I’ve spent too much time on airplanes already this year, enough to confirm for myself that I am always the only old dude on-board with an actual book.

This is not a point of pride; I just like to get away from the glowing screen when I can so as to preserve what’s left of my eyesight. And to think about something besides the immediate present for a little bit, which the right book will do for you. But phones and tablets are all you see on planes these days, and not just in the U.S. either.  Two weeks in Europe, a fair chunk of which was spent on planes and in airports, told me all I think I need to know about print’s weakening hold on the Old World.

Which leads one to wonder… just how much time are people spending on their phones these days? In the U.S., it’s five hours a day, according to the analytics firm Flurry, and that’s a number from about a year ago.  By the fourth quarter of 2016, 92 percent of phone time was spent in-app compared with 8 percent browsing the Internet. About half of the app-time was spent in social media, messaging and media and entertainment, including gaming, which accounted for 11 percent, a number that was only exceeded by Facebook (19 percent).

The implications of smartphone usage for casino marketers are clearly pretty dramatic. And yet, we as an industry are only at the very beginning of a long journey toward mobile sophistication. With that in mind, we are thrilled to be working with one of our industry’s brightest mobile minds, Darren Withers, on a new day-long educational program at this year’s Casino Marketing & Technology Conference (www.casinomarketingconf.com), which will be held July 17-19 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Called MEET, (Mobile Experience and Engagement Training), it will be the industry’s first-ever dedicated mobile technology educational program, addressing the full impact of mobile technologies on casino marketing and operations. It will be held Tuesday, July 17.

MEET was developed by Withers, an industry consultant with 15 years of experience in direct mail, e-mail, SMS, mobile app and mobile marketing solutions for a broad range of casino industry clients nationally.

“As a longtime attendee and speaker at Casino Marketing & Technology Conference, I’m excited to be part of what BNP Media has built with this event and to add value to our industry through MEET,” he said. “Mobile technology offers casinos so much in terms of relevant and conditional communication with players and operational efficiencies for staff to improve the guest experience today, so, together with our speakers, I look forward to offering a hands-on program that helps attendees leverage the full power of the new guest and employee engagement technologies at their disposal.”

Among the mobile technology session topics to be covered at MEET are: Marketing and Advertising; Apps for Loyalty and Guest Experience; Database Marketing; Employee Engagement; Business Intelligence; and Systems Integrations.

The list of confirmed speakers is already pretty impressive. They include Mike Marino, chief experience officer, Caesars Entertainment; Todd Simons, general manager, Viejas Casino & Resort; Ross Gdovin, vice president of marketing, Golden Entertainment; Michael Grodsky, vice president of marketing, William Hill; Rich LeBaron, director of emerging technologies, Sycuan Casino; Kim Bender, vice president of media, SK+G; Janis Delaney, interactive media manager, Route 66 Hotel & Casino; Ryan Frohberg, director of marketing, Casino Del Sol; Jennifer Provence, corporate vice president of marketing, Cherokee Nation Entertainment; Adam Suliman ,vice president of gaming operations, Greektown Casino Hotel and Luisa Woods, vice president of marketing, Tropicana Entertainment.

As you can see, you’ll be hearing from some of the most forward-looking operators with real-world mobile marketing experiences to share. The simple goal, as always, is to help everyone progress.

MEET will be held concurrently with Raving’s highly popular Host Development Conference, which kicks off the overall event on Monday, July 16. The main conference will open the evening of Tuesday the 17th with the opening night reception and kick off with an opening keynote by Steve Neely, CMO of Casino del Sol.

We’ll be releasing the full program in coming weeks, so keep an eye out for us. In the meantime, we encourage you to think about adding MEET to your team members’ agenda. Your organization will benefit, we promise.