As if you didn’t have enough balls in the air to juggle, you now have to add IT Professional to repertoire of skills and talents. Face it, the meetings industry is being changed dramatically by technology. It is vital that you have at least a basic understanding of Information Technology or hire someone who does (and not many meeting professionals have that type of budget available.) Whether you need it for managing your event or not, technology is an integral part of it. Increasingly your attendees are relying on technology to assist them in their jobs. I am not suggesting you have to obtain another degree, unless you really want that.
How Do I Learn About Technology Infrastructure?
That is a great question. I’ll be the first to tell you that your main contact at your hotel or meeting facility is the last person who you should ask for advice. Although I strongly believe people selling meeting space should be reading, and heeding, the advice in this post as well. Most of you have a preferred vendor for A/V services. Believe it or not, those people would be a good starting point. Most A/V people are techno-geeks (said with the utmost respect) and can provide you with a pretty good baseline of knowledge. And from my experience, they are more than happy to share what they know.
Another excellent source is representatives from the various technology platforms now being offered to meeting professionals. I was recently given a very valuable albeit all too short tutorial on meeting technology by Michele Zappulla of SpotMe. She was, truth be told, the inspiration for this post. She is most knowledgeable and more than wiling to share without pressure or selling.
I would also suggest looking up trade associations for information technology professionals. I am certain there will be free resources available and perhaps even certifications that you may be interested in obtaining.
A few of your industry peers are primarily focused on this specific aspect of the industry.
And there is EventCamp which deals almost exclusively with new technologies although I am uncertain as to its curriculum involving infrastructure.
The bottom line is that the meeting industry is now reliant on technology. Armed with knowledge about it will not only provide your attendees with a much richer experience it will also give you an advantage in negotiating with salespeople, whether for meeting space or new technologies.