by Keith Johnston, managing partner. i3 Events | June 26, 2019

First launched with the original Google Pixel in 2016, Google Assistant is one of those applications every meeting planner should learn to use. In all respects, this artificial intelligence-powered virtual assistant truly makes life easier. There is nothing better than being in the car and saying, "OK Google, get me directions to the Anaheim Convention Center," and getting a reply that is actually useful.

Using a smart assistant might better help you -- the meeting planner with an endless amount of to-do's -- recall important agenda items, quickly connect with an overseas client, find out when the keynote speaker's plane is landing and get the skinny about rain on your literal parade. Oh, and before you Siri people get all snippy at me, Siri is good too. Just not Google good. And Samsung has Bixby. It's OK, but again, not Google good. Amazon Alexa is really good but that is a topic for another post.

Google can handle most anything we meeting professionals can throw at it. Following are some my team's favorite Google Assistant Actions and some that we are waiting anxiously for. All can be used to the meeting planner's advantage, both pre- and mid-conference. Remember, everything starts with "OK Google..." or "Hey Google..."

10 Ways to Use Google Assistant

1. Create Reminders

Just say, "OK Google, remind me to hop on a conference call with the A/V supplier at 4:15 p.m." or "Hey Google, remind me to check on the room drop at 8:00 p.m.," and boom, your Google transforms into a running agenda that will give you a reminder nudge before the event takes place. 

2. Get Conversions

Say you just landed in Europe and it is 10 kilometers from where you are to the hotel. Being an American, you might have no idea how to convert that information into our standardized "traditional system." Simply say, "Hey Google, How many miles is 10 kilometers?" and you can go on remaining in blissful ignorance of how the rest of the world measures anything.

Of course, this is but one playful example. Google can also help you measure meeting rooms, prefunction space and, well, virtually anything.

3. Build a Shopping List

Events and conferences have needs and inventories. Google can add anything to your planner's shopping list that you can bring to attention and access as needed.

4. Check Flight Schedules

Have a trade show VIP arriving tomorrow? Have Google check the flight schedule for you. The technology works by sifting through your email (it's OK, don't panic) and getting the flight info. You can say things like, "OK Google, when does Robert Smith's flight come in?" and if you have that info saved in your email or calendar, it will let you know.

5. Learn About Destinations

You can ask Google Assistant about virtually any destination in which you might be planning an event or conference. Sure, you're probably already close to being an expert, and you're most likely BFFs with the local CVB/DMOs, but Google offers another option for quickly pulling up pertinent information on the fly. Things like population, destination elevation, what and where are the best local restaurants, and on and on. Just ask…

6. Get the Latest News and Weather

This one is simply, "OK Google, tell me the news" or "Hey Google, what will the weather be tomorrow?" Knowing such can be quite handy, especially if you have outdoor sessions planned or if you have a rain plan that needs to be solidified. 

7. Translate Languages

This particular feature is coming soon but is somewhat already here. Soon you will be able to say, "OK Google, be my Spanish translator" and it will translate everything that is spoken into its built-in microphone. Since this particular feature has not yet been completely implemented, you can always use Google Translate App which takes just a few more taps.

8. Play Music

Again, this is another no-brainer. Just say, "OK Google, play the Clash" and start jamming.

9. Google Image Search

This one is a little out there, but here it is. Point your camera at something, and Google will identify it, using Google Lens in Google Assistant. Essentially, you could point your camera at a car, and Google could tell you the make and model. This one is super helpful but could definitely benefit from being built out a bit more. 

10. Send Texts and Make Calls

Yes, you can ask Google to call a colleague or text the F&B supplier. It also works quite nicely with Hangouts, WhatsApp and other third-party messaging apps.