Humanity, Do You Take Technology To Be Your Ever Loving And Faithful Wife?

PORTLAND–Adrianna Ballroom at SW 9th and Yamhill is a perfect room for weddings and wedding receptions, which is great because the 200 people gathered here for Delight 2012, a digital marketing event put on by ISITE Design, are intent on celebrating the union of technology and service.

As Dave Tragethon, Executive Director of Sales, Communications and I.T. for Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort tells the room, “Technology is nothing without humanity.”

Tragethon is particularly excited this morning about the RFID gates that will be in play on the mountain this winter. He says the number one customer complaint at Mt. Hood Meadows has historically been that people don’t like being asked to show their pass each time they board a lift. “Technology is nothing without humanity,” he repeats.

Another speaker this morning is Jill Nelson, CEO of Ruby Receptionists. She says “Fine is a four-letter word. We are in the business of making people’s day.”

Nelson says her company’s “virtual receptionists” answer 250 calls a day, but it’s not a chore, because every call is a chance to connect with someone in a human way. Nelson adds that every employee at Ruby has access to the company’s Amazon account and may buy a client anything, for any price, at any time, no questions asked. Nelson also describes how to create “a system” for every consumer touch point. For example, when someone comes to the Ruby offices, the staff employs a “Greet, Seat and Treat” policy. In other words, everything Ruby does is on brand.

Dave Weineke, head of the Digital Strategy practice and member of ISITE’s Boston office, says brands can’t just compete on product and service, or on price. “Having customers that care is the strategic advantage” that matters most. Wieneke, I might point out, is also wielding an axe. He calls it an instrument of unabashed change. “The axe is an all or nothing commitment,” Weineke intones.

One of the day’s more spirited talks comes from Nat Parker, co-founder and CEO of mobile ticketing startup, GlobeSherpa. Parker says the public sector is woefully underserved by technology. He points to the frustrations people have with transit vending machines, as one example. “Buying and using a transit ticket is not easy,” Parker says. Thankfully, his firm has an answer for this usability problem and will soon launch a co-branded smartphone App with TriMet, which will allow riders to purchase and manage their TriMet tickets from their phone.

Parker’s words are well received in the audience, as people imagine an easier way to get from here to there. He also says that transit authorities like TriMet love the idea, because it considerably reduces their costs. Plus, the mobile tickets will be easier for bus drivers and Inspectors to validate, creating a more efficient boarding process. Interestingly, Parker notes that if a rider’s phone battery dies en route, an Inspector can enter the person’s phone number and validate the transaction at the server level.

Parker also mentions that geo-location plays an important piece in the GlobeSherpa platform. For example, there is potential to personalize ticket graphics, and allow for sponsored tickets. GlobeSherpa is also working to integrate park-n-ride ticketing into its offering, and has plans to advance into event ticketing too.

Disclosure Statement: ISITE Design is a client, and also my landlord.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.