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3 Ways to Take the Fear out of Technology
Sep 28, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
Business Professional with White FlagTechnology is a tool…it isn’t magic, mysterious, or hard to implement into your meetings and events. However, many planners back away from new or unique technology options because it is outside of their comfort zone. Yet, most of us readily use technology in our everyday lives — whether it be a laptop, smartphone, or HDTV. We would never go back to a typewriter, rotary phone, or black and white TV…so why are we crippled by the thought of new technology options at our events?
Lets identify three common technology tripping blocks and what to do about them.
  1. Failing to invest the time in learning new tools. Whatever technology you decide to utilize at your next meeting or event, it is important that you carve out the time to evaluate the choices and learn about the device first hand. Let’s face it, when questions arise, attendees will come to you first for advice. So, for example, if you are going to rent iPads, make certain you know how to use both the tablet and meeting applications.
  2. Not utilizing the "latest and greatest" technology.  We are living in an extremely fast paced tech world and your attendees are on top of it. 3D LCD projectors, iPad2s, new lighting, and smoother and sleeker kiosk rentals are just the tip of the iceberg. One of the main reasons you want to rent audio visual equipment versus buying it, is to provide attendees with the technology they want. If you purchase equipment, most likely you will "be stuck with it" for 3-5 years. Go where your audience is and hire an AV company that has state-of-the-art equipment and can keep up with your attendees’ needs.
  3. Fearing experimentation. Meeting planners as a whole are relatively conservative and some like to do the same thing "year-in, year-out". But you need to embrace technology as a solution…not as a problem to be reckoned with. Here are some simple ways technology can make your life easier:
  4. Ways Technology Can Save Money and Time within the Meeting Environment
    Audience Response Rental No paper surveys required, immediate feedback and voting, report saved on computer for future review
    Computer Kiosks Provides self check-in for attendees, save on staff persons, available 24/7, act as "concierge", provide unlimited sponsors with video options
    LCD Projectors  Newer LCDs have better lumens for brightness, 3D technology is just around the corner, energy efficient
    Rent iPads Replace all paper, green because of reduction of paper and low energy requirements, attendees can make notes on iPad, Wi-Fi accessible so attendees don’t need to bring laptop to communicate with home office, trade show booths use them as portable kiosks
    Wireless Network Array Rentals These rental units will make the existing network at the venue more robust through improved bandwidth, increased security, and more temporary IP addresses. This is a must have for events to ensure the Wi-Fi network doesn’t slow down or completely crash 

If you are event planning in California turn to AV Event Solutions to save you money and time! Call their professional and service-oriented staff to learn more about your technology options. Don’t be afraid of it; embrace it!

The Day in the Life of an Audio Visual Production Team
Sep 26, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
Loading LightsHave you ever wondered what it really takes to produce a first-class event…from an AV standpoint? Would it surprise you learn that the average AV production team spends 65 to 350 hours to plan and produce a quality conference? If the answer is yes to both questions, the timeline below is for a hypothetical 2-day conference that is indicative of the effort a partner-focused AV team puts into your event.

Day 0 (The day before your event)

5 AM       Load the trucks with all the Audio Visual equipment needed to for the conference.

7 AM       Drive 100 miles to the event venue.

9 AM       Arrive at the venue, unload the trucks, and roll the equipment into the facility.

11 AM     Set up the staging, seating, scenic elements, projector and screen rental, and sound and lighting rental in each room in a seamless and integrated way. Test all equipment. 

5 PM      The next day’s speakers come in and test and rehearse their presentation services audio visual equipment with the AV team. This is where changes and edits usually occur to the presentation.   

8 PM      End of Day 0. The rooms, presentations, and AV are all set.

Day 1

7 AM      Arrive back on-site for last test, run through, and rehearsal of presentations.

9 AM      Conference starts and AV technicians are in the back of each room to ensure all presentations, lighting, and sound equipment work flawlessly. AV Project Manager is floating from room-to-room to ensure all needs are being met and is proactively working with event organizer and speakers.

4 PM      Ballroom has to be converted to an evening gala and fund raising event. AV team needs to reprogram the light equipment rentals, rework the staging, do a sound check, reset the tables and chairs, and change the screen rentals out. Band comes in to set up equipment. 

6 PM      Keynote speaker rehearses and edits presentation. Band tests sound and lighting.

8 PM      Gala starts and AV technicians work the lighting, sound, and presentation equipment for event.

9 PM      Band starts playing. 

12 AM    AV team sets room back as it was earlier in the day. Reprogramming of lights, checking of sound system, and rehearsal of next day’s speakers need to occur. 

3 AM     End of Day 1.

Day 2

7 AM     Arrive back on site for last run through and test of equipment. Speakers on hand for last rehearsals.

9 AM     Day 2 of conference begins. AV Technicians and Project Manager are in the rooms to ensure flawless execution of event.

4 PM     End of conference. Strike immediately and roll equipment out to trucks.

6 PM     Load trucks and drive back to office.

8 PM     Unload trucks and store equipment in the proper places. Do an inventory of the equipment and make note of any equipment that needs maintenance.

11 PM    Go home and collapse and be ready to do the same thing next week!

AV Event Solutions, a California conference services company, has certified and experienced audio visual technicians and project managers that can really make your event shine! Give them a call today to learn more about their services and product offerings.

6 Ways Meeting Suppliers can Build Better Relationships with Planners
Sep 23, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan

partnershipMeeting and Event Planners have to use a variety of suppliers and partners in order to ensure that their event is successful. From the venue to the caterer to the AV company, these partners are critical to the meeting.

Here is a list of Do’s and Don’ts for meeting suppliers to consider when trying to build a relationship with an event planner:

DON’T ask to be on the preferred vendor list. First of all, most planners don’t have such a list any longer unless they work for a huge corporation. Second, you need to earn the trust and respect of the planner, not expect to get on the "list" because you called them up. Lastly, it is okay to call a planner and ask some value-based, engaging questions about their next event. You might even ask them if they would be willing to let your event services company work with them on a small meeting just to "kick the tires"

DON’T offer kick-backs, incentives, or anything else. Planners worth their salt are ethics-centric. They are going to work with a meeting supplier because they think that vendor can do the best job for their client at a reasonable cost. Providing value is more important than any incentive you could offer. In addition, if a planner thinks you are in the gray area, they will go viral about the reputation of your organization. Protect your reputation and stay above the fray.

DO want to work with the event company. Before responding to a RFP or submitting your proposal, check out the planner. Go to their website, ask around, and make sure you are 100% in. It is better to say no early on, than to find out you made very little money. 

DO provide flexibility, the day of the event. Any one who has worked in the events industry can attest to the fact that things are in a state of constant change the day of the event. If you are the conference equipment rental firm, equipment needs could change in a moment’s notice. If there are going to be extra charges, let the event planner know right away and present some alternative solutions to the problem that won’t break the bank. 

DO bring the right attitude. The "best people" suppliers can have on-site, the day of the event, are those with smiling faces and a can-do attitude. When things are at their worst, that’s when you need to be at your best. Planners will remember your organization if you went "above and beyond". 

DO refer planners. I have worked in this industry for 11 years and it always flabbergasts me how many suppliers want me to refer business to them when they NEVER refer business to me. I think the fear is, if the supplier refers a client to me, I will, in turn, recommend a different partner. There is nothing further from the truth. Many small planners thrive on referrals and are so appreciative of them, they will do everything in their power to make certain that vendor is chosen or at least, has a fair shot in the proposal process. 

Renting Audio Visual equipment? Contact AV Event Solutions, your partner for state-of-the-art interactive technology tool rentals. Call them today!

Event Planner’s Wi-Fi Connectivity Checklist
Sep 21, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
checklistYou are having a large event with attendees, exhibitors, sponsors, media, and staff. The venue and hotel space is booked, the speakers selected, and the food and beverage secured. Anything else you need to worry about? Yes there is…network connectivity! Network connectivity can make or break your event and having the right Wi-Fi network that includes wireless network array rentals, enough access points, and bandwidth is as important as having dynamic presenters.

Lets address the different type of event participants and their connectivity needs.

Attendees

Attendees will generally be accessing mobile devices to check their emails, go on the Internet for Social Media or Google needs, and/or access a web-based mobile application. You will need to determine the following:
  1. How many wireless devices will each attendee have? How many have smartphones?  If you rent iPads for your conference needs, you may want to ask your attendee to leave their laptop at home to prevent the network from slowing down. 
  2. How many wireless devices will be simultaneously connected? Chances are if they have a smartphone and you rent Tablet PCs, those devices will be connected to your Wi-Fi system at all times.
  3. What is going to be an acceptable connectivity speed? If attendees are used to lighting speed at the office and at home, they will not be satisfied with a 30-second delay every time they want to access something on the Internet. Test the system and when renting audio visual equipment, give your team plenty of time to set up and test the network. 

Virtual Attendees

  1. Is the network secure? Implement proper network security with logins and passwords for remote users.
  2. Is the support staff monitoring and measuring all network traffic, both internal and external, to ensure the bandwidth is large enough? This also needs to be simulated and tested well before the conference. You may want to limit the number of virtual attendees if you know in advance it will degrade your network.

Presenters

Most presenters nowadays demand fast and robust connectivity. Sufficient bandwidth is critical and having a AV and IT staff available to keep the network moving along is key. 
  1. Can you put all speakers on a separate network? This is ideal because if the attendee network crashes due to overload, the speakers’ network will not be affected.
  2. Is the network robust? Having the right bandwidth, number of access points, and mobile technology will give the speaker maximum connectivity and flexibility with audience.

Conference Sponsors and Exhibitors

Sponsors expect to be treated as a VIP attendee and one of their perks may be to have access to a different network, that is both fast and secure. Exhibitors may rent iPads and/or have kiosk rentals to showcase their product and service offerings. They only have a few seconds or minutes with attendees, so network availability and connectivity is key to their success.
  1. Can you put all sponsors and exhibitors on a separate network? For the same reasons as above, try and keep the network separate from the general attendee population.
  2. Is the network robust and secure? Again, the worst thing that can happen to your exhibitors is to be demonstrating something on the iPad and for the system to go down! Make sure they have adequate bandwidth and access points.
  3. Is the support staff immediately available? If something does goes wrong, a high level of technical support is needed to fix the network on a moments notice. 
AV Event Solutions can provide you with state-of-the-art wireless network array systems and support to keep your event connected! Give them a call and learn about their total event offerings!
3 Keys to Great Speaker Selection: Preparation, Delivery, Interactivity
Sep 19, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
speakerWhat does a great speaker look and sound like? It is often hard to put into words, but we usually know when we find them. Besides wonderful peer reviews, it is important to have a checklist of things to ask your speaker during the interview process. Before signing a contract with them, consider the following questions as a useful speaker’s guide.    

Preparation

  1. How much time does it take to prepare their presentation?
  2. How do they tailor their presentation to the audience demographics and needs? Ideally, you want to hire a speaker that asks a lot of questions about your meeting and tailors their talk to meet the attendees’ needs. 
  3. What is the key message?
  4. Do they integrate stories and facts into the presentation? What research are their facts based on? A thought leader is going to impress their audience. Having someone that can "dive deep" into subject matter content is what attendees are demanding. 
  5. Are they using Powerpoint and/or other AV equipment? If so, what presentation services audio visual equipment do they require? Make sure to get this in writing. 
  6. How long do they rehearse their presentation? You definitely don’t want someone to "wing it" but a presentation given by rote is not effective either. Somewhere in between is good. 
  7. Are they willing to come 1 to 2 hours before their presentation time to test and run through the Powerpoint presentation equipment? If they are not willing to come early and test the equipment, don’t hire them. Since technology is so important to the success of most meetings, it is vital the speaker come early, run through their presentation, and meet the AV support staff.
Delivery
  1. Do they have presentation videos or can you see them live at another meeting? Check out their videos and have others from your organization do the same. See them live, if possible, so you can read the audience and experience first-hand the energy in the room. 
  2. Are they reading from the PowerPoint slides or their notes? This shows a huge lack of preparedness. 
  3. Does their presentation seem mechanical, spontaneous or somewhere in between?
  4. How is the speaker engaging the audience? Look to the body language of the audience and see if they are leaning in, smiling, or nodding their heads. 
  5. Does the speaker have lots of energy and enthusiasm?
  6. Do they have too many Powerpoint slides for the time allotment? This is one area where you can step in, before they get there, and tighten or eliminate some slides.
  1. Is the speaker willing to come early, stay late, and attend conference networking events?
  2. Are they willing to "go with the flow" during their talk?
  3. Do they ask the audience questions throughout the presentation? If so, make certain you have the right sound and lighting rental service so the presenter can both see and hear the attendee.
More than anything else, understand what your attendees want to learn about. Focus on your audience members’ needs first and then make certain you have the absolute best presenter to meet those needs. 

Are you event planning in California? AV Event Solutions can provide your event organization with high quality LCD displays, projector and screen rentals, microphones, and lighting. Give them a call today or request Express Quote if you know what gear your speaker needs. 

5 Big Mistakes in Meeting Planning and What to do about Them
Sep 16, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
Mistakes in Meeting PlanningThe invitations have been mailed out, the food and beverage has been ordered, and you are anticipating a good number of attendees at your event. What could possibly go wrong? The quick answer is: Plenty! Meetings and events require more that basic logistics and old marketing strategies.

Here are some common mistakes planners make and what you can do to avoid them: 

  1. No Digital Marketing Strategy. It is time to recognize the power of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. With millions of people on these networks daily, it would be foolish to rely only on printed collateral to get your invitation out to potenial attendees. Set a digital marketing strategy and follow it. Attendees are looking for engaging and interesting content about your event, so make sure to give it to them.
  2. No Event Goals. If you have no goals and objectives, how will you know if your event is successful or not? Having a team of staff or volunteers to set goals will help keep everyone focused throughout the planning and execution process. Communicate your goals to your partners and sponsors, as they will want to do what they can to help you achieve your objectives. 
  3. No RSVP Process. How are you going to know if the meeting room is the right size? Have you ordered enough (or too much) food and beverage? And when renting audio visual equipment, how will you know if you have the right equipment so everyone can see and hear what is going on? To avoid shelling out hundreds or thousands of dollars on food or beverage that goes to waste, having too small or too large of a room, or choosing the wrong AV equipment, take the time to get an accurate head count. Use Event pages on Facebook and LinkedIn, email attendees, and even…call them! And then call them 48 hours before the event to confirm their attendance. 
  4. Planning too small of a meeting. It takes just as much time and resource to plan a meeting for 10 as it does for a meeting of 1,000. Try and consolidate meetings where you can or eliminate really small meetings that don’t make sense. 
  5. Getting the AV company involved too late in the process. Because interactive technology tool rentals are so integral to your event’s success, it is important to get your audio visual company involved in the planning process as soon as you have secured the date and location of your meeting. Calling them up 3 weeks before an event isn’t usually going to work. Plus, the AV company can help you with creative sound, lighting, and presentation ideas that you may have not thought of before.

AV Event Solutions, a California meeting equipment company, will help you avoid any planning mistakes in the AV arena. They have a dedicated staff, ready and willing, to help you have the best event ever! Call or Request Express Quote today!

5 Ways to Boost Attendee Engagement through Technology
Sep 14, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan

According to a recent study by New Media Trend Watch, the Milennial Attendee (ages 18-34) has the following technology profile: Social Media Outlets

  • 91% use the Internet
  • 86% use Social Media
  • 84% view online videos and
  • 62% use Internet services on their mobile devices
In addition, New Media’s research found that Gen-X (ages 35-46) and young Baby Boomers (ages 47-55) are increasing buying or renting tablets, such as iPads, to access the Internet for mobile web browsing. 

Given these statistics and facts, it is important that event meeting services organizations embrace technology’s use at their next meeting, especially through the integration of tablet technology and Wi-Fi wireless network arrays.
Here are 5 tips to get more interaction out of your attendees:
  1. Create your own, unique online community. There are many ways to do this, but some of the more popular ones are created through a Facebook fan page, Twitter hash tag, LinkedIn group, or iMeet. This community can be set up before the meeting or conference to encourage networking amoung attendees. At the meeting itself, you can rent iPads for the attendees to continue this discussion, especially while they are in a session or trying to meet up with other attendees.
  2. Add a gaming element to your meeting. Consider renting Wii or PlayStation consoles and allow attendees to play games during conference down time. Put games on their tablets and let them compete against each other. Create a live game show, such as Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune. You get the picture, the idea is to allow your attendees to interact and get to know each other, all while having a good time.
  3. Create a contest. Have questions about the meeting, speaker, and/or product or services. This is great at a product launching event where attendees are learning about a new offering. Perhaps ask a series of questions at the end of the session, have them respond via Audience Response System rentals and give the winner the new product.
  4. Ask your speakers to embrace technology. If you rent Tablet PCs, attendees can submit questions or comments directly to the speaker via the online community. This encourages interaction between the speaker and audience, all without being overly intrusive.
  5. Create an online directory of attendees. Encourage attendees to connect via LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter while they are at the conference. Continue the conversations long after the meeting is over. Ask attendees to post regularly and keep in touch with other attendees. 

AV Event Solutions can provide you with iPads, Tablet PCs, wireless network arrays, kiosks, and much more for your next meeting or event. Give them a call or request a quote for a quick and professional response to all your meeting needs!

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