by Tara Thomas | October 31, 2011
In a world where everyone is always on the run, our top five technologies for event planners are no surprise—but what these tools can accomplish might impress you.

1. Smartphones
This is the most obvious technology we can’t live without. Let’s be honest—-most of us are glued to our smartphones and our favorite apps 24 hours a day. We get nervous when we can’t find the phone, and we feel phantom vibration rings. Chances are, if you walk around a convention center or hotel lobby, you will see people with their heads down, tapping away furiously on their smartphones. 

Whether the ubiquity of these devices is a blessing or a curse, the fact is, event professionals and participants alike would be lost without them. Now, while on the move from one location to the next, we are able to look up the number for the florist, respond to emails before they pile up, review or add postings to our event page on Facebook or LinkedIn, monitor and tweet our event hashtags, create to-do lists of last-minute details that must be taken care of, set alarms for meetings, and anything else our hearts desire. How did we ever find time to accomplish everything before smartphones came into existence?

2. SaaS Cloud Apps
In today’s quick and chaotic world, the benefits of the SaaS (software as a service) delivery model are becoming increasingly apparent. These applications are advantageous to planners because they allow us to access all details and execution aspects of an event from any web-enabled device—be it a computer, smartphone, or iPad. No more printing out or emailing reports. With SaaS cloud apps, just provide end-users with reports-only access to what they need and nothing more. 

Additionally, with all of the integration options available to planners, you are now blessed with the ability to link up your event management system with a customer relationship management (CRM) system such as Salesforce, creating a seamless transfer of attendee information, or an email marketing system to easily send messages to speakers and attendees. And you can feel confident your data is secure when you use software from a Payment Card Industry Level 1 compliant software vendor.

3. Virtual Events
There is word that the economy is making a recovery, but many of us have yet to see it. People are quickly catching on to the benefits of virtual events, or as we like to call them, “webinars on steroids.” Live and virtual events are about giving the attendee a choice as to how they spend their time. 

For virtual events, the potential attendee votes with her cursor instead of her feet. Often complementing physical events, virtual events save the planner and attendee time, money, and resources. With rising travel costs and gas prices, it is no surprise that people are much more likely to consider an event online than invest in a flight across the country and a hotel room. Virtual events are a great way for planners to fill seats at a cost that won’t make anyone wince. Organizers also get key data for future events, such as which speakers were given the most attention, and who spent the most time where. This is the best tool in the box for improving 
future events.

4. Social Media and Viral Marketing
Did you know that one out of three consumers is online for three or more hours per day? Or that 90 million tweets are sent out daily? What about this one: One of every eight minutes spent online is spent on Facebook. 

So this should be a no-brainer. Sharing event details on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook is hugely beneficial because of the range of attention you can garner. People show up at events they’ve heard about, think good things about, and understand the value of. This marketing can come from either you or your attendees. Allowing attendees to share things that they like and getting them involved in hyping your event is a great way to spread the word. 

Some of the best traction you will get is from people sharing interesting tidbits they may have learned and enticing others to learn more. Both social media and viral marketing are key for these kinds of interactions. 

5. iPads and Tablets
Tablet computers are revolutionizing the event-planning industry. The day of the binder stuffed with event details and spreadsheets is coming to an end. Today is the day of the iPad and the tablet, and a more simplified life. 

With all of the information you  could ever need to access right at your fingertips through event management applications, you can ditch the millions of pieces of paper and now access contracts, registrations, room blocks, and anything else you might need right on your handy tablet, via the SaaS programs we discussed earlier. 

When combining tablets with mobile event applications, planners can also communicate in real-time with participants and share or update information in seconds. Never leave home without one!