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Technology - How to Use It Better

Mobile tech tools for meetings and tradeshows
©2009 Corbin Ball, CMP, CSP

 This article is available in Spanish.  Este artículo está disponible en español.

The advent of the IPhone two years ago was a game-shifter. Rich mobile web browsers with wireless broadband internet access (in the iPhone and its multitude of clones) are now common with most business travelers.  This opens up a range of mobile applications for meetings and tradeshows.

Here are a few new entries to the market:

ChirpE from A2Z

ChirpE, A2Z’s tradeshow/networking/event agenda scheduling mobile phone application, just won the TSE 2009 Innovation Award. Users can use their mobile phone to scroll through the exhibit floor plan, search for exhibitors, view conference sessions, create personalized agendas and more with this fully mobile web-based application. Throw away the paper conference programs and exhibition guides – ChirpE will improve on these “last century” forms of data distribution.

FollowMe from Core-Apps

FollowMe does much of what ChirpE does as an iPhone application (Blackberry is coming). As the application information is downloaded to the phone, it will work event when mobile phone coverage is not available. FollowMe includes a proprietary GPS exhibit hall mapping tool (integrated with with the ability for exhibitors to offer specials based on attendee profiles as they walk by. Attendees can view or receive via email exhibitor and conference .pdf files through the system. FollowMe also has substantial social networking capabilities including the ability to share a personal agenda with friends and an extensive integration and conference search capability with Twitter.  Most of the costs to the meeting planner can be offset by banner ads from local businesses and exhibitors with a revenue-sharing mobile coupon barcode redemption program.


VisionTree provides several mobile web applications for meetings including: mobile surveys, group brainstorming, the ability for attendees to submit questions during a presentation, conference agenda, speaker bios, attendee messaging, and group announcements. If attendees do not have a mobile web browser, they will loan them for the conference


Snipp is a simple text message application for meetings. If you want exhibitor product information, the conference agenda, speaker course notes and just about any other paper distributed at events, just text message the customized ID code to the Snipp short-code (76477 – S-N-I-P-P) and it will be emailed to you reducing the need for conference and exhibit brochures.


This mobile touch-screen application allows hotel guests to order food, drink, guest services, transportation, entertainment, wake-up calls, and more using an iPhone or iTouch. If you don’t have one, participating hotels will loan you one for the stay. The application is totally for the guests. 


Pathable is a web-based social network application for meetings with integration with Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook. Attendees can participate in event discussion groups, set personalized session calendars, connect with people of like interests, and several other features. What sets this apart from many conference networking tools is that many of the features can be accessed via smart phones. Networking and personalized agenda applications are needed the most while at the meeting, so this greatly increases the value.


Mobile augmented reality applications (MARA) have been in the research labs for at least four years. This month it became a reality to the public.  Layar has just released this application for real estate sales in the Netherlands but this will eventually have much broader applications. Layar uses mobile GPS, mapping data and a phone compass to add an information layer onto your mobile phone camera (augmented reality). If you want to know information on anything around you (buildings, monuments, restaurants, hotels, convention centers, etc.), just take out your phone cam and point it at the object of interest. MARA will add a layer on top of the image of interest, identifying it and adding a mobile web link for more information. To see it in action, go to This holds great promise for the business traveler and meeting attendees to “browse the world” using the web cam.

These are just a few of the many new applications emerging in this very hot technology area.  Many more are on the way.

Corbin Ball, CMP, CSP is a consultant, writer and speaker focusing on events and meetings technology. With 20 years of experience running international citywide technology meetings, he now helps clients worldwide use technology to save time and improve productivity. He is the only person to have received both MPI International Supplier of the Year and International Chapter Leader of the Year Awards. He can be contacted at his extensive web site: 


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