Special Events
Mobile Love: Event Pros on Their Smartphones, Tablets--and What We Need Next

Mobile Love: Event Pros on Their Smartphones, Tablets--and What We Need Next

Special event professionals share their thoughts on the virtues of smartphones versus tablets, along with inventions they wish existed and old-school tools such as paper calendars they will never abandon.

What was an event professional's life like before smartphones and tablets? Most of us don’t want to remember.

According to the latest online poll from Special Events, 66 percent of event professionals love their smartphones and tablets equally well. A total of 21 percent love their smartphones more, while 11 percent say they love their tablets more.

For those who love their phones, it's because they are, well, phones.

GET THE MESSAGE Tony Conway, CMP, CEO of Atlanta-based caterer A Legendary Event, loves his iPhone 5 "much better" than his tablet, thanks to its ability to make calls and send texts. "I could, however, use a much larger battery source," he notes.

By far and away, the ability of smartphones to handle the Big 3 communication modes—calls, emails and texts—makes them the No. 1 choice of planners. And, they're so very portable.

"Calls, texts and emails are used equally for my mode of communication," explains Jocelyn Flanagan, CSEP, CEO of E=MC2 Events, headquartered in Calgary, Alberta. "My smartphone is small and fits in my pocket, so it is convenient."

But the larger screen of the tablet has its fans.

Because the tablet is bigger, "I can work faster, and it doesn't get on my nerves," says Deborah Worrall, sommelier at Le Pichet, Charlo, New Brunswick.

"I like both my smartphone and my tablet for different reasons," says Kathy Miller, CEO of Total Event Resources of Schaumburg, Ill. "I love my smartphone when I’m out and about because it’s so easy to access, and I love my tablet when I’m traveling, because it’s so much simpler to use the tablet to answer emails, to use it at conferences when you want to take notes, and to stay connected to the office."

Mary Ann Reilly, founder of Las Vegas-based MA Special Events, thinks she's found the perfect marriage of smartphone and tablet—the bigger-than-a-phone-but-smaller-than-a-tablet Sumsung Note 3.

"Everything about it is fabulous," she says. "It has a memory that is amazing so that when I start to type a phrase, it automatically remembers if I have said it before. The voice recognition is amazing and rarely makes mistakes when sending a text or email. The built-in camera is much better than my last Android. I use it for text, email, photos. Now, if it could only cook dinner … "

Let's Stick with Old-School Stuff

Sometimes, old-school tools do the job just fine. Here are some oldies but goodies that our event pros just won't give up:

"I still do put notes into my small Filofax notebook I've had for years due to the fear that I will lose or misplace my phone. I'd be lost." – Mary Ann Reilly

"I still and will probably always carry my journal/notebook. This has a ton of notes, lists, tasks, designs … It’s all there with no rhyme or reason. I just know that it’s in there, and sometimes that is comforting." – Rameka Sahadeo, new business development associate, ASE Group, Overland Park, Kan.

"I still make to-do lists manually. I can eventually add them to my computer, but I do a better, more thorough job by hand."--Yvette Audrain, CSEP, CPCE, owner, Simply Mox, Dallas

"I buy one Day-Timer each year--I need to see each week at a time. Which also means I need thin pencils with erasers to keep this updated."--Marni Ness, sales associate, Pedersen's Rentals, Seattle

"Pen and paper for making lists. You get the satisfaction of crossing things off!"--Karla Schmidt, producer, Barkley Kalpak Agency, New York

"I like writing my notes at a meeting. I find it much easier than typing them when I am looking around, discussing things, etc. So I am a notepad kind of guy. However, I am in love with Penultimate, which is a handwriting app that I use all the time on the iPad. Truly a huge help. Combine that with Evernote and I am really in business. With Evernote I can share my notebooks--which will include files, graphics, photos and my handwritten chicken scratch--with my staff, and they instantly have all the materials we are working on for an event."--Erick Weiss, founder, HoneySweet Productions, Los Angeles

"I think calling people now is old school, but I refuse to give up talking on the phone, and there is no technology that beats hearing someone’s voice." --Kathy Miller

"I still buy CDs at the music store. I always loved the experience of going to the store and browsing through the different music sections just so I can find the new CD of my favorite band and see what surprises are inside." – Ronen Tamary, president, Ronen Rental, Miami

"I refuse to give up sticky notes. I even keep them in my car. It's something about seeing a list of things written out, constantly in front of you, reminding you of what needs to be accomplished. Nothing is more gratifying than crossing things off a sticky-note list compared to just deleting it from a calendar app." -- Erica Wright, public relations and marketing manager, Point of Rental Systems, Grand Prairie, Texas

"I like a large wall calendar where I can see all of my events and personal life wrapped into one--like your life really exists as an event person." -- Robert Hughes, CERP, manager, Over the Top Rental Linens, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

"Handwritten site inspection reports--essentially hazard analysis sheets for sites where tents/spikes are going to be installed--and a really, really long non-stretching tape measure--300 feet." -- Chris MacLellan, managing director, Affair Tent and Event Rentals, Mississauga, Ontario

"My on-site production books are still old-fashioned 3-ring binders. I can’t seem to bring myself to rely on the tablet for ‘must-have’ access to project information on-site!"--Robert Hulsmeyer, partner, Empire Force Events, New York

"Nothing like a game of Scrabble on the original board." -- Steve Kohn, president, Millers Rentals, Edison, N.J.

But What They Really Need to Invent ...

Why stop with smartphones and tablets? Here are some inventions that event pros really want to see:

"A personal, voice-activated watch concierge, which tells me when I'm late, reminds me when I've had too much to drink, etc.!" -- Jean Pierre Cartier, E=MC2, Vancouver, British Columbia

"I don’t think it’s possible to add more hours in the day, but two heads are better than one, so maybe a Rosie the Robot from 'The Jetsons' would allow me to accomplish more!"—Rameka Sahadeo

And more Jetsons: "I’d like to have a stove ordering system like the Jetsons used; you simply tell it what you want to eat and it’s made and served to you--what could be better! Who has time to eat otherwise?" --Ann Taylor, sales and marketing, A Chair Affair, Orlando, Fla.

"A smartphone that works like a walkie-talkie so you can communicate on-site without having to carry a different device."--Karla Schmidt

"Teleportation."—Craig Erlich, CEO, Pulse220, Ferndale, Mich.

"A chip that translates different languages easily. And a really easy CAD software program that is not a gazillion dollars and is interchangeable with all users."--Ann Lyons, CEO, Melons Catering, South San Francisco

"Robots who do the job correctly, without attitude."—Michael Berk, president, M&M The Special Events Co., Carol Stream, Ill.

"I have been working on the RV-Me--Real Virtual Me--for quite some time. As soon as we can launch, I will personally host all the events around the globe!"--Erick Weiss

"I'd love an app or digital assistant that reads and answers my emails exactly the way I would!" --Jonathan S., CSEP, entertainment guru, Jiggee, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

"A hidden microphone in my ear that would automatically tell me everyone’s names as they walk up to me. I feel so bad when I forget all the time!" -- Lori Ryno, business development director, Splendor for Your Guests, Wheat Ridge, Colo.

"As soon as the iPad Mini comes with phone capabilities, my world will be complete. And how about an easy minivan conversion that can go from seating, etc., to shelving for event packing? And, I would love a large, strong—but lightweight—rolling toolbox that doesn't shatter in our bitter Edmonton winters—and with a GPS locator." -- Alexandra Armstrong, partner, Three Tall Women Design, Edmonton, Alberta

"When I was little, I thought for sure by 2014 I would have my very own rocket pack to get around with. Still waiting, though!"--Chris MacLellan

"Self-driving cars—so you can text and drive."--Delores Crum, president, Premiere Party Central, Austin

"True voice recognition that gets what I tell them to write. Somehow Siri and her friends only get about 70 percent." -- Colja Dams, managing director, Vok Dams Events, Wuppertal, Germany

"I personally don't need any more tech tools. I think we need less of them so that we can go back to really communicating with each other. There should be at least one day a week where we don't look at technology!"--Jocelyn Flanagan

Photo by iStockphoto.com / © alexsl

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