Special event professionals have iPad fever, and the only cure is a tablet—a tablet computer, that is.

According to a recent online survey from Special Events, 29 percent of respondents have an Apple iPad or other tablet and "love it." Another 44 percent say they don't have one now but are considering it. A scant 8 percent have a tablet now but don't use it often, and 17 percent say they have no interest in a tablet.

SEEING IS BELIEVING

The iPad is by most popular tablet by landslide among Special Events readers. And when they say they love it, they mean love it.

Even though she says she is still "just learning" how to use her iPad, "I think I died and went to heaven," says Valerie Ulrich, director of special events for San Francisco-based First Republic Bank.

Her iPad enables her to "open big files and actually read them," Ulrich says."I open photos and can actually see them." She is so enthusiastic about the iPad that "I am thinking of going into my savings account and buying one for every kid in every school, every friend I have and just handing some out on the streets to people I don't even know," she says. "What a great tool."

Indeed, the ability to view and share images via the iPad is a huge asset for event professionals.

Pam Dzierzanowski, director of events for New York-based Patron Spirits, got her iPad as a gift and didn't use it for six months, she says. But once she synched it with her computer and loaded more than 12,000 images onto her iPad, "My work life has never been the same," she explains.

Thanks to the images on her iPad, "It's so quick and easy to show event producers what we can offer right there on the spot," Dzierzanowski says. "Generally at a walkthrough, a whole team is there, and everyone can get on same page and understand what we are discussing with so many photos/options to choose from. I can show everything we have in inventory from bars to florals, costumes, drink recipes, etc."

INTEGRATING IPADS

Colja Dams, head of German event powerhouse Vok Dams Group, notes that his company not only uses iPads to make presentations to clients but also integrates them into events.

"At a BMW product launch, we showed the guests the entire list of features and benefits right in the car over the iPad," Dams says. And for client Nespresso, "We created a virtual iPad tour through their flagship store to guide journalists."

IPads were a critical component of a recent event from Henry V Events of Portland, Ore.

To launch a trucking company's new private app for its dealers, the Henry V team distributed 500 iPads to attendees and created an Apple-sanctioned lounge offering iPad training. "We also created huge iPads so the presenters could use them onstage," notes Henry V managing director Matt Harper.

LOSE SOME WEIGHT

Since the iPad weights a scant 1.3 pounds, it spares on-the-go event pros from having to lug a laptop computer on their travels.

As head of Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Precision Event Group, Jason Wanderer travels frequently for business, which meant his team used to have to wait till the evening for him to return to his hotel room, fire up his laptop computer and then approve their documents and designs. But thanks to his iPad, "I can review elements in a large format and am able to comment and approve them, leading to greater efficiency for the entire organization," he says. "As our staff travels so much, we are rolling out the iPad companywide."

For a recent event with 700 guests, "We used our iPad 2’s for check-in and total list management," says Cara Kleinhaut, head of Beverly Hills-based Caravents. "All the iPads instantly update each other as guests check in or make changes, so everyone has the most recent information. You can leave notes on each attendee. It was fantastic and looked so much more sleek and organized."

Indeed, there is no denying that the lightweight iPad is heavy on hip.

"I feel to not have a tablet now is behind the times," says Ada Chan, managing director of Fresh Events Co. in Pasadena, Calif. "Clients are always impressed that we're up to date with technology and thus on top of our game."

Steve Kohn, head of Miller's Rentals of Edison, N.J., agrees.

"No rental person should be without it," he says flatly. "It really makes a statement about you and your company. Being on the cutting edge is so important."

The only two features Kohn wishes the iPad had: the ability to stop the rain and to dry tents, he jokes.

NOT QUITE A COMPUTER

The one complaint shared most commonly by iPad users is that this tablet computer still isn't a computer—at least when it comes to running popular programs.

While she loves her iPad's ability to share photos and let her read the morning newspaper, Laurie Stolowitz, a partner in New York-based 360 Design Events, says she must turn to apps to handle functions such as word processing and managing spreadsheets. And, "I wish for--and may buy--a real keyboard for when I need to crank out a lot of writing or emails," she adds. "The virtual one seems slow and klutzy to me."

THE FUTURE IS HERE

Damon Holditch, CSEP, CERP, has become such a fan of his iPad that he is likely to purchase them for all the outside salespeople in his company, he says.

The founder of Austin-based Marquee Event Group explains, "IPads are the future. We will all have one soon. They are a serious work tool--not just a toy."

Margaret Launzel-Pennes, vice president of worldwide events, distributor communications and video production for Los Angeles-based Herbalife, takes iPads just as seriously.

"Employers shouldn’t be afraid an iPad or other tablet will encourage game-playing or lots of personal use, because it is the way of the future," she explains. "And if you’re going to be timely and relevant, you have to use the tools the big boys use."

Photo by iStockphoto.com / © Tomasz Pietryszek

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