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How Short Lead Times can Spell Disaster for Events
Oct 31, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
stressWe are a society that is used to instant turn around. With the integration of more smartphones that are usually carried in a person’s hand or on their hip, we expect instantaneous responses to our texts, emails, and social media comments. In fact, when no response is given within what we consider to be a reasonable period of time, say 1 hour, we start to get upset with the other party that they are not being attentive to our needs. We have become impatient and spontaneous. 

Believe it or not, this is spilling over into the event meeting services industry. Corporate events are planned with shorter and shorter lead time, causing vendors and staff to jump through hoops. How does this affect the event budget, goals and stress level? In a big way!

Here are the various ways your event can be sabotaged by rushing your event planning.

  • Airfares will be higher. It is very difficult to get great bargains on airfare if the flights are booked at the last minute.
  • It harder to find the right venue. You will not have time to complete a thorough city search in addition to exploring multiple site visits. Many popular venues book up early, so you may be stuck with a bad venue in an okay city.
  • It will be difficult, if not impossible, to get a good group rate. If your meeting is of any size at all, you may be forced into having your attendees at multiple hotels across the city, which could be a logistical nightmare getting them back and forth from the venue.
  • Great speakers will be hard to come by. Most speakers that are in high demand are booked 6 to 12 months in advance. You will be spending more time trying to vet an average speaker and hope that he or she meets your audience needs.
  • When renting audio visual equipment, the inventory may be limited. AV is such an integral part of any meeting that you may find by waiting until the last minute, their inventory is already booked for other functions. 
  • Something is bound to slip through the cracks. Even with the best of intentions, there are going to be some miscommunications between the planner, venue, partners, and suppliers. How can there not be? Too many people and too much stress with too few days equals something going wrong.
  • Forget about sponsors. Corporate sponsorships need to be pitched, negotiated with, and then committed. Most of the time, this is a 6 to 12 month process. 
So, if your boss or client comes to you and asks you to pull together a major event in short time window, show them this list above and convince them you need 6 to 12 months to work on the event. 

Think of your event like a farm. You need time to plant the seed of interest, cultivate the relationship, weed out people not interested in your event, select the right partners, and yield the success of well run event. Farmers don’t plant and reap their crops within 30 days and neither should you. 

AV Event Solutions, an association and corporate audio visual supplier, is ready and willing to work with you on your next meeting, conference, or special event. Give them a call today!

2012 Technology Trends for the Event Audio Visual Industry
Oct 28, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan

Corbin Ball Associates recently posted their "12+ Meeting Technology Trends to Watch for 2012".  Today, lets highlight the technology trends that apply to the event audio visual rental industry. 

Trends for Event Audio Visual Rental Industry

Mobile applications, iPads, and Tablets will provide a new medium for accessing data at events.

According to MPI’s FutureWatch2011 Study, only 9% of planners have used mobile technology for their own meetings. According to Ball, there will be a very significant adoption of mobile apps for events in 2012 and ’13. If meetings don’t offer mobile meeting apps, attendees will wonder why the event organizers are so far behind the times.

There is a strong business case for adopting mobile technology. Rent iPads or Tablets for your attendees to realize the following benefits:

  • Better real-time distribution of conference materials and information
  • Better location-awareness (GPS)
  • Interactive exhibit floor plans
  • Event greening through paper reduction
  • Better on-site networking, through applications like Sonar
  • Attendees can take notes and upload to their own email
  • Polling options
  • Speaker Q & A
  • Enhanced branding of your sponsors through video, photos, and PDFs
  • Enhanced attendee experience through social media and gaming applications
  • Product display for booth exhibitors
  • Information kiosks at the booth or in front of the exhibit hall

In addition, the iPad or Tablet have the following benefits when compared to a laptop or conference binder:

  • Lightweight, usually weighing less than 1 pound
  • Highly mobile, can be used sitting, standing, or walking
  • Highly intuitive, should be able to teach an attendee how to use the application in a matter of minutes
  • Large iPad screen allows easy readability
  • Secure, because attendees return to event organizers at the end of the day
  • Long battery life, usually around 10 hours

Easy access to Wi-Fi is expected by attendees.

According to Ball, Internet bandwidth is important and most venues cannot handle unexpected demands for the system. If 500 attendees pull out their iPads to access HD video, all at the same time, chances are the average venue cannot handle that kind of bandwidth and it will bring the Wi-Fi system to its knees. 

Event planners need to make special arrangements for:

  • Dedicated bandwidth
  • Dedicated IP address
  • Robust and Secure System

Wi-Fi network arrays can be rented, thus boosting bandwidth and accessibility to the users. In my opinion, this is not going to be a "nice to have" in 2012, it’s going to be a "must have". 

Social media will engage attendees.

  • Blogging can create buzz about your event.
  • Facebook can be used to promote your event, position your fan page, and increase attendee connections on a personal level. Most people nowadays are blurring the personal and professional lines, using Facebook for both uses.
  • Twitter allows for an interactive, real-time dialog between attendees, speakers, and event organizers before, during, and after the event. The use of event hashtags creates an online community for all postings to go there.
  • Flickr can be used to upload event photos under your event name.
  • Speakers can share their presentations via Slideshare.
  • YouTube can capture video about your event and be easily uploaded. The link can be distributed to attendees, as well as, people who missed the conference. 

AV Event Solutions, a California event services company, has state-of-the-art technology tools ready to meet your rental needs. They provide iPads, iPad2s, Tablet PCs, Wi-Fi network arrays, and much, much more. Give them a call today (or submit Express Quote) to learn more about their services and products.

6 Ways to Make Your Trade Show Booth Stand Out
Oct 26, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan

trade show Exhibit floors are often the lifeblood of an association meeting, but it is becoming trickier to attract people to the booths. Many times attendees just fly down the aisles or worse, they just want to collect the tchotchkes. Every year, you keep telling yourself, there has got to be a better way, and now there is.

Here are a few suggestions to make your next trade show really stand out:

Make it Easy for Attendees to Find the Booths They Want to Visit

Rather than making each attendee go up and down the exhibit space, like a person in a grocery store, rent computer kiosks at the entrance of the exhibit hall. Attendees can use these touch panel kiosks to enter the company name or classification they want to visit and bam, the location of the booth and the best way to get there are presented to the participant.

In a hosted buyer situation, attendees can look up their own name and print the schedule of booths they plan to visit on that day. 

Provide Quiet Space for Relaxing and Networking, Right on the Exhibit Floor

Most planners don’t want to give up their precious space to anything other than a paid booth sponsor. But look at it this way, if you create a quiet space, with an Internet Cafe, chairs and couches, and even massage chairs, you have a much better shot keeping attendees on the floor. And when networking with others, attendees might learn about some really cool booths they may have overlooked and want to go visit them. 

Make it Easy to Get Online

Everyone wants a fast, robust Wi-Fi connection, wherever they are. It is important to allow attendees, as well as, exhibitors to have a Wi-Fi network array that is dependable, fast, and secure. Don’t limit participant’s access to the Internet to just the meeting space or their hotel rooms. That is the fastest way to get them off the trade show floor. 

Feed Them Well

Put the food and beverage right on the trade show floor, and try and get food that represents the different countries or states of the booth exhibitors. Put out snacks and beverages once the lunch period is over. The venue may not like it, but food is the one way to get them there.

Throw a Party, Gaming, or Some Fun Event

Try to come up with someway that attendees and booth sponsors can interact without being in the traditional sales mode. Throw a party at the end of the conference right on the trade show floor. Put up gaming consoles and encourage attendees to compete against each other. Have a scavenger hunt or icebreaker game. Whatever it is, it needs to be fun.

Encourage Each Exhibitor to be Green AND Creative

Offer them the opportunity to rent iPads as interactive kiosks. Ask each exhibitor to reduce the amount of paper and giveaways, but rather focus on one grand prize, such as airline tickets, hotel stays, or gift baskets. Ask them to be very creative with their booth and let them know there will be a prize for the most creative booth. 

Are you exhibiting at a trade show in California? AV Event Solutions can assist you with state-of-the-art interactive technology tools, such as kiosks, iPads, network arrays, and much, much more! Contact them today!

The Bounce Back of C-Suite Retreats
Oct 24, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
executiveExecutives used to "have the life" for their corporate retreats. 5-star luxury hotels. Lavish receptions. Entertainment. Spa treatments. And plenty of golf.

All this changed in 2008 with the AIG scandal, when corporate retreats came to a screeching halt.

Here is a recap from Meetings Focus of why planners and suppliers are optimistic about the future of these C-suite meetings and what they see as the changing landscape of executive retreats.

"I think we’ve gotten through the worst of it," said Julie Walker, President of Choice Meetings. "I don’t think companies are as scared as they were a few years ago."

"I’ve seen executive meetings pick up since about the third quarter of 2010, which is a great sign," said Wendy Burk, CEO of CADENCE.

"Our business in 2010 was significantly up from 2009 and we anticipate continued growth in this sector," says Phil BeMiller, Director of Marketing at The Westin Columbus.

So…What Has Changed?

LEAD TIMES and STAY TIMES

Executive Retreats used to be be planned 1 year to 18 months in advance. In 2008-10, many were canceled or scaled back and held on the company location. 

Now organizations are planning them 1 to 6 months in advance and scaling back the time away from the office.

"Since the crash — so in the last 18 to 24 months — the booking window has gotten incredibly short," says Karen Thomson, Director of Sales and Marketing for Crowne Plaza Times Square Manhattan property. "We are still booking meetings for next month."

"I’m seeing executive meetings have shorter and busier agendas than ever before," says Andy Bishop, Director of Sales and Marketing at Grand Hyatt Seattle. "A meeting a few years ago may have been 4 days is now 2."

PERCEPTION

When on-site, the executives are extremely low-key, using taxis or walking to area eating establishments or attractions.

"I’m not seeing a lot of limos going to baseball games anymore, which I think is a result of budget and perception," says Thomson.  "Instead of a cocktail reception, they will opt for a short break."

BUDGET

Even though the C-suite is venturing out away from the corporate location, that doesn’t mean the budgets have returned to the level they were in 2008.

"We are having to look for unique ways to provide over-the-top-experiences at severely decreased budgets," says Burk. 

AUDIO VISUAL EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST

When running an executive retreat, what event audio visual rental equipment do you need?

  • Wi-Fi Booster: Executives are going to be in constant need of fast, reliable, and secure Internet access. All venues are going to say they have Wi-Fi, but depending on the number of guests in the hotel and different meetings going on, the network could run at a snail’s pace, or worse, completely crash. Don’t leave anything to chance. Rent a Wi-Fi booster and the connectivity will be at lighting speed for your executives.
  • Powerpoint presentation equipment: which will include LCD projector and screen rentals. 
  • Recording device: Used to capture all ideas and discussions and can be referred back to at a later date. 
AV Event Solutions, your corporate audio visual supplier, will provide you with the right equipment at the right cost to fit into your budget needs. Give our experienced Account Executives a call to assist you in planning your next executive retreat!
4 Elements of a Successful Customer Appreciation Event
Oct 21, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
Business CelebrationYour boss just entered the office to let you know that she expects you to plan a super-duper customer appreciation event between now and the end of the year. Since you have limited knowledge with this type of event, the task before you seems daunting. But it doesn’t have to!

Here are 4 great tips to help you see your way clear and make everyone happy; most importantly your customers!

Tip #1: Establish a budget

If your boss did not give you a budget from the get go, march right back into her office and get one. And if you are an independent planner that has been hired by your client to orchestrate this event, you need to to do the same.

EVERYTHING is going to revolve around the budget. It doesn’t have to be broken down line item by line item, but you need to have an overall budget and then some general idea of what they want to spend on the following:

Tip #2: Tighten Up Your Invitation List

The organization has Tier I, II, and III clients and usually this delineation is reached based on the amount of money the customer spends with you in any given year. You don’t have to be compelled to invite all client’s to your party, but it is a good idea to know how many you are inviting. 

Once the number of invitations is established, then you need to answer the following questions:

  • What level are they in the organization? CEO? Sales Manager?
  • What generation or generations are coming to the event? 
  • What sex will predominately be in attendance?
  • What areas of the country will be represented? 
  • Are you extending this invitation to spouses and significant others?
Understanding how many attendees will be invited and then what their demographic mix is, will help determine theming, entertainment, food, and networking games.

Tip #3: What to Serve and What to Do

Now that you know who is invited, where you are hosting the event, and you have established a theme, next it is important to figure out what you are going to serve and what sort of activities are going to be involved.

Let’s say you are going to host the event at your location and you have decided on a Halloween theme. You will want to have all the food associated with Halloween, including candy. You might invite the customer’s families so they can bob for apples and have a contest for the best costume. You can have your Powerpoint presentation equipment showing photos of the attendees after they arrived. Photo booths can be rented for impromptu photo shots. The point being is everything works with the theme and nothing works against it.

Tip #4: Get the Right Audio Visual Equipment

Spend time looking at your room set up to determine what you want and need. Sound and lighting rentals are going to be key so people can see any activity that is going on at the main stage, especially if you have hired entertainment. Consider having LCD projector and screen rentals secured for networking or icebreaker games.

When considering California event equipment, look no further than AV Event Solutions! They can help you make your customer appreciation event rock and create lasting memories for your attendees. Give them a call today!

5 Things Event Organizers can Learn from Steve Jobs Legacy
Oct 19, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan

jobsIt’s hard to believe that Steve Jobs is gone. So many tributes have been written about him lately, but a blog titled "What I learned from Steve Jobs" written by Guy Kawasaki, caught my eye. Guy actually had the pleasure of working with Jobs and even though his blog had 12 poignant lessons, I have shortened it down to 5 as they apply to the events industry.

1. Customers cannot tell you what they need.

Apple marketing research is an oxymoron. Customers can only describe their desires in terms of what they are already using…better, faster, and cheaper MS-DOS machines.

Event Planners Note: Are you trying to compete with a better and cheaper outdated event planning method? What events are attendees flocking to today and why? Attendees have many choices now (including the one of staying home), so trying to compete with the old way of doing things isn’t going to work, especially long-term.

2. Jump to the next curve. 

Big wins happen when you go beyond better sameness. The best daisy-wheel printer was trumped by Apple’s introduction of laser printing. 

Event Planners Note:
 How are you bringing true innovation into your meeting? Are you trying innovative interactive technology tool rentals? Are you keeping up with your attendees Wi-Fi demands with extra Wi-Fi boosters

3. Design counts.

Steve drove people nuts with his design demands. Steve was a perfectionist — and lo and behold he was right.

Event Planners Note:
What does the design of your meeting look like? Are you using your sound and lighting rentals for maximum impact with the audience? Are you toiling over the seating in the room, stage set up, and decorations? Every little detail counts with your event. Take the time to make sure it says the very best about your organization.

4. The Biggest Challenges Beget the Best Work.

Competing with IBM, and then Microsoft was a big challenge. Changing the world was a big challenge.

Event Planners Note: Who is your competition for your event and how are you going to make your meeting really stand out? Remember, on top of the traditional event competitors, you are also competing with virtual events. But the biggest competition may be convincing attendees it is worth their time and expense to take the journey to your conference. 

5. Value is different from price.

Woe unto you if you decide everything based on price. Even more woe if you compete solely on price. Be unique and valuable — this is where you make margin, money, and history. Value takes into account training, support, and the intrinsic joy of using the best tool that’s made.

Event Planners Note: What is your unique meeting offering? How are you creating value? Look at your suppliers, sponsors,and partners. If you are using a California event services company, such as AV Event Solutions, determine how they are assisting you and your attendees with training, support, and equipment your attendees want to use, such as iPad and iPad2s. 

AV Event Solutions is a California based meeting equipment organization ready and waiting to work with you on your next meeting, event, conference, or trade show! Give them a call to learn more about how they can help you make your next meeting unique and valuable.

6 Great Uses for Computer Kiosks at Your Next Meeting or Conference
Oct 17, 2011 by DeDe Mulligan
Computer Kiosk RentalTouch panel kiosks provide attendees with self-service benefits and can now be the one-stop service option for many of your conference goers. Because kiosks are now thinner, wireless, and very reliable, more and more applications are being written for this technology. Kiosk rentals also have a great deal of system security, remote monitoring, and most apps are highly intuitive. 

Kiosks can be equipped with a printer, credit card reader, and/or badge reader. Here are 6 common ways kiosks can be used at your next meeting, event, or convention:

#1: DIGITAL SIGNAGE

  • Direct attendees to the right room locations through arrows, video, or printed instructions on kiosk display
  • Give attendees information about the agenda, speakers, and relevant information regarding the conference
  • Creation of a message board for attendees to communicate with each other, as well as, with event organizers
  • Create a time banner during breaks to let people know when the breaks are about to end

#2: PROMOTIONS 

  • Contests can be set up on the kiosk rentals for giveaways or prizes at the conference. Attendees can ask a series of questions and enter their information to register.
  • Gaming applications can be installed to allow attendees to have some fun during meeting down times
  • Local entertainment can be promoted on the kiosk via video, along with coupons to see the entertainment at a local venue

#3: SELF CHECK-IN

  • Allow attendees to check-in to conference anytime, complete with badge printing 
  • Print conference itinerary and any other pertinent information

#4: INTERNET ACCESS

  • Attendees can access their email and social media accounts
  • Google area information about attractions and review restaurant rating systems
  • Look at weather conditions at home
  • Print off airline boarding pass and review airline information, including delays

#5: CREDIT CARD TRANSACTIONS

  • For walk-in attendees, they can register and pay for the conference 
  • If you are holding an optional special event or fundraiser during the conference, attendees can purchase their tickets at the kiosk and print ticket and receipt
  • Attendees can purchase and/or order books or DVDs and pay for them

#6: CONCIERGE SERVICES

  • Venue information can be loaded, including a map of the meeting and trade show space
  • Local restaurant information including: menus, where they are located relative to the venue, and phone numbers for reservations
  • Coupon printing for restaurants and attractions and/or the ability to text the coupon to the attendees smartphone
  • Display of local map and directions, including the ability to print the directions to a location
  • Display of the weather and forecast for the days of the convention
  • Taxi or bus services, including routes and phone numbers

AV Event Solutions, has state-of-the-art wireless kiosks available for your next meeting, trade show, or conference. Give them a call to learn more about how kiosks can be an integral part of your meeting, or complete the online Express Quote and an experienced Account Executive will follow up on your meeting needs!

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