Event Tech Checklist Helps Planners Meet Attendee Needs
Posted by: Jenise Fryatt
Wednesday, November 9th, 2011
Conference & event attendees want to be sure internet communication with their clients or office back home will flow smoothly. But not all venues are well equipped for this. So how can meeting planners ensure they know how a venue rates for all of their technology needs BEFORE signing a contract?
Meeting technology experts James Spellos of Meeting U and Corbin Ball of Corbin Ball Associates have devised a checklist to help planners assess venue technology offerings. The TechSpec Checklist is free and can be downloaded here.
I recently asked James a few questions about the TechSpec and meeting and event technology requirements at venues.
What circumstances led you to create TechSpec?
Basically, it was our frustration that with as fast as the technology is moving forward and is a required component of most meetings, that there weren’t any guidelines to help planners (and suppliers) better understand this information. It’s tough enough to keep up with technology if you follow it 24/7, so for our industry colleagues, we clearly can understand these frustrations.
We also wanted to get a dialogue going between planners and suppliers at the point of the site inspection and contract, where needs can be explained, defined and negotiated, rather than continually making technology needs at a property a discussion that was more of an after thought.
Are venues providing enough answers for meeting planners regarding internet connectivity?
No. Again, it comes down to both the planners not knowing the questions to ask for their specific needs, and the hoteliers not fully understanding what is required. You can’t blame either side, but both planners and suppliers need to take responsibility for this segment of events and conferences, in the same way they do with setting meeting objectives, room setup, food & beverage, etc.
How does TechSpec help meeting planners to ascertain their technology needs?
It provides them with the ability to compare properties’ technology capabilities on as much of an even par as possible. It also sets some minimum standards & expectations (such as 1Mb connectivity in guest rooms). Conference attendees need hotels to be able to meet their needs as their virtual office, so just providing a smattering of connectivity and proper work setup just doesn’t meet the needs of today’s attendee.
Can a meeting planner usually determine these needs with the help of a checklist like TechSpec alone? When should they consider hiring a consultant?
Tough question, as there isn’t a simple answer. Clearly, the more sophisticated the technology needs, the more the planner needs an outside (or perhaps internal from their own organization) expert to help define the needs. Communication early in the process is key for a successful technology site inspection. If the event just needs connectivity in a single meeting room, it shouldn’t require any extra help. But with that said, and the proliferation of mobile devices that are eating up bandwidth, it can’t hurt to get a more expert opinion about how much bandwidth is really needed to support their conference.
With the rapid pace of technological evolution regarding events, is TechSpec likely to be amended a lot in the future?
It better be. This is a first draft, and we are encouraging everyone to adapt and modify it for their needs (our industry doesn’t have a one size fit all solution for anything we do). We have setup a Facebook Group, TechSpec – where industry folks can discuss the form and share their technology concerns. And, don’t be surprised if you see a TechSpec app in the very near future.
Where should event planners go to get more information on the topic of technology for events?
I’ve always felt that Corbin’s website is one of the absolute best first stopping points for planners. His Meetings Tech Bookmark Favorites page is as comprehensive a list of industry technology providers as you can get. I also like the Meeting Apps portal, which is a comprehensive listing of industry smart phone apps, as well as the MeCo Social Media HQ Facebook Group, which Dan Parks does a great job of continuing to generate content of value for our industry.