3 NFC Trends on the Event Industry Horizon

Near Field Communication (NFC) is a form of wireless communication that allows the flow of information between two devices. Wearable NFC devices are beginning to proliferate and have significant impact on the hospitality industry as attendees demand a streamlined response to their registration, payment and engagement needs.

In 2013, over 300 million NFC-enabled phones were shipped – note the date there. That means that right now, you may be the unwitting owner of a mobile device that is equipped to facilitate NFC applications. It’s like a little sleeping giant is cradled in your hand. Once the iPhone 6 goes on sale in January of 2015, that number will explode.

This shows that companies are positioning themselves for a massive industry shift – and the meetings and event planning industry need to be ready for adoption of these technologies. Here are three trends to watch out for:

Transportation

Uber led the proverbial pack in mobile payment solutions for transportation by allowing users to connect their credit cards to the Uber app. Queue hysteria from the taxi industry followed by a too-late, inelegant scramble to implement credit card systems within individual cars. A good attempt, but let’s call a spade a spade: swiping a card is not nearly as attractive as having an automated receipt in an inbox 5 seconds upon arrival at a destination.

Now let’s pivot to public transit. The efficient and impatient side of me is always shocked when I arrive in a city and there are no mobile payment options for public transit. Take Washington, D.C., which forces you to pre-load $10 onto a plastic fare card or pay an extra dollar for a smaller amount on a paper (read: wasteful) fare card. NFC technology will allow your event attendee to swipe their phone over a reader.

So how do these two transportation options apply to the events industry? Consider the opportunity for partnership or cross promotion with Uber or a city with discounted pricing for transportation integrated into your event’s app. You bring economic dollars into the local economy by hosting an event.

Once NFC technology is capable of integrating with multiple parties, this could be a very real reality that enhances your attendee’s experience while generating additional monetary stimulus for both your event and your transportation partners.

Attendee Tracking

One major element that will gauge the speed NFC’s adoption will be the planner’s ability to understand the customer journey that will occur with the introduction of NFC technology. The goal of introducing these technologies is to enhance the customer experience. One such experience is the ever-awkward name badge.

Name badges exist for two reasons: reading one another’s names, and scanning a bar code for attendee tracking purposes. Name recognition is fine, but the bar code is not.

The problem with scanning someone’s badge is that it’s one of the most obtrusive, awkward things you can do to a stranger. “Oh, hello! Thanks for arriving at our breakout. If you don’t mind, let me just bend over and awkwardly point a laser beam at your sternum/belly button! Great, all set, enjoy the program!”

I mean, come on.

The future of name badges will be a combination of a wearable NFC device and a data collecting fortress. Take Disney’s MagicBands for example. These wearables allow park visitors to personalize their experience at Disney properties by using these NFC-enabled wristbands. Disney monitor’s this data to identify where crowd flow is heading and to predict guest’s actions based on history.

Imagine what you could do with that type of data. How about opening up another escalator when you see 90% of your event attendees are heading to one location and a back up is imminent?

Smarter Breakout Scheduling

Data can help you tell a story – your story, and NFC technology is about to take you into the next chapter. Conferences are always gauging how many seats are left in a room. First, we offset this problem by physically counting seats. Then, we got fancy and purchased clickers. Today, event staff are placed in front of doors with scanners for accurate calculations.

The room capacity recognition of tomorrow will be a nearly inconspicuous device that tracks entrance through a door based on the event app’s GPS beacon, notifying the staff member when the room can no longer accommodate another individual. It’s not intrusive. It will provide real-time data on attendee locations, and it will help planners immediately identify when a session needs to have an encore based on capacity gained over time.

As adoption to this ramps up, how do you think the event industry will react?

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CURRENT WEDDING TRENDS IN AN IMPROVED ECONOMY

As the Immediate Past President of WIPA (Wedding Industry Professionals Association), and a planner with a finger on the pulse of weddings in California, we are definitely seeing an up-tick in wedding spending and changes in where those dollars are spent.

Our Survey Monkey was sent to our entire membership list, as well as questions to our WIPA LinkedIn group.  Here are the results of our questions, many of which will probably not surprise you.

Spending More on Décor, Food or Music?:  almost 50-50 on décor and food; not so much on music

Are guest counts larger or smaller : 50-50 on yes or no

Spending More on Luxury Items: 70% responded yes

Paying for more of the wedding themselves: 90% said yes

Having multiple day events: 55% said yes

Importance of a large guest count: 73% said fewer guests, with more dollars to spend per guest

Changes in discretionary spending: 80% said yes, definitely spending more!

Invitations: 60% said their couples are still using traditional invitation sources; the others are

using online design formats or electronic.

Music: 53% told us their couples are opting for a DJ over a band; interestingly 40% told us their couples are using both

Take Aways or Party Favors: 63% said yes to party favors

Specialty Linens: a whopping 90% of our respondents said their clients are using specialty Linens

Specialty Chairs: almost the same … 83% said yes

Table Top Upgrades: again, 86% said their clients are doing this

Destination Travel: 73% of the clients are doing this in some way

Across the board we are seeing more attention to specialty décor and specialty food.  The trend toward special linens and chairs is a good example. Chairs truly fell by the wayside during the economic downturn.  Now they’re back.  We are seeing more destination weddings, more entertainment options like the ever popular photo booth, and a much greater desire for a unique venue.

Along with that, lighting is “in”, as well as anything vintage.  Happily, for most of us, the mason jars and burlap are fading away.  Family traditions are being observed, and at the same time, non-traditional elements (like colored wedding gowns, or fascinators instead of veils) are coming to the fore.

The personal touches are most important to these couples, and the emphasis is on making the wedding “their own” … it’s not “Your mother’s Wedding”!

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Mary Worth: A Cultural Catalyst

Mary Worth: A Cultural Catalyst
Here in the Midwestern non-profit world of the 21st century I often see “mediocrity” showing it’s pale, bland, uninspired little head at events time and time again. Many non-profit events seem to reach across the parking lot for inspiration instead for the stars. Could it simply be due to creative exhaustion? Maybe their design engines are running on empty? Non-profits are notoriously understaffed and the few fulltime staffers they do have typically wear many, many hats and are pulled in countless directions. At some of the organizations where I have worked it was always seemed like we were herding cats while simultaneously conducting an orchestra in the midst of frantically moving events forward. But in my own experience, we were still able to create some truly memorable events with a miniscule budget and just a few volunteers.

Maybe it is the path of least resistance.
Just get the job done so you can go home, it worked last year so let’s just do the same thing again.
It can’t have anything to do with the creative process or can it? Nowadays we are bombarded with glorious non-stop inspiration from every media source in existence. Lest we resort to falling back on our own imaginations, brilliant ideas can be garnered from countless television shows, endless websites, magazines, newspapers, as well as a plethora of social media sites and forums that provide not only the specific details but interactive feedback to any question imaginable along with the resources and step-by step instructions.

What could it be?
I think it is simply that their corporate culture doesn’t allow them to “dream!” In the midst of all their planning, fundraising, mission following, scheming and do-gooding – they no longer dream of the possibilities. Non-profits frequently get mired in the minutia of checking items off a list and chanting the non-profit mantra’s: it will cost too much, so why bother; this is all we have time for; we don’t have enough people to help; who is going to do it because it isn’t going to be me; and so on. From time to time someone may come across a new idea in a magazine or in a Pinterest post but their corporate culture shoots it down so fast people just stop trying.

Change the culture you change the process!
These poor souls have neglected the daily opportunities to dance, laugh, smile, and sing as needed. Dreaming is not about the cost or the resources, it is about the possibilities. Dreaming is what can happen when you let go of all restrictions and travel back to your childhood when everything seemed possible. Dream for no other reason than to dream of something totally amazing! It is FREE to imagine and create and celebrate and make the unseen and the unexpected a possibility.

How we changed the “Culture” at our non-profit organization.
I was fortunate to work for a short time at a non-profit where the staff embraced an environment of interaction, playfulness, spontaneity, joy and humor and that culture was infused throughout the workplace. We were able to create some really memorable events with a miniscule budget and just a few volunteers. Being a tiny organization it was always all-hands-on-deck for every event. And while the staff was always a part of the actual event they had little to do with the creative process. This all changed one day at lunch when someone asked have you read the Mary Worth comic strip today? Before long it had become not only a daily occurrence but evolved us all acting aloud the cadre of fictional characters. The strip became our daily affirmation that united us all. This lengthy bout of blatant silliness led to other infectious antics like haiku poetry and the noteworthy “All Things Cheese” potluck. We soon discovered the book “The Fish Philosophy” which spoke to us as we followed its four key points; Play, Be There, Choose Your Attitude, Make Their Day. We “played” more and embraced these ideas and eventually all the volunteers became infected with this cultural contagion. By engaging the volunteer brigade in the process excitement flourished and positivity reigned. Creativity ran rampant throughout the organization and dreaming of the possibilities ensued. Now that everyone had become part of the process, our events and initiatives benefited, donations increased and it was like a dream come true. People began to dream again and those little acts of silly behavior became the catalyst for our organizations new corporate culture. All those negatives and realities seemed much easier to solve now. We found that dreaming is a lot like exercise, finding the time for it may be challenging but it is an essential component for the health of any event. Change the culture at your non-profit and revel in that “dream moment” when the anticipation of something great is possible. Also have fun with Mary Worth, dream big, reach for the stars and make someone’s day!

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Tips on how to start planning your Destination Wedding

Maui Wedding Sheraton

Destination weddings are popular anytime of year, but particularly when the weather starts to change from summer into fall and winter.   Here are the some top tips to think about when planning your Destination wedding

First is budget, like all weddings, this determines all.  Talk to your fiancé and whoever will be financing the wedding to get the total budget.

Start planning at least six months out – just like any wedding you do need to start researching the following, yes you can do this quicker, but I always suggest planning a great event with family and friends attending takes at least this much time.

Where and Feel

Where?  Will it be another country Mexico, Caribbean, Hawaii, or Europe?  Or will you choose a different state from where you live, or possibly even within your own state?  A destination wedding is considered a destination if it is more than 50 miles away from your residence.

Then the feel of the wedding, are you active, do you want something more secluded or in the lap of luxury, there are lots of options in each of these categories.

Marriage Requirements

Once you have figured out where you and your fiancé are getting married, then you need to research marriage laws.  Some countries, it is easier to get married in the US before going oversees.  If it is in another state what are the rules, is there a waiting period or can you pickup your marriage license and get married that day.  Spend time on this, you don’t want to go and find out that you need a longer waiting period or blood work done before getting a marriage license.

Hotel vs Event Space

Hotel vs Event space the question that can be determined on the feel of the wedding.  Hotels are the first places most couples look when planning a destination wedding. Many hotels offer packages that include all that you need for a wedding, and your reception can be held in the hotel restaurant or ballroom. Since everything is on property, hotels are a great option if you are seeking ease of use.

Event venues are great places to consider as well. Most offer a private area to get ready, and you can bring your own wedding professionals. Check with the venue to see if you or your caterer will need to rent tables, chairs, and linens. Most venues offer packages so you can use their preferred vendors to make your wedding special.

Other items to review with your fiancé is who is invited to the wedding, close friends and family or just family.

Finally have fun while planning your destination wedding and once you get to where you are going delegate to either a planner or close friend who is not in the wedding party to help you.  This is the time for you to enjoy your wedding!

About Taylor’d Events:

Founded in 2005, Taylor’d Events is a nationally recognized, award-winning event planning company based in Woodinville, Washington, that specializes in destination weddings on the island of Maui. A team of approachable, experienced, savvy and relationship-driven planners, Taylor’d Events stays on top of the latest trends as well as the best of wedding traditions, to provide an array of services creating distinctive and meaningful events tailored to each client. Whether it’s a Pacific Northwest wedding or on the island of Maui, Taylor’d Events creates weddings that reflect the character of each couple.

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Powerful Partners: How to Choose the Right Temporary Power Provider for Your Event


Planning for large-scale events involves a host of moving parts and collaboration with numerous vendors and equipment providers. Among these considerations, planning for power ranks fairly high on the priority list and should be part of the conversation early on. Given that most people are not power experts, with so many options for temporary power on the market, how do you know which provider is right for your event? What should you look for when evaluating your vendor options? Here we discuss a few considerations that event planners should have on their list with regard to temporary power evaluation.

Equipment
Whether your event needs 50kW or 50MW, having a power solution that’s engineered for your event’s unique specifications provides solid benefits, such as identifying your needs early on and avoiding unnecessary expenditures. A good temporary power provider will provide experienced project management to analyze your true needs and design a power system that is scalable to allow your event to grow as necessary. Power providers with experience in project management also ensure that you avoid unexpected or unplanned costs as well as enact safe best practices to protect both your workers and your client’s guests. Your power vendor should also be familiar with the local electrical codes and standards for providing temporary power for indoor, outdoor and heavily or sparsely populated areas.

Experience
A power outage can be detrimental to the success of an event. Power providers with a solid history of providing reliable power to critical events are more likely to produce a smooth and reliable installation. Beware of companies without a verifiable track record. Ask for examples of their past events and previous installations that are comparable to your event’s needs. For instance, just because a company provided power for a large music festival does not mean that they are experts in powering private parties. Events vary in size, geography and power demands. Therefore, experience in managing power for a wide variety of events is the safest bet to a smooth execution.

Reliability
Do they have a remote monitoring system in place to oversee fuel levels, ensure all equipment is running efficiently, and diagnose problems before they occur? Having a power provider who is equipped with a real-time remote monitoring system could make the difference between preventing an unexpected outage or incurring losses and putting your attendees’ safety at risk. Will their own team of technicians be available on-site during the event to perform maintenance or handle potential issues? Good power providers will have the in-house expertise to support your event from start to finish, ensuring flawless execution of your event’s power demands.

Safety Culture
When selecting a power provider, be sure to choose one with a strong Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) program in place, which is essential to protecting the well-being of all participants involved. Dealing with electricity in any capacity requires a very strict adherence to safety standards such as wearing protective gear, knowledge of various cables and their placement, awareness of nearby hazards, and having current safety performance statistics in good standing. Are they certified in ISO and OSHA standards? Companies who exhibit a commitment to safety through best practices and procedures further confirms their ability to effectively manage and mitigate risk.

The Environment
When planning events in heavily populated areas, consider the type of equipment that limits emissions and noise pollution for your attendees. Has the protection of the event site been considered during the pre-planning process to ensure minimal environmental impact? Has their equipment been built with acoustic enclosures and isolation systems to maximize quiet operations? Do their generator engines meet the current emission standards for the area in which your event will take place? Are their generators fuel efficient?

In summary, asking the right questions and carefully evaluating power providers when planning a large-scale event requiring supplemental energy doesn’t have to be a headache. Look for a temporary power vendor that can answer the hard questions about their equipment, reliability, experience and safety culture that will ensure your event achieves success in the safest, most cost-efficient and reliable manner possible.

Gary Meador is head of national event services for Aggreko North America. His technical expertise includes the provision of large temperature control and power distribution systems for major sporting events such as the 2014 PGA Golf Championship, 2013 U.S. presidential inauguration and 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.

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