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Honoring Memorial Day | AV Event Solutions
May 30, 2011 by Melissa Bailey
Memorial Day
A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.
– Joseph Campbell

Honoring the brave men and women that have served our country…

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How to Lose a Customer in 4 Easy Steps
May 27, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
How to Lose a Cleint in 4 Easy StepsWe have all lost them…that perfect customer who slipped away. Our rationalization might be "it must have been price" or "they went with someone with more and/or less experience". Once in awhile, it is important to examine the real reasons why we might have lost that business. Although the scenarios below may seem preposterous and we would never do any of these things, we all get busy and sometimes take existing business for granted. See if any of these tips ring true.
Tip #1: Always assume the customer or partner is at fault. 

Customers are funny: they always assume they can change their mind and they don’t need to tell us, because after all they are paying the bill. They change the room setting, the menu selection, or the conference equipment rental firm. Now, your life is potential mayhem and everything is wrong. You start to get upset because you are no longer in control.

Okay, take a breath and don’t blame anyone for anything. First ask yourself, are the changes hurting or helping the event? If they are helping, shut up and compliment them on their fantastic ideas. If they are hurting, calmly talk to them about what is going on and the repercussions of their choices. 
Tip #2: Never ask the customer any questions. 

Sometimes we think we know the customer and the event so well, we can produce it with our eyes closed. We have used the same Powerpoint presentation equipment for the last 7 years, so why change? After all, the same meeting has been run the same way since you can remember, so let’s get on with it!

Customers are changing constantly! Their budgets change, personnel at the company changes, mergers happen, and their needs to communicate to their attendees change. We need to ask a ton of questions to make certain we are providing the best event meeting services solution for their meeting at this time. 

Tip #3: Don’t expedite service.

The event & meeting industry is all about service, because ultimately, it is about the attendee’s experience. The customer  isn’t renting a meeting room, they are renting the experience that goes on in that meeting room. So, how are we responding to our customer’s needs? Are we returning phone calls and emails within a specified time period? What about on site requests?

Your organization should have a communication plan that revolves around the customer’s needs. What is the acceptable amount of time to return a phone call? An email? A RFP response? When your organization is on site, how fast will you respond to customer requests? Make certain everyone in the organization knows your policy and abides by it.

Tip #4: Never apologize.

Let’s be real: we all make mistakes. We get busy and forget something. Or we forget to return an important call or are late for an on-site inspection. It’s human and our customer’s make mistakes, too. However, they do not want excuses or to be lied to. Or worse yet, have us get defensive about why something happened. 

Just "fess up" and tell them the truth. Then sincerely apologize. Ask them how you can make it up to them. And then apologize again. Don’t blame anyone else, just jump under the bus yourself. Your customer’s will understand and develop a new level of respect for you. I have done this so many times. It hurts, but they keep coming back, because I mean it.

AV Event Solutions, a California meeting equipment company, is a  customer-driven organization with quality responses in a timely manner. Give them a call today!
The Secrets to Successful Product Launching Events
May 25, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
Secrets to Successful Product Launching EventsI have planned several product launching events in the 11 years I have been a meeting planner. Some have been great and some so-so. You might be surprised to learn it isn’t always about the budget! It is more about the environment and the content. Lets focus on these two considerations and I will share a couple of checklists to use to make your next event stand out.
First, the environment. Here is a checklist of things you need to consider:
  1. Who is going to be invited? Is it employees only or sales team or even prospects? This is the first thing to be determined because based on the invitation list, that will determine whether it makes sense to hold the event at the home office or off site.
  2. Look at a variety of meeting venues. Depending on the size of the event, you could mix fun with facts. What about a historic venue? Ball park? Basketball game? These venues don’t necessarily cost more money, but they can create buzz about the event.
  3. What sort of room size and AV equipment do you need for the product launch? Do you need Powerpoint presentation equipment? Podium? Microphones? Make certain you have the right room size, not too large and not too small. And the right projector and screen rentals.
  4. Food and beverage are very important. This is only second to the product launch itself. Look closely at your budget, because it can also be your costliest and most wasteful part of the event. Are you having a sit down dinner? Buffet? Cocktails? Figure this out way in advance. 
  5. Parking is key. Make certain there is enough close parking for attendees. If you are concerned about inclement weather, hire a valet service just for your event. It will be well worth the expense and your attendees will thank you. Also, make certain you feel safe in the parking lot or structure. 
Now, the content. Most people come to launching events for a multiple of reasons, but they all relate to one or more of the following components: education, networking, and/or team building.  Again, a checklist to make certain these goals are met:
  1. How are you going to make sure the educational material is understood? One easy way is to "test" your attendees on the material after the presentation is complete. If it is an all employee meeting, you can use audience response rental keypads to test their knowledge after the announcement. With customers, you could have a quiz and give a prize for the person with most correct answers. 
  2. What about networking? Having fun things to do before or after the event is key. Icebreakers, scavenger hunts, going to a ball game, having a celebrity at the event, having the CEO there — these are all great ideas to allow the crowd to network and buzz about the meeting. 
  3. Team building through interactivity. Having small teams talk about what was just announced and brainstorm on its use, marketing techniques, and ways to spread the word are all valuable. 

Product launching events set the tone about the company and its employees. AV Event Solutions can help make your next event very successful by offering state-of-the-art LCD projectors, screens, audience response systems and much, much more. Give them a call today!

5 Ways Technology Rocks at Trade Shows
May 23, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
Trade shows are about networking. Period.

trade show event planning servicesTrade show booths are sold with the expressed purpose of:

  • Meeting prospects
  • Generating leads and
  • Building business relationships.
Most booth exhibitors have two duties:
  1. Man the booth at all times
  2. Promote the company’s products and services.

With the demand by upper management to reduce costs and show better ROI at trade shows, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get the extra staff you may think you need to make your booth effective.

Below are some creative ways you can extend your reach to your prospects without breaking the bank.

  1. Create buzz about your booth well before the trade show. Do as much pre-show prep work as possible. Post the event details on your website, send out multiple email blasts, blog often, and utilize other social media tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter for daily or weekly updates. 
  2. Stop with the marketing collateral and promotional giveaways. Yes, you still need business cards, but the rest can go! No more pens, stress balls, or goofy keychains! Instead spend your marketing dollars to rent iPads, Tablet PCs, Laptops, and/or Touch Panel Kiosks. Not only is this a way to show you are green, but these devices can be running video, photos, and other great applications during your talk with the prospect or while you are busy with another individual. In addition, if you are going to spend money on something, make your one prize spectacular…something even you would want to win!
  3. Instead of adding more staff, add technology. Computer kiosks don’t need to be trained, put up in a hotel, or take meal breaks.  In addition to video, photos, and social media feeds, kiosks are perfect for running "take a quiz about (whatever your service is)" and answering frequently asked questions. You can even let people record their own video or take photos of themselves. iPads can also be used as portable kiosks. These can keep people busy while you are conversing with other folks.
  4. Let the conversation end naturally. Trade show booth exhibitors are notorious for doing a core dump on their product, asking a few qualifying questions, and then trying to shoo you out of their booth because the next BIG lead might getting away! Be honest, is this you? If so, nothing puts off planners more than feeling like what they are saying isn’t worth your time. Let technology keep the others busy. Take a few deep breaths and REALLY LISTEN to what your prospect is saying. If it is a fit, you will know and so will they. Stop trying to be a car salesman and start being a valued thought leader. Ask great qualifying questions and take notes on your iPad.
  5. Ask the exhibit manager to set ground rules. There is a time to get to know the other vendors at the trade show and there is a time to be networking with your prospects. The time to network with the other booth sales persons is before and after the show. Ask the exhibit manager to make certain everyone knows to stay in their respective booths while the show is on and then ask the manager to enforce that policy. 
AV Event Solutions can set your trade show booth apart from the rest with state-of-the-art kiosk rentals, laptops, iPad, iPad2, and plasma display rentals. Give them a call or visit their website for more details!
The 5 Things You Can do if Your Speaker Cancels Unexpectantly
May 20, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
Speaker at ConferenceImagine this: You are a planning a large, multi-day conference in an unfamiliar city far away from your hometown. Meeting Rooms and Registration Area set? Check. Powerpoint presentation equipment ready to go? Check. Sound and lighting rentals tested and tested again? Check. Check. The momentum is building for the event and you are excited to be there. THEN, 8 hours before your keynote address you get this call….

"Hello, I am Joe Speaker and unfortunately I…

  • missed my flight connection;
  • am snowed in at the Buffalo airport;
  • am too sick to travel; 
  • have an emergency in my family."
Bottom line: they are not going to make it. Now, what do you do?

First, DO NOT panic. Listen intently to what the speaker is saying and try to do some creative brainstorming over the phone.

If they missed their connection or are snowed in, when can they get to your city? Can you move the schedule around to accommodate them?

If they are too sick or have any emergency, see if they can recommend speakers that are relatively close by and knowledgeable about the topic. You might be pleasantly surprised with their help. Write down the names, telephone numbers, email addresses given to you. 

Second, quickly gather your team together. Tell your team what happened and ask them for recommendations. Put together a project list of who is going to do what. Reach out to the city or state chapter of the following organizations for recommendations:

Put out a call for a speaker on LinkedIn and Twitter. Spend 60 minutes or less getting recommendations. Divide the tasks and tell everyone that you will meet back to discuss the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice in one hour.

Third, meet with or advise management. Tell them what happened, let them know what you are working on, and ask them for recommendations. 

Fourth, if no speakers are available or they do not fit your audience profile, figure out your options. NEVER put a round peg in a square hole. Make sure the replacement is of the same caliber as the original speaker. 

What about one of your attendees? Could one of them give the presentation?

Could you turn it into a networking event

Worst case, cancel the session. It is better to air on the side of caution. Let the attendees know exactly what happened and let them know you did everything you could to secure an alternate back-up presenter, but were not able to do so on such short notice.

Fifth, make certain you have a "no-show" clause in your speaker contract. Things can happen that are outside of your control, like the weather, flight connections, sickness, and family emergencies. However, that doesn’t mean you need to pick up the bill if your speaker cancels.

If the speaker cannot make it for the allotted speech at the allotted time, you should receive your deposit back and not have to pay them at all. Speakers make their living on their reputation and availability. They should not expect to be compensated if they cannot show up.

Event Planning in California? AV Event Solutions can provide your organization with presentation services audio visual equipment that can fit almost any budget. Give them a call today or click here to learn more about their rental products and services

The Quantitative Value of Face-to-Face Meetings
May 18, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
Face-to-Face Meetings
Aaahhh…technology, isn’t it grand? We are surrounded with computers, web camera, Tablet PCs, and smartphones. Who needs to meet face-to-face anymore, when we can e-mail, Facebook, Skype, or Tweet information to our colleagues or audience? The short answer: We do. The long answer: We must continue to meet face-to-face in order to continue business relationships and partnerships. Period.

Here are a couple of survey results that can help you justify that next business sales meeting or association conference.

Embassy Suites recently conducted a business travel survey with 709 American business travelers, 21 years of age or older. This is what their research found:

1 hour of face-to-face contact EQUALED:

5 video conferences
10 telephone calls or
20 emails

In fact, the respondents went on to say:
  • 96% of the business travelers felt that face time is the most important part of developing and maintaining strong relationships;
  • 76% of those who had less face time in 2010, reported that their business relationship suffered;
  • 18% reported they lost a project because they were unable to travel to meet the client.
"We think it’s important to take the pulse of America’s business travelers each year to validate current travel trends and uncover new ones," said John Lee, Vice President of Brand Marketing for Embassy Suites Hotels. "Face-to-face meetings are irreplaceable when it comes to the health of client relationships," said Joel Widzer, a business travel strategist. "We connect to our clients better when we are able to meet in person, which certainly makes it worth taking that business trip on a regular basis."

In another survey from Business Travel News of 177 North American business travel buyers, found that 86% of those businesses own the following technology:

  • Audio-conferencing
  • Web conferencing
  • Videoconferencing and
  • TelePresence.
In addition, 91% of these businesses used this technology in 2010.

However, only 5% required the traveler to use remote conferencing in lieu of travel.

What does this all mean for the event meeting services industry and how can you apply this knowledege to your next event, meeting, or training program? Here are some ideas you may wish to consider:

  1. Determine the overall value of the event to your attendees, trade show booth vendors, and sponsors. If your attendees are likely to meet 100 to 200 of their peers, trade show booth sales persons will shake hands with 500 people, and/or your sponsors messages are going to be viewed by thousands of people on a computer kiosk or a mobile device, nothing and I mean nothing, beats face-to-face. Quantify your data and share it your potential audience.
  2. Consider going virtual for those small, internal meetings. My mother always said, "Pick your battles," and she was right. Not every meeting requires fly time, so be the one in your organization to suggest those that make more sense over the web. It will make it much easier to sell the conference or conventions you really want and need to go to AND it will make you look proactive.
  3. Let your attendees know whose going to be there and what education you are offering…as early as possible. I am a big fan of on-line communities for events as a way to provide buzz and interactive conversations before the event launches. In addition, crowdsourcing is a great way to help attendees shape the agenda and speaker selection. 
AV Event Solutions, a California meeting equipment company, offers state-of-the-art interactive technology tool rentals to help your next meeting, event, convention, or training go off without a hitch. Give them a call today to learn more about their technology rentals and services!

Association Events: 4 Resolutions For the Rest of 2011
May 16, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
Association Events: Resolutions for the Rest of 2011At the beginning of 2011, Jeremy Victor wrote a blog on B2Bbloggers titled "50 Ways to Make 2011 Rock".  I don’t know about you, but I’m not much into New Year’s Resolution, however, I am a big fan of taking stock of your life, both personally and professionally, especially at the beginning, middle, and end of any year. So, as we approach the middle of 2011, I found 4 of his 50 ideas pertinent to association events and thought it’s time to re-visit these ideas (Note: these numbers skip around since they are from the original blog).
2. If an activity is not benefiting your customers, stop and ask "Why are we doing this?"

Right now would be a good time to look at all the meetings and events your association has over the next two years. Are they well attended? If attendance is dwindling, reviews are lousy, and/or turnover is great, maybe it is time to cut your losses and stop having certain meetings and events. 

13. Turn every complaint into a positive customer experience.

The worst thing association planners can do is ignore their attendees’ requests, concerns, and complaints. Addressing every complaint in a timely matter makes for a loyal attendee following because they feel that you are listening to them. If the event is large or you think your attendees prefer anonymity, it is easy to allow them to speak through technology. One way is to set up computer kiosks throughout the event hallways for self-service, 24/7 attendee input. Another is poll attendees dynamically with wireless audience response systems. If you rent Tablet PCs, your event organizers can follow Twitter feeds from your members and change the content or flow of the day.
21. Find out how many of your customers have and use smartphones.

This is huge. If your next association event is planning on using a mobile application on a smartphone and only 60% of your attendees own them, this will be a major problem. In addition, just because someone owns a smartphone does not mean they use all the apps on it. Poll your attendees beforehand and find out their level of sophistication with their smartphone. If you want to utilize mobile apps, rent iPads, Tablet PCs, or laptops and then as people check in to your event, make certain there are volunteers or staff to give the attendee a brief tutorial about the mobile device and apps.

27. Replace any fear of technology with the acceptance of it.

Are you a technophobe? Maybe your association staff is too. However, times are changing and now is the time to jump onto the technology wagon and get going. It is not going away. Ever. Bust out of your comfort zone and start to use technology at your next event. Find out what technology your attendees are using. Find out their biggest complaints and figure out how technology can solve your problem. Long check-in registration lines for the event? Self-service touch panel kiosks can do the job! They don’t want to carry around a thick binder and get tons of paper? An iPad rental or Tablet PC could be your answer! They don’t want to fill out paper surveys? Audience Response System rentals. An on and on. Embrace it, your life will just get easier.

AV Event Solutions
 is here to help with continued success of all your association events and meetings. Try and follow at least one of the above suggestions before 2011 slips away. Otherwise, you might be saying "there is always next year." 
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