In your company, are you responsible for booking venues, facilities, restaurants and organizing transportation for meetings and events?
Trends for 2012: Keeping Current in a Mobile World
Meeting and event planners need to stay current on the latest ideas that help streamline their planning and execution. In this digital age with its current precarious economy, experts are saying that trends will focus largely on saving time and money. The diverse goals are creating events that are more economic and easier to organize by using convenient and quick mobile technologies, implementing cheaper yet stunning dÈcor alternatives and compiling research before an event, all of which retain a focus on “going green.” Beyond the market trends, take a closer look at how proper lighting design and its coloring easily can enhance the mood of an event.

Event Planning trends for 2012
From meeting style to using technology, the following are ways events are heading in this fast-paced, ever-changing world of the meetings and events industry.

Group Mentality: Because of the nature of today’s business professionals, events are shifting from featuring guest speakers to hosting platforms for open discussion. Rather than everyone listening to one person’s perspective, attendees want to be an integral part of the discussions held and decisions made. Taking ownership of information this way is seen as increasingly valuable and adds to the event for individuals and companies alike.

Superior Swag: Branded pens and cardboard folders just don’t cut it anymore so personalized takeaways are in. This doesn’t mean individualizing things like “Bob’s pen” and “Julie’s folder.” It means that the contents of “goody bags” need to be directly relevant to attendees and useful in their lives and businesses. This takes time, forethought and knowledge of guests, but it can be great if done correctly and cheaper than an alternative that briefly gets regarded before becoming trash.

Social Media Blitz: Through Facebook, Twitter and lots of research, event planners can get to know their guests better than ever. Moreover, it is worthwhile to learn exactly what clients and invitees want and need from an event. People and companies reveal a lot about themselves on social-networking sites, including projects and new clients. Social media also show that conferences can thrive without a traditional Web site; some are planned entirely through social-media sites and e-mail. With Facebook, planners can invite people, keep track of RSVPs, post event photographs and convey important details. During a conference, social media also enable hypernetworking, which is often more effective than contacts met in person.

Green Machine: Instead of printing myriad conference materials on endless sheets of paper, planners are utilizing mobile technologies and other electronic options. With these technologies, attendees can choose for themselves if they want a printed copy, and changes to information files can be made at any time, making it far cheaper and easier than printing hundreds of materials hundreds of times.

Mobile Mastery: Smartphones have made data dissemination and collection more efficient and effective. Innovative and budget-conscious event planners can capitalize on attendees already paying for and wanting to use such devices. Tablets, such as the iPad, can be carried around easily at a fraction of the mass of a computer or conference binder, and they provide immediate access to information anywhere. Event apps for mobile devices are replacing conference books and allowing people to network more, better plan their experience and generate new business. Attendees also can give real-time feedback through voting, messaging and conveying opinions via their devices during the event.

Trends are what you make of them, and although the details and devices will keep changing, wanting to save time and money are here to stay.

Technology applies at a new level
Already making waves in 2011 and steadily building steam in 2012 are new mobile apps that help meeting planners streamline practices and better serve their clients. Mobile apps constantly are evolving to help with event preparation, registration, information dispersal and data collection.

Event Preparation
An invaluable tool for getting important details sorted and determined, the Super Planner app organizes and facilitates all the details of venue planning and puts them at your fingertips. Simply input real-world details, such as square footage, and instantly you can estimate catering based on event type and length as well as staffing requirements, table number and setup and optimal audiovisual and staging arrangements.

Registration, Event Materials and Management
Many companies have developed full-service mobile apps and templates for event planning that enable users to put all event information into a mobile application so it is immediately available to planners and attendees. Different features and prices distinguish each one, but most offer full utility, housing all planning details in one place with convenient mobile access. They save money and time and put a professional polish on the event that is pleasing to attendees. If return on investment (ROI) is important to your organization, many of the apps also collect and organize data to create measurable results for instant feedback on the effectiveness of an event.

develops native iPhone, iPad, Android and BlackBerry apps for meetings and events of every size and budget. CrowdCompass puts interactive, up-to-the-minute information—schedules, maps, exhibitors and presentations—at attendees’ fingertips with no Internet connection needed. Mobile experts compile, test and submit your event app for approval, and it can be available within two weeks.

is a multiplatform event solution used by attendees and exhibitors to access event information, connect with colleagues and enhance their experience. Promoting organizer intelligence by keeping them aware of attendee activity, it enables attendees to engage with organizers, exhibitors and colleagues; manage their time; and ensure they maximize their returns on an event. EventGenie can be a template or a customizable turnkey mobile app. To expand user experience, an add-on, GeniePortal, fully integrates EventGenie’s information with a company’s Web site, providing appointment management, visitor planning tools, schedules and social networking built around a brand. Another add-on is LeadGenie, which enables exhibitors or vendors to record contact details, manage leads in customizable categories and administer survey questions and workflows.

Event Espresso
offers a range of features, including attendee management and profiles; a payment gateway; confirmation e-mails; customizable events and categories, post types and registration forms; and event management and registration. Notably, it offers a ticket designer with which planners can customize an event ticket that prints with a functional barcode.

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