At smaller (up to 50 attendees) Senior Planners Industry Network events (651-403-3000; spinplanners.com), Shawna Suckow, CMP, places the name badges randomly on exhibitor tables, and tells attendees to find theirs when she greets them. This jump-starts the networking and gives attendees a reason to stop by exhibitor booths. She advises against trying this for large events, because the "hunts" could take up too much time.
Tag, You're It
To promote networking among members of the Senior Planners Industry Network (651-403-3000; spinplanners.com), Shawna Suckow, CMP, slips the name of an out-of-town member behind every name tag at the association's events; attendees are asked to seek out that person after the event. When pairing people up with their SPIN colleagues, she tries to match individuals from different cities to increase the chances of everyone meeting someone new.
Choose air, hotel and car with Tripware, and you can send the travel details to attendees through Microsoft Outlook for hassle-free booking; the itinerary is automatically entered into their Outlook calendars. It's similar to corporate-travel booking tools (and uses the Apollo GDS) and costs just $4.99 per trip, with no minimum. (877) 359-4249; tripware.com
Using a laser, Miracle Products inscribes a bean with your corporate logo. Give out the pots at an event; when the plant grows, the message reveals itself. Or give them to high achievers and mark some with a star; those who get the star win a grand prize. Plants start at $6 each, plus $50 for setup. (509) 232-4040; message-plant.com
Most frequent travelers have mastered the art of one-bag packing, but for those times when one isn't enough, use the Train Reaction Device. This tool attaches two bags together and, thanks to the magic of physics, makes the two feel light and easy to pull. You might have to pay luggage fees, but at least you'll save on physical therapy. The Train Reaction costs $19.95 for two. (714) 843-9288; trainreaction.com
Common solutions to the problem of finding a black rolling bag at the baggage claim include the colorful ribbon and the oversized luggage tag. Bagtats solves the problem with a little personal style. Just choose one of the countless vinyl "tattoos" and stick it onto your bag. Individually, they cost $8.99; alternatively, to help identify bags coming in for a single meeting, purchase a custom image for $4.50 each (less for orders of more than 50), plus a $25 setup fee. bagtats.com
Coming home from a trip, the dirty clothes often contaminate the clean ones, and then everything has to be washed or dry-cleaned. With Flight 001's Go Clean Set, the dirty clothes and shoes stay inside specially treated bags, keeping everything nice and tidy inside your suitcase. This set of a laundry bag, two shoe bags and a miscellaneous bag costs $55. (877) 354-4481; Flight001.com
Keeping Things Straight
When traveling, keeping tresses silky is no mean feat. Among other things, it often means carting around a clunky hair straightener. This new cordless ceramic straightener by Carousel Strands is light and powerful; for short trips, you won't even need to bring the charger. The Straight-Away Pro retails for about $80 and can be purchased on Amazon.com.
Soft and Dry
Picking shoes for a meeting can be a challenge: You need a pair for business, a pair for walking around and, in some climes, a pair for rain and snow. Ecco, a brand known for comfort, now offers shoes that could answer all those needs. The Ecco Shine for women (left, $160) and Berlin for men ($200) go with dress clothes but aren't too stuffy for jeans, and a Gore-Tex lining makes them waterproof. (800) 467-3839; gore-tex.com
Sliders make tasty and relatively inexpensive reception fare. In addition to the traditional miniature hamburger and cheeseburger, Bakers' Best Catering in Boston (617-332-4588; bakersbestcatering.com) offers entrée-style arrangements between little buns, such as New England cod cakes on brioche with remoulade, pulled pork on a buttermilk biscuit with slaw and chipotle aioli, and chicken parmigiana on a French roll with marinara sauce. They're easy to eat with one hand (and hard to stop eating).
Flying for any length of time can leave travelers aching, but a few stretches during the journey might prevent the pain. Flytime Yoga is a booklet by author, speaker and yogi Elaine Masters, who provides safe, simple stretches for before, during and after the flight. Buy one for $11.95, or $6 each for orders of 100 or more. It comes in a passport wallet; with orders of 300 or more, that wallet can be logoed in black or white, free of charge. (858) 449-3246; drivetimeyoga.com
When offering a cash bar, post the price of all the available drinks on the bar; that way, attendees will have their money ready before ordering. Even better: Sell drink tickets at the door -- especially if you plan to accept credit cards. Thanks to Greg Jenkins, partner of Bravo Productions, based in Long Beach, Calif., for the idea. bravoevents-online.com