7 more great iPhone/iPad apps for event planners

App_StoreThree years have flown by since, excited by my immediate purchase of the original iPad, I shared 13 great iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch apps for event planners. I am still a big fan of five of these apps (Simplenote, DropBox, Square, Evernote, and GoodReader) while the remainder have been discontinued (WifiTrak and, sadly, TweetDeck), or superseded in my affections (Adobe Ideas, Beat the Traffic, Box.net, Instapaper, iTalk, and WeatherBug) by other apps.

My original iPad is now in my wife’s hands, and my Tumi Alpha man purse (je t’adore, read the reviews!) contains these days an AT&T iPad 3 (fits in the Tumi perfectly), a Verizon iPhone 5s, and a second generation iPod touch holding music and podcasts which, with the addition of an $8 SODIAL FM radio transmitter, I use solely to pump audio into my car radio as I drive.

It’s time for an app update. Here are seven more apps that I actively use and enthusiastically recommend to event planners:

BirdbrainBirdbrain ($2.99)
If you are active on Twitter (and I’d argue that most event planners should be) Birdbrain is a fantastic way to manage your Twitter network. The app provides an excellent overview and management of your followers and those you follow. Birdbrain handles multiple accounts, makes it easy to investigate anyone on Twitter, allows you to track unfollows as they occur, list people you’re following who don’t follow you, display mentions and retweets, and provides informative statistics showing changes in your Twitter stats over time. The only feature I’d like to see added is the ability to show inactive accounts you’re following. Recommended!

WazeWaze (free)
Waze is my favorite traffic and navigation app of the many that I’ve tried. Unlike traditional GPS units with traffic updates that I’ve often found to be woefully out of date, Waze uses information from its own users to detect traffic snarls and reroutes you on the fly when necessary to avoid that accident that happened up ahead five minutes ago or the rush hour traffic jam building up on the interstate you normally drive on to get home. Purchased recently by Google, my only concern is that the company will start using my location in nefarious ways. If I start seeing annoying ads promoting the tattoo parlor I’m passing by I’ll reconsider. Until then, this is an amazing app that has saved me hours of driving and frustration, and shown me countless new neighborhoods as I bypass traffic where other drivers sit fuming.

flywheelFlywheel (free app, $1 per trip surcharge)
Flywheel is my latest app love, recommended to me by my fashionable younger daughter when I was visiting her in San Francisco last month. Unlike Lyft, SideCar and Uber, Flywheel uses legal licensed taxi services to get you where you want to go. Currently, the app allows you to effortlessly hail cabs in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Daytona Beach, Miami, Naples, Atlanta, Louisville, Lexington, Lansing, Cleveland, Oklahoma City, Dallas, San Antonio, and Seattle (and they say more cities are on the way). Once you’ve set up an account tied to a credit card (this takes just a few minutes), hailing a cab requires just two taps on your phone. You can then view a constantly updating display of the time before the cab arrives (never more than a few minutes in my experience), watch the cab approach on a map, and talk directly to the driver if necessary. You have a couple of minutes to change your mind; if you cancel after that you’re charged a $6 fee. The service costs $1 per trip, and your desired tipping percentage is built into the app. You never need to give cash or a credit card to the driver.

All this beats stepping out into the street in the rain and waving frantically at a cab that blithely drives past you!

foursquareFoursquare (free)
Foursquare started as a game (be the mayor of places, win badges, and have more points than your friends) and a way to see where your friends are and what they’re doing. I live mostly in a rural area and, while I have occasionally discovered and met up with friends I didn’t know were near me, my main use of this service is to store a searchable history of where I’ve been. When did I drop off that luggage to be repaired? What was the name of that great place I ate dinner with Susie in Atlanta? When exactly was I in Anguilla in 2009? Foursquare’s history of my check-ins is often useful in unexpected ways. And, yes, I admit it, it’s fun to triumphantly win back the mayorship of my favorite local restaurant once in a while…

gateguruGateGuru (free)
GateGuru is an airport information app that was purchased by TripAdvisor in June 2013. While it attempts to replicate some of Tripit‘s functionality, I use it to scope out the places to eat (aka amenities) at airports. The traveler’s reviews, while sometimes spotty, usually allow you to pick out the best place to satisfy your current gustatory desires, and I’ve occasionally found a real gem tucked away on Concourse C that I’d otherwise have missed.

googlevoiceGoogle Voice (free app, most but not all services are free)
Google Voice has been around for years and has a bazillion options, many of which I don’t really understand. But that’s OK, because I find it very useful for two things: a) transferring calls made to my cell to my office phone when I’m at home where my cell phone doesn’t work (ah, the joys of living in rural Vermont) and b) texting. Now let’s be clear: I hate texting and refuse to pay the inflated rates that carriers charge for it on my cell phone, but sometimes it’s the only way to communicate with some people (especially my two younger kids). Google Voice to the rescue! I can text for free from my free Google Voice number, which works with strangers as long as I let them know in the message that it’s me, Adrian Segar, texting them.

Incidentally, though I haven’t yet used this feature, calls made using Google Voice from outside the U.S. to U.S. numbers cost just 1¢/minute; a pretty good rate!

opentableOpenTable (free)
OpenTable allows you to make free reservations at ~30,000 restaurants in the United States, Canada, Germany, Japan, Mexico, and the UK. No more phone calls to a restaurant only to get an answering machine, having to leave a message, and wondering whether you’ll get the reservation you wanted or not. The app works quickly and many reservations give you OpenTable points which can eventually be redeemed for a discount off your meal.

Well, these are some of my favorite apps that make it a little easier to travel, communicate, and eat while I’m on the road. What apps have I missed that are especially useful to event planners that you think should be added to this list? Let us know in the comments below!

14 things I learned at EventCamp 2010

(Part two of my reflections on EventCamp 2010, held February 6th in New York City. Part One here.)

Adrian at EventCamp 2010
Image kindly provided by Sofia Negron Photography

As at every good conference, it was the people who made EventCamp 2010 most memorable. I can confirm that #eventprofs are just as cool face-to-face as online! To be warmly accepted in New York City by members of a virtual community that I joined just ten weeks ago, and to enjoy curiosity and interest about my book and Conferences That Work from members of the professional events industry for many years was a great experience for me.

I made and strengthened many relationships at EC10, and I learned some interesting things. Hopefully some will be new to you as well. Here’s a summary:

  • Paul Salinger: 1) Oracle runs thousands of events every year. Oracle’s European face-to-face meeting attendance was falling. Making them hybrid events (f2f events with a simultaneous remote audience) has turned this around. 2) But Paul is not a fan of the current generation of commercial virtual event platforms.
  • Twitter is being used successfully to drive retail sales to physical venues (e.g. “first 100 people to whisper “puppy” at our New York store get a free cupcake”).
  • In a similar vein, Jeff Hurt kindly explained to me how FourSquare is being used to cross-market between businesses that are close to each other (“check in at this hotel and get a free drink at the neighborhood bar tonight”).
  • How to price attendance at virtual events compared to the price for traditional attendees? No agreement at EC10 – one person had successfully charged the same (~200 people, half present half remote) which surprised most people. Someone suggested trying a contribution model.
  • Robert Swanwick recommended posting video clips of conference presenters online before the event starts, giving participants an advance look so they can better choose the sessions they attend.
  • Tools for event streaming: Robert mentioned Procaster for stream editing and his product twebevent [Jan 2013 update: alas, twebevent is no more] which is available in a free version.
  • Jeff Hurt gave everyone a Post-It note and asked us to “write what you want to learn in this session”. He had the notes read out, while simultaneously grouping them into similar themes. Then Jeff  facilitated a session discussion and exploration of these themes, while skillfully weaving in his own comments and thoughts. This was a simple and effective technique for letting groups effectively explore the issues they want to explore.
  • Have an “MC of remote audience” who monitors the back-channel (usually a hashtagged Twitter feed) for audience questions and comments and communicates them to the local audience.
  • Find out who your brand champions are (specific customers who are enthusiastic evangelists for your products/services), stay in close touch with them, and be real nice to them!
  • Google “social media releases” to find out about how to write them – they’re not the same as traditional press releases. You can build social media releases on pitchengine or prweb.
  • What’s the most common technical problem for hybrid events? Not enough Internet bandwidth! Mary Ann Pierce told us that for several thousand people, she supplied dedicated 100MB service!
  • Here’s a great idea of Jeff Hurt’s to help to keep a balance between the needs of face-to-face and remote audiences during a session. Periodically, have the f2f audience hold five-minute discussions in small groups, while the speaker interacts directly with the remote audience!
  • Remember that the typical attention span of an attendee at a session is about ten minutes. Consider switching your mode of interaction frequently to hold attendee interest.
  • Don’t just stream events. Record the stream and make it available on demand. A lot more people will watch it that way.

That’s my list. If you were at EC10, feel free to add yours!