SmartSource Rentals Blog


What Projection Screen Type Do you Need for Your Next Event?
Sep 29, 2010 by DeDe Mulligan

Fast Fold Screen RentalProjection screen selection can be very confusing given the different types, vendors, and models available. When considering your next screen rentals, these are some factors to keep in mind:

  1. Do I want a front or rear projection screen? Front projection screen rentals are the norm, however rear projection screens offer a clearer and more impressive view of the presentation. If there is a lot of dark space behind the viewing surface, such as an auditorium or riser setting, the rear projection screen option may be best.
  2. Do I want a manual or electric screen? Electric screens rentals are often larger screens and have an electronic motor to raise and lower the screen using a remote control. Manual screen rentals are inexpensive and easy to use. Manual screens come in a variety of sizes and styles. The more common styles are:
    • Fast Fold Screen: Made of a folding aluminum frame that has a snap-on projection fabric. Sizes vary from 5 to 30 feet.
    • Cradle Screen: Pulled up and out of the container and supported by a rod on the back of the screen and a weighted base. These screens are available in sizes up to 12 feet.
    • Tabletop: Usually a small cradle screen for very small audiences of up to 12 people around a conference or rectangular table.
    • Tripod: Three legs and a supporting rod. These screens range in size from 4 to 8 feet.

  3. Do I want a tensioned or nontensioned screen? Tensioned models keep the fabric flat and immobile and nontensioned models have the fabric hanging freely from the support structure. Nontentioned models are subject to air movement in the room and can impact the quality of the presentation. However, nontentioned models are the most portable.
  4. How large of screen do I need? According to Professional Meeting Management, a good rule of thumb is, divide the distance from the screen to the last row of the audience by 8, and use that number as the height needed for the screen. For example, if the distance between the screen and the last row is 120 feet, the height of the screen needs to be 15 feet (120 divided by 8 = 15). This should also provide for maximum viewing angle.
  5. What about screen width? Screen rentals from your Event Services Company come in three dimensions:
    • Square: Screen width to height is 1:1. Generally used for data presentations.
    • Video Format: Screen width to height is 4:3. This is the best option if you will be switching between fullscreen and widescreen viewing.
    • HDTV: Screen width to height ratio is 16:9. Best for widescreen viewing.

  6. Which screen make, model, and vendor should I chose from? When consider screen rentals there are so many options! It is best to choose an Event Rental Services organization, such as AV Event Solutions, that can offer you a variety of screens to choose from and can provide the best screen for your unique meeting needs.
Are Your Meetings Really Green?
Sep 27, 2010 by DeDe Mulligan

The Green Initiative has been around for a long time, but hasn’t really been implemented in the Event Meeting Services industry until a few years ago. Using the simple theme of "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" this article will focus on little things Event Planners can do to make their meetings greener.

  • Check to see if your venue has a Green Initiative and/or Policy. Are they actively utilizing it? What steps have they taken to reduce energy consumption or waste?
  • The Convention Industry Council recommends that meetings and their Event Rental Services partners incorporate Energy Star compliant equipment whenever possible. Energy Star equipment has been approved by the government as equipment that provides a significant power savings over regular electronics.
  • Ask the Event Meeting Services company, like AV Event Solutions, if they will use rechargeable batteries instead of throwing batteries away.
  • Turn off lights in meeting rooms when they are not in use.
  • Turn off and unplug all electronic equipment when not in use.
  • Try and eliminate paper during your conference. Give attendees USB Drives with the presentations. Rent iPad, Tablet PC, or Touch Panel Kiosk if the attendees need more information than the USB Drive will provide to them.
  • Ask venue not to put out paper notepads at the table.
  • Do not preset any food or drink. Ask each attendee if they want water, salad, and/or dessert. Many attendees do not one or more of these things.
  • Ask venue and/or caterer if they will donate any unused food to a homeless shelter or other such organization.
  • If conducting a trade show along with the event, ask sponsors to cut down or eliminate paper wasting products, such as brochures and catalogs. Encourage attendees to look on-line for more information.
  • Ask the venue if they can provide washable dishes, stemware, and utensils with all your food and beverage, including the break rooms.
  • They should have a policy statement in each guest room to ask them to reuse their towels and bedding while the guest is at the venue.
  • Make certain the venue has convenient locations through the event for plastic, glass, paper, AND aluminum recycling. Make several announcements asking your attendees to recycle their items instead of throwing them away.
  • Recycle plastic name badge holders for future events.
  • Give attendees reusable bags instead of plastic bags.
  • Make certain all staff and volunteers are recycling as well.

What are the Benefits of Green Meetings & Events?

  • Green Meetings & Events Can Save Money. Planning and executing a green meeting isn’t just about being environmentally responsible, it can also have economic benefits for the event organizer. Here is one simple example:  collecting name badge holders for reuse at an event of 1,300 attendees can save approximately $975 for the event organizer.*
  • Using recycled materials, recycling materials used, reusing items and reducing materials used can significantly lessen the event’s environmental impact. For example, if a five-day event serves 2,200 people breaks, breakfasts, lunches and receptions using china instead of plastic disposables, it prevents 1,890 pounds of plastic from going into a landfill. That’s nearly one ton! Another example is by not pre-filling water glasses at banquet tables during three days of served lunches for 2,200 attendees; 520 gallons of water can be saved.

*Information provided by Meeting Strategies Worldwide

Essential Tools for a Breakout Room
Sep 24, 2010 by DeDe Mulligan

When it comes to a large conference or meeting, the breakout rooms are essential to the success of the overall conference.

Corporate Event PlanningWhen considering conference equipment rentals one thing that is often overlooked are the needs in the breakout room. When evaluating a venue, it is best to consider the following checklist to ensure that the presentation services audio visual company can meet your needs.

Let’s start with the "Low Tech" items. Each breakout room should have the capability to be equiped with the following items. If you are realitively new to conference services, you might be surprised to learn how often these low tech items are not available at all or are in short supply. 

  • Easels for signage and/or flip charts
  • Flip chart paper, enough units for each breakout room, if needed
  • Markers, with a variety of colors. Make sure they work and have plenty of ink! 
  • Masking tape if the speaker wants to brainstorm with the audience
  • Podium, either tabletop or stand alone
  • White Boards with Dry Markers, again with a variety of colors that work

"Hi Tech" breakout rooms should have the capability to include:

When considering a venue, obtain a listing and quantity of what conference equipment rentals listed above they have and which ones they do not. Find out if there are other meetings or conferences at that venue. Which conference equipment rentals are already committed to another organization?

Determine your speakers needs, find out what audio visual equipment they are bringing themselves, and look hard at your budget. Some speakers are very low tech and some are extremely high tech. Some bring nothing and others bring everything.

Look to AV Event Solutions, a California meeting equipment and services company, to help you make all your breakout sessions successful!

Microsoft’s Tablet PC vs. Apples’ iPad — Which is the Better Choice?
Sep 22, 2010 by DeDe Mulligan

Should your Event Services Company rent Tablet PCs or rent iPads for your next event? The discussion below will explain both interactive technology tools, the various applications that run on each platform, and their use for meetings and events.

Tablet PC RentalThe Tablet PC is a fully-functional personal computer running Microsoft® Windows® XP that is pen, handwriting, and speech-enabled. The combination of software and hardware in a Tablet PC, which can be on many platforms, allows user interaction and productive computing experience in an event setting.

The Tablet PC allows for interchange with other computers. It has a multi-touch screen and a digitizer pen.

Why Should an Attendee Rent a Tablet PC?

  • It is great for taking notes at a conference. Since the screen is flat, it can easily sit on the table or your lap.
  • A Tablet PC goes where a Laptop does not. Plus if the Event Services Company rents the Tablet PC, the attendee doesn’t have to bring their own PC into the conference and worry about power sources or the chance it will be stolen. The Tablet PC is designed to last all day with a single charge.
  • Microsoft’s One Note software program allows:
    • Recording of audio of your notes,
    • Playback of the audio and the capability to see notes in real time and
    • Organization of your conference notes.
Why Should a Speaker Rent a Tablet PC?

Since the Tablet PC can run all Microsoft Office products, including PowerPoint, it is a great computer to make and run presentations.  A speaker can write on their PowerPoint slides which will:
  • Allow for the elimination of flip charts;
  • Combine the presentation slide with brainstorming and audience involvement since the speaker can use their digitizer pen to write on the Tablet PC and
  • Draw in digital ink to explain and illustrate concepts.

Rent a iPadWhat Applications should an Attendee have on their Rented iPad?

All of the built-in apps on an Apple iPad are designed to take advantage of the large Multi-Touch screen and advanced capabilities of iPad. 

The Apple iPad rental has many applications that can be effectively used in an event setting and all of these applications are free.

  • Simplenote allows for anything an attendee writes on the iPad to be saved and backed up to the Internet cloud. All communications are encrypted, it is very fast, and it supports thousands of notes.
  • Evernote will file text notes, PDFs, photos, voice memos, and screen shots.
  • Dropbox allows access to MS Office, PDF, and HTML files.
  • provides sharing of files with other via email.
  • TweetDeck makes full use of the iPad screen and allows attendees to tweet about the meeting and event in real time.
  • Beat the Traffic provides live traffic maps, shows traffic speeds and accidents in most US cities, and includes live traffic cams in places. The 20 minute future traffic prediction can be helpful especially in large cities where the event may attract attendees from multiple regional areas.
  • WeatherBug Elite for iPad provides for current conditions, forecasts, animated radar, temperature and live weather cam images.

Rent iPad? Rent Tablet PC? The choice depends on many factors but one has to consider platform, applications, speed, and budget.

Consider working with AV Event Solutions, a California Event Services Company, to sort out your needs. Since they provide rentals for both the iPad and Tablet PC, their service experts can help make your next event very interactive! 

Computer Kiosk – The Cool Interactive Technology Tool
Sep 20, 2010 by DeDe Mulligan

A computer kiosk rental is a stand-alone PC with a locked integrated housing unit. The terminal usually contains a monitor and keyboard or pointing device, unless it is touch-screen operated.

A computer kiosk is designed to be a "self-service" unit. This means users do not have to know anything about the computer itself or the applications that run on it. The event meeting services organization should make certain that all applications on the computer kiosk are highly intuitive. The best way to test this is to have someone who is afraid or unfamiliar with computers try out the various applications. 

A number of kiosk rentals could be placed in a variety of locations throughout a large conference or event. Many touch panel kiosks could be running the same application, but a few may be running different applications. The main intention of utilizing a computer kiosk is to allow for more fluid movement of the attendees and to allow the  conference services organization to employ fewer employees to manage the event.

Here are some great applications for a kiosk rentals at your next event or conference:

  • Welcome Message
  • Information about Agenda, Speakers, and/or Conference Room Directions
  • Short Videos on Speakers, Launches, and/or Entertainment
  • Check-in to Event for those Pre-registered
  • Walk-in Self-Registration with Credit Card
  • Who to Call for Support or Questions
  • Photo Booth
  • Neighborhood Maps with:
    • Local Restaurant Listings
    • Entertainment
    • Walking or Running Paths
  • When Departing the Event, check-out with Survey
  • Internet Access for:
    • Flight Information
    • Weather
    • Traffic Update

Call AV Event Solutions, a California meting services company, when you are thinking of computer kiosks or any interactive technology tool rentals. Our technology experts can recommend the best touch panel kiosk for your next conference or event.

Five Ways to Contain Audiovisual Costs: Do I really have to pay for that?
Sep 17, 2010 by DeDe Mulligan
audio visual equipment rentalsAre your Audio Visual Equipment costs:
A) Outlandish?
B) Justifiable?
C) Hidden? or
D) Unexpected?
Hopefully, you answer B most, if not all the time. However, if you sometimes feel like the event services company is not being fair, here are some ways to open up the lines of communication and help you through the technology maze.

1. Determine Your Audio Visual Equipment Needs (Unexpected). This may seem like a simple matter, but it extremely important to understand exactly what you need before going out to bid. How do you do this if you don’t understand the technology?  Start with your speaker’s – find out about their powerpoint presentation equipment needs. Ask them to be very specific and make certain that they actually need what they are requesting. If you have entertainment, again ask what they need. Take the time to ask a lot of questions and keep drilling down until you get all the answers. Don’t assume anything. Find out what the speakers are bringing in themselves. Nothing is worse than renting a laptop for $200 and finding out that speaker is bringing their own into the meeting. Or they have an Mac and you are wired for a PC. Ask, ask, and keep on asking until you have everything nailed down.

2. Contain Labor Costs (Hidden). Labor is often the largest expense when planning a large show with a lot of audio visual equipment. Find out what the various labor rates are for regular time and overtime, and when double time starts (usually between 12 and 6 am). Determine if there are labor charges incurred through the event services company and/or the venue. Ask the audio visual company to give you the amount of time it will take to complete the set-up and strike and try to work that in during regular working hours.

Also, put a 24-hour hold on your main tent rooms that have audio visual rental equipment in them. If the venue refuses to do so, consider going to another venue. The last thing you want is to spend thousands of dollars on labor because the event services company had to set up most of their equipment from 3 to 6 am. Wham!

3. Pay attention to the little things (Justifiable and/or Unexpected). If the event services company goes through tape, batteries, flip chart paper, markers, and tie-downs, these are justifiable expenses that should be passed along to your organization. However, it is important to know exactly how many of the above items they went through (ask for a detailed accounting) and what the charge will be for each of those items before the event. Many organizations forget these items in the RFP or think that the event services company is not going to pass on that expense to the client. It is completely justifiable to charge you for these items as long as you know what the charge will be beforehand and you have a detailed accounting of the charges.

4. Pay MORE attention to the big things like Internet and Power Charges (Outlandish). Many venues will charge the event meeting services company a high fee for Internet and Power, especially for large, multi-day events. Since the venue is not a telephone or power provider, they will not be able to break down the exact amount of power kilowatts your event used. This is a tricky one, but it is negotiable. This is probably where you are going to have to ask around within your own peer group. Use the Convention and Visitors Bureau within that city for a gauge. Check the Internet. Try and gather as much concrete data as possible as to what is a reasonable rate for these charges and then bring those to the attention of your venue contact prior to contract signature.

5. Negotiate ALL terms prior to signing any contracts (Justifiable). Your event meeting company will be negotiating with the venue for some of the above items and with the audio visual rental equipment company for others. It will most likely be two separate contracts. If you are uncomfortable with all the technology terms being bantered around, ask and then ask again until you have a full understanding of the terms. Remember you are the customer. Make certain that all terms are fair and you understand each line item.

Hopefully, at your next event, you will only answer "B" to your audio visual equipment costs — these being justifiable.

9 Years after 9/11: Has the Meeting Industry Rebounded Yet?
Sep 15, 2010 by DeDe Mulligan

Nine years and billions of dollars later, are we safer and have these measures made a difference? Some say yes, others no.

Here are the facts:

  • Osama bin Laden is still at large and we have no firm idea where he is.
  • Terrorist experts Peter Bergen and Bruce Hoffman believe Al-Qaeda is a weaker but more complex threat to the United States. The fighting force they once had has shrunk considerably.
  • According to the New York Times, despite $7 billion in federal grants, we still do not have a single, nationwide public safety radio system.
  • The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has spent $45 billion on security measures and new rules about shoes, liquids, and box cutters. However, the government is reluctant to commit if we can thwart off another terrorist attack.

Despite all this relatively bad news, 504 event meeting planners polled in April and May of 2010 seem generally positive about the upswing of the industry. Granted, we have a had a worldwide recession during the later part of these nine years since 9/11 that has impacted events. However, nothing had a greater short-term impact on event meeting services than 9/11. Below, are some of the highlights of the PCMA, American Express, and YPartnership market research:

  • 89% of meeting professionals are not planning to postpone, cancel, or rebook any meetings or conference services already booked for 2010 or 2011.
  • Over the last two years, cancellation and rebooking fees for meetings has significantly decreased and that trend is expected to continue into 2011.
  • Professional planners intent to make greater use of alternative meeting methods and event meeting services in the months ahead:
    • 52% are going to plan webinars;
    • 48% teleconferences and;
    • 29% video conferences.
  • 25% of meeting planners expect the number of meetings they book in 2010 to increase versus 2009 and 31% expect this trend to carry over into 2011.
  • 34% of meeting planners expect meeting attendance to increase in 2010, while 44% expect this trend to continue into 2011.
  • 26% of the planners expect their off-site meeting budget to be cut in 2010 and at least through the 1st half of 2011.

This study concluded the following:

  • There will be a net increase in the number of off-site meetings in 2010 and 2011;
  • The will be a net increase in expected attendance in off-site meetings in 2010 and 2011; and
  • Among planners that intend to book fewer meetings in 2010 and 2011, the main reason is the general state of the economy, not security threats against the United States.

So when you are ready to plan your next meeting or event, partner with AV Event Solutions, a premier event services company.

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