Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

December 19 2016

Tech Watch: The New Tool That Will Transform Global Communication

David McMillin


The meetings and events industry speaks many languages. While many associations and societies are excited about growing attendance in new regions of the world, those potential opportunities come with a serious challenge: language barriers. How can meeting professionals and suppliers build relationships and negotiate contracts if they are uncomfortable communicating in each other’s native tongues?

A new tool called Pilot seems poised to answer the question without forcing everyone to enroll in advanced-level language courses or wander around glued to guidebooks or translation apps on their mobile devices. It’s a simple system that includes two earpieces and a mobile app. Here’s how it works. Let’s say I’m hoping to discuss food and beverage options during a venue site visit in Mexico; my four years of high school Spanish won’t do much to help. So, I pop in a Pilot earpiece and give the supplier an earpiece for his/her ear. As I speak in English, the app translates into Spanish for my partner. As he or she talks, I hear the answers in English. Pilot has earned plenty of praise from some of the most recognized names in engineering and business including Popular Science, Mashable and Forbes. Watch the tool in action HERE.

There’s only one piece of bad news: it isn’t ready quite yet. However, your wait won’t be long. Brooklyn-based Waverly Labs has been working on Pilot for the past two years and expects to make it available in May 2017. The launch will include English, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese with more languages to follow between summer and fall of 2017. You can pre-order it on Indiegogo for $199. You won’t be alone, either. The company’s crowdsourcing campaign has already raised $3.7 million.

SEE ALSO: 9 Steps To Making International Attendees Feel At Home

Speaking Your Attendees’ Languages, Too

If your organization is getting serious about growing international attendance, Pilot probably won’t be able to solve all your problems. Prospective attendees will want to see marketing materials in their native languages, too. If you want to make them feel comfortable, you’ll need to explore options for translating your marketing materials into certain languages of your target audiences. The promotional team behind Toy Fair 2017 did a great job of reaching out to a worldwide audience by translating its website into more than 100 languages.

Looking to make an even bigger impact with your international audience? Consider investing in simultaneous interpretation to tailor the on-site experience to more than an English-speaking set of attendees. These services will require a bigger investment, but they can pay big dividends. Click HERE to learn how one convention offers its programming in seven languages.

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