April 01, 1999
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio April 1999 Current Issue
April 1999 Tech filesPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:



Digital Video Arrives

This new-wave technology will change meetings for the better

As the technology industry continues to squish more and more information into smaller and smaller places, the DVD (digital video disc or digital versatile disc) has a promising future as a delivery system for meetings and training. The disc looks like a regular compact disc, but it can store much more data (up to 17 gigabytes, compared with a CD’s capacity of 650 megabytes). DVDs can hold several hours of video, audio, interactive elements and other features that will make a big splash in the corporate and association world. The technology can deliver all kinds of content and has the potential to replace CDs, videotape, laser discs and CD-ROMs.

The stand-alone DVD player was the hottest-selling electronic item during the 1998 holiday season, with more than 800,000 units sold for home use, at a cost of about $400. The technology also is beginning to infiltrate the workplace, with DVD drives replacing the now standard CD-ROM drives in desktops and laptops. DVDs can deliver the full range of content that would be found on a software CD or an audio CD but also brings video content to the laptop. At our office, we just bought a $655 recordable DVD unit to create more interactive and feature-rich presentations.

Here’s how DVD will change meetings:

  • Marketing: As DVD players become more popular, they will be used to market conferences, conventions and training events. Hundreds of pages of content describing the event can be included, along with video and audio clips from previous conferences and personalized invitations to attendees. For less than a dollar per person, planners will be able to provide high-intensity “brochures” to their top prospects.
  • Meeting content: The DVD recorder transfers to disc all the video content that normally would be viewed using a VCR. This will enable planners to use the DVD drive in a laptop or desktop to run a video presentation rather than bringing an additional piece of A/V equipment into the room. DVDs also will give the presenter quick access to particular frames in the video because the technology facilitates searches by title, track and chapter, and there is never a need to rewind. Such options for the presenter will make sessions more interactive; the speaker will be able to react to the group’s questions and concerns by jumping around in the presentation easily.

    As we employ digital takeaways to extend learning sessions, DVD offers a new set of opportunities. Imagine a video-based course with multiple soundtracks aimed at different levels of users. Imagine having the ability to view new products from different angles and to integrate video and sound with software on the same disc for higher levels of interactivity.

  • Post-meeting content: Keynote presentations can be transferred from the video onto a DVD, enabling planners to add closed captions for the hearing-challenged as well as multiple languages for translations. In a few years, DVDs might replace the conference audiotapes that are sold to attendees. An attendee would request a collection based on his interests or on specific sessions, and a personalized DVD would be cut for him.
  • Site inspections: DVD will pay a role in the marketing of properties for conferences and conventions. A facility will be able to create a personalized property tour for a prospective client, including intimate views of the golf course, to attract incentive groups, or classroom angles for a training session. DVD sales kits will include virtual tours, multiple camera angles and a host of content along with up-to-date information on the Internet that can be linked from the disc.
    The DVD’s features probably sound great to almost every planner, but the question remains: Who will have to know how to put information onto the disc? It probably will be a while before recordable DVD machines show up in the average meeting department. Unless the meeting organizer has a tech guru affiliated with the events department, planners will find the experts at a production company. So few people have DVD drives at the moment, though, that suppliers are not offering meeting materials on DVD quite yet.

    The bottom line on DVD for planners is the convergence of numerous meeting elements onto tiny silver discs. This development is one that will have enormous implications for the process of learning and the dissemination of information.

    Elliott Masie is president of The MASIE Center ( an international think tank focused on technology and learning.

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