Portable Charging StationsFebruary 1, 2015

The Best Way for Attendees to 'Power Up' By
February 1, 2015

Portable Charging Stations

The Best Way for Attendees to 'Power Up'

chargingstations- metroConnections

Portela,Rachel-Column-110x140Rachel Portela began her career at metroConnections within the Event Services division in 2009. In 2011, she transitioned to the fast-growing division of Production Services with the title of show producer.  In 2014, she was promoted to director of production services, co-directing and overseeing the division with Sr. Technical Director Bill Sather. Rachel utilizes her industry experience and leadership position to guide and encourage her team, develop and apply processes, and instill the core values of service and quality in all aspects of the division. Contact the metroConnections production team at production@metroconnections.com.

There is no contesting that attendees stay glued to their phones, tablets and laptops even while participating in conferences, meetings and events. Not only do they use these devices for note-taking, trading contacts and emailing the office, it’s pretty hard these days to unplug from family and friends.

Increased device dependency results in a greater need for battery charging on the fly, especially when high usage and heavy network traffic cause the battery to drain faster than usual. In response to this growing trend, portable charging station towers can make you the hero at your next event. Ideal for lobbies, media centers and conference entryways, these towers are equipped to recharge a wide range of devices by offering iPhone and Android cords (for those attendees who may have left their cords at home or in a hotel room), USB ports and standard outlets for laptops and tablets.

“Increased device dependency results in a greater need for battery charging on the fly, especially when high usage and heavy network traffic cause the battery to drain faster than usual.”

The Need is Great

It’s a common sight at conferences and events to see people in business suits sitting on the floor, camped out next to a power outlet while their phone charges and other people wait their turn. However, with an increasing number of conferences and events utilizing every power source available, whether it’s for a booth, a video display or other electronic device, outlets are becoming a scarce commodity.

Though metroConnections provided power cords in the past, it soon became apparent that another solution was necessary. Enter portable charging station towers, which essentially kill two birds with one stone: not only are charging cords available, they are on display in an attractive, unobtrusive manner that also provides a workspace for attendees during breaks.

According to a study done by comScore, total U.S. Internet usage increased 93 percent from May 2010 to May 2013. Smartphones were the driving force behind this growth, accounting for a whopping 381 billion minutes of online time, up from 81 billion three years prior.

A virtual non-entity when the study was first done in 2010, tablets accounted for 100 billion minutes of Internet usage in 2013. As users drift more towards handheld devices, it’s crucial for event organizers to keep up, whether it’s creating apps for a conference, encouraging social media interaction at conventions or providing a place for users to recharge, both literally and figuratively. With about 95 percent of business travelers carrying smartphones, it is no longer a luxury to have an opportunity to charge your device — it’s a necessity.

Eliminating Cord Mania

In the past, providing power cords alone raised a lot of questions — where to place them, whether or not to bring in tables to display them and what to do if attendees walked off with one? However, portable charging stations solve those issues. At metro we created our own four-sided tiered design, which allows for maximum usage at minimum space: up to four people can charge two devices.

Because it’s so important to cater to every type of electronic device attendees might bring to an event, research the tower’s specs when trying to incorporate a charging station. You’ll need to accommodate Android devices (a universal micro USB), iPhone 4, iPhone 5/6 (which use different cables than the iPhone 4), USB ports and normal three-prong electrical outlets.

To maximize the value of portable charging stations, it’s vital to integrate them into the planning process early on.

Once a space is chosen and attendee numbers are close to confirmed, start the discussion on how many stations are needed and where they ought to be set. A good rule of thumb is to plan on one or two stations for a group of from 100 to 200 attendees and up to four for a group of around 1,000. However, this also can depend on your conference theme: An electronics event will definitely require more charging stations than a conference on historic penmanship.

Although it seems ideal to have the charging stations in the middle of busy areas, it’s important to keep in mind that power sources are typically located on the walls, and you want to avoid running cords in the middle of the foyer. Your best bet would be to place them out of the way in high-traffic areas such as snack stations, lounges or restrooms.

Best Practices

Having a successful experience with a portable charging station can be achieved in a variety of ways. Signage is helpful, both to direct attendees to the charging station, and then, once they’re there, to encourage them to use it. Make an announcement about the stations in the general sessions and breakouts to inform people who might have missed seeing them. If you have a map for attendees, note where the charging stations are located; if you offer an app for the convention, make sure to indicate where attendees can recharge.

You can also get creative with it: One metroConnections client created a “Tech Zone” in the foyer at their conference, providing charging stations, iPads on coffee tables, comfortable furniture, a 70-inch touchscreen for attendees to check on their company’s social media outlets and a modern jukebox for fun. You also could include TVs that highlight the conference agenda, making this spot a one-stop shop for attendees and their technology needs.

As phones, tablets and other devices become exponentially more integral to events, stay at the forefront of the technology trend — and win over some grateful battery-depleted attendees. Once portable charging stations are incorporated into your conference or event, you’ll never look back. AC&F

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