Pocket Planner is a new, free all-in-one event calculator brought to you by the team from Social Tables. This handy little app puts the power of budget control and meeting management in the hands of every staff member, wherever they might be. We took some time for a conversation with the team on this convenient new tool for the industry.
1. Why and when did your company get started? What was the inspiration?
Social Tables was founded in 2011, when Founder Dan Berger identified a need in the market for a social event diagramming software. The company has pivoted away from B2C market that it was founded upon to B2B, now serving 2,200 customers, and counting the Hyatt Hotel Corporation, Genentech and Harvard Business School as clients.
2. How did you come up with the ‘name’ and concept – what’s the story behind the name?
In its conception, Social Tables was created as a wedding diagramming software. The idea was to show attendees before they arrived who they would be seated next to, to avoid awkward first meetings over a dry piece of chicken at the reception.
Thankfully, Dan decided to parlay that original idea into a product that the hospitality industry as a whole could use. Social Tables now offers the most dynamic ecosystem of events on the market, from event diagramming to attendee management to guest check-in software. Instead of a handful of weddings in a few beautiful venues, Social Tables now has a library of over 150,000 client-diagrammed events created in over 210 million square feet of venue space.
The name remains relevant because of the collaborative nature of the product. Customers are able to share and work simultaneously on an event, either with their team or with their own clients. Additionally, within the guest management feature, a customer is able to click one button and pull in their guest’s open social profiles (LinkedIn or Facebook), which drops their profile photo onto their seat.
3. What is your “big innovation?” What’s the coolest features of your tech?
The company’s biggest innovation is our creation of 3D diagramming. Visit www.app.socialtables.com, click any event, then click the ‘3D View’ button to view this incredible feat of engineering.
Our biggest recent feature is undoubtedly our free app, the Pocket Planner. The Pocket Planner is a free event and meeting calculator from Social Tables and the Convention Industry Council that uses CIC standards to recommend food, beverage, service and safety quantities for events based on attendance. After entering the attendee count of your event, the calculator automatically generates numbers to alleviate the stress of personally figuring out event quantities.
Additionally, the app links to the CIC’s website, where you can download the CIC Manual – the industry standard for event best practices. In the future, the contents of that manual will be mobily accessible on the Pocket Planner as well.
4. How does your technology change the game for event professionals?
It will automate manual processes, allowing meeting planners to spend more time on strategic tasks. Karen Kotowski, CAE, CMP, Chief Executive Officer of the Convention Industry Council and said, ‘The app is another tool that allows planners flexibility in applying their knowledge, not a substitute for attaining it.” It alleviates the pressures caused by small details that weigh heavily on a planners time, freeing them to focus on the big picture.
5. Is it possible to measure ROI on your product?
Absolutely. Consider the amount of time a planner would spend either calculating these numbers by themselves, or waiting for their caterer to get back to them with. It literally condenses what could be a week-long wait on a deliverable to a 15 second task.
6. What do your best customers love about you?
That we actually care about them – it’s not lip service. 3/4 of our features are created after recommendations/requests from clients.
The Pocket Planner is a perfect example of this: “In speaking with planners throughout the hospitality industry, we found a shared frustration as it pertained to scaling product and personnel quantities to attendees,” recalls Dan Berger, CEO & Founder of Social Tables. “As a company that has been shaped by feedback from our customers, we knew we had to provide a solution – that’s when the idea of an app hit us.”
Current responses we have had about it this far include:
Just downloaded! Excited to use…PLUS, it has the handy dandy APEX glossary and CIC Manual–perfect for me since I’m taking the exam less than 3 weeks away! “
Spending more time on strategic tasks is my utopia! Awesome that Social Tables has brought this to market. Please share my appreciation with Dan and the entire team.
This is like my brain dumped into an app.
So I’ve been toying around with my #PocketPlanner and @socialtables I gotta say…. I’m loving it! Innovation at it’s best! #eventprofs
7. What industry trends and shifts are you following that you think are important?
Focusing on delivering products that allow planners to engage in meeting planning automation – strategy – the bigger picture – seeing the forest through the trees – instead of being bogged down by details that technology can help them fix.
Have to ask: What’s your favorite app? (Not your own)
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