Archive : June 2011

Super Planner app now available in Android! Insights on Droid vs. iPhone Development Processes

Posted June 26, 2011

Well, it’s finally done.  The Droid version of my Super Planner app is now available.  Click here to check it out in the Android Marketplace.

Developing in Android vs. iPhone

First let me apologize for the delay in its release, as I’d initially promised it months earlier.  Here’s the story.  My assumption had been that after doing the heavy lifting last year in creating all the formulas, layouts, utilities, tips, etc. for the iPhone version, it would be fairly easy to show the app to an Android programmer, and say, “Make me one of these in Droid, please.” You know, like going into a store and saying, “See this shirt?  Get me one in medium.”  Alas, it was not so easy.  Not even close.  Developing an app for Google is a totally different process.

1) Devices vs. the OS. Google controls the operating system (Android), but not the devices.  Whereas Apple controls both the operating system, AND the devices, Google’s Android OS runs on hundreds of different types of devices.  Apple’s got only three: iPod Touch; iPhone; and iPad, so its easy for them to make your app look pretty on those three devices.

Google, on the other hand, has to enable your app to look the same, or pretty close, on hundreds of devices, so they’ve taken a different approach in the development process for apps.  Rather than place graphics and text in very specific places (like with Apple), the development code for Android includes ‘relational’ placement.  In other words, you tell it that a certain input box, for example, belongs just to the left of a certain line of text.  These instructions enable your app to scale across ump-teen different screen sizes, dimensions, resolutions, etc.

That said, the Droid version does exactly every single thing the iPhone version does, and we even made some sections faster by removing unnecessary verbiage.

2) No Home Screen. From a navigational standpoint, Android eliminates the need for a Home screen.  You click the app’s icon on your phone and it jumps you right into the app.  Super Planner is divided into 3 master sections: Food & Beverage, Audio Visual, and Room Capacity, each of which has multiple sub-sections.  If you want to go from one section to another in the iPhone version, you have to first go to Home, then into your new section.  In Android, the 3 section tabs are omnipresent at the top of your screen, so you can go from one to another more efficiently.

3) The Menu Button.  Android also makes use of a Menu button, which allows additional sub-menu items to appear (and then disappear) on the screen, whereas Apple requires these sub-menu icons to be permanently anchored at the bottom of each screen.

4) Turnaround Time. Apple turned around my app submission in around 2 weeks, which I thought was pretty fast.  Google approved my app and put it in their store in 5 minutes.

Interesting experience.  Hope you Droid lovers enjoy the app, and I welcome your feedback!

Event Leadership Institute Launches: Come Learn Something

Posted June 20, 2011

When do you use a glass vs. a metal gobo?  |  What’s the best way to charge for event planning?  |  What are the three biggest challenges to watch for when doing events in lofts?  |  What are the insider websites the top designers use to by their items wholesale?  |  What’s the exact verbiage you need on a certificate of insurance?  How do you get your business to the next level?  |  Whose responsibility is it to coordinate aspect ratios between presenters and a/v vendors?

The list goes on.  And on.  Being an event planner encompasses a dozen different disciplines, such as food and beverage, venues, entertainment, audio visual, transportation, etc.  Nobody’s an expert at all of them, but we’re all responsible for them at some point, and a screw up on any of them can sink your event.  And your career.  Where do you turn to for quick answers, best practices, and guidance?

Enter the Event Leadership Institute, a new venture I’ve been working on for the past year, which officially launched on June 1st.  The main thrust of it is online, on-demand top-flight education, training and insights for planners, all professionally produced and taught by subject matter experts.  Here are the key take-aways.

  1. Easy Access. Tapping a growing trend toward micro-learning, our classes average 40 minutes each, but are then broken into approximately 10 chapters of 4 minutes each by topic, so planners can jump right away to the section they need, when they need it.  You can return at a later date to finish the class, as the system remembers which chapters you’ve seen.

    Lighting 101

  2. Top Quality Content. We spend 7+ hours with every instructor (even experienced presenters), helping to develop and curate their presentations.  Our focus is to make the material well organized and easy to digest.  Over 90% of our classes have qualified for continuing education credits toward the CMP.

Lighting 101: Ellipsoidals screen shot

    • Wide Range of Topics. Our Class Library covers categories from Business Ownership to Technical Production to R.O.I., we try to cover all the bases, with new classes added every month.
    • Interviews with Top Planners. The people who plan the biggest events in the country share their insights on everything, including how they run their events, what kind of employees they look for, how they got started, etc.

    • Flexible Payment Options. You can purchase classes in three ways:
        1. A la carte (they range from $35 to $55),
        2. Monthly Subscription:  $25 / month (Beta price) for unlimited access.
        3. Annual Subscription: $250 / year (Beta price) for unlimited access (2 months included free).

          For years, we’ve all fought to be treated like professionals.  This venture is an effort to help raise the overall level of education out there, and make it easy for planners to learn what they need, when they need it.  I thank all the instructors who have graciously given of their time and offered to share their hard-earned insights, in service of this cause.

          I invite you to take a look at our site, and explore our various classes.  Each one has a free preview chapter so you can sample it before committing, and new classes are added every month.  Help spread the word that there’s a new resource available to us all.

          Everyone Hates the MiddleMan

          Posted June 16, 2011

          Do You Just Markup Your Vendors or Do You Add Real Value?

          I’m sitting on the plane ride home from the BizBash West Expo, where I gave a 3 hour workshop called “The Business Accelerator for the Independent Planner: Best Practices for Building Your Event Company”.  (The next one is in Chicago on August 18th, then in NYC on October 19th).  I’m in the aisle seat and am having a bizarre episode with the man sitting in the middle seat next to me that is reminding me of an interesting discussion we had in our class on marking up vendors.

          Maybe “episode” is the wrong word.  Here’s the thing:  we’re in a row of three seats, and the window seat is empty, and for some bizarro reason, this guy refuses to move to the window and give us both an empty middle seat.  I gently give him more and more of my elbow on the shared armrest, but he’s dug in.  Now I’ve highlighted this paragraph and doubled the font size of it, hoping he’ll read it and take the hint.  But now he opens his smart phone and it’s all in Chinese, so I’m fighting the tide.  If there were someone sitting in the window seat we’d have no problem, but because it’s empty, it’s driving me crazy.

          What does this “middle man” have to do with my class?  Well, when we got to the section on pricing models, we had a whole discussion about how to prove value when you’re marking up your vendors.  One guy lamented that, “my resources are my biggest assets.  What happens when my client wants to book them directly?”

          That’s one of the biggest challenges of using the markup model.  But it goes much deeper.   I told him his first task is to really hone in on the value he brings to the table above and beyond just bringing in subcontractors, because if all the client thinks you’re doing is marking up a vendor, you’re just a middleman, and nobody likes a middleman.

          Why?  The middleman is perceived as an obstacle to efficient pricing and fluidity in the marketplace.  Why should goods and services have to make a pit stop at the middleman on their way to the end user?  Seems like a waste, which is why one of the best marketing slogans ever invented was “we eliminate the middleman.”

          So if you choose the general contractor business model, you need to counter this perception.  Here’s a few ideas we came up with that you can say to your client:

          • “I don’t just find my vendors, I manage them.  For every vendor proposal I forward you, there are 3 others I kick back to him because I know they’re not what you want.  I filter out everything that’s off base, saving you lots of time and aggravation.”
          • “I carefully evaluate and select each vendor for a specific job at a specific time.  The caterer I chose for your product launch might not be right for your gala dinner.  And they might not even be right for your next product launch in six months if I hear their chef left the company.  Some vendors work well in certain venues and not others.  Etc.”
          • “I know my vendors’ idiosyncrasies.  Some of them are always days late with their proposals, others leave key things out of their budgets, etc.  We compensate for that and isolate you from these headaches.”

          Of course they can’t be empty promises.  You’ve got to actually DO all that stuff, but if you do, you will in fact be making a solid case for why vendor services are being run through you on their way to the client.