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iPad2: Great Product Launching Event to Emulate and Learn from
Mar 30, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
wait
On March 11th, Apple launched the iPad 2 and sold over 300,000 of these units which equated to roughly $150 million in sales for 1 day! In addition, according to a survey conducted by research firm PiperJaffray, 70% of those buying the iPad 2 were new to the device. The photo above is a view of customers waiting in line at the Apple store to preview and probably buy the iPad 2 — how great is that? So as meeting and event planners, what can we learn from Apple when planning a product launch? In one word: Plenty. Here are some tips to help with product launch event planning:

Tip #1: Create some mystery about the product.  When Apple announced the date and time of the iPad 2 launch, they did not tell the world about every feature. Instead, they alluded to some of the features, creating buzz and speculation in the market place. As most iPad users will tell you how awesome their unit is, many were left wondering how could Apple top an already great product? People had to come for themselves and see.

This is what we need to do with product launching events. Create some mystery and buzz. Just tell the participants enough to get them there, but not enough for them to say "I’ll just wait for the press release." This is a delicate balance, and event planners need to get better at it.

Tip #2: Stay one step ahead of the competition. Apple had a hit with the iPad and was well ahead of the other tablet competitors. There are more applications written for the iPad than any other Tablet PC, 3 to 1. But Apple didn’t sit on their laurels. They saw what was going on in the market place – an onslot of new Tablet PC announcements- and looked at the features the iPad didn’t have, and came up with a better, thinner, and faster tablet to compete.

Event planners need to do the same thing. So you had a great conference or meeting. It needs to be better next year. Study the competition, listen to your attendees, and continue to wow your audience.

Tip #3: Brand your product like a club membership. Have you ever walked into a training room where someone is working on an iPad and the rest of people there sit in wonderment? Or better yet, they crowd around the person with the iPad to see what it is all about? I have, and it is astounding how the conversation revolves around how great the iPad is and what it can do.

The same can be said for a product launching event. Does your meeting have a brand that appeals to the audience like a "hard-to-get-into" club membership? How are you making the product launch event special? Determine how you can brand your meeting, make it special, and get people to buzz about, so others will wish they were there.

ipad 2
Want to rent iPad 2 for your next event or meeting? AV Event Solutions, a California meeting equipment company, now has iPad 2s available for rent. Give them a call to learn more about the ways the iPad 2 can work wonders at your next product launching event.

10 Essential Elements of the Ideal Conference
Mar 28, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
Roundtable discussion of 10 essential elements of ideal conferenceFor the second year in a row, the International Association of Conference Centres (IACC) conducted a series of customer roundtable discussions designed to learn about their priorities when it comes to ideal meetings.

According to Peter Stockman, President of IACC Americas, "We sought to compare the results with what we heard from customers last year and keep our priorities in check. The focus was on what was important to IACC customers for an exceptional meeting environment."

Attendees were provided with a deck of 57 cards, each card had one component of an ideal meeting, in the following 7 categories:

  • Business Services
  • Food & Beverage
  • Financial
  • Guest Room
  • Meeting Room
  • Meeting Amenities and
  • Technology
Groups evaluated and ranked all 57 components as to their importance to the total meeting experience.

Below are the results of 2011 and 2010, top 10 highest ranked items. These are weighted on a 10.0 scale, with 10.0 being the highest rating a component could receive.

Highest Ranked Meeting Components in 2011
9.9 Food & Beverage The ability to customize the menu to easily accommodate dietary requirements (such as vegetarians, low-fat, or kosher)
9.8 Technology Having at least 1 LCD projector and screen rental in room
9.7 Meeting Room Having acoustically rated walls that guarantee no-sound distractions
9.7 Guest Room Wireless high-speed Internet access in all guest rooms
9.7 Financial Having set up fees, such as event audio visual rental firms and other suppliers, include these fees in the package
9.6 Financial Having reasonable meeting room rental expenses
9.6 Technology Having meeting rooms provided with flipcharts with easels, pads, and markers
9.6 Meeting Room Attendees have unobstructed view in the meeting room, no pillars
9.6 Financial An easy-to-read, one page invoice
9.6 Technology Having a skilled on-site AV technician to handle any conference services need

Highest Ranked Meeting Components in 2010

9.9 Food & Beverage The ability to customize the menu to easily accommodate dietary requirements (such as vegetarians, low-fat, or kosher)
9.7 Meeting Room Attendees have unobstructed view in the meeting room, no pillars
9.7 Technology Having at least 1 complimentary high-speed Internet connection in the meeting room
9.6 Technology Having a skilled on-site AV technician to handle any conference services need
9.6 Guest Room Wireless high-speed Internet access in all guest rooms
9.6 Meeting Room Having acoustically rated walls that guarantee no-sound distractions
9.5 Technology Having at least 1 LCD projector and screen rental in room
9.5 Business Services Having a single point of contact or one-stop shop, Conference Manager
9.5 Financial An easy-to-read, one page invoice
9.3 Meeting Room Individual climate controls in each meeting room
Eric Whitson, Director of Sales and Marketing at The National Conference Center, shared "This allows IACC to keep a pulse on trends and shifting priorities among our customers and help ensure that IACC members stay ahead of the curve as it relates to anticipating and exceeding the needs of conference market."

AV Event Solutions, a conference equipment rental company, is available to provide you with all the essential elements for an ideal meeting environment. They have state-of-the-art LCD projectors, screens, laptop rentals, and of course, certified AV technicians.

Frequently Asked Questions about Renting Audio Visual Equipment
Mar 25, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
FAQ About Renting Audio Visual EquipmentThe selection of AV services, equipment, and personnel to set up and break down the equipment for your event is as important as the event itself. Below are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) posed by event planners, including what Powerpoint presentation equipment is required for a meeting. 
 
How do I rent AV equipment? What is the process?
At AV Event Solutions, you may call 1-888-445-9241 and speak to an Account Executive to determine your audiovisual needs, especially if you are unsure of what kind of equipment to rent. Or on the AV Event Solutions website, you may request an Express Quote detailing what type of equipment you need. In either case, an Account Executive will get back to you right away (within 4-hours guaranteed) to find out more details about your event. Once that is done, they will make recommendations about the type of equipment your event will need along with rental pricing. The AE will email you a quote to review and sign; once that is complete, the service is scheduled.

How do I know my request was received?
If you call AV Event Solutions and leave a message, your call will be returned the same day, followed by an email. If you send in a request express quote, you will receive an automatic confirmation email that your request is being processed.
How long in advance should I rent audio visual equipment?
Once you have your venue, date, and speakers confirmed, the next telephone call should be to your audio visual rental provider. Before calling them, you will want to obtain from the speakers a written form on the equipment they are requesting. On the flip side, don’t wait too late! Many planners wait until many other items are completed before scheduling equipment and then are scrambling because the equipment they want is not available. Get your AV partner involved as early as possible.

What Powerpoint Presentation Equipment do I need?
For this type of presentation, you usually need a laptop, remote advancer, LCD projector and screen rental. AV Event Solutions recommends that you rent the laptop along with the other equipment to ensure compatibility with the system components. The type of equipment you rent will be based on the size of the meeting, lighting requirements, and they type of room configuration selected. In addition, if the presentation will be running video, you may wish to rent speakers for audio output.

What other types of presentation services audio visual equipment should I consider renting?

With a large meeting, I recommend that you look at having microphones, both for the speaker or panalists, as well as, for the audience to share comments or questions. The greatest presentation isn’t going to mean anything unless people can hear the speaker. 

If you are looking for California meeting equipment, consider renting from AV Event Solutions. They are a phone call or computer click away!

Thinking of Changing Audiovisual Rental Companies? Some Ways to Kick the Tires
Mar 23, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
Kick the TiresAre you renting audio visual equipment from a vendor who is taking your business for granted? Or worse yet, providing no visual creativity to the event process? Perhaps, you are not ready to cut the supplier completely out of the picture due to a long-term working relationship, but you would like to know if there are better AV companies out there. Here is a relatively low-risk way to see if you might want to move to another audio visual rental company.

Give the Corporate Audio Visual Firm a Small Project. Ask the company to provide you with the most creative and innovative audio visual for a specific event. See what sort of ideas they come up with and how they respond to your requests. You may even want to let them know this is a test and you are looking to eventually move your business to a new av rental company.

Ask for an In-Kind Service for a Non-Profit Event. Most event planners are associated with MPI, PCMA, and/or ISES. These organizations conduct monthly meetings and are always looking for innovative ways to show off new technology. Event audio visual rental comapnies can display and speak about their latest and greatest technology and how it can be used in a meeting. This is a free, no hassle way to become knowledgeable about the company and their equipment. 

Ask for the Basics and see how They Respond. Send an email to the company and ask for at least 3 referrals, proof of their insurance, certification of their technicians, and anything else you think is pertinent to your business or events. Their response and the completeness of it, will speak volumes to how they will handle your organization’s needs, if you decide to move. Nothing is more irritating to a planner than to take the time to inquire about a supplier and have them ignore the request (this happens) or respond to it weeks later. 

What about Creativity? Often times, events and meetings are stale because they are conducted the same way, year after year, event after event. Having a new vendor that can offer creative approaches, especially with sound and lighting rentals, is a good way to start. It is always a good sign if the AV company asks a lot of questions, listens, and responds appropriately. However, be careful from an ethical standpoint. You are not entitled to give their ideas to another vendor. If you like what they are offering, switch vendors or give them a small project to prove their worth.

Lastly, Look at Service. What kind of service does the company give you? Are they courteous? Go the extra mile? Do they respond quickly to your emails and phone calls? Are they flexible or rigid? What about turnover?

AV Event Solutions, a California meeting equipment organization, is ready and willing to earn your business. From small meetings to gigantic events, they are quick to respond to their client and prospects needs. AV Event Solutions will earn your business and keep it!

How to Choose the Right Screen Rentals for Your Next Series of Events
Mar 21, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan

Have you ever asked yourself, what screen size do I need for my meeting or event? Here is a simple guide to follow that will work in almost any situation and give you an optimal projection screen size. You need to take into consideration the following four characteristics of the room the meeting or event will be held in.

Screen Height: Take the distance from where the screen will be set up to the back wall and divide by 8. If the distance is 80 feet, the screen height needs to be 10 feet.

Screen Width: Take the distance from the screen to the farthest viewer divided by 6. If the distance of the farthest viewer is 76 feet, the screen width should be 12 feet.

First Set of Chairs: These should be no closer than 1.5 times the screen’s height. So, using the above example of 10 feet for the height, the first set of chairs should be set 15 feet from the screen.

Ceiling Height: The screen should be 1 foot from the ceiling and 3 feet from the floor. If I use the dimensions previously discussed, the screen height would be 10 feet, thus making the ceiling height 14 feet.

Now, let’s look at some typical screen rentals and using the information above, determine what kind of room setting make sense:

tripod6′ x 6′ Tripod Screen
Distance to the back of the room, no longer than 48 feet
Distance to the farthest view from the screen 36 feet
First set of chairs, 9 feet from the screen
Ceiling height should be 10 feet

8′ x 8′ Tripod Screen
Distance to the back of the room, no longer than 64 feet
Distance to the farthest view from the screen 48 feet
First set of chairs, 12 feet from the screen
Ceiling height should be 12 feet

6′ x 8′ Fastfold Screenfast
Distance to the back of the room, no longer than 48 feet
Distance to the farthest view from the screen 48 feet
First set of chairs, 9 feet from the screen
Ceiling height should be 10 feet

9′ x 12′ Fastfold Screen
Distance to the back of the room, no longer than 72 feet
Distance to the farthest view from the screen 72 feet
First set of chairs, 13 feet from the screen
Ceiling height should be 13 feet

wide6′ x 10′ Widescreen Fastfold Screen Rentals
Distance to the back of the room, no longer than 48 feet
Distance to the farthest view from the screen 60 feet (which doesn’t seem to make sense, but will have multiple viewing screens)
First set of chairs, 9 feet from the screen
Ceiling height should be 10 feet

7′ x 12′ Widescreen Fastfold Screen Rentals
Distance to the back of the room, no longer than 56 feet
Distance to the farthest view from the screen 72 feet (which doesn’t seem to make sense, but will have multiple viewing screens)
First set of chairs, 10 feet from the screen
Ceiling height should be 11 feet

AV Event Solutions, has a variety of projector and screen rentals to meet the needs of your next meeting or event. An AV technician will assist you in choosing the best screen! Call them today or request Express Quote!

Audience Response Rental Units or Mobile Phone App: That is the Question
Mar 18, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
Audience Response System Rental          Mobile Phone
Wireless Audience Response Systems have come a long way over the last year. Initially, designed as audience polling devices to be used with PowerPoint presentations, these units are now designed to be an integral part of the meeting. However, there have been recent developments with mobile applications on smartphones. Lets examine the differences between using audience response rentals versus downloading a smartphone app, and when and how each might be used within a meeting setting.
 
Audience response units usually enhance attendee involvement at any event. Some of the capabilities of an ARS polling unit include:
  • Voting to be used at an annual meeting
  • Survey Tool for evaluations at a training session
  • Pre- and Post-testing of new products or services at product launch event
  • Question and Answer designed for speaker feedback

Some of the newest advances in audience response system technology include the capability of the attendee to:

  • Text message via a QWERTY keyboard
  • Complete an electronic business card exchange
  • Utilize a high quality microphone within the unit
  • OLED color screen for sponsorships or messaging
Audience Response Systems are very easy to use, require minimal set up, and have great support from the corporate audio visual company

Mobile Phone Audience Response Apps may or may not require a download, can detect which phone is being used, and usually run on the following smartphones:
  • iPhone
  • Blackberry
  • Windows Mobile
  • Android Google phones
Mobile phone apps can be used only for general event surveys and polling. Like all wireless Audience Response Systems, the intention of this application is to engage the audience and provide anonymous feedback to the event coordinators and speakers. The big advantage of this type of application is it offers live audience response via the attendee’s own smartphone, which means no devices to ship. However, the application is very limited and if some audience members don’t have smartphones or the right smartphones, they cannot participate, and it can create a disenfranchised feeling within the meeting environment.

Bottom Line
You need to know your audience and what will work best at your event. For the most part, using wireless audience response systems have been proven to increase attendee participation in a meeting or event. Smartphone applications may be an option, but it is estimated that less than 50% of Americans own smartphones, so in many meetings this application simply won’t work.
AV Event Solutions, an Audience Response System rental firm, has a variety of units that will make your next meeting, event, or conference highly interactive. Their team of knowledgeable technical specialists will make certain the right ARS fits your meeting and budget needs. 

Learn a Lesson from Japan: Does your Meeting have a Crisis Plan?
Mar 16, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan

It is a horrific thing that happened in Japan last week. Hundreds dead and missing, cities destroyed, and nuclear power plants in peril. Hopefully, none of us will ever encounter something so massive and unfortunate in our lives. However, this got me thinking about the meeting industry. We hold events all over the world and without a crisis plan for our events, many of us could be in a "micro peril" situation of Japan. SDoes your Meeting have a Crisis Plan?o, here are some tips and thoughts on crisis management that can help meeting and event planners, suppliers (such as your conference equipment rental company), and your many hundreds or thousands of attendees.

  1. Know the climate, vulnerabilities, and customs of the city your event is in. Make certain you know all about the city and region. Is it susceptible to earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes? If so, what is your plan if one of those things happens? How safe is the city? Can attendees walk around freely or should they be in groups? In the U.S., most franchised venues should have a crisis plan. Ask for it. Find out if the city has one. If your event is going to be taking place internationally, find out what the customs are within that country to handle natural disasters. If there are no plans written, within the venue, city, or country, I would highly recommend you hire someone to write it OR go to another location.
  2. Form a crisis team. This team should consist of members of the event meeting company, all the partners and suppliers, and some attendee volunteers. This team should "go into action" during an emergency and should have the crisis plan on them at all times.
  3. Have a communication plan that has many back ups. If the lights go out, make certain you know if the hotel or conference center has an on site generator with tracking lights. What is the plan if the hotel goes completely dark? What about communications — have a plan with cell phones, land lines, and walkie-talkies. Make certain your team knows where all the exits of the venue are so you can get attendees to safety in a quick and efficient manner. It is important that this plan is documented with step-by-step actions. If possible, use interactive technology tool rentals, such as computer kiosks, to keep everyone up-to-date on what is going on.
  4.  Determine who will speak to the media. In times of an emergency, it may be tempting to allow anyone who has a microphone positioned in front of them to speak. Although you cannot control everyone, try and get in front of the media by selecting 1 or 2 persons from your team to speak on the event’s behalf. Choose someone who is great under pressure and can be factual about the situation.
  5. Know of alternate ways to get your attendees home. Many times the first thing to close in a natural or man-made crisis is the airport. Have a listing of train, bus, rental car agencies, and charter organizations that you can call and/or distribute quickly to your attendees. This is another great thing to project on a kiosk rental, send via Twitter, or run on a plasma display in the venue.
AV Event Solutions, a Los Angeles, California meeting equipment company, is available to be apart of your crisis team by sharing their knowledge and expertise with event back up systems.
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