Author: Maaike Ammerlaan, Conference Sales and Services Manager – University of British Columbia Okanagan
I just came back from our CUCCOA National Conference held this year in Halifax, NS and I have picked up some great ideas again from my colleagues at universities & colleges all over the country and from the very inspiring speakers we were able to listen to.
What always spikes my interest are new electronic gadgets that help make my life as a conference planner a lot easier. At the conference I learned about ‘mobile check-in’, where guests check- in online (like on a flight) and just have to pick up their keys when they arrive at your campus. Off they go to their room with no time to waste at the front desk filling out forms or handing over credit cards. How easy and quick is that?
Or how about at your next big dinner event, you have a large touch screen in the room showing the lay-out of the tables and chairs, and the guests can select their seating by touching the screen and adding their name based on the other people they would like to connect with socially. Social tables it is called. Throws the painstaking time of putting a seating plan together out of the window!
And what if you can see on one map where the hot spots of your conference are by showing the ratings of each event as a colored dot: blue= not much interest, yellow= medium interest, red= lot of interest. By having your participants rate each activity, it instantly shows what is hot and what not at your conference. Cool!
Also getting more popular is the conference app where all the information about your conference can be found on the app. At our National CUCCOA Conference we tried out a conference app called Guidebook. They set-up a simple (free) version where everyone who would download the guide to their smart phone, ipad/tablet or laptop could see the program, speaker information, who was attending, sponsor information and maps of the conference facility and the local and regional area. You could also fill out a to-do list, set-up your own schedule, connect with other attendees by sending your electronic business card through the app and (very popular) upload pictures taken during the conference (of social events mostly!).
Instead of having to find your paper schedule to see what’s on at what time, you just open your app. The upgraded version of the app also gives you the opportunity to download presentations and have interactive maps. That definitely helps you make your conference become a lot greener!
Because attendees can rate each session instantly, as an organizer you do not have to send surveys to participants after the conference, who then have to think back about all the speakers they have listened to (and not mix them up). You can see your stats right away per event and know they are pretty accurate.
All these new technologies not only make going to a conference more fun, as a conference organizer, it makes putting on a conference a lot easier.
Maaike Ammerlaan, Conference Sales and Services Manager, University of British Columbia