Two years ago, Special Events checked in with special event professionals to see which mobile apps make their lives easier. But two years is two eons in the tech world, so we just checked back with event rental pros to see what apps are especially appealing today.
Most of the rental pros we interviewed use mobile versions of mega social sites such as Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Twitter to stay connected with clients. And in a world with about a million apps available to download, here are some of the industry's favorites:
SEEING THE LIGHT
Marni Ness, CSEP, sales associate with Pedersen's Rentals in Seattle, likes the Flashlight app, which turns your iPhone into a flashlight. "It's great for events when it's pitch dark and you are searching for a pen in your purse," she notes.
Another fave of Ness: WhatsApp Messenger, a cross-platform mobile messaging app that allows users to exchange messages without having to pay SMS (short message service) fees to their cell phone carrier.
FINDING THE PERFECT PART
Dave Vaught, production manager with Seattle-based staging, light and sound company PNTA, praises the light-meter app Whitegoods, which helps him "quantify the lighting situation so I can start solving the problems with lighting," he explains.
Vaught also turns to apps that quickly lead him to the exact item he needs. For example, the MyGobo app from lighting equipment company Rosco Laboratories helps him "find part numbers quickly," while the iRigging app from theatrical equipment manufacturer JR Clancy is a useful reference for rigging hardware, he says.
Jack Weiner, owner of Phoenix-based Kool Party Rentals, calls Box "possibly the best app ever." The system enables online file sharing integrated with Google Apps and Salesforce, and provides secure cloud-based storage.
Not surprisingly, Weiner also gives props to his company's Kool app. "I use our app almost every day to show people products and room shots, get product info like dimensions and colors, as well as stay connected to all of our social media, right thought the app," he explains.
Greg Zalkin, director of special events for AFR Event Furnishings, has found an app that saves him from carrying an avalanche of business cards on his travels: Bump. The app enables two users to share contact information, photos and files simply by bumping hands while holding their phones.
READY TO PLAY
After all the hard work, event pros turn to other apps useful in that all-important down time.
Ness is a fan of RunPee, which--if you couldn't guess--tells users when to run out of the movie theater for a restroom break so they don't miss any important scenes.
When she hears a great song and wants to discover who the artist is, Ness uses the Shazam app. After users turn the phone toward the music or TV, the app delivers information such as the name of the track and artist, along with lyrics and videos.
Weiner and his wife never go grocery shopping without the Grocery iQ app.
"My wife and I literally work different aisles in the grocery store, each with a different kid in tow, and we can see items literally drop off my list on my phone as Deborah grabs something on our list and scans it," he explains. "I can also add anything to her list whenever I think of it, and she will see it appear on her phone. So cool!"
OLD SCHOOL COOL
No matter how many high-tech apps make their debut, some old-school tools still get the job done. Some examples:
"As far as old school goes, I still pack a scale rule to job sites for measuring on a plan." --- Dave Vaught
"A desk calendar and portable calendar--I still need to 'see' a schedule as a whole. For staging and pipe-and-drape, old-school drawings still help to determine 'how much' and 'how many pieces' someone needs." -- Marni Ness
"Legal pads, manila folders and my trusty medium-tip blue ink pen." -- Jack Weiner
"I still keep a typed 'to do' that is update weekly. I really like the feeling of accomplishment when I cross an item off my list with a pen! I can really look back at the end of the week and see all the work I got done!" -- Greg Zalkin
Do you have an app you love? Let us know by sending a quick note here.
Read the full story in the September-October issue of Special Events, available only to subscribers. Not a subscriber yet? We can fix that; renewing subscribers click here; first-time subscribers click here.