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6 Tips to Stay Focused on Your Event Goals
Jul 29, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
goals

Event Planners are just crazy busy these days. No time for leisurely lunches or long sales meetings. They are doing more with less and even though the economy is on the rebound, staffing and budgets are still status quo for the most part. 

However, now is the time to honker down and start focusing on your event goals. Yes, you still need to handle the logistics of the meeting, but it is vitally important to stay focused and calm. Here are some tips to avoid distraction and increase clarity.

  1. Develop no more than 1 to 3 goals for the meeting. 
    If you come out of a strategy session with your boss or board, with 10 goals, go back in and whittle them down to no more than 3. Here are some common goals to get you started:
    • Increase Attendance by 10% over last year’s conference
    • When renting audio visual equipment, increase the budget by 15%
    • Increase Sponsorships by 15% 
  2. Understand why these goals are important.
    Perhaps your attendees were underwhelmed with your event last year and the Board wants to give it some punch with sound and lighting rentals, rent iPads with social media and sponsorship videos, and be viewed as being green through the elimination of paper products. 
  3. Create high level milestones.
    Understand what needs to be done weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly in order to meet your goals. Make certain to have weekly or monthly meetings with the team to discuss upcoming milestones. 
  4. Create a project plan.
    It is important to have a detailed project plan and make certain it is in line with your milestones and goals. Sometimes event meeting services organizations get so caught up in the day-to-day activities, they forget their goals. Being busy is no excuse for missing goals and objectives.
  5. Document performance metrics. 
    All along the way, it is important to know how you are doing against plan. How many attendees do you have signed up and how many did you have the same time last year? What is your budget and how is it year-to-date? If the goal cannot be measured, create a different goal. Measuring will determine if you are successful or not in achieving the objective.
  6. Communicate Results.
    At the end of the event, communicate how well you did against the benchmark. If you made your goals, it will be a great motivator to set new goals for next year. If you missed the goals, it can mean the goals may have been too aggressive or there were some kinks in the milestones and plan.

AV Event Solutions, a California meeting equipment firm, is ready and able to help you reach your audio visual goals and objectives. Give them a call today!

What the Event Industry can Learn from the Closing of Borders
Jul 28, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
Borders

Who would have thunk it? Borders, at one time, the largest bookselling chain, is going to be completely out of business by September 30th. 11,000 jobs gone. 1,000+ stores closed. What happened? According to Yuki Noguichi of NPR, they made a number of critical missteps and essentially killed themselves. Below is a summary of some of those mistakes and how we, in the event meeting services arena can learn from them.

Borders advantage and draw was they had a huge variety of books and a superior inventory system that could optimize what consumers would buy. However, by the mid-1990’s, they started to lose their competitive edge.

First Mistake: They invested heavily into the CD music and DVD movies area just when iTunes and NetFlix were breaking ground.  

What can event planners and partners learn from this? Start reshaping meetings, events, and conventions based on the future, not the present. Assess your competition thoroughly…not just other meetings, but webinars and webcasts, videoconferences, and social media tools. Invest your money and time where your clients are going, not where they have been. Are you using state-of-the-art interactive technology tool rentals at your meeting or are you running it like you have for the last 20 years?

Second Mistake: They ignored the impact of online sales. 

Event planners need to embrace the digital world and start using every aspect of it in their meetings. From online registration systems, to RFPs, to social media buzz, it is time you realize that most attendees are online, all the time. Rent iPads instead of giving attendees paper presentations. Crowdsource your agenda. Create on-line communities to embrace interactivity. The digital world isn’t a fad and it isn’t going away. 

Third Mistake: They did not develop their own e-reader.

Barnes and Noble has the Nook and Amazon has the Kindle. More and more individuals are getting e-readers because they are now more affordable. Even libraries across the country have jumped on the e-book bandwagon. 

Technology is key to all events today and it is faster, cheaper, and more intuitive now more than ever. What technology are your competitors using and why aren’t you doing something more innovative? When renting audio visual equipment, a professional AV company can take you through all the bells and whistles of their equipment and recommend creative and innovative solutions that will give your event a Wow factor.

Fourth Mistake: They expanded their stores.  

Have you noticed the trend for restaurants and stores nowadays? People want smaller and intimate, not large and empty. Most popular restaurants have a waiting list because they are very small. Even the Apple store has select locations and those are always packed.

Event planners need to make their spaces more intimate. They need to work with smaller spaces and not have a lot of empty chairs in the room. Last month, I was at PCMA‘s educational conference in Baltimore and at the general assembly, they must have had at least 250 empty chairs in the room. It made the session look poorly attended, even though I am sure that was not PCMA’s intent.

Fifth Mistake: They tried to appeal to everyone with their book selections.  

Event organizers need to have a niche plan. Those that try and do it all — weddings, corporate, and associations — end up losing out. Planners need to be good at one market and focus all their attention on that market. 

Event Planning in California? Turn to AV Event Solutions, a meeting planner’s partner for state-of-the-art technology tools that will make your meeting stand head and shoulders above the rest. Give them a call today! 

5 Ways to Avoid Meeting Chaos
Jul 25, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
5 Ways to Avoid Meeting ChaosAre you having nightmares about your next meeting, conference, or convention? Are the logistics keeping you up at night? Here are some great tips to avoid chaos at your next event and keep everything running smoothly.

#1: Look at Every Aspect of Your Location

Is the event city easy to find? What about the venue? Does the location come up on GPS or Google Maps? What about parking? When attendees are in the meeting facility, can they easily find your location? Can attendees easily find restaurants and other attractions within the city?

If the venue is difficult to find, doesn’t register on a GPS, and parking is a hassle, consider a different location. One way to eliminate confusion with on-site logistics, is to incorporate kiosk rentals into your event budget. Touch panel kiosks can serve as digital signage to direct attendees to the various breakout sessions, provide a map of the venue and surrounding areas, and serve as a digital concierge, providing information about local eateries and entertainment.

#2: Use Technology to Simplify Your Event

Technology is becoming easier to use and renting equipment simplifies your event planning. Consider the following ideas to make your life easier:
  • Eliminate all paper and binders by renting iPads or Tablet PCs and giving them to your attendees. No shipping of paper, tracking it down, and assembling binders at the last minute. Everything can be preloaded ahead of time.
  • Eliminate more paper and time by using Audience Response System rentals to tally attendee evaluations. 
  • Hire a qualified AV company to set-up your presentation services audio visual equipment and stay on site with an experience AV technician. Have the AV tech work directly with your presenter to set up everything well in advance.

#3: Have a Backup Plan

Have the audiovisual technicians on-site so they can easily swap out failed equipment. Worse case, make certain all your speakers have a hard copy of their presentation with them. 

If a speaker cancels unexpectantly or something more severe happens, such as a loss of electricity or weather related crisis, make certain you have a crisis plan

#4: Go the Extra Mile

Get everything in writing and then check and double check your details. Have others check everything as well, especially collateral items that go out to attendees. If an attendee has a question or concern, address it right away. Don’t put it off or minimize it. 

#5: Hire Really Good Project Managers


An overall event project manager is like gold. They will make certain a detailed task list is created with task, responsible party, and date to be completed. They may even create a Gannt Chart, so you know which items are dependent on others. Good project managers are also excellent communicators and will let you know if something is not on target and why it isn’t. 

In addition, you may wish to hire specifically targeted project managers, such as an AV project manager. These managers are very instrumental during the pre-planning stage, as well as, during the event. They can: 

  • Act as a liaison between the technical staff and the planner
  • Be the go-to-person during the event
  • Offer technical expertise and
  • Advise you on possible budget run-ups with technology and labor
AV Event Solutions can make certain your next event come off without a hitch. They provide computer kiosks, iPads, Tablet PCs, wireless audience response systems, and highly experience project managers. Give them a call today!
New Ways to Present: TED, PechaKucha and Ignite
Jul 22, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan

Looking for a new way to keep your presentations simple and to the point? Maybe have a contest element? Below, are 3 different, engaging techniques to keep your audience entertained and educated at the same time. In addition, there is a checklist at the end of this blog for additional ideas.

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design)

TTEDED is a non-profit founded in 1984, meant to bring together people from 3 different worlds (Technology, Entertainment, and Design). Since then, it has become an international phenomenon with sell-out conferences in Long Beach and Palm Springs, California and TEDGlobal in Edinburgh, UK. More than 1,000 people attend each conference over a 4-day period. 50 speakers are given an 18-minute slot each with no breakout groups. Everyone receives the same information, no matter how large the crowd.
These conferences are meant to bring together the world’s most fascinating thinkers, who must give their talk in 18 minutes or less via Powerpoint presentation equipment.

PechaKucha

PechaKucha was designed by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham Architecture in 2003. The concept is that the speaker has 20 slides they can present in 20 seconds each, thus giving the total time for the presentation at 6 minutes and 40 seconds.

PechaKucha (an alternative to PowerPoint) is often used in informal and fun settings where the speaker can tell a great story or give information about a project. It can also be used in training session.

Ignite

ignite
Ignite was started by Brady Forrest from O’Reilly Media and Bre Pettis, Co-Founder at Makerbot Industries in 2006. Inspired by PechaKucha, Ignite’s format allows a speaker to present 20 slides in 5 minutes. In the nature of fun, sometimes a contest is created where a series of presentations are made, allowing the audience to vote on the best one.

Here is a checklist of what you need to do, regardless of which of the above formats you choose.

  1. Choose a Date for the Presentations.
  2. Put a team together to determine venue, emcee, contest coordinator, and on site volunteers.
  3. Determine how many presentations you will have, and whether or not there will be a contest.
  4. Find a location and determine audiovisual needs. 
    • Make sure the room is just right; not too small or large.
    • Have a stage with proper sound and lighting rental, presentation services audio visual equipment rental, and microphone system.
    • As the event gets closer, check the acoustics in the room with the sound system. 
  5. Recruit Speakers. Make sure they know they have 5, 6:40, or 18 minutes to speak.
  6. Promote. Use all sources that make sense for your budget. Both print and digital marketing may make sense – consider postcards and fliers for print, and your website, blog and other social media outlets for digital.
  7. Put together a schedule.
  8. Put all the Powerpoints, in order, on the presentation services audio visual equipment so the event runs very smoothly. 

Event planning in California? Turn to AV Event Solutions, your association, training and corporate audio visual provider. Give them a call or click today!

4 Tips to Make Your Next Event More Compelling and Competitive
Jul 20, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan

BizBash Magazine recently wrote an article titled "The Evolution of an Industry". Evolution of Event IndustryBelow are highlights as well as some of my own thoughts about how the industry needs to change in order to be more competitive.

When I started my business in 2000, the meeting and special event industry was pretty "cut and dried". Most events were cookie cutters and it was all about who could get the best deal, handle all the logistics, and make certain the Powerpoint presentation equipment worked properly. That is no longer the case. It is a highly competitive world out there and event planning is changing from a commodity to a specialty market. Those who change with it, will still be in business in 10 years. Those who don’t, won’t. 

Tip #1: Events are Now Part of the Marketing Department

Ten years ago, events had their own department with a big staff. They were no measurements in place, no expectations to be met. Just handle the logistics and everything will be approved.

No more. Events are now under Marketing and are expected to carry a strategy with a budget. If you are planning an event without the Marketing department’s involvement, start to involve them immediately. Get their buy-in. 

Tip #2: Events have to have a Wow Factor

"Each year, it gets harder to impress people. The audience is much more knowledgeable and you really want to stand out and keep them wanting more," says Caitlin Weiskopf, Executive Director, Special Events & Partnerships at Elle Magazine. "You have to over deliver."

Clients expect new ideas and a bigger, better event. If you have creativity within your team, great. If you don’t, you better outsource and get it.

Tip #3: Events need to be Competitive

Attendees, guests, and employees are busy. They have many obligations and are constantly looking at the money and time involved to attend an educational seminar, trade show, or training. Event meeting services organizations and their partners need to look at how much value they are giving their guests versus the cost to attend the meeting. What makes your event "head and shoulders" above all others? 

"Competition is growing, so trends are shorter-lived and expectations to stretch a budget creatively continue to be raised," says Frank Riley, VP and Marketing Director of Dalzell Productions.

Tip #4: Events need to use the latest Technology

Ten years ago, most events had LCD projector and screen rentals, a laptop, and a podium. Not any more. Technology is readily available and much more affordable to rent. Touch panel kiosks can check guests in, play videos about the speakers, run trivia contests, or provide trailers for product launching events.

"I’m incredibly happy we no longer have to use clipboards and we can use iPads," says Weiskopf. "The tools have evolved tenfold from an execution and from an aesthetic perspective. Everything has been elevated."

AV Event Solutions, your meeting and special event partner, has state-of-the-art interactive technology tool rentals to make your next event really special. Give them a call today!

5 Useful Trade Show Booth Ideas
Jul 18, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
Trade Show RentalsAre you considering exhibiting at a trade show? Need new ideas to make your booth extra special? The goals for your booth should be to:
  • Draw a crowd
  • Stand out from other exhibitors
  • Differentiate your company and
  • Generate more leads for your organization.
Below are 5 techniques you can utilize to improve your visibility at your next trade show.

Tip #1: Create a Plan Several Months in Advance.

Address or answer the following questions before giving serious consideration to exhibiting at the next show:

  1. Why are you exhibiting at this specific trade show? What makes this one better than any of the others?
  2. What is your defined marketing message?
  3. Have a well-defined budget, including a line item for renting audio visual equipment.
  4. Let the attendees know you will be exhibiting and what your grand prize will be if they stop by.
  5. Instead of spending money on giveaways, consider popular prizes such as, an iPad2, gas card, or resort stay.
Tip #2:  Find out About Location, Layout, and Traffic Flow of the Show.

Try and get your booth as close to where the traffic will enter. Find out if the attendees will enter in one or more entrances. Many times those key locations are signed on early and may cost more, but if the event is going to attract 10,000 people, it may well be worth it. Study the layout carefully and make certain you are very happy with the specific location. Lastly, the location and the city may be key to attendance. A first tier city at a great convention center will be a factor with your success.

Tip #3: Have Catchy Trade Show Video and Graphics. 

There are some great ways to use interactive technology tool rentals to sell your products and services. Consider touch panel kiosk rentals that can run video, photos, contests, and allow attendees to enter their contact information. iPads are great portable kiosks and can easily be taken off their stands. Large screen HDTVs can allow attendees to see videos and social feeds. 

Tip #4: Have Prepared, Knowledgeable, and Friendly Staff.

Make certain your staff knows your products and services inside out. Spend the time to properly train them and make certain they smile…a lot. Have staff that are naturally friendly and can carry on a conversation. It is vitally important that they can ask qualifying questions and follow-up with the prospects after the trade show. 

Tip #5: Offer a Fantastic Grand Prize.

Forget the little key rings, bags, and pens. No one wants them or uses them to remember you or your company. Instead, get people over to your booth by offering them a chance to win something terrific…an iPad2, a $300 gas card, an all-expense trip to Cap Cod. Spend the time to research great prizes and poll your clients and staff. Most attendees will gladly share their contact information for a chance to win something great!

AV Event Solutions, your event rental services company, is available to assist you with any of your trade show booth needs, including kiosks, iPads, Plasma Screens, and sound and lighting rental. Give them a call today!

MPI engages conference attendees at World Education Congress
Jul 15, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
MPI   Meeting Madness
Meeting Professionals International (MPI) is conducting their World Education Congress, which will be held July 23-26 in Orlando,  in a very unusual, yet attendee focused way this year and they are hoping it pays off with attendee growth and satisfaction.

In order to develop their agenda for the congress, they crowdsourced the 3-day agenda through a Meeting Madness Session Contest held in March and April. Similar to College Basketball’s March Madness, this contest had 22 session ideas in each bracket. MPI members could vote each week on the best sessions in a head-to-head match. That winner would move on, until the best idea became the session of choice.

In order to make the on-site conference more engaging, MPI is implementing the Daily Download. This is meant to elevate the attendee experience by allowing peer-to-peer learning and discussion about that day’s sessions. The Daily Download will occur at the end of the conference day in a more casual and engaging setting. 

This is also beneficial to speakers and facilitators because attendees can engage with them in peer setting and the speakers can receive direct feedback about their topic.

"For attendees looking for the most efficient way to connect on-site, Daily Download is the place to be to transfer insights and elevate your daily learning. In addition to learning, Daily Download provides the chance to network based on session topics of interest. We expect this to be one of the most popular times of the day," said Diana Rogers, Director of Professional Development at MPI. In addition, attendees can network about a session whether they were there or not.

Are you event planning in California? AV Event Solutions can provide your association with the following interactive technology tool rentals to make your next meeting very interactive:

Give them a call today and learn what they can do for you!

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