A year ago, there was a definite cool factor among those
flashing their iPads in public. Now it's difficult to go 10 minutes at a
convention without seeing multiple iPads (and, to a much lesser extent,
other tablets). What's the appeal? Here's what some planners have to
Banish the binder "I'm a huge
fan of the iPad," confesses Katja Morgenstern, CMP, a self-described
"power user" of the device. Morgenstern, senior project manager for
Atlanta-based Meeting Consultants Inc., typically syncs to her iPad the
event orders she'll need, by day, while on-site at an event. "And I have
them right there instead of having to carry the big binder around," she
Finding a planner who isn't thrilled about leaving the
binder behind is becoming a real challenge. "Those binders get heavy,"
Morgenstern says. "And God forbid you open one the wrong way -- your
papers go everywhere."
Having the paperwork in electronic format
lightens the load, of course, but it also makes it easier to quickly
search for information, respond to client needs, revise documents
on-site and send them out when necessary. Accordingly, meetings
management software is responding by becoming more mobile-centric: The
ootoWeb meeting registration and management platform, for example,
designed its mobile app for the iPad precisely to be a substitute for
the weighty binder.
"I can honestly say that the on-site paper
meeting binder is history as far as I'm concerned," enthuses Christine
Kelly, the Cheshire, U.K.-based managing director of events and meetings
agency Gemini International, and an ootoWeb customer. "The mobile
applications added so much value to our on-site management of the event.
We were able to access real-time data relating to both the attendee
information and event planning, using the app on the iPad."
works as a substitute for one planner's binder is that much more
effective when spread across the whole team, suggests David Weil, vice
president of event services for association management company
SmithBucklin in Chicago. "All of our employees got iPads," he explains.
"It's just a really nice tool from a meeting planner perspective. While
we're all on-site, instead of having those big binders with all of our
banquet event orders and specs and whatnot, we've loaded it all up into
Dropbox and onto our iPads. It's such a great thing, because we all have
all of the floor plans, specs and BEOs at our fingertips."
frequently cite Dropbox among their list of favored mobile tools. It's
an online file storage and sharing service -- free, for up to 2GB of
storage -- that offers free apps for the iPad, iPhone, Android and
BlackBerry devices. The apps make it easy to sync and access files or
even download them to mobile devices.
On the other side
Morgenstern is just as bullish on the iPad as an attendee tool at
events. "Particularly for an educational conference, it's fantastic,"
she says. In addition to Dropbox, Morgenstern relies heavily on the
Evernote app when she's an attendee. The app, which has both free and
paid versions, creates a central repository for notes, clips, photos and
the like. Attendees can create a conference workbook of notes and
observations, and then sync the information to make it accessible from
Suppliers are using iPads to show off event venues
and destinations in presentations to planners. Likewise, exhibitors
across a wide variety of industries are embracing the tablet as a sales
tool, at trade shows and on the go. "What we're seeing more exhibitors
doing as well," notes Weil, "is using iPads to extend the conversation."
often works with associations in the health-care and
information-technology industries. "These exhibitors have videos and
demos on their iPads, so when they're in the coffee shop or between
sessions, just in their casual conversations and their networking,
they're able to bring their products to life."
FOR MORE "Update: Apps for Meetings":
> Update: Apps for Meetings
> Tomorrow's Apps for Meetings
> Games Attendees Play