Meeting Needs

Andrew Kaplan
Monday, Aug 22, 2011 at 10:00 AM

For anyone who’s attended one, a conference or large meeting can provide unparalleled opportunities for education and networking. For the event’s planners, however, it can often provide a big headache. After all, getting all those people in a big room requires months of planning. Then you are always left with a few very important, nagging questions: “Did we really make the most of our event?” “Were our sponsors satisfied?”

Meeting image

So, wouldn’t it be great to have a technology that could provide just that extra layer of membership interactivity during the event to answer some of those questions? Now, thanks to Microsoft Tags, there is. And who better to show how Tags can be used at a large conference or meeting than Meeting Professionals International (MPI), the meeting and event industry’s largest global community.

Each year MPI hosts its World Education Congress—yes, a conference held for conference planners—that is attended by thousands of meeting planners and suppliers who gather to learn from each other and network. This year’s WEC was held in Orlando in late July and attended by close to 2,500 people. And the event’s planners made use of Tags—a total of 150 of them—in a variety of innovative ways.

One valuable use of Tags was to bring attendees to websites with additional information about WEC’s sponsors. “We were at EPCOT,” explains Kristi Johnson, the conference’s marketing director, “and a lot of those Tags would take you to a Disney partner’s website or that of any other supplier or partner that helped us with that event to provide attendees with any information they wanted to share.”

To entice attendees to scan the Tags, they were informed that each time they scanned they would be entered in a drawing for either an iPad or an Android tablet computer. The landing page would ask them only on the first time to enter their email address for a chance to win. After that, every time they scanned a Tag their smartphone was recognized so they didn’t have to enter the information again.

Tags were also placed in the general session room, at the conference’s opening reception and every other networking event during WEC. They were also on the T-shirts of One+ (MPI’s magazine) staff members. A scan of the Tags would bring attendees to a digital version of the magazine, which staff members could then walk them through. Tags were also placed on the conference’s z-cards to bring them to more detailed online information.

“We actually had a really good response,” notes Michael Russell, director of IT for MPI, who says that 227 people used their smartphones to scan the Tags during WEC a total of 1,331 times. “That means the average person who was going through and scanning a code was scanning 5.8 codes.” And this, Russell emphasizes, from an attendee population with an average dose of computer savvy.

Going forward, MPI plans to continue to use the Tags at its events, with even more functionality. “We really enhanced our backend so going forward we can offer a lot more in-depth opportunities to sponsors,” says Russell. “For example, we can do A/B testing on a Tag: depending on who shows up we can send them to one of two different pages so our marketers could actually do true market testing with a live audience and see in real-time what’s getting the best response to a call to action.”

MPI also expects to integrate the Tag reader into the organization’s own app in the near future giving more of its users easy access to the technology. What other ways could Tag help conference attendees? Let us know with your comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

Recent Comments
  • Theresa Davis

    08/23/2011 , 10:11 AM
    Andrew: Thanks for sharing this story here. As a member of MPI and the organization's PR chick in residence I'd be remiss if I didn't also let your readers know that it took a very enthusiastic team from our publications department to bring this project to life. One+ has had success with Microsoft Tags in our print publication for well over a year now. Bringing this success to our annual international conference was an exciting evolution for all of us involved. @MPITheresa



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