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Monday Buzz: The Event Startup That's Locking Up Smartphones

By / Jun 20, 2016 (Yondr screenshot)

The company Yondr has built a business around the concept of locking concert attendees’ smartphones in sock-size bags. Really. Also: The importance of evening events.

A lot of conferences thrive on the undercurrent of information that smartphones help drive.

But what if you have a special event, or a portion of a session, where you’d like people to stop looking at their phones? You can ask nicely, or you can do what pop star Alicia Keys did: With the help of a startup, she required attendees at a recent show to lock their phones inside a small bag, preventing use during the event but allowing access outside of the concert hall. (The reason? Apparently Keys was playing new songs for the first time and didn’t want less-than-pristine versions to get online.)

According to The Washington Post, a variety of stars in the music and comedy space have started to use the service, produced by a company called Yondr.

Yondr’s product has earned the praise of Lumineers singer and guitarist Wesley Schultz, who said it’s worked better than any other option he’s tried.

“Because people still feel they still have their baby in their arm,” he told the newspaper. “It’s a little bit clunky but it’s better than telling them to leave their phones in their cars or forbidding it.”

The approach has big-name fans, such as Dave Chappelle, and has even found an audience in high schools. Event planners who want attendees to disconnect for a little while may find Yondr’s approach worth watching.

A Reminder of Mission

Speaking of putting phones away, John Mancini, president of the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM), says he recently found a museum experience so compelling that it led nearly everyone around him to put away their phones.

“It is reassuring to me that in an era in which we are constantly bombarded with digital stimuli, some stimuli still retain the simple power to shut everyone up,” Mancini wrote on Association Success earlier this month. “That was my overwhelming sensation at the Holocaust Museum.”

Mancini admits that his visit to the U.S. Holocaust Museum, in Washington, DC, was a bit heavy and brought to light some political thoughts, but in the end it got him thinking about how associations’ missions can get lost in the day-to-day process.

“Often lost is the opportunity to take a chance in our dealings with members and staff and actually articulate a clear vision of why we matter and how we can make a difference and sometimes just be quiet,” he adds.

Other Links of Note

It’s not just about the morning or the afternoon. Evening events matter too, says the Event Manger Blog.

If you’re looking to volunteer, you’ll find a number of opportunities in these cities, according to VolunteerMatch.

We can always get better at Google. Check out these hidden search tricks from Lifehacker‘s Field Guide subsite.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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