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News Release

EventWeb Newsletter
Hi-Tech Tuesday
May 30, 2000

EventWeb Newsletter: http://www.eventweb.com
Editor: Doug Fox - [email protected]
Writer: Michelle Bruno - [email protected]
Instructions: See end of this document

Welcome to the Hi-Tech Tuesday edition of the EventWeb Newsletter. Hi-Tech
Tuesday is published every other week and covers Internet, technology and
related developments taking place on-site at meetings, conferences and

In today's issue, our feature story offers an overview of the latest
developments in the world of kiosks, product locators, messaging systems and
Internet cafes. At the end of the article, you will find a resource directory of
industry vendors. Michelle Bruno wrote this story. You can find her bio at the
end of this article.

I would especially like to thank our two exclusive sponsors, b-there.com and
iConvention.com for supporting this fifth issue of Hi-Tech Tuesday.

Sponsors ************************************

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For more information, please visit: http://www.b-there.com


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Table of Contents

Feature: Kiosks, Internet Cafes, Messaging & More

1) Kiosk & Communication Applications
2) Key Benefits for Event Producers
3) Create an Action Plan
4) Case Histories
5) Future of Kiosks
6) Resource Directory


This issue of Hi-Tech Tuesday focuses on product locators, kiosks, Internet
cafes and other on-site communication networks and services you can deploy
during your events. Usually these information and communication systems are
located on your show floor, but they may also be installed in the registration
hall, lobbies and other conference areas with heavy traffic. The primary purpose
of these on-site tools is to provide your attendees with instant access to show
and conference information, facilitate networking among participants and provide
all delegates with quick electronic access to the outside world.

Not so long along, a kiosk referred to a free-standing computer that lacked a
network connection to other computers or the Internet. Users would walk-up to a
touch-screen computer installed in an attractive cabinet and search for
attendees or exhibitor products. Today, on-site communication and information
services have been transformed into network-enabled devices that provide for a
wide range of services and functionality. These connected devices with their
high-speed Internet connections can now integrate sophisticated database
applications, personalization tools, customized floor plans and many other

While the system you chose or develop for your event may contain different sets
of features, here are three general ranges for the type of on-site communication
system you may implement. (Jeff Rasco, senior consultant, event guru, Team Tech
International , a kiosk solutions provider, contributed
to these categories):

- Level 1: The most basic on-site service usually consists of email and Internet
access (Web surfing) for attendees. Such an offering may be found at an Internet
café. As a general rule, these configurations are fairly easy to configure and

- Level 2: In the middle range you will find services that often integrate
databases applications for product locators, match making services, interactive
games, local destination information and message centers. You may also choose to
integrate these offerings with email and Web access.

- Level 3: The most sophisticated kiosk applications may feature custom designed
systems that may or may not be integrated with an existing Web presence. You
might, for example, sell premium kiosk-based sponsorship opportunities to your
exhibitors, enable attendees to receive messages via Palm Pilots or design a
series of interactive games for attendees. These more robust systems will, of
course, require more effort and cost more to develop.


Whether you create a simple on-site messaging system or a robust customized
application, there are many features that you might wish to incorporate into
your system. Here are some possible ideas:

- Internet access: Delegates can send and receive email from the show floor.
Attendees access an Internet-connected computer on-site and then log-on to their
email provider or corporate network. In some cases, attendees connect their
notebook computer (with an Ethernet card) to a T1 line and access the Internet

- Message centers: Attendees and exhibitors can take advantage of a messaging
center to send and receive messages to and from others at an event. Message
centers usually consist of multiple networked terminals. A user enters a show ID
number to gain access to their account. Once logged-on to the system, it should
be easy to search a database of attendees and send messages. Often vendors of
such messaging systems include monitors by the side of their messaging services
that display a scrolling list of all attendees that have waiting messages.

- Product locators/kiosks: Attendees walk-up to a product locator, a computer
that is usually encased in an attractive case to hide the components, and access
an easy-to-use interface to search for specific types of exhibitors. Once found,
users can usually print a list of matching exhibitors along with product
descriptions and booth locations. Many kiosks feature touch-screens so that
users do not have to fumble with a keyboard to find the desired information.

- Floor plans: Some product locators incorporate show floor diagrams so that
when users print a list of matching exhibitors, these lists can feature
renderings of the location of each exhibitor on the show floor.

-  Calendars: Event schedules display descriptions, locations and times for all
events and activities including show hours.

- Scheduling: Personalized scheduling tools are increasingly popular. Attendees
walk-up to a kiosk, and build personalized lists of the educational programs
they are attending and the exhibitors that they wish to visit on the show floor.
Attendees can even use an exhibitor scheduling tool to indicate their preferred
timeframes for one-on-one meetings with a specific vendor.

- Destination guide: Local restaurants, attractions, sporting events, nightlife,
maps and other details for the local city can be incorporated into the show
kiosk system.

- Interactive games: In order to encourage more attendees to take advantage of
your kiosks, you can implement games that reward winners with prizes and
encourage participants to visit specific booths.

- Surveys and feedback: Many show producers use kiosks to conduct surveys that
gauge the interests of attendees. You can ask questions about attendee buying
interests and purchasing responsibilities and find out which products and
services are of greatest interest to show buyers. If your kiosk system is
integrated with your lead-retrieval system, you can capture the same information
without surveys because you will be able to track which types of buyers are
searching for what types of products.

- Matchmaking: Product locators are used by definition to help buyers locate
suitable products and vendors. A variation of the product locator is a more
versatile system that is often referred to as a matchmaking offering. In basic
terms, such kiosks are used to help buyers find suitable vendors and to help
vendors find suitable customers. For instance, you may create a matchmaking
service that facilitates the process of enabling local vendors to find
international distributors for a specific type of product and service. Prior to
the event, both buyers and sellers who match general parameters can enter their
profiles and requirements. Then during the event, buyers and sellers use these
systems to find good matches for their companies.

- The wireless world: As more people embrace wireless devices such as hand-held
computers and Web-enabled cell phones, we are likely to see many enhancements to
kiosks, product locators and communications networks. Increasingly, Palm users
will be able to retrieve conference schedules in real-time from a central
on-site server and smart phone users will be notified when message from other
attendees have been sent to them.


Event managers can benefit in a number of ways by using on-site kiosks and
messaging systems:

- They help keep attendees at the event as long as possible. While there is
debate among vendors about the best placement of kiosks, (on the show floor vs.
a location in the registration area) everyone agrees that attendees enjoy being
able to access information, check e-mail and schedule their visits at the show.

- They can supplement and eventually replace the printed show directory. This
reduces costs to show management. According to Brian McNamara, vice president of
exhibitions, International Sign Association (ISA), the use of kiosks that
provide printouts of product and exhibitor information, allowed ISA to reduce
the number of printed directories at this year's April event from 15,000 to

- They provide users with the most up-to-date and accurate information
available. Kiosks with real-time database access enable show management to
provide attendees with the latest information available on products, exhibitors
and conference schedules.

- They generate new revenue streams for show management. By having your kiosks
or Internet cafes sponsored, you can generate additional revenue or, at least,
cover your costs. Some kiosk vendors offer show management commissions or
rebates on revenue generated through banner sales, enhanced links and other
revenue opportunities.

- They help smaller exhibitors at a show receive additional exposure by making
these companies easier to find and offering them low cost advertising

- They are a positive reflection on show management. Providing attendees with
communication tools, product locators and Internet access sends a message to
attendees that you respect their time constraints, value their participation and
are interested in enhancing their event experience.

- They provide show management with the ability to gather information on
attendee behavior. Access control systems such as magnetic stripe badges coupled
with customized "back end" programming features allow event managers to gather
such information as the number of times an attendee used the system, the types
of information requested and the amount of time an attendee used a particular
kiosk. This type of information can provide valuable data for use in recruiting
sponsors or placing kiosks in more effective locations on the show floor.

- By placing the kiosks or Internet cafes strategically in and around the show
floor, they can help to draw traffic to a specific area.


Here are some important considerations to ponder as you prepare to use kiosks
and messaging systems at your next event:

- Develop clear objectives for your use of kiosks, messaging systems and
Internet cafes. Do you want to enhance the attendee experience? Offer
cutting-edge tools? Generate additional revenue? Or pursue other objectives?

- What functionality do you want your on-site systems to deliver? Internet and
Web access? On-site messaging for attendees and exhibitors? Product locators
that print personalized exhibitor lists and show floor diagrams? Or other

- Evaluate possible vendors and determine if a single vendor can provide all of
your needs in a single turnkey package. If you need to integrate the offerings
of multiple companies, make sure that the vendors will easily be able to share
the needed data among their different systems.

- Work with your vendors to design and configure your on-site and Internet-based
messaging systems along with your product locators and other applications. How
many computers are required? What type of network will be created? What type of
Internet connectivity will be needed? What type of software interface will be
designed for end users?

- Decide where on the show floor your kiosks and other communication devices
will be located. You may make decisions based on technical requirements or you
may want to drive traffic to specific locations on the show floor.

- Determine access requirements. Will attendees require a unique ID number or
password to use your on-site networking tools? Will an attendee need to swipe a
magnetic stripe card with embedded personal information to search for products
and send messages? Sometimes, however, show producers just want to ensure that
their systems are easy to use and thus avoid the need for any type of password
or security system to be implemented.

- Timelines and due dates: Vendors require at least 60 days or more to develop
on-site systems depending on the sophistication and the level of functionality.
The average development cycle is 120 days and the optimum lead-time is nine

- On-site preparation: Determine how many on-site technicians will be needed to
install and support your network. Determine if adequate Internet connectivity is
already available at the facility? Find out what union regulations, if any,
apply to the installation of your on-site communications networks.

- Sponsorship sales: If you will be selling sponsorship offerings as part of
your product locator or messaging system, determine the pricing, sales process
and delivery of exhibitor advertising material.

- Provide exhibitors lists, product information, session schedules and attendee
lists to your vendor so that this data can be loaded in advance of the start of
the show.

- Make sure you know who is responsible for insurance and security for the
on-site communication networks and equipment that will be deployed on-site.


Consumer Electronics Association

Lisa Fasold, director of communications, Consumer Electronics Association,
producer of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) , describes
their on-site kiosk configuration and capabilities: "We formerly used dumb
computer terminals connected to a central server that just ran a product locator
application. The last couple of years, we've used an Internet-based product
locator on-site that powered fully loaded PCs. Last year in particular, we saw
that attendees would use the PCs often for just email, and not use the product
locator. The features of the product locator were pretty much the same as what
you would find on our Web site, except a bit dumbed down and refined. This year,
we don't plan on using a separate product locator during our event. We'll simply
provide access to our year-round Web site so that show attendees can find
activities and exhibitors. The terminals around the show floor for the 2001 show
will offer e-mail and Internet access as well, with the CES web site as the home

Kiosks and other on-site information tools are provided to attendees based on
demand and because it adds value to the event. Fasold commented, "We want our
attendees to return to CES every year. The easier and more worthwhile we make
their experience at CES, the more probable it is that they'll return. Plus, if
attendees can't find the exhibitors they need to see, then exhibitors won't get
the traffic they're looking for. The product navigators and web site help
attendees find the right exhibitors."

IDG Expo Management

IDG Expo Management  organizes eleven events
annually and, according to Rob Scheschareg, vice president, the kiosk
functionality may change from event to event depending on the types of attendees
participating. For example, when attendees are IT professionals and technicians,
the systems are designed for quick and easy access to critical information. When
the audience is composed of business professionals and potential buyers, the
content tends to be more informational and designed to assist them with their
buying decisions.

For IDG, it is no longer a question of whether to provide information kiosks and
Internet access, it is now expected by attendees. In fact attendees often
request faster access and more terminals at their events. IDG is poised to
provide this value-added service because they want attendees on the show floor
as long as possible. IDG sells everything from screen savers to banner ads on
its kiosks as a way to cover the costs and provide sponsors with more effective
marketing opportunities.

International Sign Association

In previous years, the International Sign Association (ISA)
 had booth locators and non-interactive kiosks on the show
floor but this year's event signaled a change in strategy. For their April show,
ISA distributed Internet-connected computer terminals throughout the show, each
of which defaulted to the event Web site for the association. They do not
provide e-mail access or messaging capabilities. The Web site contains
up-to-the-minute information on seminars and a product locator that can be
searched by key words and other parameters. The reason for the change, according
to Brian McNamara, vice president of exhibitions, was their increased focus on
international attendees. The Web site approach allows them to provide all
attendees with a seamless and consistent flow of information (before, during and
after the event) that bridges time zones and overcomes the lag time in
communication. Next year, they will incorporate a survey function.

For the 2000 event, ISA did not expect to generate a profit from the sale of
kiosk sponsorship opportunities but received revenue that partially offset their
costs. Next year, ISA expects that sponsorship revenue will cover all costs as
they offer a variety of marketing programs including banner ads, enhanced links
and Web sites.

Besides wanting to appeal more directly to international buyers, ISA provides
the on-site Web access to help their organization remain competitive, increase
the effectiveness of their Web presence and provide more value-added services to
all attendees.


The use of kiosks, Internet cafes and other communication offerings will
continue to proliferate on the show floor as well as in the registration and
lobby areas.

Attendees are increasingly expecting these types of conveniences as they are
more comfortable using the Internet and computers to do their jobs on a daily

Jeff Rasco, Team Tech International, and Anne Abbott, president, Tradeshow
Multimedia, Inc. (TMI) , a pioneer in the kiosk
technology field, have identified a number of future trends and probabilities:

- Hand-held devices: Attendees will be able to use hand-held computers and
Web-enabled phones to send and receive on-site messages and access and search
product locators.

- Thin clients: On-site kiosks and messaging systems will rely increasingly upon
thin-client computers to access and share information.

- Voice recognition: Hand-held computers will become even more popular as voice
recognition applications become more mainstream.

- Wireless networking: Emerging standards for the wireless exchange of data
among computers and other devices in close proximity will make it much easier
for show managers and providers of messaging and kiosk systems to place their
kiosk systems anywhere on the show floor and configure these devices in very
little time.


- American Exhibition Services, Inc.  offers
ExpoInfo and ExpoMail products that incorporate touch screen kiosks and
multimedia information systems to provide product locators, attendee messaging,
email access, session locators and other features. These products can display
information in multiple languages.

- Bluedot  offers a suite of "event participation tools"
that can be accessed via the Internet, on-site kiosks and Palm devices. This
suite contains an attendee planner, attendee messaging, virtual event access,
press service, floor plan access and other features.

- Convention Information Systems, Inc.  provides on-
site electronic information systems, registration and decorating services for
trade shows and conventions. Their exhibitor literature kiosks interact with
their electronic product locator, and leads captured through either system are
shared with exhibitors.

- Convention Management Systems, LLC  is a full service
events company that also provides messaging services along with booth locator

- CyberCentral , a product of Team Tech
International , is an interactive portal station that
includes email access, session scheduling, press kits, exhibitor information and
additional features. The company has developed the concept of "cybertainment"
that allows attendees to play kiosk-based interactive games containing clues and
information about a sponsor's products.

- Galaxy Information Services, LLC , a leading
registration company, offers a range of on-site products including product
locators, message centers, session trackers and matchmaking systems that
integrate with the company's registration offerings. Future products will
include on-site access to virtual booths and possible e-commerce solutions.

- GES Exposition Services , a leading general tradeshow
contractor, develops tradeshow Web sites and online information services through
its GES Interactive Division . The pre-event
marketing tools developed for show clients can be instantly ported to the show
floor in the form of Internet-based kiosk systems.

- KioskCom.Com  is an organization devoted to the
promotion of kiosk technology and its various applications. They organize a
number of worldwide conferences devoted to kiosk technology for end-users and

- Kiosks.org  is a trade association dedicated to kiosk,
POS (point-of-sale), Internet, thin-client, and self-service terminal
technology. Their web site includes links to their members' Web sites. You will
also find a list of industry-related events and links to pertinent articles on
this topic.

- Lexitech  integrates Web-based lead-capture systems
with on-site messaging, event map tools, product information and other features
utilizing on-site kiosks. These systems support multiple language capabilities.

- TEC Communications  provides message centers, email
access, product locators, electronic floor plans and related products. They also
offer multiple language access capabilities.

- Tradeshow Multimedia, Inc.  is an industry pioneer in
the use of interactive kiosk technology. The company offers product locators,
message centers, email access stations, touch screen kiosks, video message
displays and other products. As with some of the other companies, they offer
on-site and tech support.


Michelle Bruno is a writer, web publisher and speaker based in Salt Lake City,
Utah. She has worked in and written about the international events industry for
fifteen years. She can be reached at [email protected]


Doug Fox
[email protected]
EventWeb Newsletter

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