Meetings & Conventions: Newsline
SUPPLIERS SAY MEETING PLANNERS REMAIN
WARYWho Is Buying Tech Tools?
redictions that organizations
would rush to buy meetings technology to assuage travel-phobes and
save money have been borne out, according to suppliers, but the
buyers aren’t necessarily meeting planners.
“Our business has gone up 38 percent since Sept. 11, and we
anticipate it will double this year,” said Marlene Williamson, vice
president of marketing for PlaceWare, the Mountain View,
Calif.-based Webcasting service. Buyers of the service, however,
typically come from marketing, sales, training and public relations
“We target customers who are already in the process of changing
their behavior,” said Praful Shah, vice president of strategic
marketing for San Jose, Calif.-based WebEx, a Webconferencing firm.
“We look for the heads of sales, training and support.” WebEx has
been adding about 800 new clients per quarter for the last 18
Corbin Ball, a Bellingham, Wash.-based meetings technology
consultant, still meets resistance when teaching planners about
Webcasting and other tools. “You talk about technology, and people
hold their fingers up in a cross and say, ‘No!,’” said Ball.
Similarly, PlaceWare’s biggest challenge is educating potential
clients, said Williamson. “Technology is very scary for a lot of
people,” she noted.
The hesitation still exists at Pfizer Inc., in New York City.
“We’ll probably spend money on travel, not technology,” said Susan
Pavone, manager of business administration, who works in Holbrook,
N.Y. Each year, Pavone plans from 20 to 40 training meetings for
clinical studies, events that would seem ideally suited to remote
“I think executives are concerned about whether people can
really grasp what’s being taught,” Pavone said. However, she added,
“I definitely see technology as something in our future, just not
for this year.”
• SARAH J.F. BRALEY
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