Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Extra, Extra!: Convene Newsstand

Welcome to this week's Extra, Extra! — all the news that wasn't fit to print in our weekly ThisWeek newsletter. Let's get right into it:

We all know that cell phones are great for killing time during meetings. That's a given. But what else are they used for, besides talking, texting, Tweeting, and solitaire-playing?

According to results from the Ypartnership/Harrison Group 2010 Portrait of American Travelers survey, 19 percent of all travelers have used their phone to download a travel-related app; 47 percent have gotten around using their phone's built-in GPS; and 46 percent have searched for flight information.

"Clearly, mobile devices are destined to play an increasingly important role in the distribution and sale of travel services in years ahead," said Ypartnership Chairman and CEO Peter C. Yesawich. Click here for more on what people are using their phones for.

How would you feel about holding a meeting in your local middle school? Probably not so "psyched," we imagine. So how do you think these middle-schoolers feel about having class in a hotel? Renaissance Charter Middle School, in Doral, Fla., is experiencing construction delays on its new campus, and so classes are being held for a month at the Miami Airport Hilton:
Hotel conference rooms already have been transformed into classrooms with overhead projectors books, posters and more. It is a transformation designed to foster learning in a change of environment.
Come to think of it, that's not a half-bad idea for a meeting theme. But do you think the kids will complain about the over-air-conditioned ballroom — I mean, homeroom?

We've heard it before, but it's especially relevant now that this past spring and summer's oil spill in the Gulf has more or less abated: Perception is a terribly difficult thing to change. Geoff Freeman, executive vice president of the U.S. Travel Association, told the Associated Press:
Once perceptions are formed, they take quite some time to change. One of the best examples was after Katrina — here we were in 2010 and we were only now ready to get to 2005 levels.
However, within a year or so after Hurricane Katrina, it seems to this reporter like there was a massive upwelling of support for New Orleans within the meetings industry. I don't feel like I've yet seen that for the Gulf region, though perhaps I'm wrong. Do any meeting planners out there in TV Land feel an obligation to support the Gulf states by bringing more meetings there?

And last but not least, here's a great story from the New York Times' Bits blog about "reinventing e-mail." Nick Bilton writes, hilariously:
My e-mail inbox is a dejected, endless morass. It’s a desolate wasteland of unanswered messages that continue to appear like a never ending game of Tetris. I can confidently say I hate my inbox and I know I’m not alone.
Bilton goes on to introduce us to Hilary Mason, top scientist at the web address–shortening firm Bitly, who has "built layers on top of her Gmail account that follow a series of rules to correctly prioritize which e-mails she should read first." The program is called E-Mail Classifier, and it sounds like it could change all of our work lives. Click here for more.

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