Seven trends are transforming the industry

Technology has transformed today’s meetings, and change is accelerating at an ever-faster pace. Meeting technology that is hot today may not be tomorrow. Next-generation meeting space fosters collaboration with the most up-to-date technology available, seamlessly integrated into the environment.

Meeting technology is constantly changing, and the future arrives faster than one might think. At Apella, Event Space at the Alexandria Center in New York City, we consulted with A/V and technology firm Conference Technologies, Inc. to make sure the venue stays ahead of the curve. Managing Apella, I’ve noticed several transformative technologies that are impacting the industry.

Free, Powerful, Reliable Wi-Fi

Optimized bandwidth is a must, as attendees bring more than one device to today’s meetings—and expect uninterrupted service. A pet peeve of many meeting planners is to be charged for something as basic as Wi-Fi. Some venues charge up to $50 per device. Today’s attendees expect technology and connectivity via Wi-Fi to be not only free, but also fast and reliable.

Ability to Conference-in Attendees

It’s no secret how important face-to-face meetings are. There is nothing like shaking a hand and looking a colleague in the eyes. There are instances, though, where some colleagues will not be able to physically attend a gathering. In these cases, it is imperative that the facility hosting the meeting have technology available to conduct a high-end, glitch-free video meeting. Skype, FaceTime and Chromebox are popular vehicles for video meetings. It is crucial that venues connect attendees in the meeting rooms with those not present so the content and collaboration of events go smoothly.

Real-Time Translation

Skype recently released the first iteration of its real-time translation system for spoken English and Spanish. Instantaneous translation services in languages that include Bulgarian, Catalan, Danish, Ukrainian, French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish are a must at today’s meetings so attendees can engage with each other from across the world regardless of the language spoken.

Mood Technology

New developments in technology have allowed venues and organizers to instantly change the look and feel of a meeting room with user-controlled LED mood lighting, high-tech furniture groupings and more. Apella uses Crestron touch screens to control lighting, presentations, music, curtains, shades and other features. Studies prove that effective lighting can actually lead to a more productive meeting. Natural light also helps invigorate attendees. Apella’s glass walls—which overlook the East River—allow sunlight to stream into meeting rooms.

Eliminate Distractions

Apella’s experienced tech team keeps presentations running seamlessly, giving attendees fewer reasons or opportunities to use their devices for anything other than the task at hand. The human brain has only so much processing power and it is important to eliminate distractions so attendees can focus on the present topic.

Keep It Brief

There is only so much information our brains can process at once. It is important to keep presentations short so information can be digested before more information is added. Schedule a break after an hour and a half of presentations to keep participants fresh and focused. The break doesn’t have to be long. Ten to 15 minutes will suffice. Attendees should have the opportunity to get up, walk around and interact with each other during this time.

The Art of Projection

Last month, Apella upgraded its state-of-the-art technology. It’s the first venue in Manhattan to install laser-illumination projectors—three 11,000 lumen digital HIGHlite Laser WUXGA projectors that project onto 188-inch screens. The HIGHlite Laser projectors use an innovative laser-illumination technology to produce ultra-bright, accurate images suited for military simulation, medical and scientific visualization, major theatrical productions and other high-end events where detail and color accuracy is critical.

Arthur Backal is CEO of Backal Management Group, which manages events at Apella, Event Space at the Alexandria Center in New York City. Backal has more than 20 years of experience in the event and hospitality industry, and has staged events at some of New York’s most renowned hotels and restaurants, including Mandarin Oriental, St. Regis and Waldorf-Astoria.