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5 Tips for a More Innovative Corporate Event
Oct 29, 2010 by DeDe Mulligan

Many of us have attended and planned thousands of events and most, are okay or good. But what makes an event stand out? Usually it involved innovation, creativity, and energy. Given the tight budgets of today, many event planners think that innovation has to come with a huge price tag. However with planning and teamwork, your next corporate event can create the buzz you are looking for. Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Put together a team of the most innovative, forward thinking people you know for a brainstormingBrainstorming for Corporate Event Planning session. If possible, the team should be past and potential attendees, employees, event meeting service companies and vendors. Write every idea down on a flip chart even if it seems impossible or outside of your budget. Think, act, and be an attendee. What would you want when you get to the event? What kind of food do you like? Entertainment? Networking? Cities? Venues? Sound and Lighting Rental? Presentation services audio visual?
     
  2. Sell Your Plan A, Settle for Your Plan B, Work Your Plan C. Once the brainstorming is complete, come up with the structure for the event. If it is a 3 day conference, why would you attend? Who and what would you want to see? Write it down and see how much it costs. Start building your budget without parameters. Do the same for Plans B and C, each time making the event lower in cost. Sell Plan A to management but have the two exciting alternatives as back-up if cost becomes an issue.
     
  3. Make sure Senior Management is in attendance doing different things. The best events I have planned or attended, the CEO of the organization did something memorable. He or she worked at the registration desk checking attendees in, acted as a waiter serving people, or was stationed near a touch panel kiosk as a ‘greeter’. The worst events are when the CEO is "whisked in and whisked out." Create a "Where in the World is Our CEO?" game so people can actively search for that person in everyday places – use audience response rental to capture their input.
     
  4. Location, location, location. Your brainstorming team is going to be key to helping you. Start thinking of "off the radar screen" locations and cities. What would you think if you were invited there? What about a bowling alley? Ballpark? Behind the scenes with a professional basketball team with photos? If you are limited to your city, think of who you can get and where you can have the event that will be very interesting or hard to get into.
     
  5. Never Underestimate the Value of Gifts and Prizes. Give your attendees unusual gifts, and if possible, try and surprise them. Have something in their room each night. Have the speakers introduce give aways during their speech. Offer prizes, but make the prize worth the effort to win it. What would you want to win and what would you be willing to do to have a shot at it?

Try and think during all parts of the planning process like your attendee. Keep the energy positive and the ideas will flow! Sometimes we are own worst enemy because we do things the way they have always been done. That is neither creative or innovative. Be open to new ideas, partner with an event meeting services company like AV Event Solutions and your event will be the talk of the industry!

5 Most Popular Uses of Audience Response Systems
Oct 27, 2010 by DeDe Mulligan

When speaking or interacting with larger groups, Audience Response Systems (ARS) can be a powerful technology tool. By issuing everyone in the audience with a wireless audience response system, you can take audience involvement to a whole new level. Here are the 5 most popular uses of ARS:

  1.  EDUCATION: The use of Audience Response Systems as an active learning strategy in education has been steadily on the rise. Audience Response Systems allow the dynamic engagement of attendees at a conference by providing immediate two-way communication between the speaker and the audience. ARS can be used to explore knowledge and common misconceptions, act as a springboard for discussions, and can be used for testing or evaluation of the program.
     
  2. OPINION POLL: This is usually completed right after the audience has been presented with something new and the corporation or association is looking for opinions whether or not to go forward with the concept. For years it has been used to test new movies or TV shows. Now it is used in the event meeting services industry to get attendees involved. Use ARS to poll opinions about new products, changes in marketing strategy, or rank organizational priorities.
     
  3. SURVEY: Because audience response system rentals allow participants to be anonymous, there is a greater chance the attendees will be honest and answer all the questions. Many organizations conduct pre- and post-surveys especially during educational sessions to measure the level of learning that occurred during the session.
     
  4. ADULT LEARNING GAMES: When taking a large audience and dividing them into teams, the wireless audience response units can be used to tally the results of each team at every milestone. Many organizations have found this method useful in training attendees on what might be considered boring or difficult subject matter.
     
  5. COMMUNICATION WITH SPEAKER DIRECTLY: The newest audience response systems are now armed with a microphone and live text messaging function so a presenter and audience member can interact instantaneously. The microphone allows the attendee to ask a question without leaving their seat, which is helpful especially when there are only a few standing microphones or the room is extremely full.

AV Event Solutions, an audio response system rental organization, is available to help staff your next meeting, event, or conference with the latest interactive technology tools rentals available to make your attendees extremely engaged in their next learning experience.

Should I Rent or Buy Audio Visual Equipment?
Oct 25, 2010 by DeDe Mulligan

Rent of Buy Audio Visual Equipment?When should you consider renting audio visual equipment versus purchasing it? If you’re not using the technology every day it may benefit your bottom line to rent. Here are four tips that may have you reconsidering renting vs. purchasing.

First, how often are you giving presentations?
If it is every day or several times a day, it may make sense to purchase the technology. However, if it is once a month or less, or your presentation schedule is very sporadic, it probably makes better sense renting audio visual equipment. Many of the interactive technology tool rentals can be negotiated on a daily or weekly rate.

Second, what is your back-up plan?
What happens should the projector bulb burns out or the Powerpoint presentation equipment fails? If your organization does not have a need for multiple projectors or laptops and does not have the on site technology or audio visual staff to support you, I would strongly urge renting the equipment and ensure back-ups are in the contract with no additional charge to you if the equipment fails.

Third, what is the total cost of ownership (TCO)? 
This must be considered when buying a substantial piece of hardware or software. How much is that next lamp bulb going to cost? When is it likely to be replaced? What happens when the equipment is damaged prematurely and needs replacing right away? What about keeping up with technology improvements such as 3D Projectors, 4G iPad or Tablet PC?  If you engage in interactive technology tool rentals for an event, those long term maintenance, and repair costs are not yours to worry about.

Fourth, where are you going to store and transport the equipment?
Storing projectors, screens, wireless audio response systems, all take space and must be stored in a secure setting to prevent theft. If you work in a large corporation, who is going to set up, tear down, store and inventory the equipment? When traveling to different offices and customer locations, audio visual equipment will add considerable weight and bulk to your traveling entourage. If you are flying to a location, you may need to carry on some of the equipment for fear that it may break during transport or be stolen.

Audio visual rentals, on the other hand, are brought directly to you at the event location by the event rental services organization. The rentals are handled with care and packaged in the highest quality containers which ensure the absolute minimum of potential damage to their moving parts.

Having the capability to make quality presentations is definitely standard operations for many businesses. So before investing in audio visual technology, make sure you answer the questions noted above. If you decide to rent, partner with AV Event Solutions, a California event planning company, that offers audio visual rentals and the latest interactive technology tools.

5 Things Planners Should Ask Themselves When Selecting an Event Location
Oct 22, 2010 by DeDe Mulligan

Event Planning in CaliforniaOne of the most critical things an event planner does is select the venue for their meeting or event. However, even before you schedule a site visit, consider these 5 things that will help narrow down the perfect event location.

  1. How many attendees are you expecting? If this is an annual event, I would recommend you look at the last 3 year attendance numbers and come up with an average attendance. If this is your first event or meeting, the number becomes harder to project. In this case, it will become more important to find a venue that has a lot of flexible meeting space that can be adusted for smaller or larger meetings.
     
  2. Is the facility available on your desired date and for the duration of your event? Try to work with the corporation or association to come up with 3 possible dates for the event. Have them rate the dates as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice. When narrowing down your facility, select one that is available on at least 2 of the 3 dates.
     
  3. What are your event audio visual rental needs? Confirm the venue has high speed Internet access in all the meeting rooms and find out the number of outlets per room. Consider microphones (lavaliere and standing), projector and screen rentals, LCD monitors and plasma displays, sound and lighting rentals, and supplies.
     
  4. Explore all catering options. Does the venue have a full-service, on-site kitchen or do they use outside caterers? In either case, get a detailed menu with serving options (buffet or plated) and costs per person. Meet with the executive chef or caterer and schedule a taste test of your selected menu.
     
  5. How much parking is available? Is it paid or free? It is important that you have convenient and safe parking available for all attendees. If there is a fee, determine if the valet service or parking fee can be added to the master bill.

Even though number 1 and 2 are the most important when narrowing down your event location, it is vital that you ultimately schedule a site visit. During an on-site visit, check out the grounds, parking lot, carpet, paint, decor, draperies, restrooms, kitchen, and hallways.

If possible, be a secret shopper. Go to the event location unannounced and check out all the things noted above. Stop by the concierge desk and registration desk and see how they treat you. Call the hotel or venue and see how many times the phone rings before they pick up. See how the venue sets up the food. Use your intuition. If something feels off, it probably is and don’t use that venue.

Check out AV Event Solutions, a California event equipment provider, for your next meeting, event, conference, or tradeshow audio visual rental needs.

Top 10 Ways to Save Money at Your Next Meeting or Event
Oct 20, 2010 by DeDe Mulligan

 There are many simple ways to cut expenses at your next meeting, event or conference that don’t take a lot of time. Below is a list of the ways I have learned over the last 15 years to minimize expense while having little or no impact on the attendees.

  1. Use the Internet. When checking hotels, transportation, caterers, and/or renting audio visual equipment there are hundreds of sites that can aid in your selection. For hotels, I like Trip Advisor because it has over 10 sites integrated into the one site and it has a great review section of the venue. Check their prices and try to negotiate the same  price directly with the hotel. For caterers and audio visual equipment rentals, I often rely on the local Chamber of Commerce or Convention and Visitors Bureau for their member listing and recommendation.
     
  2. Use Your Peer System. Email fellow event planners and ask them for recommendations. Use LinkedIn groups and pose a question about the city, type of corporate event, and your need. Let them know right up front your budget range or that you are looking to do this on a shoestring budget.
     
  3. Look at Your Biggest Spend Item and Cut it by 10 to 15 Percent. What did you spend the most on last year? Food? Beverage? Meeting Space? Get a group of 5 to 15 people together and brainstorm on how you can cut that budget item.
     
  4. Find ONE expense to cut out completely. Maybe you don’t need an opening or closing reception. Attendees don’t want goody bags. Cut out the paper. Traditions are meant to be changed. Rank your budget items in terms of importance and cut one out!
     
  5. Get an Accurate RSVP for the Meeting or Event. This will save you SO much money! Many of my clients fight me on this item, but I tell them it is the only way to know how much food and drink to have on hand. Spend the money calling your invite list and confirming their attendance. Many clients have literally thrown away hundreds of dollars of food because they did not have an accurate count.
     
  6. Use Buffet Style instead of Plated Entrees. With buffet style, you can negotiate with the caterer to provide at least 5% more food than the guarantee, and your attendees get more choices! With plated food, the guarantee is the guarantee.
     
  7. Serve No Hard Liquor. Stick to beer, wine, soft drinks, and bottled water. Hard liquor is expensive and it is easy to over pour it.
     
  8. Shorten Your Reception by 30 minutes to 1 Hour. Look at last year’s data and determine when most of the attendees were at the reception. If you have an open bar, have it open when you have the greatest number of attendees, and make sure the staff knows when the bar opens and closes.
     
  9. Use Volunteers at the Event. Figure out where it makes sense to have volunteers versus paid staff. If it is a convention, offer volunteers free admission in exchange for working a few hours or a day. Make them goodwill ambassadors and give them a special tee-shirt or logoed shirt.
     
  10. Book your entertainment and speakers as far out as possible. Give them a deposit in exchange for a great discount. Let them know this is a sure thing and if they are well received by the audience, they may have a possibility of returning to the event.
AV Event Solutions, is available to help you save money and time when event planning in California and renting audio visual equipment. Call them today or request quote!
Five Keys to a Successful Product Launching Event
Oct 18, 2010 by DeDe Mulligan

A product launching event can be one of the most expensive and time consuming part of any corporate marketing and event planning department. Launching a product too early can create distress and upset with current and potential clients. Launching it too late can underwhelm clients. Here are the keys to making it a wonderful and fulfilling event.

  1. Good Preplanning: Determine the goal(s) of the event. Is it to bring new sales, competitive differentiation, or both? What type of launch makes sense? A soft launch is good for minor product enhancements or a product that has a small target market. A full-fledged launch is for a breakthrough product that will improve your competitive position. Set your budget. A good rule of thumb is the budget should be 5 to 20% of your expected revenue for that product or service. Choose one project manager who will be the focal point for all communications.
     
  2. Establish the Marketing and Media Campaign: What is your compelling message? Establish your 30-, 60-, and 2 minute elevator speech. What are the benefits of this product and who does it help? When considering a successful product launching event, consider the age, sex, race, religion, and occupation of your audience members. How can you most effectively reach them? What do they read and watch? This is key to the campaign.
     
  3. Define the Audience and Fill the Room! There is no worse feeling than spending thousands of dollars on an event only to have few attend the event. Identify your "A", "B" and "C" Prospects and Customers. Call and cultivate the "A" list. Make them a priority and give them an incentive to attend. Perhaps a grand prize drawing, dinner at a very expensive restaurant, or the ability to sample the product before the rest of the public. Make them feel special. Continue to send teaser emails out to those confirmed. Have a count down on your website. Be excited and your audience will be too.
     
  4. Engage the Audience with the "wow" factor: Consider the following interactive technology tool Product Launching Eventrentals to turn an ordinary event into something memorable: A computer kiosk can be used in the lobby or foyer to give the attendees a "sneak peek" about the launch. Powerpoint presentation equipment, along with sound and light rental, can bring a dynamic feel and style to the event with video, music, and lights. Rent iPads or Tablet PCs for audience members to see the visuals within their own space. Giving your attendees wireless audience response system allows an immediate pulse on what the audience thinks about the new product or service. Lastly, if appropriate, raffle off one of the new products as a grand prize.
     
  5. Follow up! Follow up! Follow up! Create a plan to contact the attendees and determine if they are going to buy the new product or service and when that might happen. There needs to be a mix of ways to follow up including telephone calls, emails, and face-to-face visits.

AV Event Solutions, a California event equipment company, is available to assist you in planning your next successful product launching event and keep your attendees talking about the event long after it is over!

Promoting Your Event with Social Media
Oct 15, 2010 by DeDe Mulligan

From conferences to product launching event and everything in between, event planning professionals are finding new ways to organize, plan, and promote their events with the help of social media. Lets focus on the tools available now.

Facebook has over 350 million users worldwide and has two great tools to promote an event and company: Facebook Events and Facebook Fan Page.

Facebook Events allow you to create an event and promote it to your social network of friends. It also allows you to make it a private or public event and gives multiple people the right to be administrators on the site. I recently coordinated an event and we had 21 administrators which allowed us to invite over 2,100 people. We had over 345 RSVP – a fantastic testimony to the power of Facebook!

Facebook Fan Page is a page dedicated to your company (become a Fan of AV Event Solutions) or event. It allows you to create buzz about the event and keep potential attendees up-to-date on new and interesting announcements within the company.

LinkedIn is the number one tool used by business professionals. It also has an Events page where you may invite up to 50 of your connections. It does not allow for more than one administrator but it does have a nice feature that Facebook Events does not; it gives you a URL link that you can email to anyone and as long as that person has (or will generate) a LinkedIn account, they can register for the event.

LinkedIn also has many groups and event planning professional can use LinkedIn to find the perfect venue, corporate audio visual, conference equipment rental. You name it, and if you are in the right group, you can probably find it.

Twitter is a micro blogging system, limited to 140 characters, that can be used to promote the event and stream information while the event is going on. It is different than Facebook and LinkedIn, because there may be people that follow you that you do not know and that is okay. It is most effectively used to hype the event for the few days prior to start, and during the event your attendees can tweet about the what they are doing.

Foursquare is a geolocation platform. It allows an event planning professional to create a badge that can serve as a pass to a special VIP event. Insert a tip about the event or make a recommendation on things to do or see to attendees.

YouTube is the world’s most popular online video community, allowing millions of people to discover, watch and share originally-created videos. YouTube provides a forum for event planners and their attendees to connect and be informed about the meeting.

The goal of social media is to engage attendees in a conversation before, during, and after the event. It’s not just about promoting the event but making social media part of the event. Want to chat? Follow us on Twitter – we’d love to hear from you about event planning.

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