It's long been easy to get driving directions on a computer, but city pedestrians have had to figure things out on their own -- until now. A number of mobile applications, including Garmin's CityXplorer Maps, the Gokivo Navigator for BlackBerry, Ovi Maps for Nokia devices and the GPS function on the Samsung Omnia, use NAVTEQ technology to guide users on foot through 100 cities. Sample the technology at maps.ovi.com, and slip a map printout into attendee registration packets. Also check out the latest version of Google Maps (maps.google.com) to try new directions that incorporate walking and public transportation.
A good meeting planner will not only bring a first-aid kit, but also an emergency preparedness kit, with a whistle, face masks, flashlight and more. The Department of Homeland Security (www.ready.gov) offers a list of items to put in your kit; to make things easier, buy this one from Ice-Qube. The To-Go kits costs $149, and the more comprehensive Rescue & Survival kits cost $276. (516) 650-7690; ice-qube.com
Stick 'Em Up
Butch and Harold's graphic, decorative Stickr picture frames will adhere to any clean wall and can be moved again and again. The frames would be ideal for displaying pictures on the last day of an incentive trip or at a holiday party; just make sure to print photos in the correct sizes. A set of eight black frames retails for $19.95. (212) 712-0616; butchandharold.com
Plug and Play
Anyone who regularly travels overseas knows the confusion of trying to sort through a bunch of oddly shaped adapter plugs in a bag. This Universal Travel Adapter from Kikkerland, on the other hand, can be stored as a single piece and works in more than 150 countries. The adapter can be purchased online for $10 plus shipping, and it will soon be available at Urban Outfitters and The Container Store. (866) 822-5571; kikkerlandshop.com
Planners can create meeting-themed Element Bars by picking their own ingredients to make the perfect energy bar. Design a special one for a particular meeting -- perhaps a chewy bar with cranberries, cherries, cashews and chocolate chips for a C-level conference -- or offer a selection of flavors as a welcome gift. Customized bars cost $3 each, and the popular bars listed on the site cost $2.50 each, both for a minimum order of 12. Buy 200 bars and get the wholesale price, between $1.50 and $2.50 each. (888) 411-3536; www.elementbars.com
These speakers work well on a desk or for traveling, as they fold up into a little box when not in use. With their large printable area, they could double as an invitation or a small but exciting gift for a meeting or an incentive program. Priced at $6.95 each for the minimum order of 500, and as low as $2.75 each for 5,000. (201) 445-5858; focusmerchandising.com
This new product simplifies small meetings that don't have a registration office. The Big Show Rolling Badge Case holds four OneWay Badge Cases -- clear plastic display trays -- for a total of 200 3"x4" name badges, and can be carted with ease from hotel room or car to registration site. The bag costs $99; with four trays, $127.98. (877) 626-3824; pcnametag.com
Savor the Season
For a summertime picnic, Lincolnwood, Ill.-based Food for Thought Enterprises (847-982-2608; fftchicago.com) raided the dollar store for some cheap beach gear to use as buffet props. They used plastic pails to hold potato chips, plastic shovels as serving utensils and brightly painted metal tubs for elevation.
Hosting a lunch for the Texas Golf Writers Association, Horseshoe Bay Resort in the Texas Hill Country (830-598-7880; hsbresort.com) showed just how far it could push the golf theme. The food-and-beverage team displayed food on golf carts, served the silverware bundles out of a golf bag, skewered the sandwiches with extra-long golf tees and shaded guests with golf umbrellas attached to the carts.
The Truth About PLA
PLA -- a plastic made from corn that commonly comes in the form of cold beverage cups -- is completely compostable, which means that it won't pollute our environment or sit in a landfill...IF it is disposed of properly. If reusable cups aren't available, consider PLA, but be sure to send the discards to a commercial composting or incineration plant. If that service is not available in your area, it's better to buy and recycle PET plastic cups. Order a case of 1,000 PLA cups for $97, including shipping, from Cup Depot (626-965-8882; cupdepot.com).
The Ultimate Tote
The sheer weight of handouts that most trade shows generate is staggering. Enter the Virtual Totebag. Exhibitors upload up to four files or links to a repository, and attendees send a coded text message to gain access to the files at their leisure. Exhibitors then can track who asked for what and follow up as needed. The service costs $250 for individual exhibitors to use it, or far less per booth when a trade show organizer implements the technology. (410) 402-1056; virtualtotebag.com
At Jelly Belly's new microwebsite, choose one or two flavors of jelly bean -- perhaps in colors that match an event's theme -- then design the bag or tin with your own artwork and a personal message. Prices range from $1.25 each for 1/2-ounce bags to $14.99 for a 10-ounce barrel. (800) 522-3267; myjellybelly.com