Thursday, March 22, 2012

2012 IACC Copper Skillet Champion

Johan Heibert, Food & Beverage Manager at Villa Brevik (Sweden) wins the 2012 (#IACC12, @IACCconfcenters) cook-off competition. In second place, Theis Christensen, Executive Chef, Comwell Holte (Denmark) and, third place goes to Sander Westerman, Executive Chef, Blooming Hotel & Conference Estate (Netherlands). 

The other competitors (in alphabetical order by country):
Jesse Huges, Sous Chef, Vue Grand Hotel (Australia)
Murray Hall, Executive Chef, BMO Financial Group Instititute for Learning (Canada)
Katsunori Hirata, Chef de Cuisine, Tokyo Conference Center (Japan)
Abduilah Azzubair, Head Chef, Royal College of Physicians (United Kingdom)
Charles J. Chambers, Executive Sous Chef, Hamilton Park Hotel & Conference Center (United States)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

QR codes have a way of making the walls talk

If these walls at the NIU Hoffman Estates Conference Center could talk, they would share stories of more than 40,000 meeting attendees and students who have passed through its doors since 1992.

Guests of NIU Hoffman Estates create experiences and ideas here. They hold meetings, luncheons and cocktail hours. Decisions are made here—some simple and others life-changing for organizations. All the while, these walls have been standing by quietly.

The walls have listened, patiently, while the staff, guests and the world adjusted their focus and engaged in conversations that reflect environmental change. The dialogues are about carbon footprints, reducing paper, eliminating waste, and recycling. How do we help the world and get the word out?

These walls cannot be silent anymore! Armed with great technology and emerging trends, NIU Hoffman Estates can share its history and green efforts with the world.

How could these walls talk? How is that possible? By now you may be familiar with those little black and white bar codes. Maybe you have heard they are called quick-response codes. If you consider yourself somewhat tech-savvy, you know that QR codes are one of the most popular two dimensional bar codes on the planet.

Thanks to our addiction to smart-phones and willingness to type with our thumbs, QR codes have become a focus within marketing.

QR codes offer another way to engage with mobile-minded consumers. For NIU Hoffman Estates Conference Center, QR codes are the voice. Meeting attendees and students at the conference center now have an opportunity to join in the environmental conversation and witness the effort this building goes through to make the world a better place.

Susan Skorich from a marketing and print communications firm in Schaumburg identifies QR odes as “a dynamic way to interact with smart-phone users.” Used properly, these codes give NIU Hoffman Estates Conference Center a voice. The walls can talk! Now they are increasing awareness of the building’s effort to become more environmentally conscious.

Starting in June, guests can interact with NIU Hoffman Estates in a way like never before. Smartphone users can download the QR code reader application, for free, and participate by scanning the wall and reading the message. QR codes are posted throughout the center and will inform guests about congregate food service, water stations, timers on light switches, and low-flow toilets. As information changes, NIU Hoffman Estates staff can simply logon and add new messages without printing more paper.

“Sounds green to me,” says Sarah Vining, the marketing coordinator at the National Conference Center. Sarah has been using QR codes for her own conference center in Virginia. According to Vining, “QR codes are cutting edge and are the greenest method to express eco-friendly initiatives.”

Newspaper &Technology Magazine’s editor, Tara McMeekin, wrote QR codes can be the perfect complement to print and other media. She said Allure’s use of 26 Microsoft tags in its August 2010 ‘Free Stuff’ issue snagged some 440,000 scans by readers wanting in on the Condé Nast magazine’s annual giveaway.

QR codes can be acquired for free. With an investment of time, your business can gain access to the mobile-minded consumer. Give your grocery store, classroom, flower shop, or chamber of commerce a voice. In the meantime, stop by and experience NIU Hoffman Estates and find out what these walls are saying.

David Haas is the former regional sales and product manager for NIU Conference Centers. He was responsible for the sales and marketing strategy for the three centers and sits on the IACC-Americas Board of Directors.