One way to judge any business event—whether for consumers, clients, or employees—is by the level of attendee engagement. No matter what your stated goal for a meeting or event, you won’t reach it if your audience isn’t along for the ride.

Tablets—most notably the iPad—are the latest tools that event marketers are using to encourage that engagement, according to a new whitepaper from event marketing agency TBA Global, New York. Just think about this, from the paper’s section on consumer events: “If a brand is savvy about creating the right content that creates an authentic connection, events can live forever on an attendee’s own device.”

The good news: Events can live forever! The bad news: Events can live forever! The key, of course, is the content. On today’s tablet platforms, according to TBA Global, compelling content means video and gaming. It means personalization, and the feeling of getting an “inside look.” It also means allowing users to continually “unlock” new features or information so that they will interact with your brand over the long haul. Whatever prompts a user to “opt in” or download your app means that you’ll be able to collect the data you need on demographics, behavior, and preferences, and you’ll be able to refresh your content regularly.

Not sure tablets are as popular as all that? According to research from the Ericsson ConsumerLab, when smartphone users were asked what one device they were considering buying, they were nearly as likely to be considering a tablet (13 percent) as a laptop (16 percent).

Getting Business Done
In business-to-business and internal corporate meeting environments, knowledge of your brand is a given. But tablets still have a role to play in deepening that engagement, according to TBA Global. Here’s a cool idea for creating an app when you’re exhibiting—or if your annual sales conference includes sponsor or product booths: Using your app, the attendee sets preferences for how he or she wants to be engaged. As attendees approach the booth, their iPads communicate with booth staffers’ devices, so the senior person knows immediately to engage with the attendee looking for broad information while the tech staffer greets the social-media poster.

Cracking the Measurement Challenge
One specific way TBA Global has helped an organization use iPads is for training. Having employees download a training app is a cost-efficient way to improve their skills—and if that app happens to have an element of gaming, it’s a guarantee of greater engagement and attention.

Even better is the ability for course correction. “This is the holy grail,” the whitepaper states. “Traditional internal meetings and training present material and proposals with little or no inherent way to measure the impact of the content … By collecting simple feedback via iPad apps from attendees and trainees, presenters can immediately take the temperature of a room in the form of hard data.” If the app says half the learners are lost, adjustments can be made on the spot.

In summary: “The tablet network will serve in the long term to connect everyone associated with an event, from owners to attendees. That kind of agility and responsiveness will create positive experiences and big wins.”

Tablet Scorecard
TBA Global offers reviews of the five most popular tablets out there. It’s no surprise that the iPad2 is rated “best in show.” Meanwhile, the RIM Playbook, brought to you by the makers of the BlackBerry, gets “most anticipated.” Also reviewed are the Dell Streak, the Samsung Galaxy, and the Motorola Xoom.

For the complete reviews—and TBA Global’s guidelines to creating a tablet strategy, download the whitepaper.