It’s a familiar sight in presidential debates: Through a simple turn of the Nielsen dial, a panel of citizens share their impressions of the candidates’ remarks in real time. Have you ever wished you could have the same type of instant response capabilities for your own meetings? Well, enter Microsoft’s Bing Pulse, a real-time consumer engagement tool launched in November 2014 that can capture the sentiment of groups at meetings, conferences and trade shows. 

Using tablets, smartphones or laptops, your attendees can download a free app, log in and begin providing instant feedback—or pulses—to your speakers. You can even create yes/no and multiple choice questions on the spot and send them out to the crowd. The technology allows users to respond to the presentation every five seconds, and a graph will reveal how their own reactions compare to those of other audience members.

Josh Gottheimer, general manager for advertising and strategy at Microsoft, says that 80 percent of people use some sort of second screen experience while they are performing activities such as watching television. Bing Pulse helps planners and speakers engage their audience in the presentation and then use that feedback to assess the effectiveness of how the intended message was delivered.

Patty Triplett West was a publicity executive at Warner Bros. searching for a meaningful holiday gift for colleagues, when she came up with the idea for Good Karmal. The elegant gourmet caramels come in six flavors—vanilla, sea salt, café caramel, caramel, apple, butter rum and chocolate sea salt. Each handmade confection is individually wrapped with an inspiring quotation, such as “Scatter Joy” (Ralph Waldo Emerson) or “Whatever you are, be a good one” (Abraham Lincoln).

 

MEDEA, an ultra-premium vodka that’s distilled in Schiedman, Holland, and distributed through corporate headquarters in Pleasanton, California, regularly takes top awards in the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition and the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. And that’s just for its taste. MEDEA also enjoys distinction for its unique bottle: the only one in the world with a programmable LED message strip, which is design- and technology-patented.

 

It takes a lot to entertain sophisticated travelers these days, but leave it to San Francisco to translate some intriguing tidbits of history into an out-of-the-box, underground attraction that meeting planners may want to include in their off-site activity suggestions. Escape Alcatraz is a drop ride and show simulating an escape from the infamous prison, including a (safe) jump off “The Rock.”