Utilizing the outdoors to benefit your meeting

August 14th, 2017 @

Meeting planners are always looking for new ways to create an environment that fosters lasting impressions. I’ve noticed an uptick of meeting planners bringing their groups outdoors to enjoy nature, and have seen how this can help the overall success of an event. By encouraging attendees to get out of the traditional boardroom, meeting planners can find easy and fun ways to engage their group and create a setting that builds lasting connections among your attendees.

I recommend that meeting planners consider the following when planning an outdoor event.

Use nature to help meet your goals

First off, planners should outline the goals of their event and understand how incorporating outdoor elements can help to achieve the desired result. For example, if planners would like their group to network, a casual and relaxing outdoor setting may help attendees to be more comfortable with connecting and encourage meaningful conversations.

Also, planners should not be hesitant to change it up a bit and consider moving traditional elements of the meeting agenda outdoors. For example, instead of a projection slideshow presentation, I’ve seen planners host creative and fun flip chart sessions outside in which the attendees have been fully engaged and more interactive than in a traditional ballroom or boardroom setting. We’ve even held trade shows outdoors to add a new element to exhibits. Sometimes a small change in setting is all it takes for planners to make a big difference for their event.

Reset your mind and re-energize

As we live in the day and age of fast-paced work environments, instant downloads and hundreds of emails, planners can get attendees outdoors in order to help them tap into a different part of their brains and decompress. Even if you have a content-heavy program, planners can incorporate outdoor breaks that allow guests to enjoy the fresh air, give their minds a moment to process all of the information they’ve learned and allow them to “reset” before their next set of sessions for the day.

When planners incorporate the outdoors into their events, they are choosing to infuse “light space” which refers to anything with a natural setting, from fresh air and sunlight to trees and running water. These types of spaces are perfect for groups to spur creativity and reenergize, helping to increase the success of the event.

Things to consider

Hyatt Regency Lost Pines - Outdoor Banquet
Hyatt Regency Lost Pines – Outdoor Banquet

For planners who are hosting full outdoor sessions, it is important to keep a couple things in mind to ensure a successful event. For example, I encourage planners to consider a pavilion-type setup which provides overhead shade or extended covering that protects from the sun and is adaptable based on weather changes. I also suggest a casual dress code that is suitable and comfortable for being outside—there is rarely the need to be in a suit for an outdoor function.

Although several types of meeting sessions can be hosted outdoors, I’ve noticed that roundtable discussions that open up dialogue to attendees and encourage out-of-the-box thinking typically work best, rather than closed, content-driven sessions.

Consider and utilize your specific venue

I recommend that planners look for destinations that provide an abundance of outdoor space. As most resorts are designed to incorporate a natural landscape, they are typically ideal venues for outdoor meetings that encourage creative learning. A resort’s outdoor spaces are usually among its best assets, and as an added bonus, it’s typically beneficial for planners to utilize those areas.

The post Utilizing the outdoors to benefit your meeting appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Google Event Search and how you can harness its power for event marketing

August 9th, 2017 @

In May 2017 Google unveiled Event Search for the U.S. market. It is the search giant’s latest product which aims to shorten the path between clicking the “search” button and setting eyes on the desired information.

Google Event SearchGoogle Event Search puts every event company on notice. The shorter search sequence means more convenience for the user, but it also comes with additional work for event marketing professionals. Under the new regime, they have to implement additional mark-up on their event pages and follow a clear set of best practices in order to make it on the coveted Google Event Search list. Read on to find out how to maximize the potential of this powerful new tool!

What is Google Event Search?

Google Event Search is to event marketing what Knowledge Graph was to content marketing: the user searches puts in a query and, alongside the usual page-ranked results, a panel with readily digestible, actionable information in the form of “smart cards” appears. Each smart card presents an event with a meaningful headline, location, date and time, and other relevant details like tickets or pictures. Clicking on a smart card takes the user to the source page.

Needless to say, making your way into the Google Event Search panel can do wonders for your online event promotion. It is not rocket science, but there are some details and tricks to it. Here is the breakdown.

Google Event markup

In order to get your event to show up in relevant Google Search and Google Maps queries, you need to apply the appropriate markup to your event page (click here for an example on how to do this manually). If you have a number of different events already listed on your website, you might want to resort to Google’s Data Highlighter instead. It will crawl the designated event pages and introduce the appropriate markup for a stellar Event Search appearance.

Technical guidelines

To ensure there are no technical obstacles to your event turning into an attractive smart card on Google Event Search, your event page must consist of structured data items–refer to this guide on event types. There are some required properties to include like location, name or starting date as well as a host of recommended properties, such as a description, an image and ticketing information. (Go here for full details direct from Google.)

The other requirement is for each of your events to have a unique URL and the corresponding event markup associated to that URL.

Content guidelines

Once your markup is in place, you should optimise your content as well. First and foremost, make sure you have described the event accurately; give it a meaningful title and a succinct, catchy synopsis. Make the location, date, and time explicit, and add a booking link.

It may be tempting to present non-events as events to gain additional exposure. Limited-time offers or discounts on certain services, however, are not true events, and Google will not list them as a rich card in Event Search. They will still appear in the regular search results; however, we would never recommend such erroneous labelling.

If you are hosting a multi-day event, make sure to add both the start and end dates. Separate sub-events with individual ticketing, on the other hand, require unique URLs.

Follow the recommendations above and take your event promotion to the next level!

The post Google Event Search and how you can harness its power for event marketing appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

5 tips for presenting financial information to company executives

August 7th, 2017 @

financial proposal

(CC) massimo [notamax] nota
When it comes to presentations, I could write a “1,200 Tips for Great Presentations” article and only scratch the surface. But in the interest of time (and sanity), I’ll center this post on how to present to senior executives. And even more specifically, how to present at a financial meeting with executives. Whether you’re a marketing coordinator doing a presentation on the values of leads generated or giving a full CFO presentation to executives, these five tips will put you on the path to delivering a rock solid, controlled and insightful presentation.

1. Be clear in your objectives

When you find out that you will be presenting, get as much information as you possibly can about what you should be doing. Some of the non-negotiable, need-to-know facts (apart from the time and date of the presentation) are:

  • How long is the presentation?
  • What format does it need to be?
  • Who are you presenting to?
  • What are they interested in finding out?

You should endeavor to have these questions answered as precisely as possible before you even consider what information you’ll present. The answers to these questions will give you the base you need to create a presentation that is informative and engages your audience.

Pro Tip: When you find out about the presentation, have a think about it and work out what your key questions are. Then book in some time with whoever gave you the task—it can be as simple as chatting on the way to get a takeaway coffee. Make sure you come away with a firm understanding of what you are doing. There’s nothing worse than the feeling of building a presentation only to lose confidence that what you’ve done is not actually what’s required!

2. Prepare properly

This one might go without saying,.but going into a financial meeting with executives unprepared is a big no-no (regardless of how good you might be at speaking off the cuff). There are a couple of keys here that you might not think of as part of your preparation.

First, when preparing your slides (we will assume you are using slides here), make them as visual as possible. Think pictures, infographics and graphs. Nobody (even the most financial of chief financial officers) wants to look at slide after slide of spreadsheets.

Second, send the documents to your executives in advance. They might read over them in detail, or they might not. But they will almost certainly flick through them and this will likely pique their interest in what you have to say.

3. Highlight clear takeaways

All good presentations should boil down to a few key points (three at absolute maximum)—these are your takeaways. Takeaways are the things that you want to stick in people’s heads even when they’ve forgotten everything else you’ve said. They should frame your presentation—and by that, I mean that you state them clearly at the beginning, end and allude to them throughout.

You want your takeaways to be positive, even if the news is not necessarily so. Frame any issues as work in progress, for example, “We have struggled to recover this debt, however as a result we have started a new debt collection process and expect that matter to be resolved shortly.”

For a great takeaway, frame your point positively and in simple language for maximum stickiness (in the minds of your executives).

4. Anticipate the questions

Anticipating questions is one of the central pillars of a good presentation. You DO NOT want to get stumped by a question. It’s a bad look.

When you have a pretty firm idea of what you will be covering in your presentation, if you take a run through it you will pretty easily be able to spot the areas where questions will arise.

Often those questions will be around a bad figure—“Why is it like this?” “What’s being done to fix it?” “What have we done in the past?” But they might be around good news as well—“OK, so we’re looking good now, but what’s our strategy for when that CapEx hits the bottom line?”

A surprising number of people opt for the ostrich approach and stick their heads in the sand, but you need to be real with yourself, work out what those questions could be and plan your answers. Read on to find out the best way to do that.

5. Cover the difficult points with a narrative

This is one of the secrets of how to present to senior executives. Nobody likes having to discuss struggling finances or mention that the figures are perhaps not where they should be. It’s a difficult conversation to have at the best of times, made all the more difficult by a critical with a deep interest in the company!

So if you know your cash flows look bad due to clients who haven’t paid their invoices, think about how you can present this information. What factors are playing into the situation? Are there process difficulties that are restricting the generation of revenue? And, most importantly, what are you already doing to fix the issue?

Having this narrative at hand shows the executives that you’ve identified the problem, looked into it and are fixing it. Often (though not always), this is what your executives want to hear. It’s not that they expect everything to always run smoothly, they just want to know that the people they have handling these problems are capable and in control.

It’s important to make a good impression on executives. And apart from that, delivering a great presentation can be a huge boost to your self-confidence. By following the steps above you will be taking your presentation and turning it into an incredible opportunity to raise your profile within your company and set yourself up for success.

The post 5 tips for presenting financial information to company executives appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

5 tips for presenting financial information to company executives

August 7th, 2017 @

financial proposal

(CC) massimo [notamax] nota
When it comes to presentations, I could write a “1,200 Tips for Great Presentations” article and only scratch the surface. But in the interest of time (and sanity), I’ll center this post on how to present to senior executives. And even more specifically, how to present at a financial meeting with executives. Whether you’re a marketing coordinator doing a presentation on the values of leads generated or giving a full CFO presentation to executives, these five tips will put you on the path to delivering a rock solid, controlled and insightful presentation.

1. Be clear in your objectives

When you find out that you will be presenting, get as much information as you possibly can about what you should be doing. Some of the non-negotiable, need-to-know facts (apart from the time and date of the presentation) are:

  • How long is the presentation?
  • What format does it need to be?
  • Who are you presenting to?
  • What are they interested in finding out?

You should endeavor to have these questions answered as precisely as possible before you even consider what information you’ll present. The answers to these questions will give you the base you need to create a presentation that is informative and engages your audience.

Pro Tip: When you find out about the presentation, have a think about it and work out what your key questions are. Then book in some time with whoever gave you the task—it can be as simple as chatting on the way to get a takeaway coffee. Make sure you come away with a firm understanding of what you are doing. There’s nothing worse than the feeling of building a presentation only to lose confidence that what you’ve done is not actually what’s required!

2. Prepare properly

This one might go without saying,.but going into a financial meeting with executives unprepared is a big no-no (regardless of how good you might be at speaking off the cuff). There are a couple of keys here that you might not think of as part of your preparation.

First, when preparing your slides (we will assume you are using slides here), make them as visual as possible. Think pictures, infographics and graphs. Nobody (even the most financial of chief financial officers) wants to look at slide after slide of spreadsheets.

Second, send the documents to your executives in advance. They might read over them in detail, or they might not. But they will almost certainly flick through them and this will likely pique their interest in what you have to say.

3. Highlight clear takeaways

All good presentations should boil down to a few key points (three at absolute maximum)—these are your takeaways. Takeaways are the things that you want to stick in people’s heads even when they’ve forgotten everything else you’ve said. They should frame your presentation—and by that, I mean that you state them clearly at the beginning, end and allude to them throughout.

You want your takeaways to be positive, even if the news is not necessarily so. Frame any issues as work in progress, for example, “We have struggled to recover this debt, however as a result we have started a new debt collection process and expect that matter to be resolved shortly.”

For a great takeaway, frame your point positively and in simple language for maximum stickiness (in the minds of your executives).

4. Anticipate the questions

Anticipating questions is one of the central pillars of a good presentation. You DO NOT want to get stumped by a question. It’s a bad look.

When you have a pretty firm idea of what you will be covering in your presentation, if you take a run through it you will pretty easily be able to spot the areas where questions will arise.

Often those questions will be around a bad figure—“Why is it like this?” “What’s being done to fix it?” “What have we done in the past?” But they might be around good news as well—“OK, so we’re looking good now, but what’s our strategy for when that CapEx hits the bottom line?”

A surprising number of people opt for the ostrich approach and stick their heads in the sand, but you need to be real with yourself, work out what those questions could be and plan your answers. Read on to find out the best way to do that.

5. Cover the difficult points with a narrative

This is one of the secrets of how to present to senior executives. Nobody likes having to discuss struggling finances or mention that the figures are perhaps not where they should be. It’s a difficult conversation to have at the best of times, made all the more difficult by a critical with a deep interest in the company!

So if you know your cash flows look bad due to clients who haven’t paid their invoices, think about how you can present this information. What factors are playing into the situation? Are there process difficulties that are restricting the generation of revenue? And, most importantly, what are you already doing to fix the issue?

Having this narrative at hand shows the executives that you’ve identified the problem, looked into it and are fixing it. Often (though not always), this is what your executives want to hear. It’s not that they expect everything to always run smoothly, they just want to know that the people they have handling these problems are capable and in control.

It’s important to make a good impression on executives. And apart from that, delivering a great presentation can be a huge boost to your self-confidence. By following the steps above you will be taking your presentation and turning it into an incredible opportunity to raise your profile within your company and set yourself up for success.

The post 5 tips for presenting financial information to company executives appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

5 event planning traditions that will always be in style

August 1st, 2017 @

Are you interested in educating yourself on some of the best traditions in event planning so that you can improve your approach? A lot of event planners have their own style, but sticking to a proven formula is a good recipe for success.

With that thought in mind, here are some of the top event planning traditions you should be aware of for your next project.

event planning traditions

1. Provide great food

At an event for a lot of people the highlight is the food they are going to be eating. The food is part of what makes a great night out so you cannot sacrifice on this all-important aspect of the event. There are a lot of events actually planned out around a specific meal.

Even though the main meal is the highlight, you need to create a four-course meal structure. The event might take place over a period of several hours, and a single meal is not going to cut it. Be creative with the entrees to get things going.

2. Efficient registration

You must select a way of registering for the event that is efficient. Decades ago cards were sent out and people would need to RSVP. Nowadays online registration is the way to go and there are many software options to get this done.

You can view things such as how many invitations were opened—even if they haven’t yet selected an option. Providing an easier invitation delivery system means you’re going to get much higher response rates, and the length of the response time will be reduced.

3. Plan the event socially

Whilst planning the event allow the attendees to have input on the different decisions. This can be done online via a variety of different social platforms. Let’s say that you are selecting the flower arrangements and aren’t sure which ones to go with. You’ll provide a few different combinations and the feedback from the community will make the decision for you.

Overall, the ease with which decisions are made will improve and guests will get an event that better matches their preferences—it’s a win-win for everyone.

4. Get staff you can trust

On the big day it will be too late to post an ad for a new waitress or cook. You need to make sure that you have a team of dedicated professionals that will perform when the event day arrives. Also make sure that they are put in the best possible position to succeed. Equip them with the best technology to make the event easier to coordinate.

For example, reliable headsets can make for improved communication, which can be essential when you need to find the guy organizing the chairs when there are a few unexpected guests.

5. Engage the audience

Guests that are left to make their own entertainment can very quickly get bored, and once that happens it can be an uphill battle trying to get their attention and enthusiasm. From the very start try to engage the audience by hosting a quiz, putting on a presentation via video or in person or holding a games session. What you go for should depend on the type of audience you’re dealing with. There are countless ways that you can engage the audience.

 

By following this framework, you’re on the path to hosting a successful event. These methods have been tried and tested by countless event planners before you so they are worth paying attention to. But don’t be scared to try something new from time to time for the chance to give guests an event experience that will stand out for a long time to come.

The post 5 event planning traditions that will always be in style appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Alcohol at events & Duty of Care

July 17th, 2017 @

Just one day into the filming of season four of the reality TV series Bachelor in Paradise, production came to a grinding, screeching halt. The reason? There was an alcohol-fueled sexual encounter involving two contestants: Corinne Olympios and DeMario Jackson. The allegation is that Corinne was too drunk to consent and the producers should have stepped in to stop a sexual encounter. They didn’t.

The Criminal Code of Canada is being updated to clarify and toughen up the meaning of sexual consent. Specifically, despite a recent controversial court ruling that is under appeal, someone who is unconscious or so drunk that they are not aware of what is going on cannot give consent. Other jurisdictions are likely to follow.

No one other than the producers who are in possession of the video footage knew for sure what happened on the Bachelor in Paradise set. After a two-week investigation, Warner Bros. announced that the raw footage had revealed that no sexual assault had taken place that night. This did not undo the fact that, The Bachelor brand has been tarnished and the future success of Bachelor in Paradise remains uncertain. Could the same thing happen to your brand?

During a corporate event, especially when a corporate group is in a stunning foreign setting, alcohol may flow freely and as everyone is having fun and in a lighter mood…and it’s easy for employees to forget about their personal safety. It is also easy for companies to forget about Duty of Care.

Employers have a duty of care to their employees, which means that they should take all possible steps to ensure their health, safety and wellbeing.

Unlike a TV series, in a corporate environment, there is usually no video footage to shed a light on what took place. There have been enough U.S. sexual harassment lawsuits that have resulted in multimillion-dollar awards to establish the fact that there can be liability for the organization when situations go awry. Recently, Uber executives were forced to resign as a result of a dysfunctional corporate culture that included alcohol abuse and sexual harassment. Wired magazine’s article about the “alcohol soaked” cultures in many tech firms which shared the results of a Cornell University study, concluded that there is a: “…close connection between permissive workplace drinking cultures and sexual harassment. And while blaming sexual assault on alcohol would be a mistake, many incidents involve people who have been drinking. In short, heavy drinking at work or conferences makes employees—especially women—less safe.”

alcohol at eventsThere are no easy or clear-cut solutions or easy answers, but the following steps help reduce risks to employers and ensure employee safety during corporate events and overseas trips. Corporate event planners and their clients would be well advised to give serious consideration to these 10 tips for preventing alchohol abuse and sexual misconduct at company functions.

1. Set and communicate clear and specific policies about alcohol consumption and appropriate behavior for corporate events.

It is best to include this in a documented code of conduct and have all employees sign it when they are hired (or when the code is introduced/amended).

2. Pinpoint which misconduct warrants disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

As a guideline, misconduct that violates the criminal code or jeopardizes the safety of employees should be included. Also include behavior that could bring disrepute or negative publicity to the organization.

3. Remind individuals that they have a responsibility to monitor their own alcohol consumption and behavior and avoid situations that could put them in danger.

Examples: Avoid sexual encounters with co-workers and individuals who you have just met if you are even slightly tipsy. Don’t go off the beaten track on your own, especially if you have been drinking.

4. Establish a zero-tolerance policy for sexual misconduct.

DeMario Jackson’s employer fired him immediately.

5. Ensure that all members of the senior management team lead by example.

6. Limit alcohol consumption.

Consider wristbands as an alternative to an open bar or drink tickets. (Drink tickets can be passed on by employees who don’t consume alcohol.)

7. Provide a wide assortment of non-alcoholic beverages.

8. Always have certified bartenders to monitor the situation for hospitality suites and villas.

I repeat always.

9. Designate at least one senior manager to refrain from consuming alcohol, monitor the situation and intervene if things get out of hand.

Hotel security can be called upon to escort individuals who are rowdy or disorderly back to their rooms. For events “at home,” transportation can be arranged to ensure that employees get home safely or a hotel room should be provided for them to sleep it off.

10. Turn off the tap at least an hour before an event is scheduled to end.

This will reduce the likelihood that individuals will leave events in a vulnerable state.

Sex when mixed with alcohol can be a volatile cocktail with serious fall-out for employers and employees. Caution must be exercised by all parties.

The post Alcohol at events & Duty of Care appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

How to run a top-notch business event without breaking the bank

July 10th, 2017 @

Want to bring in the cash, attract clients with ease and network like a ninja? It all sounds great, right? These are just a few of the benefits of hosting your own business event. The good news is that hosting a successful event that achieves your goals can be done, even on the bare minimum budget.

The question is, how?

We’ve put together seven essential event planning tips and important things to consider when organizing small business events. These tips will help you save money and time while ensuring your event is a hit with your guests. You’ll be hosting and running a top-notch business event in no time, all without breaking the bank!

6 Event Planning Tips for Businesses on a Budget

1. Set clear and measurable goals

First things first: Sit down and set clear, measurable goals that you can use to guide all future decisions. The biggest money and time wasters are due to a lack of clarity, so defining your goals will help you avoid any unnecessary costs that aren’t serving your main purpose.

Some examples of clear goals you might set:

  • Sell 200 Tickets
  • Invite/book 3 Speakers
  • Start promoting the event and selling tickets in 20 days
  • Host the event in 60 days
  • Spend less than $500

Moving forward, you can relate every decision you make back to the goals you set. Per the example above, you won’t procrastinate and drag out the planning process because you’ve set a goal of promoting and selling within 20 days—and, for example, you won’t get distracted and tempted by every speaker opportunity that arises because you’ve set a goal of having only three.

When you’re ready to take action on your goals and bring your event to life, EventBrite’s got a handy timeline and template for taking the next steps.

2. Hone in on your audience

It’s important to have a great understanding of your audience so you can plan an event that will generate a lot of buzz and interest. Your event will be a reflection of you and your business, so you want to make sure it brings value to those who attend.

Some questions you should ask yourself to understand your audience better:

  • What are my target audience’s interests? (What sponsors would they relate to?)
  • What time and location would suit their needs? (Do they work late? Are they local? Could inclement weather affect the event?)
  • What price is suitable for my audience? (Are they students or professionals?)

When you are 100 percent sure on who the audience is, you can effectively use your marketing spend through tools like social media targeting and creating your marketing collateral in the language and style that most attracts them. When it comes to things to consider when organizing an event, defining your audience is perhaps the most vital.

3. Budget at the beginning

One of the most important things to consider when organizing an event is outlining your budget from the beginning. It’s also necessary to define what you want to achieve with the event—is it to network, get new clients, raise your profile?

Work out how much a new client is worth to you, and use that to help guide your budget. For example, if a new client is worth $1,000 to your business, how many clients will you need to acquire to cover the cost of your event?

Setting your budget at the beginning will help you identify what you can and can’t afford. You can answer questions such as: Will you print paper tickets? Or will you save money and send electronic tickets? Furthermore, 10 percent wriggle room gives you the leg space to handle unexpected circumstances and expenses.

4. Use free event management software

Using event management software is one of the most important things to consider when organizing an event on a limited budget. Fortunately, there is a ton of free event management software you can use to help make the planning and organization of your event a breeze. Most software will include features such as ticketing, custom branding, event schedules, data management and registration forms.

At Little Tokyo Two, our favorite options for free event management software are EventLeafRSVPify and Odoo. One of the most popular and comprehensive platforms for event management is EventBrite. It’s free to get started on EventBrite, but you will have to start paying once you make a sale. You’ll also find plenty of event management tips for beginners within the platforms.

5. Implement a social media strategy

social media
(CC) mkhmarketing

Social media is a powerful platform you can use to promote your event and create buzz. Did you know a social media presence can increase attendee engagement by 33 percent? Facebook is the most powerful platform for marketing events, and if you can spare some money in your budget for Facebook Ads and the time to target well, they will be well worth the investment.

Facebook’s in-depth targeting features will allow you to deliver your ads to the right people, maximizing your chances of converting viewers to ticket sales. Offering a limited-time discount is a great way to get more people to buy. Consider starting a Facebook Event to raise more awareness and to keep in contact with people who have purchased a ticket.

LinkedIn is another great platform to use to promote your business event. You can update your LinkedIn status, publish a post promoting the event, post in relevant groups, and even advertise on the platform. EventBrite have also written a great article on how to use LinkedIn to promote your business event.

During the event, Twitter and Instagram are great platforms to use for attendee engagement and promotion of your brand and event. Using your event hashtag will not only raise awareness of the event, but it will also result in a great collection of photos and videos from the event that you can use later.

Having a social media strategy in place allows you to keep your guests updated before the event as well as engage with them after the event to get feedback. Some other effective social media strategies you can use to help your event succeed include creating an event hashtag, sharing behind-the-scenes content and streaming live video from the event. The best thing about social media: It’s only the time it takes to manage and enhances your public business profile.

6. Find Sponsors

Finding sponsors for your event is a great way to save money if you’re on a tight budget. First, consider your event topic and the audience and then brainstorm what sort of businesses might be interested in being a sponsor.

You don’t need to think of big, wealthy companies when considering sponsors. Get creative and approach some local businesses that might be interested. For example, approach a local caterer to sponsor the food, or find a local business to sponsor gift bags for the guests. Relevant companies will also be interested in having their name displayed on emails, tickets and signs at the event and will consider the sponsorship as brand awareness and exposure.

You can also enhance your business’ social conscience by partnering with sponsors who donate a percentage of their profits to charity. For example, you could use The Good Beer Co., a social enterprise beer company, to supply beverages for the night. The Good Beer Co. donate 50 percent of profits to their charity partners.

 

Hosting an event on a shoestring budget will be a challenge, but it’s certainly possible, and the benefits you’ll receive will make it worth the trouble. If you use the event planning tips above you’ll be well on your way to planning a low-cost event with big rewards.

At Little Tokyo Two, we have event spaces in each of our locations, with the perfect space suited to your needs, body count and the environment you’d like.

The post How to run a top-notch business event without breaking the bank appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Weekly deals and highlights: July 5, 2017

July 5th, 2017 @

Weekly deals and highlights: July 5, 2017

EmCo_logo_Heart_Of_BW_v3Emerald Coast
Twitter: @EmeraldCoastFLA
Go online to discover a wide range of Emerald Coast meeting venues, more than 13,000 rooms, and the only convention center in Florida’s Panhandle.


Caesars Entertainment offers meeting and event planners one dedicated team that works as a united front, committed to providing the most successful meeting experiences possible. Enjoy elite perks, rewards and privileges with our Total Rewards Meeting Diamond Program.

Click here to fill out the survey for your chance to win!

The post Weekly deals and highlights: July 5, 2017 appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

6 essential cross-platform apps

July 3rd, 2017 @

A lot of times when people meet me in person, they’re surprised to see that I’m not “all in” on one of the major technology platforms. Apparently, as an event technology nerd I’m supposed to help people pick a side. “Oh,” they say, “I would have guessed you were a Mac guy,” as they notice my oversized Android phone.

apples and computerThe fact of the matter is that I believe very strongly in using the right tool for the right job. My home computer runs Windows, my kids’ tablets are Amazon Fires, my work computer is a Mac, my phone runs Android and my tablet is an iPad. I’ve chosen these platforms carefully over the years, and I’m constantly re-evaluating whether or not they make sense. I was extremely close to pulling the trigger on a Chromebook for our next family computer, but we still have a few programs not supported by the platform. Sounds like my kids are going to get Chromebooks from their school though, so we’ll get to add that to the mix soon enough!

A result of having so many devices in so many different camps is that I’ve been accumulating a group of apps and services that work across all platforms, and aren’t confined to the Apple, Windows or Google universes. So without further ado, here’s my top six list of cross-platform apps for meeting and event professionals.

1. Wunderlist

A good to-do list app is the cornerstone of the digital age. Wunderlist is simple, customizable and can parse things like “April 1 take the garbage out,” which automatically creates an item called “take the garbage out” with a due date of April 1 (it’s amazing how many apps can’t actually do that in 2017). You can set priorities, have multiple lists and the data all syncs seamlessly to all of your devices. You can even share lists among co-workers or family, helping everyone stay on task.

2. OneNote/Evernote

Everyone needs a cloud brain to store all those useless bits of information, so that your real brain can go back to cereal ad jingles. I used to be firmly in the Evernote camp, but not needing the Pro version, I became frustrated by how strongly they were pushing me, almost biweekly, to upgrade. Nonetheless, some people swear by it, and it almost has to make this list based on principle. If you’re ready for a change, however, Microsoft has been making strides in establishing their apps across all platforms, and OneNote is solid. I find the syncing a little kludgy at times, but overall it’s a great note-taking application. Combine it with OfficeLens, which is a mobile app for scanning documents, receipts, whiteboards or photos, and you have a powerful digital filing cabinet.

3. Fantastical 2/Business Calendar

OK, I’m cheating a little on this one. I haven’t found a truly cross-platform calendar that I love, but this one-two punch is pretty close. For iOS and macOS, Fantastical 2 is incredible. If you’d have told me I’d shell out $40 for a calendar app, I’d have said you were nuts, but as the timer clicked down on my free trial, I knew I was going to have to do it. It’s simple on the surface, but incredible under the hood, and seamlessly syncs all my calendars from all over the web. On my Mac it lives up in the menu bar (and also understands natural language like, “Meeting with Tom Smith at 1 p.m. on Tuesday”), and I have a keyboard shortcut so that I can highlight any random bit from an email and it will automatically create an appointment based on whatever it can parse from the info. On iOS, it’s easy to swipe into multi-window mode and access Fantastical from whatever app you’re in.

Business Calendar is an Android app, done by some very cool German developers. It has a similar look and feel to Fantastical, and has a beautiful home screen widget for my daily agenda. They work perfectly together, and I’ve been using both for years now.

4. PowerPoint

Yep. You heard me. Believe it or not, this is another app that Microsoft has been trying to make work better across all platforms. It works quite well on all of my devices, including my phone and tablet, though I still prefer Apple Keynote for my own personal presentations. As time goes on, PowerPoint has fixed most of the issues that used to plague it, and, as a result, I’m finding it harder and harder to justify the $2,500 for a MacBook. To be honest, almost all of the Microsoft Office programs work quite well these days across all platforms, so don’t be afraid to stick with what you know, even if you start dipping your toes into another platform pool.

5. Audible

Now that the workday is done, you need a little relaxation as you hop a plane for home. Once we had kids, I found I didn’t ever have time to just sit around and read a book or magazine any more. Audible—and podcasts—to the rescue! I’ve “read” more books in the last five years than I probably had in the previous 20. Whether I’m on the plane, mowing the lawn or doing a few dishes, I pop in my earbuds and I can get lost in a story. I like to alternate between fiction and non-fiction, just to keep things interesting. My library is synced between all my devices, and I have cloud access to every book I’ve ever purchased from them should I feel the need to re-visit something.

6. LastPass

For years now I’ve been screaming into the wind that event professionals need to start taking cyber security seriously. As more and more conferences and meetings use sophisticated ticketing, registration and conference app technology, more and more of our attendees’ data is being taken into the cloud. If your registration back-end password is Monkey123, you’re putting your attendees at risk. LastPass is a password management service that’s been vetted by top security professionals. You can use it to create long, random passwords that aren’t duplicated across websites, so even if one of your websites gets hacked, they don’t have a chance of hacking any more of them. “But what if the service gets hacked?” is the most common question asked. Though it’s theoretically possible, LastPass does not hold the keys to your account, so it cannot surrender the data to either cyber criminals or government agencies. If the service was hacked, all they’d find was a blob of unreadable data. That is, of course, unless your LastPass password is Monkey123.

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Category : Blog and Industry News

Top tools for audience engagement

June 21st, 2017 @

If you’d asked me late last year to identify the big event technology trends of 2017, you’d probably have gotten an answer similar to what a lot of other folks were writing about on their websites and in their magazines: big data, artificial intelligence, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality—and maybe drones thrown in for good measure. So far, however, the No. 1 thing people have approached me about this year is regarding audience interaction.

audience engagementI’ve been asked to host webinars on the subject, clients have approached me looking for recommendations and even while I was speaking with a candidate for our local city council, the subject of audience-interaction apps came up as soon as he heard about what I do. Recently at an event I was working, the CFO of a major financial institution seemed shocked to see two microphones on stands in the audience for the Q&A portion of his session.

“Don’t we have any of those foam microphones we can throw around?” he bellowed from the stage.

And now, I’m writing an article on the subject.

It seems the industry as a whole has decided that 2017 is the year to focus on audience interaction and attendee engagement—and that couldn’t make me happier. Because while drones are cool and VR is fun, we’re in the people business, and communication is at the heart of most of our meetings and events. Let’s take some time to dig into the latest and greatest when it comes to getting our audiences engaged in the conversation.

Low-tech: Re-evaluate your space

First, let’s start with some of the low-tech trends. Savvy planners continue to experiment with non-traditional seating. While there are a lot of reasons to do this, when it comes to audience engagement, the main reason is that theater and classroom seating can automatically lock us into a sit-back-and-listen mode of thinking. Even the setups themselves can prohibit interaction and engagement, as it can be difficult to navigate the rows and tables, discouraging a would-be question-asker from getting up and going to a mic stand or slowing down a potential mic runner. There are ways around that, but let’s come back to them in a moment. For now, just think about opening up your floor plan as much as your space allows, making it easier for people to move around.

Why would you want them to move around? Well, because one of the best ways to grab, and keep, an audience’s attention is to get them out of their seats and get the blood pumping again. My friend Adrian Segar has literally written the book on low-tech audience engagement—The Power of Participation is a field guide for getting people moving around, brainstorming and, above all, participating in a meeting or event, with little or no technology involved. It includes advice on room setups, voting techniques and even ways to display complex information such as graphs and charts using zero PowerPoint slides—just the bodies in the room. Any company or organization looking to break the bonds of the same old boring meeting should definitely give it a look.

High tech

Sometimes, however, you can’t break out of the old seating tropes. Maybe your room simply isn’t big enough to handle much in the way of creative seating, and you have too many attendees to even accommodate them comfortably at rounds. Or the schedule is packed to the point that full-on discussion sessions aren’t an option, but leadership would like to gauge the feelings or mood of the room. Now is a great time to inject a little technology into the mix to allow attendees to weigh in on a question, simply and accurately. There are a number of great apps and services out there, but I’d like to highlight a few that are on a short list for me and my clients.

Sli.do

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the Sli.do folks a few times, and even used the service as an attendee. I always enjoy doing that, because it gives me a much better idea of how the service will be received by an audience, something no GoToWebinar sales demo can ever do. It was easy to use, and allows not only for polling but also open-ended Q&A. Additionally, questions can be up-voted, so the most popular questions rise to the top. Because it’s web-based, it’s incredibly easy to integrate into existing mobile event apps or to a live stream of your event so that remote audiences can get involved as well.

Catchbox

If for some reason you haven’t heard of this yet, I’d like to be the first to welcome you back to Planet Earth. These are exactly the foam microphones the CFO was referring to at the event I described earlier. A Catchbox is a soft foam cube with a wireless microphone inside it. Instead of a participant having to get up and walk to a microphone, you can literally just throw this one to them. It’s fun, it makes people laugh, you can brand it with your logo and it just works. It’s easy to plug into existing AV setups, and the internal gyroscope senses when it’s being thrown and automatically cuts out the audio so you don’t hear the jostling around.

PollEverywhere

PollEverywhere has been around for some time now, but it still warrants inclusion in this listing of the latest and greatest. I’m a fan of their pricing structure, which is based on the number of responses, and they have no problem with moving your pricing plan up or down from month to month. That’s perfect for planners and companies whose attendee counts vary wildly from client to client or event to event. I also feel they’re one of the only companies that effectively implements SMS text messaging as a form of response to polls and open Q&A sessions. This can be huge for an audience that might not be as technologically savvy, but can handle sending a text message.

Evenium/SocialPoint/Podiobox

Like I said, there are a lot of companies out there providing interaction technology for events. Most of the major app manufacturers are starting to bake basic polling and Q&A technology into their meeting and event apps. Evenium is a mobile app company with amazing polling and interaction pieces, including real-time slide sharing directly from the presenter’s computer and screen overlays of polling results. Smaller companies such as SocialPoint and Podiobox each have features that can be appealing to certain groups. SocialPoint focuses on audience engagement and data capture in trade show booth. (Full disclosure: I’ve done some freelance work assisting SocialPoint with on-site management of their services.) Podiobox is one of the lightest-weight apps I’ve ever seen, making it a great choice for events at which bandwidth might be an issue. So don’t be afraid to look at some of the smaller audience engagement companies out there—they might be just want you’re looking for!

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Category : Blog and Industry News