Keeping up with new technology for meetings and events is not easy. New apps, new website services, new presentation software… how do you possibly know what to choose and when do you have time to do your research? Personally, I’m about ease of use and adaptation. Will this add value to what I am currently working on (for an event service, for branding, for communicating)? Or, will it just be another thing I have to learn, to then realize that it’s not really what I wanted at all? Prezi was one of those tools. It just made me dizzy and I still don't get it.
I've been working on a monthly column lately that might help event and meeting planners navigate the technology matrix that tends to muddle our inbox. I, myself, have been set with the daunting task of finding new, cost effective solutions for clients with the hope that I don't need a computer degree or coding experience to create something that should be so relatively simple. I've decided to make that a part of my 2019 resolution and seek out as many of these products as I can, review the good ones, and, possibly, help other meeting and event professionals overcome the hurdles in adapting new technologies. I'm going to start with a texting product called Close the Gap.
Close the Gap
Have you ever received a text message that looked like it was an unconscious stream of
thought? Formatting is a little off, no visuals, scroll, scroll, scroll…
Texting has become a fantastic, personal communication tool – instantaneous and easy. However, when it comes to meetings and events, sending regular texts is not as effective. An alternative might be to use the push notification service that an event app would have, but not every client has the budget to do so.
A more cost effective and dynamic tool I’ve been using these days is called Close the Gap
(CTG). CTG allows you to send customized, scheduled or instantaneously, branded text messages that can incorporate a variety of media including jpgs, pdfs, video previews, or html links. I can send messages to attendees that are customized for individuals or
created for like-minded groups - with an eye catching image.
How does it work?
As administrator, you simply log into your account online and create attendee groups. Upload an excel database of names, mobile numbers and any other individual information that is useful to create specific group messaging such as logistics notes, departure information, or activity information. I have used CTG several times now and every time we get such great feedback from attendees! Clients have now come to expect these text messages, they receive instant feedback from the event team, and it keeps the communication stream open whether your attendee is on the golf course, or waiting for a ride downtown at a Film Festival.
There are still some functions that I would like to see – removal of the SMS line so the image just appears on the text; two way communication that doesn’t require logging into a computer to respond; and a way to tie the database in to an event registration site – there is a bit of excel database management to keep up with changes and activities for larger events.
There are two big musts when using CTG: you must have registrants opt in, giving permission to text them during the event. We use the event registration website to do that.
I also strongly recommend (kind of a must) that you have a person dedicated to managing the service either on or off site. You can prepare texts and schedule them to go out ahead of time, at any time of the day, but instant communication and feedback to attendees is so important when it comes to text messaging. It’s not all consuming, but it can keep you busy if attendees are changing their activities or groups during your event.
This tool is definitely something I would recommend for a test drive. For more information, visit www.closethegap.com and ask for a demo. Happy Texting!
Freelance <Technology Implementor> and Content Creator for Branding and Events