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MTO Summit Chicago: The Wayne’s World For Event Technology

Last Thursday’s MTO Summit had the feel of the Saturday Night Live Skit – Wayne’s World. On one hand, we were in the basement of the Chicago O’Hare Hyatt with a stage that looked like it came from Wayne’s mom’s basement in Aurora. On the other hand, the sessions were highly entertaining – the topics perfect – and the discussions excellent.

If Chris Brogan and Stephen Nold had opened the event by saying “Wayne’s World. Wayne’s World. Party Time. Excellent.” – it would have set a perfect tone for the day. Maybe next time. Here are some of my notes from the event.

Chris Brogan & Stephan Nold @MTOSUMMIT Chicago 2010

Three Parts to Your Social Media Strategy

Social media guru Chris Brogan pointed out that he advises clients to have at least three elements in their social media program: Listening, Connecting and Publishing. Chris advises clients to spend 30-60 minutes on all three elements each day.

I asked some attendees if they were following Chris’ advice – most responded that they are only publishers. How do you stack up?

Community Building the Old Fashioned Way

Mark Ragan of Ragan Communications told the audience how he creates and builds communities around compelling content THEN he creates events. He told us that he did it the old fashioned way – via email. Mark uses Social Media as a brand building tool. Also, he pointed out that you don’t have to create all of the content yourself. You can find great articles, write an interesting summary and share it with your community.

Are you using content to build a strong community all year long?

Mobile Apps Need to Be Open & Integrated

Event organizers that launched iphone apps in 2009 quickly realized that their mobile apps need to be able to work on all phone types. While the iphone is sexy, most corporate attendees are still using the Blackberry. Nokia and Android have sizable installed base, too.

Also, mobile apps need to be integrated with other data and systems that you are using for the event. Most event organizers were exasperated with tech vendors that were not “partnering” with other vendors to create integrated solutions. (Vendors take note!)

Geo-positioning & Wayfinding

While many show organizers cringed at the thought of looking at a venue map on a tiny mobile phone screen, most agreed that “you are here” and “wayfinding” should become part of mobile solutions for events in the future. Wayfinding is the name for giving people directions from point A to point B.

There was a lot of talk about social tools Foursquare and Gowalla and how these type of “checkin” services could be useful for traffic flow, navigating an event experience or encouraging people to visit event sites.

Where Were the Virtual & Hybrid Events?

Virtual & Hybrid events were like Claudia Schiffer on a date with Wayne and Garth – nowhere to be found. Yet, it was clear to most at the event that this technology is something to consider. Mark Ragan even pointed out that he is getting 15% of his event revenue from virtual events. When you are making money with virtual or hybrid events, I think that makes virtual events magically babelicious.

Bottom Line

Just like Wayne’s World, the MTO Summit was entertaining, engaging and full of amazing people and ideas. If I were smart, I would have summarized this entire post in one line: “MTO Summit. MTO Summit. Party Time. Excellent.”

What do you say?

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Thank you Sam, It is always great to get the recap in a clear and concise way. I love that you likened the MTO Summit Chicago to Wayne’s World. Also it sure seems like a big hole if virtual and hybrid events were not discussed.
    – @pinkdeb

    March 28, 2010
    • Hi Deb,

      Thanks for the nice compliments, Deb. I was really impressed with the wide variety of event professionals that participated in the conference. It was a very diverse and interesting group.

      I am sure that Hybrid and Virtual Events will make it on the Agenda next time.

      March 29, 2010
  2. Sam,

    Thanks for the recap. Sounds like a fun and thought provoking conference. Glad to hear that Hybrid Events and Mobile were key themes. We definitely see those two trends as key drivers of change in the industry for years to come.


    March 29, 2010
  3. Ex-squeeze me? Baking powder?

    Sam, it was great to finally meet you! You’re on the money on the Virtual/Hybrid event being MIA at MTO. Good thing was the audience recognized that and added it to the unconference session. Hopefully, the organizers will take note of the ‘elephant in the room” for the future and also live stream a sessioin or two.

    I agree that your open and integrated comments above are definitely important for vendors to develop strategies for. Show organizers want to manage less vendors, not more. They are looking for their primary partners to hook up with other best in class suppliers to deliver an integrated end to end solution. This means that registration, floorplan, AMS and decorator/contractors have a huge opportunity and responsibility to win over the big boys and girls.

    Game on!

    April 2, 2010
    • Hi Dave,

      Thanks for your comment. It was great to meet you in Chicago, too!

      I had a short conversation with two event organizers about the non-technology costs for bringing new technology into events. (Kind of elaborating on one of the session topics) We talked about costs like vendor management, supplying data/information, selling these “new” sponsorships and data integration. While most of these costs – don’t show up on a bill anywhere – they are real costs (and real headaches) to the event organizer. We agreed that many of the inventors of “shiny objects” don’t consider these costs. Or worse yet – have any clue that these costs exist.

      It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few years. A multi-tiered technology supplier structure – similar to the auto-industry – could very well emerge.

      April 4, 2010
  4. Thank you for this nice recap of what I missed at MTO Summit due to the death of my grandpa. Although I am also surprised to hear that not only was there not a virtual component to the conference…but that virtual and hybrid events were not even discussed. In fact on the MTO website, it states that it “Featured technologies that can help you gain and retain attendees and overcome the financial challenges faced by you and your customers.” Isn’t one of the best ways to do that through a virtual compliment to a live event? Talk about a cost-effective way to expand the reach to an additional audience, engage these virtual attendees, and turn them into believers in the power of the conference and attending it in person!

    Hopefully MTO Summit will have a hybrid event at their Novemeber Washington DC summit…

    April 3, 2010
    • Hi Emilie –

      I am sorry about your loss. I hope that you are doing well.

      Thanks for your comment! I think that you are right on about the benefits that hybrid events can bring to events.

      I still find that many people are afraid of hybrid and virtual events. I think about it in the same way that I think about the swiffer. Before I changed from a broom and dust pan to a swiffer – I had to try the Swiffer. After I tried it – I realized how well it worked in the corner and picked up everything at once, etc. I think you can make the same argument for hybrid events. More organizers need to try them as participants to get a clear understanding of how they will work in their events. They need to experience some of these benefits for themselves – first.

      On the other – more data helps too. When guys like Mark Ragan of Ragan Communications stand up and say – I am making 15% more because of hybrid/virtual events – people listen. I am sure that there were some people in that audience that decided to take a closer look at hybrid events because of his comment.

      April 4, 2010

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