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9 Things You Can Do to Boost Attendance and Buzz for your Next Association Meeting
Aug 31, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
Association Meeting At ASAE‘s Annual Meeting held August 7-9, 2011 in St. Louis, MO, many meeting planners shared their thoughts on how association organizations can focus more attention on membership, marketing, and communications.

Here is a summary of their thoughts — pre-event, at the function, and post-event:

Before the Meeting

  1. Offer Unique Discounts. We all know about the early-bird discounts, but creative discounts, for a limited period of time, can drive attendance up. For example, a special discount for first-time attendees, bring-a-collegue, or discounts for multiple people from the same organization, help bring attention to the event because the discounts are unique. Offering a one or two day discount, offered only through a Social Media channel, such as Twitter, can also be effective.
  2. Use the Executive Team. Create a marketing strategy where the C-Suite folks are blogging and tweeting about the event on a consistant and rotating basis. No one wants to hear from just 1 or 2 people from the organization. 10 or 20 individuals give the digital marketing effort more variety.
  3.  Create a "Tip of the Week". Have your event services company staff, partners, speakers, and suppliers participate in this. Put it on your website and blog. This short tip will generate more interest about the speakers and sponsors. Start this process as soon as possible, once you know the date and location of your event.
At the Meeting
  1. Ask Your Members WHY they attended and WHY they joined the organization. Through the use of touch panel kiosks located in areas throughout the convention or meeting, attendees can feel free to write their comments anytime during the meeting. In addition, audience response rentals can be used in a multiple choice format and gain immediate feedback to the event organizers.
  2. Recognize staff, volunteers, and sponsors. So many times the sponsors get the spotlight because they are the ones with the monetary contribution, but it is important to recognize all the volunteers and staff members that make the event possible. Without their hard work, nothing would happen. A special badge recognizing their contribution can help, as well as, singling them out at the opening session. 
  3. Consider "open" and hybrid meetings. Rent iPads to allow for Twitter streaming, take photos and post them during the session, and blog about the key takeaways as soon as the speaker finishes. Video streaming for virtual attendee is also a way to make them feel connected to the event.
After the Meeting
  1. Send a "We Missed You" postcard or email blast to past attendees who did not make it this year. Give them a link for photos, blogs, and/or webinars so they can get a taste of what happened and make certain to include the date and location of next year’s meeting.
  2. Continue the conversation. Let attendees know about upcoming ebooks, publications, events, and research your organization is doing. Don’t overwhelm them; perhaps twice a month. 
  3. Use YouTube to give potential attendees a taste of your event. Have someone interview attendees, speakers, exhibitors, sponsors, and suppliers. Make the clips no more than 3 minutes long. Consider creating "How-to" clips – these are the most popular. 
AV Event Solutions, is your one-stop audio visual rental partner for association meetings. They also provide kiosk rentals, audience response systems, iPads, and much more! Request Quote today or give them a call!
6 Things Event Planners Can Learn from The Walt Disney Company
Aug 29, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
Disney Meetings
The Walt Disney Company, recently launched a new part of their Disney Meetings website, called The Disney Advantage. They have come up with 6 key advantages to having meetings on one of their many Disney properties.

This got me to thinking…What can event organizers learn from the Disney way? Plenty! Here’s the rundown:

  1. Disney offers Marketing Support. They have unique promotional tools designed to drive attendance up and create excitement about your meeting.

    Who is doing your marketing support? Are you providing digital and print marketing assistance to your client, or are you just the planner? What unique tools do you offer?

  2. Disney offers Transportation Services. They will pick up your guests from the airport and take them to their hotel and provide convenient transportation on the way back to the airport. 

    What is your event services company doing to make sure guests are taken care of whether they arrive by air or train? What about your speakers and VIPs? It is important to provide timely and efficient transportation options for your attendees.

  3. Disney provides Event Group Services. They lend their creative talent, ideas, and resources to the event organizer to make the meeting very memorable. They extend to you what they do best — creating memories. 

    Is your organization providing creative ideas and new resources to your client? Or are you doing the same old event in the same old way? How can you "freshen" the event? Perhaps through new interactive technology tool rentals?

  4. Disney promotes Green Meetings. The Walt Disney Company has been committed to environmental standards for over 60 years and they are continuing Walt Disney’s progressive ideas today. In 1990, they introduced Environmentality, a movement that allows for business growth while promoting the conservation of natural resources. 

    Are your meetings green or are you just giving it lip service? Are you renting audio visual equipment from an organization that is committed to helping you reduce paper and use less power? What about the venue? Are they green certified?

  5. The Disney Institute showcases their best practices. This offering allows planners to add this professional development content into their meeting. In addition, this is a unique offering found only through Disney.

    What is your unique offering? How are you following event meeting services best practices? What new education have you undergone in the last 12 months?

  6. Disney has Theme Park Tickets and Events. Networking and entertainment lead to fun times, because attendees have access to the park with world-class entertainment and great catering options. Not to mention the rides!

    How are you making your event fun and entertaining? Even corporate training programs and sales meetings can provide moments of levity and interactivity.

AV Event Solutions can provide your organization with state-of-the-art audio visual rental equipment, project managers, and technicians to make your next corporate or association meeting creative and fun! Give them a call today!

Top 10 Problems with Wi-Fi Access at Events, Part 2
Aug 26, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
In Part 1, we highlighted 5 of the more common problems with Wi-Fi networks.  Today, we continue our discussion about the remaining potential problems with WiFi and offer suggested solutions to overcome bandwidth and connectivity issues.
#6: Not enough time was given to install and test the Wi-Fi network

It is important that the Wi-Fi network be accessible and fast. The only way to adequately do this is to test the mobile applications and social network feeds of a typical attendee x 500 or 5,000, depending on the size of the group. This may take days to complete. Besides knowing the size of the room, test how the signal will reflect from the walls and be absorbed by the audience. Still not convinced that your event will have reliable wireless connectivity for 500 to 5,000 attendees? enterprise wireless network routerRent an enterprise wireless network router from AV Event Solutions to get peace of mind.
#7: No idea how many attendees are going to connect to the Wi-Fi network at the same time

If you rent iPads, tablets, or laptops, and have applications preloaded onto these devices, you will have some idea how many mobile devices are on the network. But what about smartphones? Yes, you need to include those as well. Will your attendees have a laptop, smartphone, and iPad? It is possible, and if it is a tech conference, very probable.

The easiest way to handle this, is to make this question part of your registration process. If you are going to rent Tablet PCs, you already have that number answered. But make sure to ask if the attendees have a smartphone or if they are bringing their laptop. Encourage them leave their laptop at home, as it will take unnecessary bandwidth and let them know the tablet should be enough for purposes of the conference. 

#8: Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) isn’t configured properly. 

Okay, okay I have to get technical for a minute, but it will make sense, so stay with me. DHCP allows the temporary IP addresses for your devices to connect to the router correctly. Most access points only allow a maximum of 253 addresses (which means if you a conference of 500 people, only half would be able to use the Internet). However, the DHCP can be configured with up to 16,000 addresses which is usually suitable for most conferences and conventions. Again, knowing the system and how it is configured is one of the keys to your success.

#9: There just isn’t enough bandwidth.

I lied…I have to explain another technical term but it can be explained in an easy way. Think of bandwidth as a pipe. Now think of a really narrow pipe and think about how fast a gallon of water could be pushed through that pipe. Now think about a really, really big pipe, like something in the oil fields of Alaska and visualize that same gallon of water. You get it…the really big pipe is going to push the water through very fast while the small pile is going to be slow…actually really slow when compared to the big pipe. Well, that is bandwidth.

The infrastructure at the hotel, conference center, or convention hall, has to be big enough to support all the activity going on with attendees including video streaming and downloading. Make sure you know what your attendees are going to be doing and what the bandwidth of your venue is. If in doubt, go for the larger bandwidth with a wireless network array rental.

AV Event Solutions is here to help you with your association, training, and corporate bandwidth rental needs and audio visual rentals. We are available to work with your event management services and IT staff to make your event a great success. Give them a call today!

Top 10 Problems with Wi-Fi Access at Events, Part 1
Aug 24, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
Wi-Fi networks are all the rage at conferences, seminars, and training meetings. Most attendees expect them to be available, work properly, and most importantly, to be fast. However, often times without the proper questions being asked of the conference services organization, the attendee and meeting planner are left frustrated and unhappy with their Wi-Fi experience.

Below, are some common problems with WiFi at events and suggested solutions:

#1: Wi-Fi Network is faulty, slow, or non-existent
Wi-Fi array equipment rentalToday, we expect Wi-Fi to be available everywhere. After all, it’s even at McDonald’s! The problem is, the casual users at McDonald’s, are not fighting for bandwidth with hundreds or thousands of other attendees all at the same time, for a specified length of time. So when 500 attendees get on the system at the same time, Internet access slows to a snail’s pace or worse it crashes and some frantic staff member gets up on stage and says "The Wi-Fi isn’t working". In some instances, there are venues that have no Wi-Fi at all. 
What to do? Ask for references of similar-sized meetings that have used Wi-Fi extensively at their venue. Better yet, see if you can sit in the back of the room for a few minutes and test the bandwidth yourself at a meeting. Lastly, never assume they have Wi-Fi…Ask!
And if you feel that the Wi-Fi network is unreliable and slow, consider a wireless network array rental from AV Event Solutions. The high-performance wireless network array offers reliable, access points capable of delivering vast amounts of bandwidth, capacity and user-density for wired-like performance.

#2: Attendee has to pay for connection services

Never, ever allow this to happen. Your attendees are going to be extremely unhappy if they go to their guest rooms and learn, they have to pay for Internet connection. Negotiate all Wi-Fi service provider charges up front and put it into the standard venue contract. Make certain you have the contract at the meeting and available to you at all times. Go over the contract once on-site with the appropriate hotel and convention staff, so no one ends up with a charge on their bill. 

#3: Tech support is not on-site or immediately available, if there is a problem

Attendees expect instantaneousous results if the network crashes. Having to wait 24 hours just isn’t going to cut it. A good Wi-Fi solution provider is going to have tech support staff on-site or a phone call away to fix the problem. Event organizers need to let attendees know what is happening by posting up-to-the-minute updates on when the network will be back up. 

#4: Venue has installed no extra equipment for a larger meeting

Wi-Fi access for 20 attendees is a whole lot different than an event for 2,000. If the hotel or convention center has not added more access points and speed, the attendees system will crash. It is important to have the company providing Wi-Fi know the number of attendees coming to the event, the room configuration, and an estimation of how many mobile devices will be used by the attendees, including smartphones, laptops, and tablets. Be prepared to allocate more money in your budget for an enterprise wireless network router and labor to install and test it.
#5: Conference services staff has no idea what you are talking about

Most hoteliers and convention staffers know nothing about Wi-Fi, except that they have it. They don’t know technology and probably never will. So it is your job to surround yourself with people who can come on a site visit, ask the right questions, and inspect the location’s Wi-Fi installation. AV Event Solutions provides this service with its network array rental.

Are you planning an event and need to boost the Wi-Fi performance at the facility? Contact AV Event Solutions to provide you with a WiFi solution as well as state-of-the-art interactive technology tool rentals, including iPads, Tablet PCs, and laptops. 

Make sure you read Part 2 to learn about the other 5 problems with Wi-Fi access at Events.

How Curation Analytics can Improve Your Next Meeting
Aug 22, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan

How do you know if your event is meeting the needs of your attendees? How do you know their satisfaction level while at the event? For the most part, this data is sorely lacking, leaving planners guessing at their strategy for next year’s big event. 

Mindtouch came up with a curation analytics equation diagram aimed at document, website, and SEO reviews. The diagram below, simply explains the concept. However, much of this concept can also be overlaid in the event meeting services industry (I will share with you how this can come to be). First, the diagram:

curation

User Ratings of Your Meeting

How are you gathering attendee satisfaction at and after the meeting? You can gather feedback:

  • while the presenter is speaking
  • immediately following the meeting
  • after the event

There are several ways to do gather the feedback:

  • Rent Tablet PCs or iPads and set up a Twitter hashtag or group to allow the presenter to see real-time comments and questions about the topic. 
  • Distribute wireless audience response system rentals immediately following the meeting to gather attendee satisfaction and ratings. 
  • Create an online community to allow attendees to continue the conversation about a breakout session or the meeting as a whole.

Analytics

Hopefully by now you are using some sort of Analytics tool, such as Google Analytics, to determine website and blog traffic. It is important to understand what pages your attendees and potential attendees are visiting and what methods brought them to those pages. In addition, if you use a tool such at Hootsuite to manage your social media buzz, there are analytics integrated within this tool to track trends. 

Meeting Planner = Curator

Merriam-Webster Dictionary‘s definition of a curator is "One who has the care or superintendence of something. Especially someone in charge of a place or exhibit." 

We don’t often think of ourselves as a curator, but that in essence is what we are. We are caring for our attendees, partners, and sponsors. We are directing our staff and suppliers. And most importantly, we are in charge of the entire meeting, trade show, or training seminar. 

However, these three things TOGETHER equal the weight of Your Event’s Content.

Event Content

In the old days, we used the following way to address content:

  1. Call up our speakers or put a "Call to Action" on the Website
  2. Select the ones who were either free or fit our event audience
  3. Asked them for their topics
  4. Selected the topics
  5. Printed the brochure and
  6. Prayed for attendance

That way is no longer acceptable. The attendees want to drive the content, select the topics, and many times the speakers too. The more involved they are in content, the happier the attendees will be, and the more likely they will attend the event. How can you do that?

  • Crowdsource your agenda through an online community. Giving attendees a voice and a vote is very powerful. This method should bring forth fresh ideas, more dialog, and make the attendee feel like they are being heard.
  • Make the attendees the experts. Adrian Segar, CEO of Segar Consulting, has written a book called "Conference that Work." His premise is that the attendees are the experts and can sign up for the topic or topics they are versed in and present them with no prep time required.
  • Make sure the content has SUCCESs written all over it. Engaging the audience with the content is important as well. 

AV Event Solutions, a California meeting rental equipment company, can assist you in making your next sales meeting, convention, or corporate function a great success. Give them a call today!

A New Trend in Conference Services
Aug 19, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
The WWW ConferenceNo speeches. No slide shows. No podiums. No tickets or registration fees. What is going on and why is this happening?

Richard Saul Wurman, the creator of Technology, Entertainment, and Design (TED) is launching a new conference methodology called The www.wwwconference which is planning to debut in September of 2012. His philosophy is:

  • No presentations
  • No schedule
  • No expensive tickets
Wurman suggests that 2 interesting individuals are on stage, prompted by a question, generating a spontaneous conversation for 10 to 50 minutes. 

Wurman’s goal is to make conferences feel like dinner parties, with great minds, having a conversation, 2 at a time. He feels improvisational one-on-one conversations, held in front of a small audience, and disseminated to the world through webinars or webcasts will have a greater impact on audience satisfaction with conferences. 

He says audience members are asking for spontaneity. "By exploring ideas and subjects in conversational modality, you’re more likely to have those shared moments of epiphany. You can get closer to the truth."

3 components of the conference include:

  • A live performance: Face-to-face interaction is still very important. 
  • A tablet application, to allow the attendees to participate in the conversation by interacting with the 2 individuals, with other attendees, as well as, virtual attendees. Event organizers can rent iPads or Tablet PCs to access this application and others.
  • A live stream to allow for a virtual audience to attend.
The overall goal is it make the meeting lively and engaging. 

How can your Audio Visual company assist you with this type of conference? Here are some ways they can help:

  • In this type of event, sound and lighting rentals are going to be extra important. Since there will be no visual reference, the audience is going to be focused on what they hear and see. A good, tested sound system along with the right lighting is going to give the event a special look and feel. 
  • Rent tablet PCs for your attendees. The applications can be preloaded onto the tablet and given to the attendees upon their arrival at the conference.
  • Have the AV technician and project manager work hand-in-hand with your virtual organization to ensure smooth interaction between the live and virtual audience. 
AV Event Solutions, a California event equipment rental company, can provide you with sound systems, microphones, iPads, Tablet PCs, project management, and technician support for your next conference. Give them a call today!

Expert Advice from Corporate Event Planning Pros
Aug 17, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
Expert Advice from Corporate Event PlannersWouldn’t it be great if you could access great advice from event meeting experts all at one location? Smart Meetings recently ran an article called "Tips from the Top" citing a few meeting planner aficionados who really make a difference. Here is a summary of what they had to say and how AV can help to make your next gathering extra special.

Diane Budion-Devitt, Owner/President at DND Group, stated "Create an instant visual dynamic and surprise element that immediately invites the attendees to feel like they are in a safe and secure place to network and interact with one another." She feels the following items are event enhancers:
Budion-Devitt went on to point the strategic importance of lighting to create special moments and how the lighting at one of her events allowed the guests to see the keynote presenter in action (in this case it was a chef demonstrating how to prepare tuna). 

Mitchell Davis, Founder of The Artist Partnership, stated, "If you want to have memorable events, you need talent that will make them spark. It is important to make sure clients know the budgetary needs, however, as planners often underestimate the amount of capital required to pull off a large event or try to cut corners to keep the budget low. This will inevitably lead to problems."

When considering sound and lighting rentals, consult with your AV partner for ideas on how to make your next event extra special. Whatever the occasion — training seminars, conferences, or product launching events, light, sound, and presentation will make or break the audience response to your message. Don’t skimp on these elements.

When planning hybrid events, Chris Meyer,  Chief Operating Officer at INXPO, advises that event planners should think about content, goals and objectives of the meeting before determining whether or not a hybrid event makes sense. He encourages organizers to look at the following elements to ensure a fantastic attendee experience:

  • Creativity
  • IT
  • Content Development
  • Risk Management
  • Production
  • Support and
  • Success Measurement

Jennifer Lee Witherington, CMP, DMCP, Director of Sales with Mana-Allison & Associates, Inc. described a way she transformed a meeting room with lights and decor. "Six-foot hedging with white twinkle lights interspersed with 8 foot pedestals topped with urns and florals surrounded the perimeter of the space. Glamorous linens, coordinated napkins, tall, white orchids and votive candles dressed the tables. The lights came down and pedestals where up-lit, creating ambiance. Success!"

C. Russell Brumfield, Founder and CEO of Wizard Studios Global Events, gives this great advice, "Surround yourself with intellectually curious employees and take the time to study cultural, behavioral, and scientific trends. If you truly want to break out of the pack, watch TED Talks and study marketing trends, technology trends, and new paradigms in cultural behaviors."

Are you event planning in California? Consider partnering with AV Event Solutions, your state-of-the-art audiovisual and lighting rental provider who can assist you to make your next event memorable. Give them a call today!

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