Archive for the ‘ technology ’ Category

Tip-Top Laptop

Business travelers have laptops. Business travelers rely on those laptops to keep them connected with their lives. The whole idea of the laptop becoming dysfunctional during a trip can strike fear into the most fearless of flyers. So, here are some tips on keeping your laptop in tip-top shape.

  1. happy-laptopDon’t put it on your lap. I know, weird right? It is called a “lap” top for goodness sake. However, your laptop will be better off on a smooth surface, allowing for that ever-important airflow.
  2. Don’t leave it plugged in at all times. Let’s say you have a stint of non-travel, but you are so accustomed to plugging in while not traveling that suddenly your laptop is never unplugged. Not ideal. Unplug it a few times each week. Think of it as exercise for your battery.
  3. Power down a few times a week. Though it is tempting to keep your laptop on, it is a good idea to shut it down.  Just like you, your laptop needs some downtime.
  4. While traveling, keep your laptop with you at all times. I know you know this, but we have all been in situations where we are just going to “leave it there for a second to go get a latte.” Don’t. Take it with you.
  5. If you have sensitive data on your laptop, encrypt it. For an on-the-go solution, check out TrueCrypt.
  6. Back up your data. You know this too, but do you do it? Buy an external hard drive and back it up once a week.
  7. No updating or installing while traveling. Sometimes those updates and installations do not go as predicted. Save such activities for when you have time to deal with any bugs that may come your way.

If you have any other awesome happy laptop hints, please do share them with me on my Facebook Page!!!

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No Oops For You

When it comes to meeting planning, there are way too many places where mistakes can be made. With the myriad of details involved, mistakes are bound to happen at times. Even though, and this is fact, meeting planners are closer to super heroes than human. Let’s look at some common mistakes, place them in that ultra-awareness of yours, and see if we cannot avoid them.

  1. Meeting Objective – what is it? If you are not sure what the objective of the meeting is, then it is a  bit difficult to plan.  Know the reason for the meeting, the goal of the meeting, and the why of the meeting inside and out. Some companies are not aware that their meeting planner should be involved every step of the way; from conception through to post-meeting follow ups and analytics.
  2. Checking References – there is too much at stake! One of the most difficult meeting planning truths is the fact that we must rely on too many others to make everything work. Oh, if we could just do it all on our own, then we would not need worry! Unfortunately, we do have to rely on staff members (our own and the property’s), entertainment, outside vendors and more. Have those involved provide references and check them!
  3. Audio Visual Checklist – get one from everyone! Anyone who is doing any type of presentation is going to need some sort of A/V. Make sure that the property’s A/V Department, or whomever you hire, is aware of who needs what, when and where, as well as any equipment changes that may need to take place in between presentations. Some presenters will put your mind at ease and tell you that you need not worry about them as they will use their own laptop, and bring along their own connections; think twice before allowing this. If possible, have them send their presentation to you and put all presentations for any given room on one laptop so you can use the same connection throughout.
  4. Market to Your People Where They Are – know where they hang out. Once you have all your meeting ducks in a row, you need to market it and market it in all the right places. Where is your audience, what trade mags do they read, what web sites do they often view, what social media platforms are they utilizing – meet them often in all the right places and you will fill your meeting attendee quota for sure!
  5. Providing the Right Ambience for Each Event – no bright lights at the after party! Think through each event as if you are an attendee. Does the room set up, the lighting, décor and more fit the “feel” of the event. Make sure it all makes sense, or your audience will have a hard time paying attention and staying engaged.
  6. Property and Contract Mishaps – oh my! Here is where it can all just fall apart right before your eyes.  Your meeting must fit with the property from the get go, the property is more or less a structure with definable boundaries – you cannot change room sizes, location, etc. Make sure the property you choose has exactly what you need. Then there are those wordy contracts! Failure to fully protect your company, your event, and your attendees could easily spell disaster. If you want some peace of mind in this area, I know just who to call! Me! I know properties worldwide, I negotiate on behalf of my clients every day, I have read more contracts than you can shake a stick at (not sure why anyone is shaking anything, especially sticks, at contracts, but you get the idea –lol!). Call me, Jill Stone, at 636-797-3405 and I will assist you in finding the perfect property at a price that makes sense with a contract that will help you to sleep soundly before, during and after your event.


*Thank you to The Blue Skunk Blog for the image.

Business Travel Minus the Hassle

Hear ye, hear ye! Seasoned or newbie business travelers alike! Here are some hints and tips for achieving a trek with less hassle:

Know the charges: Each airline has put forth its own twist on fees for luggage, meals, extra legroom and the like. Check out this page to find out how much you may be adding on to your fare.

Avoid luggage charges: Say goodbye to your trusty huge roller bag and divide that baggage bounty up between two smaller bags. One carry-on that will fit all your essentials and fit under the airline seat, along with a more flexible bag that will fit in the overhead bin.

Revolve your wardrobe around one color: For men, pack one color pants and jacket, then bring along different colored shirts and ties. For women, think mix and match pant, skirt, and jacket/sweater. Bring along easy-to-pack camisole tops in different colors and interesting, if not bold, jewelry to achieve varied looks. If you need to pack exercise gear, get a pair of the new lightweight workout shoes. Exercise in your undies (stay in your room for this one) with this 20 minute routine.

In your carry-on, make sure you have designated areas for your electronics, cords, notebooks, reading materials, pens, etc. This will help you to know exactly where to reach for what you need while in flight. Also, invest in smaller pouches for protecting anything that may get lost at the bottom of your bag:  vitamins, makeup, glasses, etc.

International travelers, check out Countryplug and know ahead of time the type of adapter you will need for wherever your travels take you. Make sure to have exactly what you need to recharge your electronics! Not taking this important step ahead of time is sure to create many a headache for you.

Security lines have become the bane of travel! Before you step up to the closest line, check out the other lines. Look for lines filled with mainly business travelers and less with families. Steer clear of anyone with strangely shaped baggage (think musicians, snowboarders, golfers).

Stay aware! Being aware of your surroundings is a must. When traveling you may not be as aware, you are focused on just getting there. But being aware of where you are at any given point during your travels can make a world of difference when it comes to leaving things behind or being a victim of crime. Make it a point to check in with yourself here and there.

Seasoned business travelers do not party hardy, sleep little, and stray so far from their routine that they return exhausted. Stick to a schedule, eat and drink healthy, sleep, keep up on your emails, stay connected, come back just as sane as you left.

Have safe travels. Be sure to share with me your savvy travel advice on my Facebook page!

QR-azy

I have talked about QR Codes in the past and I dare say that at this point QR codes are more popular than ever! The potential for their application is ever more diversified, offering a greater range of possibilities. A recent feature from M&C highlighted that the team at VisitPittsburgh wear custom lapel pins which link to their CVB web site. 1-800-Bakery.com will print your QR Code on cookies; a great item to giveaway at your next tradeshow or meeting!

QR codes are relatively easy to create, there are phone apps available, as well as plenty of web sites where you can create to your heart’s delight; one of my favorite sites is UnitagLive. You can point your codes to a web site, social media page, video, present a message, provide your contact information and more. These are static options, but even more exciting is the prospect of a well designed dynamic QR Code.

Mich Hancock, owner of 100th Monkey Media, a social media management company, explains, “Dynamic QR Codes utilize one code, but there is a backend element that allows for you to change what the QR Code does and how it performs. You can have it ask for a like for your Facebook page and once the person likes your page they are presented with a coupon. A few weeks later you may want to use it to grow your Twitter followers or take people to a video you’ve created.”  She went on to share that, “These QR Codes could save you a bundle on printing! One QR Code can be printed on a brochure, but behave differently according to where you are located, it may provide one particular deal to a location in Missouri, but a different deal at a location in California. This way you do not have to print a different QR Code for each area where the brochure will be mailed or presented. As well, it can be used as a way to update people; one code can be updated with new information and in turn keep your people updated.”

Think about how this could be used for an event! You could send one invitation with one QR Code and share with the recipient that the code will be updated each Friday with new information and reminders about your event. Rather than print up a schedule, the same QR Code could then be used to update attendees of that day’s events.  These QR Codes can be branded with your logo, event name, color scheme, etc. It truly could set your event apart from all the rest! As well, this sort of code would include analytics so you can determine the success of your code.

If you are interested in having a QR Code of any kind designed, be sure to contact Mich via email or call her at 314-303-3782. In the meantime, email or call me at 636-797-3405 to talk about your next event!

Take It With You Tech

Did you know that the technology in your smart phone used to fit in a computer the size of a warehouse? Eventually they were about the size of a foot long sandwich? Now they are nice and compact and can be carried easily in pockets and purses.

 
Check out these technologies that are small enough to fit in your carry-on bag, but do not compromise in functionality:

 
Brookstone’s Virtual Key Board allows your typing to tag along in a container the size of a key chain. Utilizing Bluetooth®, laser technology and a USB cord for easy recharging, this is the perfect way to take notes, write blogs or update files on your tablet or smartphone.

Wifi/USB Cufflinks, also by Brookstone, provides for the dual need of wifi on the go and a 2GB USB Flash Drive for storing documents. All of this is well and good, but a price cannot be placed on the cool secret agent factor!

HDMI Pocket Projector is another Brookstone offering (Brookstone may need to pay me a commission). This is an awesome way to take your presentations on the go! Weighing in at only ½ pound, a single charge is good for 2 hours, and the device will connect to your iPhone, tablet, laptop, camera and more!

MyKey Flashdrive is another data storage option, especially if the $250 cufflink option above is a bit more than you wish to spend (and you are good on the wifi front). It’s small, compact, fits on a key chain, holds 4GB of data and there is no cap to keep track of.

Mini Surge Protector with USB Charger will alleviate the need to search your hotel room for numerous places to plug in. The charger includes three AC and 2 USB outlets, plus peace of mind surge protection.

ComboSaver® Combination Portable Notebook Lock will keep your notebook safe from theft. Priced at less than $25 this is practically a must have item!

Which gadgets do you carry along with you when you travel? Share with me on Facebook!

*Thank you to Brookstone for the image!

Must Have Technologies for Meeting Planners (and the next must have step to take)

There are many technologies that will make your meeting planning life so much easier. If you are not up on these technologies, then here is a soft nudge to get you moving in the right direction.  Don’t get left behind!

Smartphones: If you are not packing a smartphone in your tote, then what are you waiting for?  Smartphones have moved into the must-have arena. If you are still running around looking for house phones in the meeting room and waiting for the concierge to give you the name of the closest florist – yikes! A smartphone can turn the things you need right now into a close at hand reality. The next step: Get your hotel contact and meeting team to download the Voxer app to their phones. Now you can do quick messaging back and forth, while running around creating meeting magic!

Virtual Events: Okay, sure, lots of reports on budgets are coming back on line so meetings can happen. But the recession gave us some great lessons in streamlining. Webinars and on-line events can be a fantastic time and money saver for all involved. Get your feet wet in the virtual world today and put on your own online show. The next step: check out Join.me, it’s free (pro accounts with additional features are available), you can invite up to 250 people, they can even attend via their tablet or smartphone with the mobile app!

Social Media: Of the too-many-to-list here talents that a meeting planner must have, ranking close to the top are amazing communications skills and the ability to connect people with people, products, concepts and more. Social Media could not be a better fit! It’s easy to communicate your message in short, interesting, relevant bites and nothing connects further or wider than social media! The next step: create a Facebook Group and a Twitter Hashtag for your next Event!

Ipad or Tablet: There was a time where the meeting planner was pretty easy to spot; just look for the person carting a wheel barrel’s worth of paper around with them. Now those reams of paper can be digitally translated into a tablet. The next step: Get awesome apps to streamline everything. Here is a great place to start.

Cloud Service: Having an Ipad or Tablet naturally leads us to “the cloud,” as we cannot store our documents and such on a tablet, but we can store it and access it from a cloud storage service. Top picks are Dropbox, Apple’s iCloud, and Google Apps. The next step: Becoming comfortable with using your tablet like you would a laptop, and for this you will need a slick keyboard like the iType from ION.

I am extending my Happy New Year Contest! Make sure to comment for an entry. How many of these technologies do you regularly use? Which do you like or not like? If I am missing something vital, then please tell us. Let’s hear from you!

The Meeting Planner Technology Report

I have written about the important technologies available to today’s meeting planner. It is astounding the amount of information that can be found right at our fingertips. Here is a nice checklist for you on what you need to be aware of, working on and considering.

  •  Social Media. Are you on it and active? If not, why not? This is how business is done at this time. The younger you are the more likely you are to communicate via social media platforms and texting than by the traditional voice phone call. If you or your company is behind, then by all means get going! Need help? Make your mark on social media by hiring a professional. My favorite is 100th Monkey Media!
  • Web sites are great, but if they are not being updated, then they may not ever be found. This can easily be remedied by adding a blog to your website, and making sure to update that blog at least once week.  Also, utilize your social media to continually point people to your website. Watch out for this new trend – websites being built into Facebook Fan Pages (you heard it here first).
  • Speaking of web sites, do you have a mobile web site? If not, you probably should. Talk to your web site developer about adding in the line of code necessary in order to make your site mobile-phone friendly. This is how most people now access the web! Meet them where they are. For more info, click here.
  • QR Codes are everywhere and can be used in so many interesting ways. Use them on all print materials to enhance the information, a QR code outside a meeting room can contain the schedule and information about the speakers, a QR Code on your business card or tradeshow booth can contain your contact information.  You can make them in your sleep! Apps are available for your smart phones or try an online generator like Kaywa.
  • Make your life easier with technology (of course your most helpful value add site selection manager can also make your life quite a bit easier, like um, me for example [Symbol]). Check out these sites for amazing tools:
  • Floorplan Genie is free and makes planning and managing your tradeshow space a breeze.
  • Mobile Apps for Meetings has attracted a number of options. For a full list go here.
  • For those that cannot make it to your event but still wish to “attend,” offer them a way to check out the talks and workshops at Livestream.
  • Don’t forget Twitter! Check out my earlier blog to see how to use Twitter to enhance your event.
  • While at your conference, make sure to record some testimonials and upload them to a YouTube channel.  It is very easy to create your own channel, just check out Ehow to learn how.

And BTW, if you are not providing free wifi to your attendees, they will be less than pleased. As well, make sure it is easy to access. This is good business.

What new and interesting technological nuggets have you uncovered as of late? Please share it with us!