Q&A WITH BRENT ROGERS, PSAV DIGITAL EXPERT

Tap Technology for Strategies That Keep Meetings Moving

In today’s 24/7 world, a business meeting or event without technology would be unheard of. To uncover emerging trends in meeting tech, Meetings Imagined taps Brent Rogers, vice president of digital services for PSAV, a full-service technology provider and Marriott International partner. PSAV, with locations at more than 1,200 destination resorts and hotels around the world, provides services that include digital recording, mobile event applications, audience response systems, social media boards and e-posters. 

Q: What are the most common meeting problems that digital services can solve?

Digital signs, steadily growing over the last year and a half, have solved a lot of problems. If you think about almost any meeting, there is the potential for a lot of changes—because of weather issues, cancelled speakers, room changes. A digital sign outside your meeting or specific room can instantly address a lot of those.

But mostly, the goal is to provide the right mix of AV technology to keep the particular audience at a meeting or event engaged and connected. The goal of the meeting should drive that planning. What’s the desired outcome? Technology tools can help drive interactions as well as help gather information and shape decisions. Music and images can set a mood for a party. Lighting can reinforce a theme or brand.

In today’s on-demand world, every meeting planner needs technology and a sensory-rich environment to help set the right stage for a meeting and to provide a hyper-connected experience.

The feeling out there is if you don’t have an app for your event you’re behind the times.

Q: In our mobile-driven world, are planners embracing tablets as the tool to manage their AV services?

We have a decent inventory of iPads, and they are constantly being used at meetings. They give planners the ability to make changes to a database that drives our products, such as a presentation management system.

One particular meeting planner was making 20 to 30 changes a day—room, speakers, times, titles for the sessions. We typically offer to do all the changes for a planner, but in this case, the planner wanted control. We gave the planner an iPad; he opened up a browser and could make changes to all digital signs on the spot.

Q: Are planners expecting all AV services to be integrated and accessible through some type of database and dashboard now—and that there will be a public-facing technology experience as well?

It’s gone from people being pleasantly surprised about how things can be simplified and how these things are all linked, to now it’s expected. That’s the trend.

Plus, the feeling out there is if you don’t have an app for your event, you’re behind the times.

Q: Is there a sense among meeting planners that everyone’s got to have the newest and shiniest features?

It’s a mixed bag; there are some who want the latest and greatest, but others still want a printed program. We see a lot of different situations.

We advise clients about how to let go of the paper program—which costs a lot of money to produce—and move to a mobile app that, while it might have an upfront investment, can be kept current and serve uses beyond a print piece.

Q: What about all the data that is created? Has it affected the expansion of digital services?

The mobile apps have the most data—what speakers were the most popular, which exhibitors were found the most, which ones were tagged as favorites.

These analytics are invaluable, but I don't know that meeting planners have yet fully taken advantage of them as they plan for their next meeting or for addressing next steps for the organizers, sponsors, hosts and participants of an event. I think this will be a growing trend and further change meetings, making them far more dynamic.

Q: What’s one product you’re really excited about?

Mobile apps—we get inquiries multiple times a day. If you look at what is generally supplied—the paper program—the mobile app replaces all that. It’s easier to search, it’s interactive with other attendees, and it’s instantly updatable. Printed programs are out of date as soon as they’re printed.

Q: What’s the future look like?

In my perfect world vision of where this is all going, eventually we’ll have communication standards so that the different vendors supporting a meeting will just connect on the fly at very little cost to the customer. Take the banking industry—every bank in the world can transfer money to another bank because they all communicate using the same standards. That’s the future for meetings too.