go back and do the straight roller- coaster after you’ve done that.

Take the Best Buy example. People still like to touch stuff before they buy it. You can see this same thing in the exhibitor world. But what is happening is that people will go physically touch something at Best Buy. But then they go home and buy it online from somebody else. I can see that happening in the conference world as well, where you go to one or two really cool conferences. You get your fix, you get to touch things. Then you go back and the rest of the time you see the virtual [offerings]. It’s going to be a tale of two cities — on one extreme, the really cool experiences; on the other, transactional dissemination.

Are meeting planners prepared? Say you had been a travel agent 20 years ago. With the benefit of hindsight, how would you have retooled to remain relevant? I would argue that ship has sailed [for travel agents]. It’s too late. You’re a meeting plan- ner today. You are today where travel agents were 20 years ago. What are you going to do to retool yourself?

. — Michelle Russell PCMA.ORG 6 Things About Technology

Mike Walsh “I think it is valuable for meeting planners to almost have kind of a future lab. In other words, get the [technology] toys when they come out. Find ways to sit and play with them, because you will get a sense of the possibilities. And you may be able to do things to innovate ahead of your competitors.”

Sandra Strick, Ph.D. “I think [meeting planners] have to understand virtual meetings, that idea of hybrid meetings, technology from the standpoint of marketing. I just think there isn’t any place in the meet- ings arena where technology isn’t having a huge impact. You know, we usually just hire people to do this stuff, right? It’s sort of putting it back on the planners to keep up with the current technology and tools, and keep them leading the way instead of just having to continually follow the way.”

Kristin Foldvik, CMP “We all keep moving at such a fast pace. It really comes down to just staying on top of the technology and what can we do to work smarter, not always harder. [That means] staying involved in groups and hearing from others what they’re using, maybe pick up a course or two at community college, attend conferences and talk to peers about what they’re using — and look to the younger generation.”

Leslie Thornton “Technology skills, and more importantly the integra- tion of that technology, are key. Our clients aren’t looking for a one- touch opportunity; it’s the 12-month, year-round opportunities. They want to stay in front of people, and information needs to be accessible and at people’s fingertips. We need to find a way to better engage our attendees. The old tactics aren’t going to resonate. Everything needs to be driven towards providing the most value for attendees’ time, and to be interactive and engaging.”

Michael Barratt, CMP “If you’re developing technology that your attendees don’t have any interest in using and don’t know how to use, are you using the money correctly? It is true that if you don’t introduce new things, then your attendees aren’t going to know what’s out there, and what they don’t know, they don’t want. If you give it to them maybe they’ll want it. But from my perspective, it’s better to go in steps and not go throwing a whole bunch of money to get the best, biggest, and most information on your app or one of your mobile things — but you’re not even sure that they’re going to use it, and next year it might be obsolete.”

Paul Paone “Every planner will need to understand to some degree of proficiency the back end of the technology solutions that play a role in their events. We are at the point where almost every job function in conducting a meeting involves technology to some extent. Yes, there are still some events that have static registration forms posted on their websites that have to be printed, filled out, and faxed back to some poor person who has to transcribe all that data, but for the majority of us, we have gone the tech route and become more eficient and better at what we do because of it.”


‘If I’m the meeting planner I would say, how can you really inject new life into the experience?’

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