Tabula Rasa: Rethinking Tablets at Events

Published by Gina Wentling | Topics: Associations, Conferences, Content Strategy, Mobile Apps, Online Publishing, Print

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Forget everything you know about tablet computers like the iPad, Samsung Galaxy, Google Nexus, and Kindle Fire. The stats on these convenient devices are changing so fast, it’s worth starting over.

iStock_000023571140 SmallerSurely you’ve noticed an increase in tablet use at your annual events. The growth is staggering! According to the Pew Research Center’s report Tablet Ownership 2013, only 3% of Americans owned a tablet in May 2010. Just three years later, that number stands at 34%. There was a 9% surge from August 2012 to May 2013.

Velvet Chainsaw’s Midcourse Corrections blog posted “How Tablet Friendly Is Your Conference?” by Donna Kastner in July. In addition to citing statistics from the Pew study, Kastner suggests that conferences be planned to accommodate tablets, in terms of WiFi, charging stations, and content delivery.

At the end of the article, Kastner suggests sharing the Pew Research data with reluctant executives who feel obligated to produce a printed program. Attendees who bring tablets to your conference clearly want to use it to access event-related information.

Whether that means a mobile event app or a responsively-designed website is up to your association. But it’s to your detriment to rely solely on a printed program when attendees have obviously shown that they wish to receive it otherwise. Embracing the trend toward the digital sets your association apart as a resource that’s open to innovation and listening to the needs of its members.

To truly speak to all members, though, the printed program shouldn’t be tossed aside. Everyone learns differently and responds to some media better than others. Some people like to have the same content in different formats. For example, when planning a conference schedule, an event website might be a great resource, but the printed program works well at the conference where internet access is spotty.

Tablets seem to have struck the happy medium consumers were looking for—the portable convenience of a smartphone with the screen size better suited to long-term viewing. Take this revolution in stride and remember how important tablets are to attendees when planning your event content strategy.


About Gina Wentling

During her time as Marketing Communications Coordinator (2013-16), Gina wrote hundreds of blog posts for Omnipress. Her work has also been published in association publications. Read More.

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