Become a Pilot. (or maybe just visit an airplane factory)

So many things in this piece about being a Pilot, from where one might get a job (in case coal mining doesn't make a comeback) to reminding ourselves of why we should travel (especially now, against the frenzy over travel bans and nationalism). If nothing else, just a beautiful essay on the life of a Pilot. Worth reading.

Also: time to plan a trip to an airplane factory.

Photo by iamzereus/iStock / Getty Images

It Might Be Time For A Burner

I blame my parents for my (slightly obsessive) love of travel. They sent me to France on my own when I was 14, to stay with a French family for a month. The journey from NY to Marseille was so fraught with mishaps that I learned how to navigate across borders without any assistance (and only one year of French behind me). The rest of the trip didn't go well, but when I returned to NY I felt like a grown up.

I travel a lot for work and pleasure, and I am not even close to done yet.

The current state of things has me concerned for real, for the first time in my life. Travel bans that seem to change daily, airport interrogations, increased privacy risk, a ban on devices... as much as I hate to admit it, I am starting to think differently about my approach - what I bring, where I go, how I go (thankfully, I haven't gotten to "if" I should go).

It's likely that I won't encounter any real trouble. I was born in NYC to American parents from NY and the midwest, whose families emigrated here from Scandinavia, Ireland, and Germany. But my friends might. And what happens if I travel to the Middle East or certain parts of Asia? Because those places are still on my list, despite the troubles in the world.

Today, I read this piece in the NY Times about safeguarding your information during security searches. There are good tips in this story and I recommend reading it. Like, get a burner device to travel with - a phone and/or computer that doesn't have all of your most important information on it. A device that you can delete everything from once you no longer need it (which isn't a bad idea, anyway). Following this protocol adds another layer of complication to our lives and that's annoying. But if doing so makes it easier to move around the world, then I'll do it. I wish it was that simple for everyone.





Rethinking the Meeting and Event Experience

Typical conference ballroom set up. Not a place where you'd want to spend an hour, let alone a day. The upside is the table, where you can lay your head when you want to take a nap.

The meeting and events industry has long relied on the same formula - travel to a beachside destination, host the event in a luxury hotel, meet in a ballroom. Spend the budget on hotel-provided F&B, Powerpoint presentations on the biggest screen possible, and deliver entertainment in the form of an overpaid 90's band while executives enjoy "afterglow" at the bar.

The world has changed, people. Forecasts for 2017 predict that the meetings and events industry will remain somewhat stagnant, as budgets tighten, companies spend less on travel, and uncertainty in the world requires more vigilance.

It's challenging to reimagine a meeting or a conference. My team is often hired to do exactly that - create something extraordinary, "unlike anything we've done before", only to bump up against resistance when we finally get down to business. But, a new reality is here and organizations - whether a Fortune 500 company, an industry association, or a media company with an annual conference - must evolve. 

We can agree that Millennials are influencing much of the shift in programming, and we know that people want experiences not things. However, it's the smart use of technology that can truly transform the experience in a way that's never been done before.

I only know a handful of people who are actually using technology to change the way an event can be experienced, beyond a mobile app or registration check-in via tablet. See Charles Adler's comment about a recent talk he gave in South Korea after a 24-hr flight - he asks why he couldn't have participated remotely via AR, as a hologram on stage, saving himself the fatigue and the conference producer the expense. It's a good question. Production companies like Freeman XP are starting to build these things into their portfolio of services. Conference and meeting planners need to do the same. Why not offer a VR experience for employee training rather than a lengthy breakout session; or a conference as a paid live stream with global reach, rather than as a live event exclusive only to those who can afford to travel to the conference location? Utilizing technology to bring people and information together in an efficient, modern way clears the agenda for more in-person interaction and activities. It also opens up an opportunity to address another challenge - personalization. Find a way to customize the experience, you deliver more value.

And, I hear you - you could argue that giving a presentation remotely or live streaming an event is antithetical to the in-person experience. However, it just requires thinking differently about how those experiences are designed. Isn't that the fun part anyway?

Every day, we use technology to do the most mundane tasks, to improve our lives, to save time - order groceries, take college courses, purchase printer ink and have it delivered on the same day, even meditate. Your audience is already there. Now is the time to take them on an entirely new journey.

The hotel of the future will be... invisible.

You could say it's the inevitable evolution of Airbnb - a concierge-less, staff-less hotel. Book a room, arrive, and ... you're on your own. Armed with a guidebook curated for you by an "invisible" hotel staff, you experience and explore a city without ever needing to have a conversation with anyone.

Lokal Hotel in Philadelphia is turning this concept into a reality. Still in development, the hotel will have rooms designed to feel like loft-style apartments, with kitchens and washer-dryers. As someone who prefers to stay in vacation rentals to hotels (though I do love a good hotel), I'm looking forward to the completion of Lokal so we can check it out. I have a lot of questions.

On this snowday...

Manoush in Fast Company, talking about digital privacy.

Tomorrow, Dan Costa interviews Steve Singh of SAP about boundary-less business. They'll also chat about his incredible career, which began at Apple in the Steve 1.0 era. Tune in at 10am ET or catch the podcast on iTunes.

Check out Sophia's piece for PCMag this week on how VR might be able to help people with mental illness. 

And John Keefe, formerly the Senior Editor of Data News at WNYC, has moved on to work in his own Bot Studio at Quartz. It's an exciting move and we're looking forward to the ideas and experiments that he'll be sharing as he gets settled into his new gig.