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5 Great Reference Questions to Ask About Event Rental Service Companies
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Mar 30, 2012 by DeDe Mulligan

Question

You have the meeting location, dates, and speakers lined up. Phew! Now onto the more intricate part of the meeting planning process, selecting ground transportation, choosing the caterer, renting audio visual equipment, and so on and so on. How do you know the good vendors from the bad ones? The best thing to do is ask around in the industry and get credible references.

Here are 5 great questions to ask those references that can make you more comfortable in the selection process.

Did the Rental Company Anticipate Your Needs?

Did the vendor do everything you asked of them…and more? How educated are they in the meetings and events industry? Do they have a wide network, in case you need more help?

Taking orders is a thing of the past. Meeting planners need partners that can ask the right questions and anticipate their needs. Offering creative solutions to their problems creates value and makes you look good to the client

Did the Team have Critical Thinking Skills?

Was the rental company asking thoughtful questions or are they just handling the logistics? Were they asking a lot of questions and drilling down for more information? Did they challenge the current way of doing things —  offering better, well thoughtful ideas? 

Critical thinkers question everything and offer good alternatives. In addition, they handle crisis and manage problems calmly with a well thought out plan.

Were They Aligned with You, the Planner?

Was there open communication and trust with this partner? Did the event rental service companies understand what a great attendee experience is all about or were they just there to set up and tear down the equipment? Are they a team player?

Look for a partner that will bring tough issues to your attention, even when they would rather not. How did they work with the rest of the vendors? Did they pitch in when needed? 

Did They Learn from Event Mistakes?

Were they open or defensive to honest feedback? Failure actually breeds success, but only if it is corrected in a timely fashion. Truly professional partners realize it is less about them and more about getting it right.

A great event partner doesn't get defensive and they don't play the blame game. Their only goal is to get the event right and make sure that mistake don't occur in future events. 

Did They Have The Right Stuff? 

Did this event meeting services company provide the right equipment, people, and process to make your event run smoothly? It isn't just about linens, food, or the set up the PowerPoint presentation equipment. It's much more than that…its the people that put on the linens, serve the food, and setup, test, support, and integrate the AV equipment. 

AV Event Solutions, provides the right equipment, people, and process to make your event really shine! Give them a call today to learn more about their interactive technology tool rentals and project management team. 

The Bandwidth Burden: The Premise, The Problems and The Answer
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Mar 28, 2012 by DeDe Mulligan

screamThe Premise:  Attendees are given or come into a conference with an array of mobile devices, including a smartphone, laptop, or tablet. They expect the venue's network to be as fast as their network at home or work. At home, they might have 15- or 20- megabit download speed (very fast) and it should be the same where ever they travel. 

The Problems: With 500 attendees simultaneously connecting all those devices to the venue's network, the bandwidth can come to screetching halt or be as slow as molasses. "Universally, I can look at my guest satisfaction scores, and I can say that people generally are going to comment about two things overall: The speed of the Internet is too slow or they had difficulty connecting," said John Czarnecki, IT Program Director at Hyatt Hotels.

"It's too slow, it goes off, or drops. The attendee will remember that longer than he'll remember if his coffee was cold," shared Derek Wood, a hospitality industry consultant.

Accommodating the use of mobile technology in the meeting, especially if you are going to rent iPads to replace your printed material, is a growing concern for conference services managers and planners alike. Relying on the venue to provide the bandwidth needed to keep your attendees satisfied while avoiding the cost of upgrading, installing, and maintaining the infrastructure has become a real conundrum for hoteliers and convention centers. 

Additionally, tablets have a much weaker signal than laptops, which require more access points in a meeting space than a venue probably originally anticipated. 

The Answer: Finding a vendor that can provide Wi-Fi connectivity solutions with other services, such as renting audio visual equipment and provide a project manager to oversee the implementation, is a good answer. They understand how the technology pulls on the bandwidth. If something goes wrong, the vendor is responsible for the support calls and most of the time, will be on-site to fix the problem. 

The vendor can also work hand-in-hand with the event planner to overcome their learning curve by recommending and testing the best solution for event attendees. "It's a pretty complex area once you start to look at all the hardware involved and the network protocols that have to be supported," said Bryan Steele, Managing Director of Jireh-Tek Limited. "Bandwidth is technically quite complicated now."

And what about cost? The event planner can charge the attendee a nominal fee that can be wrapped into the registration fee, generate sponsorship dollars to cover it, and/or dedicated a greater share of the budget to connectivity solutions. "The sweeping generalization is where the service is free, the service is crap," said Wood. 

AV Event Solutions, a California meeting equipment supplier, can provide you with the technology answers to your meeting needs! With Wi-Fi network arrays available to rent for more access points and bandwidth boost, iPads and laptops for rent, and project managers available to understand your needs, they are the total package! Give them a call today!

Meeting Planners Spill the Facts about the Industry
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Mar 26, 2012 by DeDe Mulligan

survey

Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) recently published their 21st Annual Meetings Market Survey in Convene Magazine. They surveyed 560 planners, of which 60% were PCMA members. Lets review  the results of this survey with emphasis on the the type of planner that responded, the trending in the industry, and where they see the biggest cost for a typical meeting. 

The respondents fell into the following categories:

  • 67% are Meeting Professionals
  • 16% are Association or Corporate Executives
  • 9% fall into the Other Category and
  • 8% are Consultants

The number of meetings they plan per year:

  • 33% said 1 to 5
  • 31% said more than 20
  • 19% said 6 to 10 and
  • 17% said 11 to 20

How many people attended your largest meeting?

  • 26% had fewer than 500 attendees
  • 22% had 1,000 to 2,499
  • 18% had 500 to 999
  • 12% had 2,500 to 4,999
  • 11% had 5,000 to 9,999
  • 9% had 10,000 to 24,999
  • 2% had 25,000 or more

How was attendance in 2011 versus 2010?

  • 41% said it was the same
  • 38% saw an increase
  • 21% saw a decrease

What are you projecting attendance to be in 2012 versus 2011?

  • 53% expect attendance to be the same
  • 35% expect it to increase
  • 12% expect it to decrease

How many exhibitors did you have at your largest show?

  • 33% said fewer than 50 exhibitors
  • 26% had 100 to 249
  • 17% had 250 to 499
  • 16% had 50 to 99
  • 8% had 500 or more

What did you outsource? 

Outsourced Completely Partially Total
Event Supply Rentals:
Such as Renting Audio Visual Equipment
35% 26% 61%
Housing 28% 18% 46%
Registration 19% 16% 35%
Trade Show Management 12% 11% 23%
Marketing and Promotion 5% 15% 20%
Event Management 5% 12% 17%
Speaker Selection 2% 14% 16%

How did your budget breakdown?

  • 34% on Food and Beverage
  • 15% on Event Audio Visual Rentals
  • 8% on Labor
  • 8% on Speakers and Entertainment
  • 7% on Staff Travel and Accommodations
  • 7% on Marketing and Promotion
  • 7% on Space Rental
  • 6% on Registration and Housing
  • 4% on Signage and Office Equipment
  • 2% on Destination Management
  • 1% on Security and
  • 1% on Insurance

At your largest event, your organization made revenue the following ways:

  • 49% came from event registration
  • 26% came from exhibit sales
  • 20% came from sponsorships
  • 4% came from advertising sales and
  • 1% came from other revenue sources

So, what can we, in the event services industry, take away from all this data? 

First, small conferences with a small number of exhibitors are what meeting planners organized last year. Planning large conventions is great, but it looks like it will not be the mainstay of our industry in 2012.

Second, attendance will be flat for most of the conferences. You can view this as good news; with all the virtual options out there, attendees are still opting for face-to-face conferences.

Third, event supply rentals were the biggest item to be outsourced in 2011 and there is no reason that trend will change in the coming year. Event staff is not increasing so it makes sense to continue to outsource more and more.

Fourth, food and beverage, followed by event audio visual rentals, were the largest budget line items, comprising of 49% of the total budget.

Lastly, event organizers made almost half of their money from registration fees last year. 

AV Event Solutions is a premier supplier of all types of audio visual equipment from iPads to wireless audience response systems! Give them a call today to learn more about their state-of-the-art technology solutions that won't break your budget!

Enhance Attendee Experience by Playing Games
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Mar 23, 2012 by DeDe Mulligan

ipad   GMIC

When the Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) held their 3-day Sustainable Meeting Conference last year, they wanted to do something different with their 260 attendees. Their goals were simple; GMIC wanted better engagement of attendees and a way to bring home the mission of sustainability. 

They decided to create a highly collaborative and competitive game that would break the attendees into 15 randomly chosen teams. The teams had iPads preloaded with:

  • The game application
  • 6 case studies on sustainability challenges
  • The 7 Educational sessions
  • Networking opportunities and
  • Sponsorship information 

GMIC's Conference Chair Elizabeth Henderson, Sustainability Strategist at Meeting Change, felt the gaming approach would help attendees better understand the new APEX Environmentally Sustainable Meeting Standards if they created hypothetical events that presented sustainablilty challenges for teams to work through. Henderson drew from the research of Byron Reeves and J. Leighton Read's book, Total Engagement: Using Games to Change the Way People Work and Businesses Compete. Reeves and Read state in their book, "There is no better way to get people engaged than to provide them with fun ways to do serious work."

For example, one case study focused on how a 5,000 person event could reduce its carbon footprint, while another determined ways to green a large internal, employee meeting. The iPad had resources on it  to guide teams where the information was located, however attendees still needed to participate in education sessions in order to gain total insight to their case study. 

Points were given based in the quality of team responses, including information that was presented at the educational sessions. Teams also could rack up more points by:

  • Blogging and tweeting about the conference
  • Attending breakout sessions
  • Visiting exhibitor booths and 
  • Building bicycles for a local children's charitable organization.

A leaderboard was ever present at the conference, allowing attendees to see where their team was ranked in each of the above areas creating a competitive atmosphere and some ribbing among attendees. Two prizes were given, one to the team with the highest score on the case study and the other to the team with the most overall points. 

The net results of adding gaming to the conference? They were able to provide more concise presentations to attendees, allow for better group discussions, and provide networking time, which resulted in positive feedback. 

What is the future of gaming? Gartner, Inc. predicts that 50% of organizations will apply game dynamics and technology to business, training, and education meetings by 2015. 

Conference equipment rental company, AV Event Solutions, can help you gamify your next meeting or event! Rent iPads as a way for attendees to feel totally engaged in the meeting! AVES can deliver an express quote for iPads to you within 4 business hours or less! Game on!

4 iPad Conference Applications for Your Next Event
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Mar 21, 2012 by DeDe Mulligan

ipad

So you have convinced management to get rid of those binders and rent iPads for your next meeting. The sponsorship opportunities are abounding, and the attendees are excited to be using them. But what about the applications? Below are 4 applications that can get you started on selecting an app that's right for your event.

ChirpE Mobile and Social Media Platform

This web-based mobile application from a2z, Inc. includes the following features:

  • Full conference agenda
  • Personal agenda building
  • Event alerts 
  • Exhibitor guide for the trade show
  • Exhibitor floor plan
  • Social Media integration with LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and RSS Feeds.

In addition to iPads, this application can run on computer kiosks. Because this application is web-based, all devices at the conference will simultaneously update.  “For example, you can add an exhibitor to your agenda using ChirpE from your iPad and stop at a kiosk on the show floor and the update will appear simultaneously on all devices,” says Rajiv Jain, CEO of a2z, Inc.

EventKaddy

This native application includes the following features:

  • Full conference agenda
  • Personal agenda building
  • Event alerts
  • Attendee networking tools
  • Interactive exhibitor floor plans and maps
  • Multimedia exhibitor listings
  • Digital brochures

EventKaddy has been used at the following conferences: Western Veterinary Conference; Autodesk; ACMSIGGRAPH; Electronic Security Expo; Exhibition & Convention Executives Forum.

QuickMobile

This web-based application includes the following features:

  • Full conference agenda
  • Personal agenda builder
  • City guide, with Frommer's integration
  • Search capabilities, within the app, for attendees, speakers, or exhibitors
  • Social Media Integration with Twitter, Facebook, and Pathable

QuickMobile has used the iPad application at the following conference and events: The PhoCusWright Conference; ASHRM Phoenix Conference; GBTA Convention; SAP Sapphire Now Conference; Cruise3Sixty Meeting; Hilton Worldwide Owners Meeting.

Zerista

This web-based application includes the following features:

  • Full conference agenda
  • Personal agenda builder
  • Attendee directory with personal profiles
  • Attendee matching based on experience and interests
  • Social Media integration, including Twitter and Facebook
  • City guide
  • Exhibitor directory
  • Booth locator
  • Floor plans

So when choosing an application, what are some of the factors to consider?

  1. You need to decide whether the application should be web-based or native. There are advantages and disadvantages to each one, but primarily the web-based solution allows for last-minute changes before and during the conference while native applications cannot be changed once the code is on the iPad. With a web-based solution, you will need to take a serious look at your Wi-Fi at the venue and perhaps rent a network array to boost the Wi-Fi bandwidth. 
     
  2. Determine your budget impact. Each of the apps listed above are going to have a different price point to develop the app and support it during your conference. Know all your costs up front and the timeline to develop your custom solution. 
     
  3. Get your attendees, exhibitors, and speakers involved in the decision. Don't make this decision in a vacuum. Get as many people involved as you can in the demonstration of the app and solicit feedback from all stakeholders on what features are most important to them. 

Are you event planning in California? AV Event Solutions has a large selection of 1st and 2nd generation iPads, touch panel kiosks, and Wi-Fi network arrays for your next meeting. Give AV Event Solutions a call today!

Left Brain, Right Brain: How Presentations Can Have More Impact Using Both Sides
left-brain-right-brain
Mar 19, 2012 by DeDe Mulligan

brain

The right brain is responsible for intuition and emotion while the left brain insists on just the facts. We need both sides of our brain to function in life, but how does this apply to event meeting planning professionals handle messaging at conference and meetings? Typically, we hire speakers and facilitators that evolve their messaging around the left brain. Why? Because that is the way we learned and processed information since we were in 1st grade. Teachers gave us the facts, we injested them, and then we spit it all back out on tests and quizzes. 

Powerpoint presentation equipment needs to evolve along with the attendee's needs and requirements. An endless array of facts and figures on black and white slides isn't going to cut it, even though speakers think this sort of "data dump" gives them credibility. It no longer does. When the speaker is up on the riser giving the attendee their speel, the attendee is googling them on their smartphone to determine whether or not this individual knows what they are talking about. 

In addition, when speakers give attendees too much left brain information, the information overload causes the brain to stress and become anxious which moves the experience to the subconcisous, and attendees slowly begin to shut out the information. The brain can only absorb complex data for about 7 to 10 minutes before it begins to move on.

So, how can we change? Here are a few ideas to consider when planning your next conference or meeting:

Garr Reynolds, Professor of Management at Kansai Gaidai, has come up with an interesting concept called Presentation Zen, which encourages speakers to follow 3 simple rules:

  1. Restraint: Don't put too much information on a slide. A photo with a few words should do the trick. 
  2. Simplicity: Speak only about the things that are important to the attendee, not what is important to you, the presenter. 
  3. Naturalness: Pretend the audience is in your living room. You wouldn't dominate the conversation or your friends would never come back to your home. Ask questions, listen carefully, and respond appropriately.

Jamie Nast, Author, Consultant, and Trainer at NastGroup, Inc., uses toys and games to break through the learning process. She has attendees dressing up Mr. Potato Head, playing with Play-Doh, and drawing self-portraits in order to engage the right side of the brain.

Lynn Stadler Randall, Managing Director at Randall Insights LLC, uses crowdsourcing to help design the meetings in order to engage attendees before the event. Having the attendees suggest speakers and topics and then allowing them to vote on them, empowers the attendee and allows for more engaging and creative sessions. She even allows sessions to be developed at the conference itself. Rent iPads for attendee real-time communication with speakers and event management to share ideas, questions, and comments about session content.  

Get visual with your presentation services audio visual equipment. Allow for video, photos, and color whenever and wherever possible. Attendees will love it and remember it long after the meeting and conference is over. 
 
AV Event Solutions, a California meeting equipment supplier, can help you engage your attendee's right and left brain for an optimal event experience! Give them a call today or click on their website for more information as to how they can help you!
6 Steps to Keep Your Event Clients Coming Back
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Mar 16, 2012 by DeDe Mulligan

happyGreat news! You won a large contract for a corporation or association annual meeting. You and your team are very excited to be working with this client, but when the event is over, what can you do to remain in the forefront of the client's mind?

Try these 6 simple tips to keep them coming back to you, year after year, event after event.

Tip #1: Really Get to Know Your Client. 

You know that age old adage, "We do business with people we know and like." How well do you know your client? Are you conversant with different levels of the team or does your business relationship rely on just one person? It is dangerous to build a long-term relationship with one person because that individual could retire, get fired, or quit. Get to know as many individuals on the management team as possible and keep those relationships going throughout the year.

Tip #2: Keep a Running File of Their Accomplishments.

Read trade publications and local and national newspapers your client might be mentioned in. Google their company often. Follow them on Twitter. Either mail or email them any mention of their company or key people in it. Enclose a business card with a brief note saying congratulations or great job. Everyone wants to have people take notice of their accomplishments, including your clients, and it helps keep your organization "top of mind".

Tip #3: Suggest Ways They can Make Their Event Better.

Maybe you noticed the registration area was really crowded and it took attendees a long time to check-in. You could suggest  renting touch panel kiosks for self-service check in, thus freeing up staff to do other things. Perhaps attendees were having a hard time juggling their binders and the session locations were confusing. Suggest they rent iPads and put all the event materials on the system with a map that includes GPS. Whenever you present these suggestions, make certain to have the cost/benefit analysis completed. 

Tip #4:  Ask for More Business. 

Chances are if your client is holding an annual meeting, they are also holding several smaller meetings. If you feel they are very happy with the work you have completed for them, don't be shy in asking for more business.

Tip #5: Be a Team Player. 

Try to solve whatever issue is at hand. Good communication skills rest on coming up with good alternatives, not finger pointing or blame shifting. Something is bound to go awry at the event, so jump in and see how you can help.

Tip #6: Always be Ethical. 

It doesn't matter if you do all the items above with ease, but if you lie or misrepresent your offerings, you can kiss that business good-bye. Part of developing long-term business relationships rest in the development of trust. Be honest, even if it means you lose a job. Clients will remember your integrity, above all things.

Are you event planning in California? Contact AV Event Solutions for all your technology needs! Give them a call today!

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