The Meeting Planners podcast source for what’s new and exciting in meetings and events industry!
Todays show features Sheerin Florio of Spotme she explains the very exciting meeting and event technology Spotme provides. Spotme changes the game of networking at conferences as far as i can see! Also please take a look at this video from the Spotme website.
Here is a quick video to check out before or after listening to the Interview!
Mike McAllen of Grass Shack Events & Media
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Female: You are listening to the Meetings Podcast with Mike McAllen, Jon Trask and Tom Hillmer. The Meeting Planner podcast source for what’s new and exciting in the meetings and events industry. The information and opinions expressed in this podcast are of Mr. McAllen, Mr. Trask and Mr. Hillmer and are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of their past, present or future employers.
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Mike McAllen: Welcome back to Meetings Podcast. This is Mike McAllen with Grass Shack Events and Media and on today show we have Sheerin Florio, Director of Sale of Spotme. Sheerin and I met at the Meet Different Conference in Atlanta and we actually sat at the same table at the unconference there and hello Sheerin.
Sheerin Florio: Hello, Mike.
Mike McAllen: Sorry, I screwed your name up right away, I’m so sorry.
Sheerin Florio: You wouldn’t be the first and you won’t be the last.
Mike McAllen: Sheerin, why don’t you tell the other a little bit about yourself and how you got started with Spotme.
Sheerin Florio: Okay, well I think like most people I came to the Meeting industry a little bit by chance, I was actually train as a translator interpreter and got into the industry when I was living in Paris and through my position in a media company that’s in Paris, I have the opportunity to attend a number of conferences with industry organizations like EAKA and MPI where Spotme was the technology provided at this conferences for networking and for attendance tracking and for audience response.
So, I think as early as 2006 about it might have been my first interaction with Spotme at a conference in Rhodes Greece and I really found that the technology was great for me and the position that I had, I was always interested in assigning people at the conference and this technology allowed me to do that. So, couple years later I has some personal circumstances that brought me back to the US which was really exciting but I didn’t know what I was going to do for a job and I happen to meet the CEO of Spotme and we got talking and so he little by little after a many conversations, he offered me a position, so that’s a – it just work what well. Spotme was expanding, it still it’s expanding and, so now I’m heading up operations out of Washington DC for the Eastern US and Canada.
Mike McAllen: Very cool, very, very cool. So, tell us a little bit about Spotme and for someone who doesn’t know what it is, what is Spotme?
Sheerin Florio: Sure, Spotme is a communication tool for events. Its kind the hard to put it in a category because there isn’t really a category that you can assign to Spotme, it fits in a couple of different category or it tells us a certain number of different functions. So, probably the most well known feature of Spotme is the social networking aspect, so the device that sales kind of something like Google phone if you’ve seen what that looks like and it’s hand held and it’s personalize to each as handy and you can use it to sort through the list of attendees at the meeting, find somebody that you’ve been intending to me whether that you hope to meet and then use the device to actually find out if that person is near by you. That’s probably the most exciting networking feature because it’s really the first tool that allows meeting attendees to achieve a networking agenda, you know, a lot of people going to meetings and they say, “I really want to meet, so and so, I hope I meet so and so but I have no way of meeting so and so”
Mike McAllen: Right.
Sheerin Florio: So, this is really the tool that would – that lots of people get there.
Mike McAllen: I when I went – because I saw it for the first time, I heard of it for years Spotme but when I sat down at the table with you, I was kind of apprehensive because I thought, “Oh, it’s going to be difficult for like a learning curve for people with new technologies” and I was really surprise how easy it was to use, right away because it’s pretty cool, I mean the way you going ahead and setup was very fun, you know, giving people name and having them, I mean given them a actual person that’s already program in there and they walk away and that whole little, what you called a little navigational thing, it shows how far away if someone is, I thought that was just really amazing, anyway …
Sheerin Florio: Yes, that’s the spotting function or the radar function. Yes both of those that you – that you’re alluding too Mike are definitely the key networking aspects that people get really excited about. They can use other features to network too which are a little bit more, I guess you could say, sort of familiar to most of us, there is a messaging feature that’s quite similar too an e-mail or an instant messaging, so some you can access snaps, the binder content and the agenda for the meeting. So, all of those are quite familiar but what’s unique about Spotme is that you can use them all on one tool. So, really able to kind of focus your attention to the meeting and you won’t have to necessarily be flipping through lots of papers and it also reduces the actually paper printing that takes place, so it’s …
Mike McAllen: It’s green.
Sheerin Florio: I mean its ego friendly, you know, it’s made a plastic, so we can’t say its green, totally green but …
Mike McAllen: Right, right.
Sheerin Florio: … but it support, it supports any sustainability agenda that an organization would have and you know we want to be a little bit modest about that but we did our first paper list conference about two years ago and yes, so I would think we’re estimating right now, saving about 4 million pieces of printed paper a year.
Mike McAllen: That’s …
Sheerin Florio: As result of people putting their – meeting organizer putting their content on the device.
Mike McAllen: That’s seem to be going that way of reading about the Kindel that how if the New York Times gave out Kindle, you know, that Kindle that Amazon.com makes.
Sheerin Florio: Yes.
Mike McAllen: Free books, if give those out, if the New York Times give those out to all their subscribers with a subscription to their the New York Times that they would save, it was just – somewhat incredible amount of money like, you know, $100 million because it cost so much to print everything, so they would …
Sheerin Florio: Sure.
Mike McAllen: … save money by just giving them the – so what I’m trying to say is (scissor 00:07:09) by scissor the way of the future and Spotme sound …
Sheerin Florio: An event.
Mike McAllen: You know, I want to write in there.
Sheerin Florio: Sure. Yes definitely.
Mike McAllen: So, how about – can you give a couple examples of things how someone could use that at onset.
Sheerin Florio: Sure, I guess the best way to describe how you could use it or just kind the to give you a typical event that we do, let see we recently did an event, Developers Conference for 23,000 people and we track the attendance at concurrent sessions, I think there were about approximately 30 concurrent sessions during the three event and we push out evaluation via the devices to all of those people attending those different sessions. So, for this particular customer it was really critical that they get good data on the interaction between a participants and also about the meeting itself because they’re really – they were really pressed to return some figures and prove a return on investment or return on the actually event itself.
So, we were able to delivery that through tracking the attendance through pushing out those evaluations and then providing them figures as to how many electronic because cards where exchanged, how many messages were sent between all of the participants. How many people were spotted using the spotting feature which is that feature that allows you to, you know, put someone in your device as memory and have the device let you know when that person is near by. So, being to produce all of those figures was really critical to the meeting organizer.
On the attendee side they were able to then take all of the business cards they exchanged during the conference and any notes that they took on their interactions and they were able to download them after the conference was over. We send out an e-mail about two days between one and two days after the conference is over with all of the – with the instructions to log in to your personalize post event website. So, then they were able to download all of this contacts that they made as vCard, so they went straight into their contact manager and that’s, again that’s because this is personalizes with the photo, it’s with all of the contact information, so when they download a vCard it’s not just the name, the address and the phone number, it’s also the picture of the person and any notes that you took on your interaction. So, it’s just that extra step of personalization and taking that meeting and making it last longer, really driving the value from the experience on site.
Mike McAllen: That’s great. That’s really great. So, when someone picks up their – when they come in to a conference, pick up their Spotme and then they get a quick tutorial, it that how it works?
Sheerin Florio: Yes, well it depends.
Mike McAllen: I know you start play with that immediately, that’s kind of …
Sheerin Florio: Yes.
Mike McAllen: … right away but I’m mean there something, but they wouldn’t know obviously that you would probably have to tell them but go ahead, I’m sorry.
Sheerin Florio: Sure, no, you know you’re absolutely – you bring up a great point and it depends on the event as to how – if or if we provide any training. Sometime we will put together a couple of slides and put those slides in front of everybody at the beginning of the general session, say the first opening general session, sometimes there is a Spotme person who will get up and actually delivery the message and explain how, you know, show Spotme works and what the applications are going to be at the meeting but often times what happen is we just distribute the devices, they come in a little holster with a little quick guide, it’s a piece of paper that you open in and it shows you the basics features of the device and from there most people seem to get it and this when I say most people, I mean our average attendee, attendee you know, ages is not Gen X, it’s not Gen Y.
Mike McAllen: Right.
Sheerin Florio: It’s definitely, a definitely an older crowd than that and people who get it early on, you know, the first one it’s private registration tend to be the once who then evangelize and go out into their peer group and say, “Hey, did you see that Spotme can do this?” you know and someone will approach you and say, “Hey, can we exchange electronic business cards?” So, if you haven’t gotten your Spotme figure out a 100% yet, most people will kind the force you into that by showing you something or asking you to interact with them in some way, so it depends, we’re kind of available to customize the experience and provide training if it’s really going to be necessarily but at most cases it’s really not.
Mike McAllen: So, they pick it up and then they – to get their information from it everyone is going to get their website basically or a profile somewhere that they go and pick all their stuff? …
Sheerin Florio: Right.
Mike McAllen: I know you just said that you could e-mail – let just gets stat on the whole show itself that the organizer can like –that exactly you gave but then individually, so I go on and meet all this people with my Spotme and how do I get my information at the end of the show or during the show?
Sheerin Florio: Well, during the show the information that you exchange such as business cards or notes that you take or credits that you have achieved through going attending certain sessions, all of that information is stored on the device and it’s all back up to a server and that you can find on the device in what we called the briefcase and it’s a little icon on the main screen and that briefcase is then exported in our Spotme team, builds a website immediately after the event is over and each attendee from that event will have their personalize website.
It’s all house by and run by Spotme but their own personalize exist and we send out log in instruction as soon as that website is up and running, so that everyone can log in and get their information and download it, so that happens usually one to two days after the event is complete. So, on your personalize post event website, you know, again this contacts are in the form of a vCard, so that’s a standard format that you can download into Outlook or Lotus Notes or you know, pretty much any contact manager.
Mike McAllen: So, they – so and actually you could bring up someone while you’re there, the card that you have on your Spotme, if you exchange it, you [00:14:05] …
Sheerin Florio: Yes.
Mike McAllen: During the time you’re there.
Sheerin Florio: Sure.
Mike McAllen: And then you said credits, so what do you mean by credits? You said you can gain credits?
Sheerin Florio: Right, so you know what some meetings, some medical meetings or legal meetings or any, really any kind of meeting where there is a substantial educational component, you may have credits that are awarded to you or, you know, that an organization is conferring credits on the attendees and since Spotme devices can turn into attendance trackers, we can track the attendance in and out of sessions and give access to a certain types of people then I access to others, we can provide statistics at the end of the meeting that say, “You know, so and so, has attended this session, this session and this session and if there were credit associated with some of those session then this credit would be awarded to the person” and those again would be house temporary in that briefcase on the device, you access all of your credits, make you sure you know, you’re up to speed in which credits you’ve achieved and maybe you know, see how many you have left to gain and then you’d be able to access that as a sort of certificate at the end of the conference via that Post Event website. All of that information would beyond your Post Event website.
Mike McAllen: Very cool, very cool. So, I didn’t really ask you how do this all come about Spotme, who started Spotme? And …
Sheerin Florio: Yes, well Spotme is, it’s a kind of brain child of – our founder and CEO and he is now here in the states, he was the one who spear headed the efforts to get a Spotme presence state side and his Banz Ledin and his Suisse guy with a background in mathematics and incomparative literature. So, his focus was actually really simple when it came to devising Spotme because he actually – the story behind the company is that he was walking his dog in a part, he was in a part and saw two other people come together because their dogs attacked each other to that other person and he kind the sat and thought about it for a minutes and said, “What if it wasn’t just dogs that could connect to people, what other type of thing could be an ice breaker and bring like minded people together” and so he started sketching it out and realize that there was potential to create a device that would this and so it got started in Switzerland, in Lausanne Switzerland which is about an hour from Geneva and so little by little a device kind of came to be and now we are I believe 9 years after that, after that fact and we are in the third edition of the device and we have now offices in – I don’t even know – I can even keep track, London and Dubai just to open and San Francisco is opening next week, so things are moving along.
Mike McAllen: That’s really great, yes, because I remember talking about it on our podcast a long time ago which I know, we were reading about it and that was in Spotme but it was in Europe and …
Sheerin Florio: Exactly. Yes, we had European based operations until 2008 and our Chicago US head office opened this past summer and my Washington DC office open at beginning of this year and San Francisco will be next month.
Mike McAllen: That’s so great, that so great. So, I know you kind the already talked about one example but can you give a maybe a success story about the use of Spotme?
Sheerin Florio: Oh, boy, yes. Let’s see well we have, you know, we have a number of associations that – and corporations that are using Spotme now and have been using it for many years and it’s hard to single out one … Hello?
Mike McAllen: Hello? Yes.
Sheerin Florio: Sorry.
Mike McAllen: No, it’s okay. So, do you – so you have a – to companies then use them year after year, is that compiled and like one spot you – if you have the same – I mean do you ever overlap the websites for them or is it for the different – I’m just thinking on a conference level of those the same conference every year, could you use your old data too from the past conferences or it’s that too much?
Sheerin Florio: Usually, well in terms of data, the registration data each year for the conference probably will vary a little bit at least in you know, the attendees who sign up, so we take a capture of that registration data and that’s how we load the devices with information, so you know, if it’s something that’s done and it’s the exactly same set from one year to the next then we would be able to get that data again from the company but once the event is over and once the duration is – once the life of that website that we create for the attendees, once that’s done then the data is deleted, so we can’t go back and retrieve things from previous years but we could certainly take a recapture of the data and make it, you know …
Mike McAllen: Interesting.
Sheerin Florio: … you know, loaded again but we don’t maintain records of data of a privacy reasons.
Mike McAllen: Yes, that make sense, its make sense. So, about an example of something that Spotme would work with.
Sheerin Florio: I mean Spotme has a really multifaceted tool, so, you know, I think it’s important if you’re going to considered using it that, you know, you identify a couple of different things that Spotme does that you want out of it, you know, sometime people look at Spotme for just attendance tracking tool and you know, as much as I would love for every conference to use Spotme if you’re only looking at attendance tracking it’s really – it would be really too bad and I would definitely say that, that’s not the right fit of an event. So, if that meeting that was going to incorporate the attendance tracking also had a networking component and say, they also needed to put on personalize agenda for each of the attendees then I would say that’s really an event that makes a lot of sense.
And then also just to kind of give you the parameters, we are, you know, we do meeting from between about a hundred participants to about 5,000, so a 50 person meeting probably wouldn’t have such as application for Spotme as one that has a few more participants and likewise, you know, we’re not in the business of you know providing Spotme, you know, a tradeshow of 25,000 people, so I’d say that, you know, in a couple hundred people to several thousand people is really are sweet spot that’s what we do a huge chunk of our business.
Mike McAllen: That’s great. Well, thank you so much for talking with me today Sheerin and how could people get a hold of you and find out more if they want about Spotme?
Sheerin Florio: Well, I definitely recommend that they go to Spotme.com and there’s a video link on the page that is called Spotme is and it’s a great video for those who are familiar with MPI, we did an event – we’ve been doing the event what we used to be called PEC-E, so they [00:22:07] me different but in Europe for the past several years and we took a video there last spring and it on the website, it’s actually also on YouTube, so people can just check is out on YouTube and it give a real feel for what Spotme looks like on an event.
Mike McAllen: Very cool, yes and I’ll throw that up on our site too, since it is a YouTube I can at that way, people can see it that way too. So, very cool. All right, well thank you so much and maybe we can chat again.
Sheerin Florio: That would be great.
Mike McAllen: The next couple rounds of Spotme, see where are you going and be fun to talk some more.
Sheerin Florio: Fantastic.
Mike McAllen: All right, well thank you so much.
Sheerin Florio: Thank you Mike.
Female: We appreciate and thank you for listening to the Meetings Podcast. You can find Mike McAllen at d72.c4e.myftpupload.com, Jon Trask at AlliantEvents.com and Tom Hillmer at CreativeGroupinc.com. The Meetings Podcast theme music comes from the Delgado Brothers which can be found at DelgadoBrothers.com and a special thanks goes out to RipTideGraphics.com for the audio editing of this podcast.