Monday, December 13, 2010

Meeting and Event Planning Made Easy

Meeting and Event Planning
It’s Monday and things don’t usually operate in a smooth manner. This is why the easy button was created, sick days are used, customer service departments are hired, and why we assembled the Tips and Tricks Manual for MeetingMatrix.

This valuable tool is sure to uncover at least one time saving technique that will make your day easier. Don’t take my word for it – ask Mark Delgado, Assistant Director of Operations and Head Webinar Instructor here at MeetingMatrix…. "The average user of Microsoft Excel uses only 10% of the available functionality. That’s because most people learn how to do basic functions and stop there. They know enough to get the job done. It’s been our experience that MeetingMatrix users likewise use only a portion of available functions.

Planners are busy. You learn the basics of room diagramming and find that sufficient. However, there is more. That “more” can make you more proficient and productive. That’s the purpose behind this e-book.

We’ve kept it short and graphics heavy – we don’t want to waste your time. But we do want to help you get the most out of MeetingMatrix. The tips included here can make your diagrams more accurate and your presentations more professional."

In addition to providing tools that ensure setup diagram success, our Customer Care Team is standing by to help you through every step of the MeetingMatrix user experience.
Still have a question that needs answered? Ask us on Facebook! We are always looking for a good conversation.

Scott Sanker
Graphic Designer

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Scan It! Mobile Action Codes

mobile action code
Have you heard of Mobile Action Codes?

It might be time for an introduction.

These are the scannable codes -- once used solely for shipping purposes -- that have catapulted their way into western culture and have unleashed a large number of interactive uses.

Before the internet, 2D advertising suited the needs of marketing departments and publishers worldwide. Now mobile technology has taken over and paired with online capabilities. And 2D advertising has been scrambling to keep its audience.

Alan Moore in his white paper, “The Glittering Allure of the Mobile Society,” notes that in its short life, mobile technology has surpassed the 3 billion user mark. This beats the internet alone which is sitting at just fewer than 2 billion people. Why is this such a big deal? Mobile technologies combine all media found in previous mass communication mediums (radio, movies, print, sound, internet, and television).

These codes breathe new life into print advertising. Once scanned, users are directed to an interactive experience created by the publisher. Business cards can now be embedded with digital contact information. Magazines containing codes provide users with goodies such as supplemental data, coupons, or rich media - just to name a few. To check out one version of this technology and to see its uses, visit Microsoft’s Tag site here. Their implementation seems to suite almost any application.

They have even found themselves being used in the meeting and event industry.

Tradeshows have been affected by these “shortcuts to fun”. Applications can be seen on booth graphics, posters, and at the end of PowerPoint presentations which include product websites and presenter contact info.

They even seem to work in blog entries.

Scott Sanker
Graphic Designer

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

3D Virtual Reality for Meeting Planners

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could actually see what a room setup looked like as you planned an event? Instead of a flat two dimensional diagram you got to see what the room looked like – the spacing of table and chairs, were the sight lines adequate as you toured the room, was the stage big enough, how the dance floor fit. And then make changes and see it again.

Now you can.

MeetingMatrix recently added our 3D-VR (Virtual Reality) capability to our online room setup and diagramming application ActiveMatrix.NET (we’ve had it for awhile with our MeetingMatrix software).

ActiveMatrix.NET, a web-based application, gives event planners browser access to interactive room diagrams of a facility’s meeting spaces. Planners can design room setups, make changes with mouse clicks, and print, save, or email completed diagrams to clients or the venue sales team.

Now planners can also take a virtual 360 degree walk through their proposed setup. They can ensure clear sight lines, make spacing among tables adequate, and evaluate the overall layout of the room – and make changes to the room set up in 3DVR.

It’s an added dimension (pun intended) to the room diagramming world that should make it easier for planners and their clients to get a real feel for what their event will look like.

To see a live example of 3D-VR go to:

Select a room and a setup. Once you update the setup click on the 3D icon near the bottom of the window. Use your mouse to move through the room.

Don Basler
Senior Marketing Manager

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

‘Cause We Are Livin’ in a Higher Ed World…

ACUI ConferenceI was recently invited to attend the ACUI Region 15 Conference in Reno, NV by our client partner the Joe Crowley Student Union, University of Nevada, Reno. I had not visited the campus prior to that invitation, and given that we are Associate Members of ACUI, this conference ended up being a great fit. The Joe Crowley Student Union is a beautiful, modern facility with sweeping views of the surrounding mountains from almost every room. The exhibitor portion of the conference was centered around a luncheon which gave us a great opportunity to interact with the students and faculty advisors in a very informal and relaxed environment.

Being the Higher Education Specialist with MeetingMatrix affords me the opportunity to work with some of the most unique facilities in the hospitality world. Increasingly, universities and colleges are competing with hotels and convention centers for business and are moving away from student organization or faculty sponsored-only events. Universities have very flexible space. Events can be hosted in ballrooms, outdoor malls (think the Mall in Washington DC), classroom areas and even gymnasiums.

Universities also tend to be on the cutting edge of technology. They have been applying what is new and available in the market to their day to day operations making them more efficient. From mobile space reservation to access of event information via an iPad, universities are pioneers in the technology world.

We’ll be attending the ACUI National Conference in Chicago from February 27th -March 1st, it will be my first time attending and I am very excited. We are proud to be partnered with ACUI and all of our Higher Education facilities.

Lydia Montgomery
Sales and Strategic Alliance Manager

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

West Meets East

MeetingMatrix Hong Kong
I went to our new Hong Kong office from August 23rd – September 8th, to train our two new Customer Service Managers, Alvin & Julie. This was my first time to Hong Kong. Believe it or not, I’ve been with the company 12 years traveling all over the world, and still haven’t ventured to Hong Kong. It was a very busy city, a lot like New York. If you know me, you know that I am a country boy and I am not crazy about big cities. I did enjoy the experience of going to Hong Kong, but it was a LONG flight- 16 hours from Newark.

I do not need to spend that much time in a plane again anytime soon.

With our new Hong Kong office we now are able to provide 24 hour tech support. Julie & Alvin are great. They will definitely be assets to the company!

I feel that once we have our HK (Hong Kong) office trained and we announce the office and 24 hour support we will grow tremendously in that market. The hotels and venues that have us there love our products & services. Now with having an office in HK we can handle their requests more promptly and will also be able to communicate better.

Our HK Team thinks our products & services will grow tremendously as well once we get the word out about 24 hour support and our most recent office addition.

Bob Dudlext
Director of Operations

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The 2010 Dean Evans & Associates EMS Users Conference: Mile High Edition

Dean Evens & Associates EMSThis week I had the opportunity to attend my first conference with my colleague, Lydia Montgomery, as an exhibitor with MeetingMatrix International. The chance came during the 2010 Dean Evans & Associates EMS Users Conference; an annual event that provides informative product sessions, customer showcases, and vendor partner exhibitions. This year’s conference was held in Downtown Denver and was hosted at The Westin Tabor Center. I may be a little biased because I call Denver home, but I feel that it made a great location for the conference. It helps that this location was one of the main factors that led to my participation!

It seemed to me that all the sessions and events were a great success for the host, Dean Evans, and us as a partner exhibitor. I was able to see a different side of our business process and learned a lot. I’m usually working with customers who have purchased MeetingMatrix and are currently implementing the product. That said, it was a bonus to interact with potential customers and to hear feedback from existing users.

I always feel a sense of pride when listening to people that are happy with a product. We had numerous venues tell us they use MeetingMatrix every day and it makes their jobs easier. I could feel their excitement and anticipation when hearing about what new features and products we’re planning for the future. On the other hand, speaking with prospective customers revealed a lot to me. What their needs are. How they envision our products working for them. I even learned some new industry ‘lingo’! Would you believe that I even came across an attendee that I trained onsite during an installation? She remembered me and wanted to share how much she has grown as a user since that initial training class; I even found her referring to herself as the venue’s MeetingMatrix ‘guru’. Even the guru had some great questions. It was nice to be able to answer those questions and show some tips that will make her job easier!

The opening reception at The Big Game Restaurant and Lounge in the LoDo area of Denver was another personal highlight from the conference. The weather that evening was perfect for food and drinks out on the patio. Inside, they offered ping pong, Wii, and Monday Night Football. Dinner included: passed hors d’oeuvres of bbq pork and chicken parmesan sliders; an elk and beef tenderloin carving station; and a buffet of cupcakes for dessert. Needless to say, we were well fed!

There was never a dull moment. Our booth was busy throughout the entire 2 days of exhibitions; our measuring tape giveaways were flying off our table faster than we could replace them! In the end, we came away with great feedback and lots of new contacts from multiple segments of the hospitality industry.

It was a great experience for me. I also believe it was an excellent showcase of our product line to our Dean Evans & Associates partner customers.

Audrey Brandon
Implementation Manager & 3D Specialist

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Don’t Worry. Be Happy.

workplace flexibility
It’s that feeling you have when the birthday presents are stacked in front of you, ready to open. The carefree sensation that rolls through your body when the kid next to you is pummeled with a high pressure stream from your Super Soaker during afternoon water wars. Or, excitement and adrenaline produced by playing back to back basketball pickup games with your friends all summer long.

Do you often feel stress-free? How about at work? Let me take a guess: I would say that you are at least two coffees in - staring down at the clock wishing the day was over.

There just isn’t T.I.M.E.

Let me paint a picture of an all-too-familiar sight: Mr. and Mrs. Smith racing off to work in their vehicles of choice. They are taking shortcuts, sailing through yellowish-red lights, and drafting other commuters to ensure a speedy pass. All this is done while ingesting enough caffeine to fuel the morning madness that takes place in their congested cubicle.

Take away the 9-5 workday guidelines. Erase vacation, personal days, and the 5 day workweek mentality. Store your business attire in the attic. Fire the sitter.

Now you have T.I.M.E.

Task Inspired Management Environment (T.I.M.E.) is the cure for the common workplace. As stated in the T.I.M.E. guidelines “Work isn’t a place you go – it’s something you do. Nobody should feel guilty, overworked, or stressed-out as a result of their job.” Imagine that.

When it was first implemented in the spring of 2009, no one knew if this new idea of the workplace was going to succeed. Would anyone ever show up for work? Could you be in Maui and still live up to the expectations set by your peers? How many days could one take off consecutively?

Sure enough, work continued to be accomplished. In fact, productivity has hit an all-time high. Most of the key components to the concept that has made T.I.M.E. successful involve self management or individual responsibility. After all, who knows you better than…well, you?

This all sounds too good to be true. But T.I.M.E. is real and has recently gained the title of “Award Winning” to back up its legitimacy. MeetingMatrix International was awarded the 2010 Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility. The award recognizes various types and sizes of businesses that use workplace flexibility as a tool to enhance employee and business success. Applicants must rank in the top 20% of the U.S. employers in terms of their programs and practices for creating effective and flexible workplaces, based on nationally representative data from Families and Work Institute. To top it off, two thirds of the overall score is derived from a confidential employee survey ensuring the program is positively effecting the entire organization.

I can personally attest to the value that T.I.M.E. has brought to our workplace. The quality of work and atmosphere in the office has improved exponentially.

Although I’m too old to be getting birthday presents, engaging in water wars, or indulging in week-long marathons of basketball, I can certainly adjust my schedule to permit such activities and regain some of that carefree spirit. After all…'in every life we have some trouble, when you worry you make it double…'

Scott Sanker
Graphic Designer

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

MeetingMatrix Continues Education Development – Filling In Another Piece to the Event Industry Puzzle

hospitality education
At the end of August, MeetingMatrix announced the appointment of an Advisory Board to the MeetingMatrix Meeting and Event Technology Laboratory (The MET LAB) at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.

The Advisory Board -- they’re listed below -- will play a key role in curriculum development for a college level course for the Technology of Event Planning and Management. The course curriculum will be offered free to all institutions of higher learning. It’s worth noting that the Advisory Board is an international blend of professionals from business and academia.

This latest step forward by MeetingMatrix demonstrates its commitments to education and its creativity in the marketplace.

There’s uncounted numbers of software development companies in the world today. I’m fairly certain that few have made the financial and resource commitment to education that we have.

Now it’s true that this is not a completely altruistic act – our software is highlighted. However, the end result is that our CEO, Jmîchaeĺe Keller, and the company, are building something of value for the entire hospitality industry. We’re helping establish professionalism and training tomorrow’s workforce.

In addition, this effort reflects our global orientation. We’re a company headquartered in the US. We’re working with a University in the UK. The lead researcher is a PhD Candidate from Taiwan.

This is another highlight of a brand that continues to piece together the global event planning marketplace.

Members of the Advisory Board:

* Mr. Vincent Alonzo, Editor-in-Chief, Meeting News
* Mr. Corbin Ball, Consultant , Author, and Speaker, Corbin Ball Associates
* Mr. Tim Campbell, Global Partner & Channel Relations, Dean Evans
* Mr. Joe DeVore, Director of Solutions Hotel Systems for MGM Resorts International, MGM Resorts International
* Mr. Tom Eisner, Conference Coordinator, Tastefully Simple
* Professor Andy Frew, Professor, School of Business, Enterprise and Management, Queen Margaret University
* Mr. Glenn Haussman, Adjunct Professor, Tisch Hospitality School, New York University
* Dr. David Jones, Associate Professor, School of Hotel and Tourism Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
* Dr. Curtis Love, Associate Professor , Harrah Hotel College, University of Nevada at Las Vegas
* Professor Ian Miller, Professor, Ecole Hotelier de Lausanne
* Mr. Fraser Muir, Director of Information Services, Queen Margaret University
* Dr. Glenn Ramsborg, Les Roches School of Hospitality Management, Kendall College
* Ms. Michelle Russell, Editor-in-Chief, Convene Magazine
* Dr. Kimberly Severt, Rosen College of Hospitality Management, University of Central Florida
* Mr. Tran Truong, Director of Convention Services, Seaport Hotel and Seaport World Trade Center

Don Basler
Sr. Marketing Manager

Monday, August 30, 2010

The MeetingMatrix Room Diagram Setup Competition 2.0

room diagram
After the success of our first setup competition we decided it is time for version 2.0.

The Dover Ballroom is empty. Set it up!

Put your skills to the test and create the best setup in the Dover Ballroom to win a $100 iTunes Gift Certificate.

Don’t have MeetingMatrix? Download a free copy of MeetingMatrix Silver here to create your potential winning entry.

To begin creating your setup in MeetingMatrix, click on “New” then “Create a Setup using a Room”. In the Data Explorer, select the MeetingMatrix Demo & Training Facility. Next, “Select” the Dover Ballroom from the room list.

Once you complete your diagram follow these simple rules:

  1. Go to the MeetingMatrix Facebook page
  2. Become a fan – you need to do this to post an image
  3. Enter a brief description or name in the “share” box on our Facebook wall
  4. Attach your room diagram in JPG format ( a good size to post= 600 pixels wide x 480 pixels high)
  5. Watch the drama unfold as the competition heats up on our wall!

Multiple setups are encouraged – we also like to hear from everyone so if you have something
to say– comment away!

The competition begins today and will conclude on the 1st of October. After the dust settles, our panel of MeetingMatrix room diagram setup experts will select the winner based on overall presentation.

May the best Dover Ballroom setup win!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hospitality Software: The Right Ingredients

hospitality software
Designing good software is like baking a delicious cake. You need high quality ingredients to create a solid base otherwise the cake is dry, bland, and no one wants to eat it. With software, you need to start with high quality and plentiful data, otherwise your application will be dry, bland, and no one will want to use it.

Data is the lifeline of a valuable tool. It can mean the difference between creating a product that will stand the test of time, or creating a fad that will be useful only until the user gets bored and moves on to the ‘next thing’.

Unfortunately, data is not the only necessary component of creating a successful product. The user interface is also another major ingredient to the overall balance. Without a well designed user experience, the product won’t be all that it should be, and if bad enough, it may even limit the growth of the product line, or even drive customers to a competitor to seek out a better experience.

To understand these challenges in a little more depth, a few of us attended Visual Studio Live! hosted on the Microsoft campus a few weeks ago. It was a great opportunity to see in person some of the great new tools, a few ways that software is currently being developed, and get a glimpse into the future of our profession. With the way that tools develop and the rate at which they evolve, we never fully understood where a particular product line will be in a few years. This remains true not only for our own products but also for the technology and the tools that we utilize in order to bring these great products to our customers. Needless to say, the conference was a great experience, one that re-energizes development teams with new methodology ideas and new concepts which, if used properly, should provide a very exciting future here at MeetingMatrix.

One of the most important lessons I took away from the conference, was the idea of flexible and dynamic data presentation to the user. It is no longer a user interface, not something that the user interacts with, but rather something the user experiences. It may be a subtle difference, but the shift in paradigm is certainly striking. Rather than design a way for the user to interact with buttons, menus, or screens, the focus is instead on how the user will experience the data. Having all necessary information readily available and done in such a way that the user won’t have to think about the process will determine how successful software will be in the near future.

We have already tested and are using these new concepts in our current applications, and will be incorporating them in future products still in the planning stages. With all these new tools and ideas at our disposal, the very near future is an extremely exciting time to be involved with development. Our products should only become more stable, professional, and integrated with the hospitality industry’s needs and desires. We will bring powerful tools to the fingertips of our customers no matter where they need to do business, and in such a way where they won’t need to think about how to use it, only what they need it to do.

Jeremy Short
Software Engineer

Monday, August 9, 2010

Venue Connect – What a time!

My colleague Patty Monaghan and I had the pleasure of attending IAAM’s Venue Connect conference in Houston from July 23-27. It was the first time MeetingMatrix exhibited, and it was a fantastic experience.

First, the atmosphere that IAAM seeks to create, in my humble opinion, is one of openness and exploration. People in attendance are curious what you do. We had an incredible amount of our current customers in attendance as well, and it was great to see every one of them. The best part is when you are talking with someone who is interested in your services, and a current customer comes up and says, ‘Oh wow you guys are here?!? We use your Product every day and we LOVE it!’ That is the best feeling in the world.

IAAM puts on several networking events during the conference, from the First Timers breakfast, to the Chairman’s Reception, and various independent receptions for Chapters, Alumni, and other organizations. We also attended a Houston Astros game. They lost to the Cubs, but hey this girl is a Red Sox and Rockies fan, given that I spent 9 years in the great city of Boston, and have been in Colorado for 12. Minute Maid Park is a beautiful and well thought out Stadium, and the staff members were very gracious. In fact, throughout the whole city of Houston, from our stay at the Doubletree, to the staff at the local restaurants, we found every person we encountered to be friendly and really ‘get’ what the Hospitality Industry is all about.

The Chairman’s Reception, hosted at the House of Blues, was an incredible networking experience, and again we had the opportunity to talk with our current customers, we encountered some who we have talked with but maybe not done business with yet, and made new friends. House of Blues put on a great event; I was really impressed with the layout of the Venue, quality of their food, and overall presentation.

Fellow Exhibitors were also curious about what we do, and we learned a lot about them too. Making connections among Businesses you have commonality with goes a long way in our world.

IAAM’s Venue Connect will be in Phoenix in 2011, and when we selected our Booth space it seemed clear that it will be another successful event. I look forward to seeing new faces and reconnection with friends and colleagues

Lydia Montgomery
Sales & Strategic Alliance Manager

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Results are In...

room diagram
MeetingMatrix International is proud to announce that Marc Alexander is the winner of the first-ever MeetingMatrix® Room Diagram Setup Competition! For his winning entry he received a $100 iTunes giftcard. The contest was inspired by our jet setting Implementation Managers who noticed the amazing skill and creativity that event planners were putting into their Certified Room Diagrams®.

Setups rolled in at a steady pace from the end of May up until the end of July. Fan diagrams were uploaded to our Facebook page and were then judged by our panel of room diagram experts. Criteria used to help determine the winners included: the four basic elements of creating setups in MeetingMatrix (alignment, growing, boxing, & grouping), proper usage of labels, cleanliness (proper spacing), and overall product knowledge/skill-level.

Congratulations Marc, and a round of applause to all of those who entered. Check out all of the entries on our Facebook page under “Photos by Others”. If you missed the boat, don’t worry. More room diagram competitions are soon to follow!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Plannin’ Ain’t Easy!

planner tipsPlanning a meeting isn’t always easy. I’m not even an event planner and this is easy to see. So the question becomes: How can THIS meeting be made better? After all, the goal is to make the experience as successful as possible to get them coming back for more. What you don’t want, of course, is for everyone to turn into Mitch Martins who ditch the meeting for the early flight home.

Here are some tips I gathered to enhance your meeting.

When organizing your event, time is of the essence. has some interesting ideas to help free up your schedule. Try outsourcing. Simple legwork can be accomplished by Harry Hardatwork or Tina Tasker for a small fee. Incorporate technology into everything you do. Using a program like Google Reader makes it easy for documents to be shared for planning collaboration. Don’t forget the golden rules of staying organized and setting realistic daily goals for your workload.

Everywhere we look there is something in our face about saving the planet and becoming greener. This is a major trend in meetings-to no one’s surprise. We are trying to make the earth healthy. What about the individuals that are attending your event? covers your attendee’s health with some helpful tips: Scheduling walks at different times during a conference where participants are given raffle tickets is a sure way to keep everyone alert. It doesn’t hurt they are rewarded for participating as well! If the venue is a hotel that has an in-house trainer, have them come in and stretch everyone out. This keeps everyone fresh and avoids participants from pulling a hammy. Walking too much? Have acupressure foot masseuses on hand to silence those barking dogs. When it comes time to eat, spread out portions so no one is a victim of the heavy-eating food coma. Replace traditional drinks with pomegranate-flavored soda, or green / peach iced tea.

Last, but not least, do things to help make the meeting engaging. While this is done with the right preparation, material, and speaker, another method is to force participants to sit up front. Place a reserved sign on the last few rows of tables / chairs in the room. As more space is needed, have someone slide the “reserved” area further back as needed. Also try a setup that eliminates the riff raff in the back. Set up a U shape or hollow square to keep everyone close and engaged.

For more tips check out:

Scott Sanker
Graphic Designer

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

HITEC Hooligans

I could have been at a Yankees game, or a Lady Gaga concert, instead of at HITEC…. that’s how loud the roars and cheers were across the tradeshow hall in Orlando, FL the day that the US beat Algeria in World Cup Soccer. We had (very cleverly) decided to broadcast the game from the LCD Panels on our booth, so we had quite the crowd of attendees and exhibitors alike. For just a moment, the hustle of business stopped so we could all take in the moment of a victory. We all know that the US didn’t make it much further, but that moment will remain in my mind for a long time.

Tradeshows these days seem to be a bit like playing football (soccer for all those still not willing to adapt the term). You bring your best players, new uniforms and equipment, and every ounce of adrenaline one can muster. But when the stadium doors open, are the fans as enthusiastic as you?

We attend a few tradeshows each year. Some that we attend change year over year. I am always excited about each one. If you know me, you know that the word wallflower would be the very last adjective ever used to describe me. I love to socialize and network. You just cannot replace face to face interaction while doing the above. No matter how popular web-based conferencing becomes, the hospitality business is about people. When meeting face-to-face experiences are shared like the nuances in body language, the warmth of a hug from someone you haven’t seen in a year. It’s also easier to find out who has moved to what company since you last talked, or to check out what the competition is up to.

I worry about tradeshows though. How can they keep pace with the rapidly changing world of technology? How can they continue to keep attendees attending and exhibitors exhibiting? What is that magic formula? Does anyone truly know? The hosted-buyer format of tradeshows has gained momentum in the last couple of years. The intimacy of the format and the guarantee of meetings definitely have appeal. So what can the traditional booth driven tradeshows do to keep pace?

It’s not so much what the tradeshows can do for us; it’s what we can do for ourselves. We are the ones putting ourselves and our companies out there. Being prepared is key. You have to know who is attending, what products and services your customers have, and what business solutions they might be looking for. Be diligent in your follow up. Don’t let the people who took the time to come and visit you become a name in a database. Essentially, act like you are at the World Cup and this chance may not come around again for 4 years! Be your own biggest fan.

Lydia Montgomery
Sales & Strategic Alliance Manager

Monday, June 28, 2010

Are Venues Listening to Event Planners?

communication technology
If it seems that change is accelerating you’re not alone. Every aspect of our lives appears to be going faster. Especially in communications technology.

It used to be simple. Attractive brochures, stylish advertising, and managed site visits defined the marketing approach to event planners by most venues.

Then came technology. The internet. Cell phones. Search engines. Online booking. Lap tops. Wi-Fi. iPhones. iApps. iPad.

Which changed marketing and communication methods. Advertising. Direct mail. Telemarketing. Email. Banner ads. Google ads. Search engine optimization. Blogs. Twitter. Facebook.

As change occurs people’s attitudes change as well. No longer passive consumers of marketing messages, today’s buyers are smart, informed, and engaged.

And event planners are getting more sophisticated by the day. They’re demanding more fluid and consistent communications from venues and are quickly frustrated when those demands aren’t met. Planners now expect real and personal interaction with venues, whether in person, on the phone, by email, or online – both internet and mobile.

To reach them you must know them and communicate in an open and honest way. The new media shapes communication. Planners who use Facebook and Twitter daily value clarity, speed, and directness in their communication. They have no time, and low tolerance for BS.

It is a venue’s responsibility to listen to Meeting Planners and give them the tools that intersect with their preferred method of communication. A cursory look at a few venues Quickly demonstrates that now everyone is listening.

From convention centers to large chains to individual properties there is no consistency in what planning information is available and where it is located on a website.

Some venues limit their information to a simple capacity chart. While others (see the Westin Charlotte -- a MeetingMatrix customer by the way) offer a dynamic interactive experience that takes you into configurable meeting diagrams.

I do believe that we have very good products at MeetingMatrix – but that’s beside the point. Venues owe it to themselves to find ways to meet event planners in ways that planners prefer. Sure there’s a cost associated with that. But I submit there’s a bigger cost if you don’t.

Technology changes expectations. People expect companies or venues that want their business to keep pace with technology. When a company meets or exceeds those expectations it wins more often than not.

Keeping up with technology also adds reflected value to your company. When you add an iApp you get associated with Apple and its branding. It’s a form of positive reinforcement.

There are many ways to improve your planner interaction. The easiest is to make sure that whatever information you have is easily found on you website. A bare bones capacity chart that I can find and get to easily is, in many cases, better than high end graphics buried deep within multiple layers of web pages.

Don Basler
Sr. Marketing Manager

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A well kept secret -- MeetingMatrix Hospitality Educator’s Program

hospitality education
While MeetingMatrix is the well known developer of interactive floor planning for hotels and convention centers, we also have another less well known aspect of our company.
MeetingMatrix software is used in the curriculum of 40 colleges, universities, and hospitality schools. We provide free software, support, and online training to schools that choose to participate in our Hospitality Educator’s Program.

Professors at these schools use our software in a variety of ways. Some use it as part of technology discussions while others use it as a broad teaching platform that touches on all aspects of event planning.

I think that’s testament to the quality of our software and if that were the extent of our program it would be a good story.

But there is more. Because our CEO, Jmîchaeĺe Keller, believes strongly in education, we’ve taken our program a step further. We provided a grant to Queen Margaret University to establish the world’s first meeting and event technology laboratory.

One of the primary objectives of the lab is to develop a curriculum for free use by universities and colleges that use MeetingMatrix software as a teaching tool. The curriculum will include areas such as online venue research, computer assisted design and drawing, social media optimization and evaluation and other emerging areas related to information science in meetings and events.

So while it’s not extremely well known – yet -- our Hospitality Educator’s Program adds that something extra that helps make MeetingMatrix an interesting place to work and a good company to partner with.

Jmîchaeĺe link

QMU link

Don Basler
Sr. Marketing Manager

Monday, June 7, 2010

Space: The Final Frontier

event setup
It was a few years ago when I was asked by a fellow colleague in the Air Force what I do in my civilian life. A multitude of descriptive sentences, hand motions, and diluted terms and processes were used in my synopsis. After about ten minutes of my rambling I concluded. Without hesitation the apt pupil merely replied: “You sell space!”

Although he didn't get it right, it summed up what our industry is all about.

For meeting and event venues, space is at a premium. Not only does every inch count, but also how objects are utilized in that inch. This is the main factor in how effective a function is. Case in point – look at your desk. It may be very clean and organized. But, at least one person reading this will have papers stick to their elbows whenever they move from one position to another. Better still, it's quite possible that you or someone you know is being held captive by at least one of many usb or power cables that reside in the surrounding work area. The most efficient workers know where everything is because their area is clean and organized.

These are probably the individuals in your office who are able to accommodate every request in a timely manner and who also know the answers to most every question that is directed their way. In most cases, they are probably enjoying a great amount of success in their career as a result of these and other organizational practices.

Take this idea of space optimization and apply it to the meeting and event arena and one can realize just how important a setup can be.

It’s easy to see why venues that know their space and seem to offer the perfect answer to any setup query are on the short list of options for top meeting and event planners around the globe.

Want to hear from the planners themselves?

(LinkedIn account and i-Meet group membership on LinkedIn are required to see thread. Both are highly recommended and free!!)

Scott Sanker
Graphic Designer

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Got Room Diagram Setups? Enter MeetingMatrix Room Diagram Setup Competition and win $100 iTunes Gift Certificate.

room diagram
As our implementation teams travel around the globe we often get to see some fairly elaborate room diagram setups. The planners who build them are rightfully proud of them. So we thought we’d have a competition. The prize is a $100 iTunes gift certificate and the winning entry will be posted on our website.

The rules are simple.

1. Select a room diagram containing a setup worthy of a nod from our expert panel of judges.
2. Go to MeetingMatrix Facebook page:
a. Register as a fan – you need to do this to post an image
b. Enter a note in the “share” box on our Facebook wall
c. Attach your room diagram in JPG format –
600pixels wide x 480pixels high
d. We’ll be able to communicate with you via Facebook

Feel free to post multiple setups – and add comments to other postings.

All meeting/event planners are eligible. If planners need floor plans to work with they can go to and use the “Diagram Search” tab. This will let users find sites with MeetingMatrix Certified Room Diagrams® – and also give them a free copy of MeetingMatrix 2010: Planner Edition.

We’ll accept entries until June 25th. A panel of MeetingMatrix room diagram setup experts will select the winner. The winner will be selected on basis of overall presentation.

This should be an interesting competition.

MeetingMatrix Facebook link:

Don Basler
Sr. Marketing Manager

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Social Media – Wrestling with an Octopus

social media
At MeetingMatrix -- as with many companies – we are trying to build social media into our marketing mix. Recognizing that resources are often the limiting factor to successful social media implementation we set up a weekly social media marketing meeting to define our strategy and tactics. It is open to anyone in our company.

As with most volunteer opportunities there was a core group with occasional participation from others – but this seems to be changing/growing.

From the outset our goal was to use and integrate the three primary social media vehicles – Blogger, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. We are also integrating search engine optimization techniques into our activities and posts.

As we grow and the social media landscape evolves we’ll adapt. As one forum – Facebook for example – grows in stature we’ll add emphasis. But our central strategy to leverage and integrate social media activities in leading present and future vehicles remains the same.

The beauty of social media is that it’s wide open and the ultimate free market/individual communication environment. If you’re good at it and consistent, you get results.

It’s also a bit like the wild west -- lots of open space, malleable rules, and the occasional bandit.

So too the MeetingMatrix Social Media Marketing Group – there’s room and space for everyone – even the occasional bandit.

Don Basler
Sr. Marketing Manager

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mobile Technology Has Checked In

mobile technologyNo matter where you look these days the hot topic is mobile technology. Seemingly led by the iPhone and more recently the iPad (1 Million sold to date) mobile has checked in. Mobile apps are a $2billion+ business at iTunes. What was once seen as a geek toy is now mainstream and driving business.

But wait there’s more. Travel, e-commerce, and planners alike are changing and adapting to mobile. Some examples:

* An Amadeus report highlights how mobile technology is changing corporate travel

* Hospitality trends recent research summary showed Mobile E-Commerce Predicted to Increase 65% Annually Through 2015

* And Corbin Ball takes a look at where we are today and asks, 2010: The Meetings Technology Revolution – Are We There Yet???

I think it’s safe to say we’ve made the transition to the latest tech change. It wasn’t so long ago that laptops were dominant. And while sitting at your desk computing isn’t disappearing just yet -- it may simply be a matter of time. Technological change sometimes sneaks up on the unsuspecting – see newspapers – and network TV. Now it appears that year-old cell phones are obsolete.

As we move into a changing communication model in the meetings/convention/hotel world everyone needs to adapt. Change is being driven by meeting planners and guests demanding mobile access to relevant and usable information. So it’s not a question of will we deliver, but when.

Hotels and convention centers are adapting – some faster than others. A recent survey highlighted in SmartReport: Hotel Innovations & Technologies shows that venues’ mobile plans for 2010 include:

* 26% adding mobile site

* 22% adding mobile booking engine

* 24% adding iPhone app

* 33% not planning any mobile initiatives

Of those numbers I suppose the most interesting is the 33% who plan on doing nothing in the mobile area. There may be economic factors at play or it could just be limited vision. Whatever the reason, I believe that those who embrace new technologies – especially in response to user demand – are those that prosper.

Don Basler
Sr. Marketing Manager

Monday, May 3, 2010

Misplaced Meeting Space

meeting space

Working for a software company, one begins to see things at a different angle. Technology is ever changing and constantly improving. Most visitors to popular websites are savvy enough to be on the internet, but should they have to dig for the information they want? As we approach a new era of web design and function it is increasingly important to remember that “Navigation is the single most important element in creating accessible and usable web sites”( These observations and ultimately this entry came from a visit to a few sites to check out their meeting space.

When I first started looking for meeting space on some hotel and convention center websites, I was astonished at how hard it was to view the meeting room itself. Some sites offered microscopic pictures of the room with a setup in it. Others merely gave me room capacities. Anyone can toss out numbers to a mystery room…LET’S SEE IT!

It should take the person on your site minimal clicks to get from point A to B. Moreover, all similar information should be found in one spot. If I am interested in event space, I should be able to view all images and statistics associated with it in one area. This will minimize clicks, search time, and will improve my chances of booking.

How a venue communicates their property to event planners dictates much more than the quality of their website. This is a small window into the venue’s attention to detail and their ability to address the needs of each planner seeking event space.

Its no secret that we at MeetingMatrix® offer perfect communication tools for venues and planners. Our applications bring what each venues meeting space straight to the planner’s fingertips.

CapacityMatrix.NET™ is the missing piece of the planning puzzle. The capacity chart is taken to the next level with interactive features that include room diagrams that display recommended setups.

ActiveMatrix.NET™ gives the user the ability to create setups on the fly for RFP generation and is accessible anywhere the internet is available. PlanView.NET® is the one stop shop for every venue detail. Start with a bird’s eye view of the venue and its surrounding area and drill the whole way down to each meeting space.

Having the ideal meeting space for every planner is one thing. Displaying it where everyone can see it, is another.

Scott Sanker
Graphic Designer

Monday, April 26, 2010

Meeting and Conferences Professionals vs. The Idiots

meeting professionalsAfter the well publicized extravagances of AIG meetings, ENRON parties, and a worldwide recession one would think that people arranging and participating in conferences and meeting would tone it down.

You would think.

Unless you are the International Swaps and Derivatives Association. They recently met in San Francisco. The New York Times was kind enough to report ( that they held their conference at a high end, San Francisco based hotel...And for entertainment spent the evening being pampered and entertained at an S&M club.

Now I don’t want to be snarky…. but it may be that the International Swaps and Derivatives Association figured a night of expensive kinky partying could only improve its image. Idiots.

This behavior doesn’t help any of us in the world of conferences and meetings.

As we all try to climb out of the recession there are many indicators that by and large meeting planners and venues are paying attention.

Event planners today consider the public relations impact of where meetings are held. There’s been an increase in conferences taking place at Universities for cost and PR reasons.

Convention and meeting site managers now increasingly focus on meeting value and ROI rather than comfort and amenities alone. As competition for meeting dollars heats up, the ability to deliver improved meeting experiences – that can be evaluated and measured – is essential.

Face to face meetings have tremendous value. As an industry we need to develop the capability and the data to show that value. If we don’t do that we’re …well… idiots.

Don Basler
Sr. Marketing Manager

Monday, April 19, 2010

MPI's Annual Technology Day

meeting technology
This week MPI will host its Annual Technology Day on Thursday, April 22nd at the Oakland Marriott City Center in Oakland, CA. It will be an all day event where event planners can come together to learn more about the impact of technology in the meetings and events industry. One thing that has always remained a constant no matter what field you are in is identifying ways to win over your audience with fewer resources. How do we make a profit while saving both time and money? Ah, the million dollar question. This event will help answer these questions in the world of event planning and the MeetingMatrix software will play a large role in this.

The Annual Technology Day will focus on how to effectively connect your team and clients through cutting edge technology (where we come in), expanding your project management capability and increasing the success of your meetings. There will be seven different workshops throughout the day, topics will include: virtual meetings (make sure to check out our previous blog entry on this topic), mobile computing, social media for events and audience participation technologies.

Corbin Ball, CSP and CMP of Corbin Ball Associates, will deliver a luncheon keynote presentation on high impact meeting technologies. Ball, who we have heavily worked with, is extremely knowledgeable and will provide some excellent insight on the industry and valuable cutting edge technologies.

For planners who pre-register and attend the event on Tuesday will be eligible to receive the Gold level upgrade to our MeetingMatrix software for free, allowing you to create event setup diagrams for any function space – an $890 value! Yours just for attending this education packed event. We always give our Silver edition to planners for free, but for this special event we will provide the upgrade to Gold for free as well.

Don Basler
Sr. Marketing Manager

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cloudy with occasional bookings

travel forecast

With many industries beginning to see the light after what has been a bummer of a year, one might ask – How are hotels doing?

Glad “one” asked.

Forecasts vary depending on the source, but there seems to be some promise in the market. Here it is reported that “Hoteliers in London could see double – digit revenue per available room (RevPAR) growth this year, according to the latest Hotel Market Outlook, a quarterly report issued by Deloitte.” This upturn in London is expected to last all year and slow during 2011. Is the grass greener on the other side of the pond?

The U.S. market appears to be no different with solid signs of improvement. Demand should increase 4.1 percent and supply should grow 2.2 percent with the recovery picking up its pace through the second and third quarters. This bounce back is expected to continue into 2011, but with lesser results, which seems to be trait found in most of the hotel and travel reports. A fast start and slow finish, like an over caffeinated marathon runner who has yet to discover the importance of pace.

Some sources predict many changes in travel over the course of the next year due to frugal spending, complex packages including higher rates, more boutique style hotels (less luxury), increased social media integration, and a boom in mobile travel technology. Yes, there’s an app for that. These all produce the challenge to hoteliers – plan accordingly and adapt to the changing market.

Online marketing is another area of optimism. Internet bookings grew by 6.6% in 2009’s third quarter, compared to 2008. Marketing avenues such as the aforementioned mobile platform, social media sites, and evolving search engines, poise the online marketing forum in the hotel industry for continued success.

In addition to overall market optimism, competitive markets are seeing a rise in sales. Orlando saw its RevPAR increase almost 2%. Occupancy rose to 71.2% this year overshadowing last year’s 66.8% increase. More families plan to take at least one vacation this year (92% of them to be exact, which is up from 88% last year). Let’s not forget - international trips are also back in the mix. This should lend to a rise in concealed money pouch purchases and stellar suitcase-bike sales.

For the first time in what has seemed to be a long time things are looking up. Even though the climb back to the summit will be gradual, the view from the top should be nothing short of spectacular.

Scott Sanker
Graphic Designer

Monday, April 5, 2010

Virtual Technology - GET REAL

virtual meetings
“It’s the end of the world as we know it…..”

OK. We get it. Everyone’s going virtual. See Report: 39% of firms to increase virtual events spending

In the brave new world of virtual meetings, the trend is going up. Soon we’ll all be happily sitting in front of our computers -- or better yet with our “virtual 3-D glasses” -- attending meetings, conferences, and trade shows. Or, maybe we’ll just send our avatar instead.

Or not.

I use all the technology I can get my hands on. I’ve swapped newspapers and magazines for the internet. I’m getting ready to bid farewell to printed books. I use internet conferencing every day to work within our globally distributed company.

But there’s more to it. A face to face meeting can give you more in five minutes than you can get in hour or six of internet interaction. Relationships can be started or expanded easier in person. Body language, eye contact, and all the subtle clues we give and receive in person are difficult – at present – to replicate using remote technology.

I also believe we humans still like a shared experience. Hollywood box office numbers continue to grow each year. This in the face of Netflix, cable, and service such as Hulu –all of which encourage remote (single?) viewing.

Recently at MeetingMatrix we had our annual staff meeting where everyone comes together for three days of business and social activities. In those three days people who work around the globe meet, share meals, and work together. It is irreplaceable in terms of company unity and cohesiveness—it could not be replicated by interactive technology.

No doubt there’s high value in virtual technologies. At MeetingMatrix we build systems that make it easy for people to get a feel for a venue’s meeting spaces over the web.

Someday – maybe with holography – we’ll be able to reproduce face to face interaction. Until then as the song says, “I just want someone to talk to, and a little of that human touch.”

Don Basler
Sr. Marketing Manager

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

MeetingMatrix - First Impressions

Well here I am. Don Basler -- Senior Marketing Manager at MeetingMatrix

New company. New people. New opportunities. Because of my role I’m involved in many aspects of the business. This blog will be part of it.

Blogs in companies require care and feeding. This one was started awhile ago with good intentions but we didn’t do a good job of feeding it. We’re restarting it because it can be a great way to communicate with the community of event planners and venue management that we’re part of. And because it’s fun.

Our objective? Share our business experiences and market knowledge in an informal way and create dialogue with our customers and the community at large.

I’ve been in the company for two weeks. I’ve got some first impressions about the company, people and products.

MeetingMatrix – company.

I should note that I’ve got 15+years of marketing experience. I’ve worked for companies as large as IBM and as small as a two-person startup. In that time I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of business models.

MeetingMatrix strikes me as different – in a good way. The dress is always casual. We’ve got a ping pong table. A jam room – three guitars, amps etc. last time I looked. A kid’s play room. Kids and dogs too. Been told to watch for bicycle traffic in the office.

Then there’s the work environment. We’re a quiet company. Developers more quiet still. Lots of people work remotely. We do have offices in Portsmouth (where I am), North Carolina and Hong Kong. We also have a radical work schedule called T.I.M.E. that lets people balance their work and personal lives in innovative ways – more on that a later date.

MeetingMatrix – people

I was fortunate to join MeetingMatrix just in time for our annual staff meeting where everyone in the company comes together for a few days. I got to meet everyone and see them interact. At times I almost felt like an intruder at a family reunion. The warmth and camaraderie was obvious and always present. As was the passion for the company and their roles.

MeetingMatrix – products

My initial perspective is that our products are excellent – obvious market leaders. The standards we set are high – and the people who design, support, and implement our products keep that standard.

Conceptually, MeetingMatrix is fairly straightforward. We build online views of rooms at meeting venues. Event planners use those views to: 1. evaluate, compare, and select appropriate venues, and 2. design and preview meeting rooms using interactive online 2D and 3D models.

The simple view is that we do room diagramming. The reality is that we provide a rich and powerful sales and marketing system for venues, an easy to use planning tool for event planners, and a fool-proof methodology for getting accurate plans – in pictures -- from users to planners to set up crew.

I look forward to working with the MeetingMatrix community

Don Basler
Sr. Marketing Manager

Monday, January 4, 2010

Holidays are the best days...

Whether it was a bowl full of guacamole, a handful of spicy cornbread, or a crock pot overflowing with pork, there wasn't a shortage of tasty sensations to be had at the MeetingMatrix / VisionaryFX Holiday Smorgasbord '09. Here are just a few pics to savor...Feliz Navidad.


Hurricane Patty's Saltine Candy

40 saltines

1 cup butter

1 cup light brown sugar

12 ounces chocolate chips

Cover a 12x15 jelly roll pan with foil and lightly squirt with cooking spray. Line saltines, side by side, 5 rows of 8 on top. Melt butter and brown sugar on stove top. Stir. Bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Pour mixture over saltines. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips over the top, allow to melt then spread all over saltines. Chill for 2 hours and break into pieces.