Will Passbook Change Event Ticketing?

Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SV and Koenigsegg CCXR

For most of us, storing tickets online means the same thing: forwarding a PDF to our inbox. While it’s always a good idea to bring a paper copy, it feels especially wasteful to print out a ticket, have the PDF in your inbox on your phone, and then be checked off a list at the registration table.

The above process, while slow and hard to adjust on the fly, has been the way most events have done ticketing for decades. While we are looking to change that by incorporating your ticket, the check-in process and badge printing into an easily accessible QR code, this still a matter of where to store tickets for multiple events while not clogging your inbox with PDFs you only need once.

This problem, while not rampant, seems to be why Apple released released Passbook in iOS 6. Designed to hold frequently used award cards (Starbucks), coupons (Valpak) or event tickets (Eventbrite), Passbook does everything you’d think it should be able to do save one: it doesn’t store PDF tickets, requiring that apps integrate on a deeper level.

While Passbook doesn’t currently solve our original problem, there’s no question it will be useful to iOS 6 users, provided the work required for integration doesn’t overwhelm mobile app developers. Handy, right?

In theory, yes. We’ve used Passbook for a few events — though it took some Googling and then asking on Twitter to figure out how to send a ticket from the Eventbrite app to Passbook — and it sure does look pretty. Using it also makes sense if you’re a heavy iOS 6 user, but for the many non-iPhone owners, sticking with their current PDF ticket in their email inbox is a problem most of us don’t find bothersome enough to solve.

And as long as we can scan your QR code, we’re okay with that. For now.

Will the new Surface make event tech simpler?

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Remember the days when only the toughest of business road warriors had smartphones? Coupled with their nine-ish pound, company-issued laptops, those guys and gals were easy to spot. One glance told us that they a) traveled a lot, b) relied heavily on technology to do their job, and c) rang up a lot of money in chiropractic and massage bills.

Even as Apple’s iPhones and iPads crept into popularity — giving everyone a chance to at least look like a well-seasoned business traveler — they never seemed to fit the corporate event attendee type. Far too many people still needed a laptop, tablet and smartphone to be able to get all of their work done in the way they were accustomed to doing it.

Hello, Microsoft Surface. While we’re not foolish enough to assume that the new Surface will do everything faster and better than the tablets already on the market, we do know that Microsoft creating a great tablet is good for anyone that loves to buy and use new tech.

Just a few weeks ago, we worked with Microsoft to launch Visual Studio in Seattle, and had a bevy of tablets at our disposal. Some were used as display screens, others were used as check-in stations, and even more were used as information kiosks. Problem was, we had to mix and match OSes and product models to be able to do everything we wanted the way it worked best for us, and the Surface’s seeming flexibility would make much of this a lot easier.

For instance, keyboards are always an issue at check in. While laptops definitely work, space and battery life are often a concern, so tablets with their small footprint make an ideal station. Provided that you have a full-size Bluetooth keyboard, which often takes up more usable space than any laptop would.

We’ve also seen wireless keyboards run out of batteries, lose connection unexpectedly, and disappear without a trace.

The new Surface seems to alleviate many of those problems, and we can’t wait to try them out. How would you use them?

Is Trust Better Than Control?

perfection, brasilia april 2006

Much of what event planners do is based on precision. Not in the micro sense — unless you’re a choreographer, I suppose — but in the macro: to maximize efficiency and save costs, repeatable tasks requiring precision should be automated or outsourced.

By this we don’t mean outsourcing outside the country, but rather outside your team, department or company. You have to hire others to be where you can’t be, to do what needs to get done.

The below video discusses what managers should do when employees are using public social media sites to talk to customers, talk about your company and sharing their thoughts on your industry. This situation exists in thousands of companies worldwide, but it’s not a new thing.

Event professionals have dealt with this for years and decades. Nearly every event, these event planners train and unleash employees to deal with attendees without any real control over what they’ll say, how they’ll say it or where they’ll say it. While absolute control may be necessary for security and efficiency reasons (high-profile guests or where timing is important), trust works far better in the long term.

According to California Psychics, healthy relationships are built on trust. This trust empowers people to make better decisions, learn from their failures and eventually, earn the trust of their colleagues and bosses.

Seeing as how trust is a far better long-term solution, what are you doing to instill trust in your staff?

Happy 3rd Birthday To Gangplank Anchor Pagely!

Startups are hard. Most startups fail. They take hours of work, more resources than you likely have and a little bit of luck.

Whenever a startup morphs into a full-fledged business, it’s reason to celebrate. When that startup makes it to its third year of existence, an even bigger celebration is deserved.

Fellow Gangplank anchor Pagely, run by Josh and Sally Strebel, have decided to celebrate their third birthday by thanking their customers in the best way they know possible: saving them money. Starting September 1 and continuing for a limited time, all managed WordPress hosting plans are $19/month.

With no contracts and zero cancellation fees, this offer from Pagely is a perfect opportunity to start that blog you’ve always wanted, to delve into the fascinating world of WordPress Multisite or give as a gift to anyone wanting to establish a web presence beyond a free offer.

Without further ado, here’s a cat video.

See you next year!

Who’s Going By Eventbrite

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It happens before every party, event or get together. It’s something people swear doesn’t matter, but event planners know better. It’s also something that can be easily shared with those who want to know. What is it? It’s this simple question:

So…who else is going?

While it’s certainly easy for event planners to be personally offended at the question, we don’t think it’s asked out of disrespect for whomever is in charge. People asked because we’re social animals, and we like to be around people that interest us. We’re certain this question will always be asked, so instead of finding ways to not be offended, why not answer before it’s even a question?

Eventbrite already has. Their “Who’s Going” feature matches attendee information with their Facebook profile, enabling potential and current attendees to discover who else will be there before they even think to ask.

For all you privacy wonks out there, don’t worry, the feature can be turned off, but we bet most people will leave it on. Here’s why:

Skip The Small Talk
A little bit of advance research never hurt anyone, so why not use this feature to find more about other attendees? No more wasting time talking name, job title or position, making it easier for attendees to talk about something meaningful.

Make Early Connections
Those looking to make an early impression would be well served to contact attendees before the event starts. While we don’t recommend businesses mine personal data to invite attendees to marketing events, a quick cup of coffee near the registration table does wonders for relationship building.

Gauge The Crowd
Let’s face it, events aren’t for everyone. The Who’s Going feature makes it easy to discern who’s coming to town for the event, allowing those who may not attend in person a chance to meet those people somewhere else, even virtually.

Events are all about making connections, and we think features like Eventbrite’s Who’s Going will do plenty to facilitate that, which allows event planners to focus on more technical aspects.

Will we see you on the Who’s Going page?

What Event Planners Can Learn From The Gang Of Four

In the following video, Jay Baer interviews Paul Simon, author of The Age Of The Platform. In it they discuss how the Gang Of Four — Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon — have and will continue to change both how business works and how it’s perceived.

Unfortunately, we haven’t had time to read the book yet (it’s on our Kindle!). Instead of a book review, we’re going to speculate as to what the Gang Of Four’s top influences are. After one of us finishes The Age Of The Platform, we’ll come back and post our own video response.

Amazon
From a consumer standpoint, Amazon’s biggest business revelations have been their vast selection and recommendation engine/algorithm. Nary a day goes by that Amazon doesn’t make great suggestions on what else to buy, and there are few things not available via their site.

Supermarkets used to be one-stop shops, but Amazon truly is a no-stop one.

Apple
Apple has time and time again proven that most consumers are willing to pay a little extra for products that look and feel good in their hands. While the quality of Apple’s products rank highly compared to competitors, this isn’t what usually sets them apart. Rounded curves, simple UIs and touch-based interfaces that make human, but not always computer, sense abound from iOS to OS X and back again.

Quick, when’s the last time you considered how a consumer product felt in your hands before buying it? Surely your vacuum, coffeemaker, teapot or even silverware didn’t get that treatment, and we bet those items are used far more than that iPod.

Facebook
People want to be where their friends are. As long as the interface isn’t terrible, the price low and the crowds large, consumers will use and continue to use Facebook. Much has been said about Mark Zuckerberg’s apparent disdain for user privacy, but the mass exodus threatened with every policy change hasn’t happened yet.

Google
Do one thing well, then use that success to do lots of other things almost as well. While not all of Google’s products have been widely adopted, you can’t blame Google for not trying. The runaway success of their flagship search products has allowed them to make a lot of mistakes in search for their next big thing.

What can event planners learn from this?

Make sure your events tie into other aspects of your attendees’ lives.
People care about how they feel when they’re at your event.
No one is going to show up if no one else does.
Do one big thing really well, then worry about everything else.

If all else fails, just be cool. Happy reading!

Blues Brothers Impersonators Chicago Lookalikes (630)279-5088

Long-term impact of large conventions

The idea that events, even those that aren’t repeated, won’t leave a lasting mark on their host city is nothing but a dream. From security considerations for high-profile VIPs, former Olympics venues with nothing to host and even changes to existing infrastructure, cities and towns are seldom the same after large events roll in.

Beijing Olympic Stadium

But should that matter much to event planners? What about other stakeholders, like residents, tourists or land owners? Most will likely say these changes or improvements are a good thing, but after looking at Beijing’s unused Olympic venues and Vancouver’s little-used Olympic Village, it seems that, especially for international-scale events, it’s tough to assimilate so much.

What should go and what should stay?

Security
With many city budgets regularly trimmed down, leftover equipment from big events like political conventions can seem like a godsend, especially for police officers and fire departments.

But these improvements come with a big price tag; who’s going to pay for the training, vehicle modifications or ongoing maintenance required? While most event planners may not have to make these kind of decisions, it’s a great idea to always keep future usage in mind when buying something that won’t be packed up after the event is over.

Personnel
Labor costs eat up of ton of event budgets. From extra police officers (especially high-ranking officers and specialty squads) to civilian volunteers, there’s more to think about than simply payroll. Large amounts of people need to be able to move freely across buildings, meaning transportation needs must also be considered.

Did you know that mega churches often have Disneyland-like trolleys to move people quickly from parking lot to front door? Seems event planners could learn a lot by stopping by every Sunday a few hours before service begins.

Materials
There is always tons of small stuff needed, from pots and pans to printers and monitors. While catering or event companies likely bring their own and leave with it, smaller event planners are often ‘stuck’ with extra equipment they will need again but have no place to store.

Ask any community planner where their storage is — we bet it’s somewhere in their house. This is okay if the planner is cool with putting that next to their Christmas decorations in the corner of their garage, not so cool if we’re talking a roomful of expensive equipment.

We recommend looking toward local churches or community centers for extra storage, or working together to establish some sort of shared storage so as little as possible sits gathering dust.

Aftermath
Keeping good records helps here, too. There’s no reason every thing purchased for the event can’t have a tag (QR code!) of some sort, which can be easily scanned and catalogued.

Just don’t forget that you did it.

What’s the point of branded content?

In this new world of marketing, content is the currency we use to pay for eyeballs. Well, that’s not entirely true. Let’s try this again.

In marketing — especially digital tactics — content is a major part in promoting your company and attracting customers. Content allows business to solve customer problems without engaging in typical “you pay us, we produce something for you” fashion, which, for the most part, facilitates better relationships between potential customers and the business that can solve their problems.

Online Marketing

Ask most marketing professionals and they’ll tell you content marketing is about showing your stuff.

Want to be seen as a thought leader? Write in-depth thoughts about your industry.
Want to showcase case studies? Do the work, then share the story.
Want to celebrate your clients? Interview them and publish their tales.

While many companies are content in sharing their message passively, meaning the content they produce is aimed at their customers but likely wrapped in their company’s logo, many companies have taken more of an advertising route by creating content about their product/service that does nothing more than highlight its features.

Some may call this branded content. Some may think this is a happy medium between helpful content and advertising.

Those some people are wrong.

Mashable recently published an article titled 5 Reasons Your Branded Content Is Failing. In it, they detailed why branded content may not be working, with reasons such as “You Haven’t Developed a Voice” and “You’re not Using Your Content to its Full Potential”. Besides being bad advice, none of those five reasons make any mention of the most important part of content creation and its marketing.

Want a hint? It’s in the comments of the Mashable article linked above. We’ll wait.

Okay, back?

It’s context, and your audience both is and will provide context.

Content marketing is about solving problems, not selling yourself.

Are you creating advertisements or helpful content?

Give Local, Support Local

Whenever we help plan a community event, we like to use as many local vendors as possible. Not only do we get a good feeling from supporting our home economy, local vendors usually know the facility very well, offer competitive value and help us repeal some of the impersonalness of our online worlds.

Just last week, Urban Tea Loft, located one block from our Gangplank Chandler offices, announced their sudden closing following co-owner Eric Legrand’s brain surgery. His wife Glynis, who runs Urban Tea Loft, wants to stay home to help her husband recover.

While we would have loved to plan their going-away party, their abrupt decision did not allow the time. Fortunately, Chandler Vice Mayor Jeff Weninger spearheaded an event designed to help the Legrands out and support our HQ’s community.

From the press release:

Customers of Chandler business Urban Tea Loft were shocked when owner Glynis Legrand announced their abrupt closure two weeks ago. Considering their regular customer base as extended family, Glynis disclosed personal details regarding this decision on Facebook – co-owner and husband Eric Legrand had developed a severe medical condition, requiring brain surgery. This announcement has spurred fans to action.

Chandler Vice Mayor, Jeff Weninger (co-owner of Dilly’s Deli and Floridino’s) and local businessman Tyler Hurst have organized a fundraiser to support the Legrands during their recovery.

“Urban Tea Loft and the Legrands have made a lasting contribution to Chandler. I’m confident this community will help the Legrands through this crisis and I look forward to Urban Tea Loft reopening someday.” -Jeff Weninger

“We’re overwhelmed and touched by the generosity of our customers.”
-Glynis Legrand

If you are already a fan, or want to experience Chandler’s close-knit community, join us in giving back to someone that has always paid it forward.

What: A portion of sales from each restaurant donated to the Legrands
When: All day, Thursday August 2nd
Where: Floridino’s Pizza and Pasta, Dilly’s Deli Chandler, Pittsburgh Willy’s Gourmet Hot Dogs, Coach and Willie’s, Jimmy and Joe’s, Chase’s Diner, The Living Room, Sushi Room, El Zocolo, and BLD .

SanTan Brewery (Wednesday, August 1st only)

Web: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Urban-Tea-Loft or hashtag #urbantealoft

We’re happy to help support one of our own. Best of luck to the Legrands and the future of Urban Tea Loft.

Learning From The Summer Olympics

There is nothing like the Summer Olympics. The World Cup is close, the Winter Olympics are pretty big too, but short of combining American political conventions and all the individual sporting events, we can’t think of a more watched international event that happens with such regularity.

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NBC’s American coverage of this year’s Olympic Games was soundly blasted via social networks; people online were upset about tape delays, spoilers and pretty much everything NBC did to broadcast the games in easily watchable chunks.

Yet the vast majority of viewers didn’t care. Ratings were through the roof as most Americans liked being able to watch a few hours of highly produced segments after work and dinner. What does this mean for future event planners?

Your most vocal detractors may not matter much.

While we don’t recommend ignoring social networks, remember to keep numbers in perspective. If most of your customers/attendees/clients enjoyed your work, focus on them first. They pay the bills, right?

The team over at BusyEvent Blog had some great thoughts on what we can learn from the Olympics. The following is our take on a few points.

Social Can’t Be Ignored
Whether it’s complaints from the viewers, athletes being suspended for racist comments or spoilers hitting the web at all hours, it’s important that event planners ride the wave of social commenting.

While social can’t be controlled, it often doesn’t need to be. Interact, listen and treat people digitally just like you would in person. It works.

Hashtag Everything #notreally
Hashtags have been used to denote sarcasm, meta commentary and to make searching for results concerning a particular event easier, but a little hashtagging goes a long way. If you’re an event planner, ask yourself if each session needs a specific hashtag and if a specific hashtag is needed at all.

Yes, it’s great publicity when hashtags trend and attract viewers not at the event, but how unless they have something to add to the existing conversation, it’s just more noise.

Respect Your Celebs
While your conference may not attract internationally or even nationally famous faces, plenty of seemingly regular people are quite internet famous. Why not help them promote your event more? We’re not saying every event needs a VIP room, but doing something a little extra for influential people should help both sides.

Unless it’s money. If it’s money, be sure to compare that against your event ROI.

See you during the Winter Olympics!