When more than 6,000 digital media professionals gather at Highline Stages February 17 to 21 for Social Media Week, they will have several options to stay connected and productive. New this year, organizers have created a variety of work stations, including private pods made from shipping crates that come with tabletops, seating, and leather and wood finishes. The work spaces tie into the event’s theme, “Always On, Always Connected. The Future of Now.”
“One of the things that challenges people and often keeps them away is the fact they have other things to do,” says Toby Daniels, C.E.O. of Crowdcentric and founder of Social Media Week. “They have a day job, and they want to be able to get on conference calls and schedule meetings. So we want them to feel they can go to the conference and remain productive at the same time.”
Attendees will have a choice of three work spaces located on the ground floor of the venue: high-top tables that seat four people; long tables with seating for nine people and built-in charging stations; and four converted shipping crates that can be used for private meetings. Social Media Week sponsor Nokia is underwriting the cost of the work areas. Sundae Creative designed the shipping crates, outfitting them with a desk, a task lamp, carpet, leather-covered walls, and wood accents. Each one will also include headphones, a phablet (a device sized between a smartphone and a tablet), and free use of Skype Premium. A scheduling system will allow attendees to reserve the pods.
Organizers have also revamped the event’s exhibitor area. Dubbed the “Pop Up Marketplace,” it will house booths from more than a dozen brands ranging in size from 4 by 7 feet to 11 by 12 feet. The booths are meant to look like pop-up stores, each made from wood and other natural materials. “It’s our attempt to think about trade show booths a little bit differently and hopefully a little more creatively,” Daniels says. “The whole look and feel is a more raw, open, natural feel, trying to get away from that corporate, plastic, vinyl approach that a lot of conferences and trade shows go for. We wanted to create a template for people to work with and a design guideline to work within, which we hope will create some consistency and make the experience feel a little more interesting, a little more welcoming, and a little more creative.” Organizers will provide Wi-Fi, iPads, plasma screens, and other audiovisual equipment to exhibitors.
The event will offer more than 100 sessions, keynotes, and master classes. Speakers include Meetup C.E.O. Scott Heiferman, author Seth Godin, and Zipcar founder Robin Chase. In addition to the events in New York, Social Media Week will take place simultaneously in eight other cities around the world.