Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

September 30 2013

Find Out How Flying is about to Change

By Mary Reynolds Kane

airlines and electronics

Years of flying frustrations are about to end.

Feel as though you've suffered through too many ridiculous inventions of the Skymall catalog? Well, you will be excited to hear that the FAA is very close to easing limits on the use of electronic devices on planes below 10,000 feet. Devices that will be affected by this include smartphones, tablets, e-readers and other e-devices as long as they are switched to airplane mode.

No longer will we have to see the latest in pet cage or travel pillow design – unless, of course, you're into these groundbreaking displays of innovation. Now, we can just enjoy Gone Girl throughout the whole flight.

Don’t worry: you won’t have to listen to phone calls. The Federal Communications Commission has opposed this, citing potential interference.

This is a new engagement opportunity for your attendees.

The changes can let you stay connected to work or pleasure reading for your entire trip, and they're also important to your attendees. However, they hinge on one very important piece of the equation: your meeting's mobile application. If you don't have one, this is yet another sign to develop one so that you can:

1. Encourage your attendees to use this time to schedule sessions or set up an exhibitor “must visit” list while on the plane or during any of their travel before the meeting.

2. Remind them to complete surveys on their return trip while the experience is still fresh.

3. Provide them with a key takeaways template that they can fill out while the   information is top of mind for their boss and co-workers.

SEE ALSO: Mobile App Addicts

Okay, so the positives are obvious, but what are the negatives?

The publishing industry may take another hit.

Magazines and newspapers will lose another reason people may pick up a hard copy publication. If we are no longer trapped without our devices for those 20-30 minutes, we don’t need to carry anything additional on the plane. 

Association alert! Make sure that 2014 is the year you have digital issues of your trade publications that are written for today’s audience and attention span. It's more important than ever before to strengthen your online presence and take advantage of members who are glued to their screens.

SEE ALSO: When You'll Find the Cheapest Flights

Failing to disconnect is dangerous for your own personal sanity.

Before the advent of wi-fi on the plane, we were guaranteed a little downtime from our work and our officemates. This ruling that will allow tablets and other devices as well as the prevalence of paid wi-fi on planes feels like it may be a harbinger of things to come. If free wi-fi on planes with improved speeds is around the corner, we may never have an excuse to disconnect. Remember that time you slept or relaxed with a movie or good book? That may become the time where we get that presentation completed or IM with our boss.

Hopefully the FAA will fast-track this so that we can continue to hide behind our e-readers and no longer have to carry hard copies of The Hunger Games on a plane and potentially run into colleagues. I guess no one believes that I'm “only reading it to make sure it is ok for my niece."

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