C-h-i- What?

smart phoneby Mark Adamski

Being that this is my very first contribution to the venerable Heads Up blog, I figured it would be appropriate to talk about finding my way in marketing.

Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with a flowery narrative about my career path. Rather, I want to talk about the nearly microscopic GPS receiver in your smartphone that has the potential to revolutionize the world of marketing and meetings.

Last week I when I landed in Seattle, I opened up my Safari browser while the plane was still taxiing to the gate (yes, the flight attendant said it was okay to use cell phones at that point, and yes, I have an iPhone; Steve Jobs is “the man”…or rather was). As I started to type the name of the restaurant I intended to visit that evening, it only took three fingerprint smudges to jump to a recommendation for “Chisou Seattle.” Ta-da! That’s where I had planned to eat. At the moment I didn’t think this was anything unusual, but then it occurred to me that my domicile is a city that begins with the same letters, c-h-i, and there was not one mention of a place with 3 million+ people! (Perhaps you can guess the city.)

That Chicago-something didn’t appear under the recommendations, or “c-h-i-anything else” for that matter, was somewhat shocking because Chisou is a tiny little restaurant in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, not a sprawling metropolis, or even the world’s most populated country, which also happens to begin with “c-h-i.” Of course, it was no mistake that happened. As soon as I powered up my iPhone, it launched a relentless search for its whereabouts on planet Earth, unbeknownst to me.

The need to satiate my belly’s craving for mediocre Japanese food is just the tip of this iceberg.  GPS technology now offers a new world (loose pun intended) of possibilities when a meeting or conference comes to town:  there are thousands of new people who roam the host city (some might even call them tourists), exploring a place that’s to them mostly unknown.  Applications abound for GPS to be used to enhance the event for attendees, pre, during, and post, and even as ways to drive new sponsorship revenue.

Of course the gaming industry has been leading the charge for a while now with location based smart-phone games like Four Square and others, but it’s time to look into how GPS technology can add to your meetings.  “C-h-i-me” in with your thoughts on how to best use it by commenting below!

Not the Rubber Glove!

Security Personelby Tom Baer

Being in an industry with a great deal of travel, the hassles of airport security are a constant thorn in my side.  Why are there always at least 4 or 5 screening stations, but only 1 or 2 are open?  Why do they insist on using body scanners when I am going through but only metal detectors when I am not?  Why do I always end up in line behind a family with two kids in separate strollers and a grandmother trying to carry on 3 giant cans of hair spray?

On my most recent trip however, I noticed a glimmer of hope.  After 20 minutes in line I made it to a sign which read “Children under 12 no longer need to remove shoes.”  Hallelujah. While I am sure it won’t be long before Al Qaeda will begin training 9 year olds in the art of shoe bomb making, for now this change will shave 90 seconds or so off my wait for an embarrassing pat-down and cavity search.

Actually, there is more realistic hope.  In case you haven’t heard, there is a pilot (pun intended) program going on right now in airports in Dallas, Atlanta, Detroit, and Miami, in which frequent fliers on Delta and American airlines are being ushered to shorter lines with a streamlined security process.  In order to participate, the fliers had to submit detailed profiles and go through government background checks.  TSA Assistant Administrator Chris McLaughlin says this system “expedites the process for people we know a lot about, and frees up resources for us to apply to individuals that we know less about who potentially pose a greater risk to aviation.”  In a day and age when none of us have any privacy anyway, the profile and background checks seem like a small price to pay for an express pass to the gate.

This test program is an initiative of the Obama administration, so kudos to them.  Whether politically motivated or not, anything that will help to shorten the lines through TSA-land can only help all of us who work in travel-related industries.  Unfortunately, it will be a while before the program is available to all of us.

In the mean time, how about at least opening up that 3rd lane!