SmartSource Rentals Blog


Renting Audio Visual Equipment? Here are 8 Useful Negotiation Tips
Jun 29, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
Renting Audio Visual Equipment? Here are 8 Useful Negotiation TipsNegotiating with a supplier can be tricky. Event planners are out to save the most money for their clients, and suppliers (such as hotels, AV companies, and caterers) are trying to make the most profit at the event. Is there a middle ground? I would argue yes, but it requires some flexibility and patience from both parties.

Here are some tips to make your next contract negotiation a little easier:

  1. Be flexible with your conference or meeting dates.  Every company has "marginal" seasons or dates when their product or services are in the lowest demand. Find out what days of the week, months, or time of year are the slowest for your supplier. Try and schedule your meeting during that time, but be aware of what your audience wants too.
  2. Go to the Audio Visual company website. Look at each of their pages and then call the 1-800 number. Talk to one of the Account Executives and find out how long they have been in business, a general idea of what kind of rental equipment they have, and the type of events they service. Confirm their slowest time of year.
  3. Negotiate a multi-year or multi-event contract with the same event rental services company. Look at your AV plan throughout the next 18 months and beyond. Can you rent from one AV company? If so, you are in a great position to negotiate a discount. In addition, if you have multiple events over multiple years, a 3 or 5 year contract will give you the greatest leverage. 
  4. Understand your AV company, inside out. Make certain you have the conference equipment rental company send you the following:
    1. All pertinent information about the organization
    2. Policies and regulations
    3. A listing of all their interactive technology tool rentals
    4. Pricing structure, including all labor charges
    5. Sample contract
    6. Contact information 
  5. Go to the Audio Visual firm for a site visit. Pay close attention to everyone at the company and take notes of your visit. Meet the technicians that will be on-site. See the equipment you will be renting. Ask a lot of questions and make certain they get answered. 
  6. Make certain the AV company is carrying the right amount of insurance and they are bonded. Make certain you get a copy of their insurance and bonding and it is current. 
  7. Before signing the contract, read it at least 3 times. Make a list of any desired changes, deletions, or additions and go over those with corporate audio visual firm. Explain why you are asking for these changes. Be flexible and know you will not get everything you ask for, but you should be able to reach a compromise.
  8. Negotiate the ability to inspect the AV equipment before setup and at strike time. Verify that everything is in good working order, it is the equipment you ordered, and note any damages at setup (if there are any). This will save you any headaches, especially if you are having the equipment dropped off and picked up later.
AV Event Solutions, a California event equipment company, is ready to be your next audio visual partner! Give them a call today!

Using Icebreakers Effectively at Your Next Meeting or Event
Jun 27, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
Using Icebreakers Effectively at Your Next Meeting or EventIcebreakers can be a great way to start off a meeting, association event, or training session. They set the tone for the session and can allow participants to relax. In addition, many icebreakers by default create a team experience because the meeting has started off with interactivity.

Now, there are a few rules for icebreakers and they are as follows:

  1. It should occur at the beginning of the meeting. Many small or large events have networking time where attendees can gather and move around. This is the perfect time to introduce an icebreaker.
  2. It should promote interactivity, fun, and team building.
  3. It should be simple and easy to explain.
  4. It should have visual and sound props, such as presentation services audio visual, to add to the buzz.
Here are a few ways to implement icebreakers and create talk among your attendees.
  • Display pictures or questions on the Powerpoint presentation equipment. You could ask the attendees to send you one of their baby pictures and then have the group guess who it is. Another way is to ask simple questions, such as, what is your favorite month, vacation spot, or TV show? Ask them to write down their responses and share among the table or small group. With regards to the baby picture, ask them to write their responses and give a prize to the person who had the most correct guesses.
  • Play True or False with the Speaker. As the event planner, brainstorm with the speaker a series of true and false statements about them. Give the audience members wireless audience response systems and then have them vote on the responses. Show the right answers at the end. Try to mix in personal and professional statements to make it interesting.
  • Ask Opinions on Silly Things. This can be used during a long meeting day to encourage people to move to another table. You could put a mindless question or statement like "I think all lunch breaks should be 1 hour." Then the attendees would have an audience response rental and respond "Strongly Agree", "Agree", "Neutral", "Disagree" and "Strongly Disagree". Based on their responses, they would move to tables with like minded people. 
  • Create a Notable Name Game. This works great in a table of 8 or 10 people who are going around introducing themselves. They need to add two adjectives to the beginning of their name to describe them. So for me, if I was playing this game, I would say I am Dynamic Determined Dede. To add a little mental challenge, you can have each person repeat each of the names that have been said so far, before they introduce themselves.
  • I’ve never… This icebreaker works best with a small group of 30 or so, where everyone is sitting in a circle. The first person says "I have never…(gone to Europe, for example). Any person that has done what the person said, needs to stand up and give them their business card. Now they have a personal connection and can talk more as the conference or meeting continues.
If you are event planning in California look to AV Event Solutions to provide you with any of the interactive technology tool rentals listed above and many more items to make your next icebreaker and event fun, informative, and interactive. Give them a call today!
7 Ideas for a Successful Company Outing
Jun 24, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
Corporate Outing

This is the time of year, many organizations start planning an employee gathering to celebrate summer or fall. This is a great way to meet each other on a social basis, as well as, informally integrate spouses and children into the work setting.

Here are a few tips to make this year’s company outing successful without breaking the bank.

  1. Develop a budget and get it approved by upper management. It is vitally important to get a bottom-line budget number approved before ordering food and sending out invitations. This doesn’t have to be detailed, but the budget will be your guide for all decisions.
  2. If the budget is tight, consider holding the event on company premises. Many companies have a wonderful outdoor campus that could be turned into a park or picnic environment. Understand all the ins and outs of the company setting and determine if the company location will work. 
  3. Again, if money is a concern, hold your event during the "off months". Most people think of company gatherings during July, August, or December. Think of holding it in one of the other months of the year. Many times, your attendance will rise because employees and their families will have less on their calendar.
  4. Solicit ideas from employees. Based on your budget, put forth a list of ideas and have employees vote on those suggestions and feel free to add more ideas. Ask them if they want the event to be employees only, employees and spouses, or a family event and then go with the majority vote.
  5. Hire a professional event meeting services company. Partnering with a professional will save money since they can negotiate the best deal on food, beverage, venue, renting audio visual equipment and many more things without you getting involved in the "nitty-gritty".
  6. Have a variety of things for people to do. Do some employees like to karaoke? Dance? What about a rock climbing wall? Whatever the activity it is, make sure to rent the right equipment and set-up different stations at the event venue. 
  7. Consider having a non-alcoholic or low-alcoholic event. If the entire family is going to be invited, it is best to eliminate the risk that the under 21 crowd might get into the drink, by serving no alcohol. If it is employees and/or spouses only, consider giving out drink tickets and only having the bar open for a limited period of time. This reduces your risk of drunk driving, especially if the event is hosted on the company property. 

Are you looking for corporate audio visual needs at your next outing, meeting, or conference? Look no further than AV Event Solutions — call or request rental quote today!

iPad Works Like a Laptop? There’s an App for That!
Jun 22, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
rent iPad                 laptop rental
Is it possible to replace the laptop for business meetings and conferences? Many event planners are hesitant to consider this because their attendees are probably using Microsoft Office on laptops. Inc. magazine recently interviewed business professionals who replaced their laptops with iPads and what apps they are using to make that conversion easy.  

Joe Keller, President and COO of MotivAction, LLC uses GoodReader to view PowerPoint presentations and iAnnote PDF to make comments on any PDF file. "If I’m looking at a PDF document like a contract or a brochure, I can actually make comments on it and forward it to someone else who will get the highlighted version." 

Event planners…imagine having all presentations and documentation either in a PowerPoint format or PDF and making it very easy for attendees to make notes and diagrams with the touch of their finger! No more paper, just iPad.

Genevieve Haines, President of Haines & Co. PR, uses Keynote, a presentation app, because she speaks a lot. She plugs the iPad into the presentation services audio visual equipment and she is ready to go. "Since I’ve always been on a PC, using Keynote was a new thing for me. The Keynote app, however, played my PowerPoint slides just fine with a few tweaks."

For event meeting services organizers and trade show booth operators, the app Square allows them to take credit card payments using the iPad. "Imagine a situation where it’s not cost effective to set up the infrastructure to accept credit cards, such as trade shows. Square handles the transaction and provides a digital receipt which is sent to the recipient’s email address." said Mark Fieldman, General Manager of

In addition, Meeting Apps, a website dedicated exclusively to meeting and event applications, has over 1,000 apps that can run on iPads. It allows individuals to write and read reviews on the apps and rate the app from 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent).

If you are thinking of adding mobile devices to your next meeting or event, here are other benefits to iPads over a laptop:

  • iPads are much easier to carry, because they weight around 1 pound versus a laptop weighing between 5 and 7 pounds.
  • iPads have around 10 hours of battery life, getting the meeting staff and attendees through the general length of a meeting. Laptops vary on their battery life, but the longest is usually 5 to 6 hours. Then, event organizers have to worry about having enough outlets.
  • iPads are less obtrusive. Because you are opening up a laptop, it automatically creates a barrier between other attendees or between the speaker and audience. Presenters can easily walk around with their iPad as can attendees.
  • iPads are more sophisticated and have higher visual impact over a laptop.
  • If you rent iPads, the AV provider can bring the iPads directly to you on site and it will provide all attendees with "like" devices.
Event Planning in California? Call on AV Event Solutions, to rent iPads, iPad 2s, and projector and screen rentals. Give them a call today!

4 Great Trade Show Tips: How to Stretch Your Marketing Dollars
Jun 20, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
Companies are continuing to take a hard look at all their marketing initiatives and one of the most costly pieces of that pie is in trade show exhibition. Most marketing departments are asking this question: How do we increase leads and awareness about our products or services? Fend off the competition? The answer still for most organizations is to participate in trade shows
4 Great Trade Show Tips: How to Stretch Your Marketing Dollars
Below are some easy and cost effective ways to better manage your trade show budget:

Rent, don’t buy. This makes great sense especially if you only exhibit a few times a year. Rent iPads, computer kiosks, and other components. Not only does the trade show rental equipment save you money, but additional funds are saved because you incur no shipping costs. In addition, if any of the equipment requires maintenance or needs to be swapped out, the audio visual company is on location or a phone call away to assist you. 

Cut travel expenses by cutting staff at show. The cost of the show isn’t only the trade show booth rentals, but the personnel at the booth. This adds up with additional flights, hotel rooms, and meals. Consider cutting 1 or 2 personnel out and shift that money toward touch panel kiosks or other interactive technology tool rentals that can provide your leads with videos, photos, contests, or Internet connections about your organization. The possibilities are endless!

Lighten your load by going green. Forget about brochures, tchotchkes, and plastic bags. The only real thing your prospect is interested in is knowing what your business is and your business card. If you are going to spend money on something to entice them to give you their business card or information, have a super prize that they can’t resist (iPad 2 comes to mind). Create quizzes or trivia questions on touch panel kiosks. Have a photo kiosk at your booth where prospects can take photos of themselves. Make sure you let them know you are active on LinkedIn and would like to connect with them. 

Order all services and equipment carefully. Make sure you have a booth budget and take the time to line item everything you spend money on. When renting audio visual equipment, negotiating hotel room nights, or understanding the convention services organization, treat them more like partners, not suppliers. Let them know you have a certain budget for various aspects of the show and share with them what it is. Get everything in writing and follow-up with questions. Typically, I go over budget because I haven’t worked out a firm plan with the client or it hasn’t been communicated effectively with the vendors. Follow the budget and review expenses every day when you are at the trade show, to catch any mistakes or misunderstandings.

AV Event Solutions, has state-of-the-art trade show booth technology from computer kiosks, iPads, laptops, and plasma TVs. Give them a call or request Express Quote today!

5 Tips for a Winning PowerPoint Presentation
Jun 17, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
Are you a trainer or speaker working on refining your presentation skills? This is the time of year most speakers and facilitators go into over drive with association conferences and corporate meetings. Here are some tips and techniques to improve your presentation skills if you are a speaker. If you are in the event meeting services industry, these tips will help you better communicate with each presenter.
#1: Start by learning what the attendees want. Why are they attending your session? Find out what sort of sessions were offered at last year’s conference and read the attendee comments of those similar to your presentation. As an event organizer, survey the attendees about their desires several weeks before the session starts, and forward those needs, wants, and comments to your speakers. This will give them ample time to re-write and prioritize their presentation.

#2: Really understand the corporation or association. If it is a corporation you are speaking to, find out as much as you can about the audience; their knowledge on the topic, are they passive or inquisitive, and the best way to present the information to them. With an association, it is so important to understand the demographics of the membership and their learning style. Meeting planners need to convey all this information to the speakers, so they again can tailor their presentations to the learning style of the audience.

#3: Rehearse your presentation over and over again, but be willing to abandon it at a moment’s notice. The Powerpoint presentation equipment is all set up. The mics have been tested. You know your presentation…COLD. You are a subject matter expert and it shows. However, today’s audiences are looking for the ability to dialog with the speaker. You may only get to slide 5, but that is okay if the audience is with you. Give up control and let them drive the ship. After all, the attendees have paid great money to hear you speak. Now let them go where they want to go. 

#4: Record your presentation. Listen to the playback and make corrections on pronunciation and delivery. How do you sound? Confident? Shaky? Do you sound professional? Listen to it at least on 3 different occasions and make notes. Adjust your presentation accordingly. As event organizers, consider renting recording equipment that can be easily transferred to a USB for the speaker. This can be a great parting gift for them. 

#5: Answer questions immediately or be willing to follow-up within a reasonable time period. The beauty of recording the presentation is, the speaker can go back and listen to the question if they need some clarity. Again, with #3, answer the questions if you know the answer. But if you don’t, tell the truth and say "I don’t know the answer, but may I get back to within 5 business days?" And then GET BACK TO THEM. Attendees love follow-up, don’t disappoint. 

Are you event planning in California and in need of presentation services audio visual equipment? Contact AV Event Solutions, your one stop audio visual partner! They have ample LCD projector and screen rental units, PCs, and recording devices! Give them a call today!

17 Cost Savings Strategies to Counter Meeting Industry Challenges
Jun 15, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
Despite the news that the recession is over, purse strings aren’t easily opening up. With increasing hotel, transportation, and food costs to boot, what is an event planner to do? Below is a listing of 17 potential solutions to the headaches you may be experiencing.

17 Cost Savings Strategies for MeetingsGreen = Money in Your Pocket

  • Create an online registration system. Eliminate all mailings about the conference.
  • Get rid of water, soda, and juice bottles and cans. Stick to pitchers and glasses.
  • No disposable items. Ask the conference center for china and glass only. No Styrofoam, plastic, or paper. Eliminate plastic bags and giveaways. 
  • Turn to interactive technology tool rentals to eliminate as much paper as possible. Rent Tablet PCs or laptops and place all the conference materials on these items. Kiosk rentals can act as digital signage. Wireless Audience Response Systems can replace paper surveys. Rent iPads and load on them conference specific applications. 
  • Engage attendees over social media networks before, during, and after the event.

Use the Internet and Templates as much as possible

  • The Convention Industry Council’s APEX has a listing of RFP Guidelines which can be downloaded to your computer and are among best practices in the industry.
  • Corbin Ball Associates has a listing of Excel templates which can be easily downloaded.
  • Use Microsoft Office for a listing of invitation templates.
  • Eventbrite has an online registration system, which is low-cost or no cost if you are coordinating a free event.
  • Dedicate a person or persons to update your website, blog, and social media platforms so many minutes or hours daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly. Consider outsourcing it to a freelancer if you don’t have the time or expertise. 

Develop Creative Strategies when Renting Audio Visual Equipment

  • Share your audio visual rental budget with your supplier. Most AV companies will work within your budget guidelines and can suggest areas where you can trim costs or go with equipment that may not have all the latest bells and whistles but can certainly do the trick.
  • Compare in-house vs. outsource AV providers. You may be pleasantly surprised that an outside AV company is a lot less expensive and/or has more expertise than the in-house provider.
  • Book in 24-hour blocks to control labor costs.
  • Ask for discounts for signing a multi-year or multi-meeting contract. This is probably where a meeting planner can see the greatest savings. AV companies are willing to negotiate better pricing if they can forecast a certain number of meetings in the year or know they are going to be your provider for the next 3 to 5 years.

Look at Alternative Travel  

  • Airline prices are very volatile and could create a low attendance at your meeting if prices continue to rise. Book in advance or work through the CVB to try and leverage pricing.
  • Look at all ways attendees can get there. Car? Suggest carpooling. Train? Look at Amtrak. Bus? Charter bus? Subway? Biking or Walking? Place all these alternative on your website and promote through social media outlets.
  • Consider holding your meeting or event within 100 miles of your location. 

AV Event Solutions, will assist you in meeting any of your challenges when renting audio visual equipment. Call us today!

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