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A Case for Dividing Attendees: 6 Beautiful Benefits in Turning One Big Meeting Into Several Smaller Ones
wifisignal
Jul 30, 2012 by DeDe Mulligan

small

Small regional meetings are trending up in the event meeting services industry and will probably continue to do so for the foreseeable future. It seems counter-intuitive: How can several small meetings be as cost-efficient as a large one? After all, doesn't it take more time to plan 3 to 5 meetings versus one event? The answer is not really, given advances in technology and the planner's ability to negotiate multi-meeting contracts. 

According to MPI, here is a synopsis of the 6 reasons regional meetings make sense.

Beautiful Benefit #1: Attendees Feel Special.

When you divide a 1,000-person event into 4 regional meetings, it takes on a completely different feel. It increases attendee interaction and allows the planner and presenters to get to know their audience better.

Beautiful Benefit #2:  The Audience Gets "Up Close and Personal" with the C-Suite Team.

Because company executives travel to the regional locations, they can have some one-on-one time with employees and learn more about what they want and need to make the company a better place to work. In addition, executives can tailor their presentation, especially if it is a product launching event, to the product uses within that region of the country. 

Beautiful Benefit #3: Opportunity Cost is Minimized. 

If an attendee can travel a shorter distance and stay one less night at the hotel, they are spending less time away from their jobs, which ultimately means they are making more money for the company. 

Beautiful Benefit #4: Your Organization Will Save a Lot of Money. 

Mark Lorimer, CMP and Owner at Eventive Group, Inc. has planned an annual meeting for a national franchise company for years. This year, they decided to divide it up into 3 meetings and this is what he learned: 

"The company is going to save 20- to 25% by having 3 consecutive regional meetings in 3 locations around the U.S. instead of one big meeting that always involves significant airfare expenses and travel time for attendees who don't happen to live and work near the meeting site," stated Lorimer. 

Beautiful Benefit #5: Choices Now Abound. 

With one large meeting, your locations are limited and often can only be held in first-tier cities. With smaller meetings, 2nd-tier cities become open to you. 

In addition, the number of hotel choices also increases because now, your room count is much smaller.

Beautiful Benefit #6: Contributions to the Local Economy is a Good Thing. 

From renting audio visual equipment to hiring local talent, providing revenue to multiple cities, helps keep people employed and provides tax dollars to the local municipalities.

Brian Stevens, President & CEO of ConferenceDirect, sums all these benefits up this way, "The cost you generate by having high-paid employees spend 2 days instead of 1 on an airplane to get to and from the meeting destination needs to be calculated into the equation. Time is money and planners who know how to calculate that can increase their standing with their corporate stakeholders."  

Are you event planning in California? AV Event Solutions is your local supplier for the entire state!

4 Flubs and Fixes When Handling a PR Crisis at Your Event
audrey_hepburn
Jul 27, 2012 by DeDe Mulligan

walking on hot coals

Last week, 6,000 individuals attended Tony Robbins "Unleash the Power Within" 4-day event in San Jose, California. Part of the program in overcoming their own fear is to walk on hot coals. However, this time things went very wrong and at least 21 individuals needed to be treated for 2nd or 3rd degree burns on the soles of their feet. 

Below are the 4 flubs from the event that Reuters New Agency reported and the fixes that any event meeting services organization can utilize when they face such a challenge.

Flub #1: Tony Robbins could not be reached for comment.

What?!? Tony Robbins is simpatico with is his seminars. How could this be?

Fix #1: He should have had an instantaneous comment and extended sympathy to the victims. 

Your team can rent iPads for the next event and use Google+ hangout, Twitter hashtag, or email as a way to instantaneously discuss what the senior level manager for your event is going to say and do. Given today's viral abilities to post video and photos instantaneously, it is equally important that the team monitor social channels and respond appropriately. 

Flub #2: Robbins Research International defended the "firewalk" as a regular part of the Unleash seminar.

21 people were just treated at your seminar and you preach "business as usual"? Defensiveness never wins people over, it just makes you look like you don't care. 

Fix #2: Sorrow, re-evaluation of techniques, and revamp. 

This is not the time to defend any of your current practices. It is a time to express sorrow for any pain the victims felt and to assure all current and future participants your organization is in the process of re-evaluating and revamping your procedures so something like this can ever happen again. 

Flub #3: Fire and emergency personnel were not on hand. 

Fix #3: If you are going to try something that is risky, have emergency personnel onsite. 

Having fire, police, and/or EMS onsite in case something goes awry is always the safest method during a risky process and saves a lot of time. Most of the time, you will have a 10- or 15-minute delay before emergency personnel shows up. 

Flub #4: Event organizers for the Robbins event did not know how many people participated in the firewalk. 

Fix #4: Know your numbers. 

If 2,000 individuals participated in the firewalk, Tony Robbins could have stated that he was so sorry that 1% of his firewalking attendees were hurt. This low percentage takes the wind out of the media's sales. One of the easy ways to capture numbers is to have everyone pre-register for the optional adventure, such as a firewalk, on a touch panel kiosk. That way you not only know the total number of individuals participating, but you also have their names and email addresses. 

AV Event Solutions, a California meeting equipment supplier, has iPads and kiosk rentals that can help you keep in constant contact with your team, attendees, and emergency personnel. Give them a call today to learn more about their equipment options! 

Professional Attendees Plus Trade Show Exhibitors = ROI and Lead Generation? Not Exactly
financial-lead-generation
Jul 25, 2012 by DeDe Mulligan

Get Results for Trade Shows

It used to be that event organizers handled all the planning, execution, and logistics of a meeting and left the rest of the coordination to the executive and sales team. However, in today's competitive and digital environment, this is no longer the case. Sales reps want qualified leads and C-Suite management demand measurements to justify their participation in a trade show — and all of this responsibility now falls squarely on the planner's shoulders.  

However, in this demand for sales and cost/benefit analysis, there is a silver lining. According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), things are looking up. Here is what they reported:

  • The 1st quarter of this year marked the 7th consecutive quarter of industry growth.
  • Year-to-Year the following indicators are all up:

    • Professional Development attendance up 4.6%
    • Net Square Footage up 3.4%
    • Number of Exhibitors up 1.5% and
    • Revenue up 1.5%

Global Experience Specialists and BtoB Magazine co-sponsored an online survey of 247 Marketing Professionals in June.What they found was:

  • 73% felt the key to their success at a live event was capturing qualified leads and  
  • 60% had some difficulty tying the cost of exhibiting at a tradeshow to actual revenue generated after the show. 

"People continue to invest in face-to-face marketing events but because events require a significant expenditure, they're asking for greater scrutiny about marketing effectiveness," said David Saef, EVP of Strategy & Marketing at Global Experience Specialists (GES). 

What are some of the ideas generated from the survey to impact ROI and Lead Generation? Below are the challenges identified from survey participants as well as ideas on ways interactive technology tool rentals can help. 

Challenge #1: Marketers felt they were stymied by their lack of technology to collect and analyze data from the trade show floor.

Exhibitors and marketers can rent iPads to capture attendee information easily through applications or contests. iPads can also serve as portable kiosks, so attendees can learn more about the marketer's products and services while the exhibitor may be tied up with other individuals. 

Challenge #2: Lack of sales support and enough quality data from the sales department. 

If your organization is limited by the amount of personnel they can send to the event, have computer kiosks act as your sales team. Providing touch panel kiosks where attendees can see videos, photos, and interact with the home office via live chat, can allow individuals to learn more about your organization without ever talking to a salesperson. 

In addition, the corporate office can provide real-time information to the iPads of their event sales team.  

Challenge #3: The lead generation process is ambiguous at best.

Many times trade show exhibitors try and garner business cards as a way to generate leads for their organization. Or they scan the attendee's QR code into their system. However, when they turn those names over to the sales department, the reps don't know the level of interest or expectation from the prospect, so they don't follow up…ever. 

"Don't spend a penny on a trade show unless you have a lead-management process in place," said Ruth Stevens, B-to-B marketing consultant, speaker, author and educator. "It's too easy to say, 'Hey there's a show and it's important for us to be there.'"

Rent Tablet PCs, load a lead generation app onto it, train your people to capture the right information, and send the information to the corporate sales department on a real-time basis. 

Event planning in California? Look no further than AV Event Solutions to provide you with iPad rental (even iPad kiosk), Tablet PCs, kiosk rentals and much, much more! Give them a call today!

5 Fantastic Fixes to Make Your Next Speaker Shine
boring%20seminar%20photo
Jul 23, 2012 by DeDe Mulligan

boring

Have you ever sat in the back of the room listening to the high-priced speaker you booked and at the same time, observe your audience glancing at their watches, checking their smartphones, and start coughing or yawning? Do you see the energy just sap out of the room? And then, do you get mad at yourself that you didn't vet your speaker well enough? 

Here's a reality checkpoint: Perhaps the reason your speaker wasn't effective is partly your fault. "What?!?" you say. "How can that be?" When event meeting services organizations don't prep and communicate to their presenter's their expectations, many times the speaker falls flat.

Here are 5 things you can do to make sure your speakers shine in front of your attendees.  

  1. Make sure the speaker knows your audience wants and needs.

    The more information you share with your presenter, the better prepared they will be to meet your attendees' needs. Give them information about the demographics, knowledge level and familiarity of the topic as well as audience interest levels.  
     

  2. Give them great tips on how to use PowerPoint and then review their slides.

    It may sound like micro-managing, but you know your attendees better than anyone. You know what will fly and what won't. Today's PowerPoint need to visual with very few bullet points on each slide. Less is more. 

    You are paying the speaker big bucks and they are gaining access to potential clients down the road. Review and make them rework the slides to the liking of your attendees. 
     

  3. Less speaking, more audience interaction. 

    If the speaker is allotted 50 minutes, tell them they can have a maximum of 25 slides for the program. This works to the benefit of planners in three ways: 1) With 25 slides or less, the presenter will stay focused on the topic 2) there will be no skipping or rushing of information and 3) the attendees will have plenty of time for interaction and discussion. 
     

  4. Make it part of your contract, that the speaker needs to be onsite at least 90-minutes before their talk. 

    Many presenters like to waltz into the meeting room 10 or 15 minutes before their talk and "just go with the flow." However, some of the reasons attendees lose focus on the presenter is because the microphone goes in and out, the PowerPoint presentation equipment freezes, or their laptop is not compatible with the LCD projector. But, if the presenter arrived 90 minutes early and tests everything with the AV technician, rehearses their presentation, and has a chance to network with some of the attendees the presentation can go off without a hitch. 
     

  5. Determine if your speaker has an interactive style.

    Hopefully, you saw your presenter in person or on video before you hired them for your event. Check to see if they did the following things. Did they:

    – Ask the attendees interesting and thought-provoking questions during the presentation?
    – Stay focused on what is happening and adapt appropriately?
    – Have good eye contact with many audience members?
    – Use humor appropriately? 

    If you don't see these items within their presentation, you may want to pass on this individual. 

AV Event Solutions is a California event equipment supplier that can provide you with LCD projector and screen rentals, laptop rentalsiPad rental, and other interactive technology tool rentals that can make your speakers shine! Give them a call and ask to speak to one of their experienced Account Executives for more information! 

9 Nifty Nuggets to Build Your Brainstorm Meeting Effectiveness
ideas
Jul 20, 2012 by DeDe Mulligan

brainstormYou have decided it is time to get all or a subset of your employees together and brainstorm about an opportunity, challenge or threat your company is facing. Since there will be more than 50 people in attendance, it doesn't make sense to meet as one big group. You have heard about brainstorming, but are unsure how it works. Lets take you through, step-by-step ways to integrate problem-solving, team building and brainstorming into one meeting! 

Here are the 9 steps (or nifty nuggets) in order of execution: 

Nifty Nugget #1: Select only ONE business issue.  

Don't try and solve all the issues in the company or let the discussion digress into gossip. If the issue is, your organization needs more sales, focus on that and nothing else. 

Nifty Nugget #2: Form workable project teams. 4-8 people per team is ideal. It is best practices to put people who don't work for or with each other on each team. It avoids group think and the awkwardness of trying to do what the boss wants. 

Nifty Nugget #3: Review brainstorming procedures. Brainstorming is a group creativity technique to find a conclusion for a specific problem by gathering a list of ideas spontaneously contributed by its members. Someone in the group needs to be the scribe, without judgments or edits. 

Just for grins, here is a short YouTube video on "How NOT to run a brainstorming session". 

Nifty Nugget #4: Give the teams enough time to brainstorm and form effective strategies. Giving each team time to capture free flowing ideas and then work through them one-by-one is going to take a few hours depending on how complex the issue is. A good facilitator may need to adjust the time requirement by simply checking in with each team every 60-90 minutes. 

Nifty Nugget #5: Provide interactive technology tool rentals in each breakout room. Providing each team with laptops loaded with PowerPoint, iPads containing a mind mapping application, a printer,  flip chart and whiteboard is going to be integral to their success. They will need these tools to research strategies and prepare for the end-of-day presentation. 

Nifty Nugget #6: Develop the presentation. Having each team develop a PowerPoint presentation with limited slides to carry their strategy forward is going to be key in keeping them focused. You may wish to try Pecha Kucha (20 slides in 6 minutes and 20 seconds), or some variation of this theme to keep all presentations equal in time. 

Nifty Nugget #7: Practice the presentation. Having presentation services audio visual equipment available allows each team to rehearse their presentation in front of their own group and will help them pick out mistakes or identify areas that need clarification before the entire company sees it.  

Nifty Nugget #8: Gather everyone back together to see all the presentations. The AV technician can load all the presentations onto the PowerPoint presentation equipment while employees take a break. 

Nifty Nugget #9: Identify the best ideas and solutions for the problem and a strategy to make these things happen. 

AV Event Solutions is here to help with your next brainstorming session. They have iPads, laptops, LCD and screen rentals and much, much more! Give them a call today at 888.249.4903. 

Are you Leaving Money on the Table? 12 Ways to Cut Costs for Your Next Meeting
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Jul 18, 2012 by DeDe Mulligan

walking away

Do you sometimes walk away from a vendor meeting feeling like you "left money on the table"? Does your gut tell you that you had some more negotiating to do? There is no easy answer to this process because suppliers are in the business of winning your meeting and bringing in a profit. In these financially perilous times, you need to do your best to keep costs contained…but how? Here is a good rule of thumb: 

The bigger the conference spend, the more opportunity there is for discounting.

Below are 12 ways to save money at your next meeting. These savings are divided into 3 subcategories: Eliminating Costs, Reducing Expenses and Negotiating Better Deals. 

ELIMINATING COSTS

  1. Favor digital communications. No more postcards, mailings or stamps. 
  2. No printed materials, directional signage, and binders at the conference. This also eliminates shipping costs. 

REDUCING EXPENSES

  1. Book your meeting on the slowest day, month, or time of year. When a hotel is experiencing 25-30% occupancy, they are going to welcome the opportunity to book your business — even if it is at a much reduced rate. 
  2. Ask the local CVB to host a networking event or sponsor entertainment at no cost to your organization. 
  3. Configure your agenda logistics so the speaker comes where the AV equipment is set up, not the other way around. One set-up and strike for the whole meeting will greatly reduce AV labor costs. 
  4. If you have a multi-day conference, review the master bill at the end of each day. Take up any discrepancies while you are still on property. 
  5. Go local for everything. From renting audio visual equipment to food and entertainment/speakers — you will save a lot of money by going local. 

NEGOTIATING BETTER DEALS

  1. Consider multi-meeting and/or multi-year contracts with your vendors. Everything from booking hotels with a national chain to renting audio visual equipment can be negotiated effectively with multiple meetings. 
  2. If your room block is big enough, you may be able to negotiate the following items with your hotel:

    • Comped rooms. The standard ratio is for every 40-50 rooms booked, you should be able to receive 1 room at no charge.
    • Contract rate honored after cut-off date. Even though you have released the rooms, if someone from your group registers, the group rate will be given to them. 
    • Attrition rate is waived if the hotel reaches an agreed-upon occupancy rate. 
    • Extra charges are waived such as: resort, Internet or health club fees. 
  3. When using an outside event audio visual rental company, negotiate a heavily discounted move-in, move-out fee for your supplier. 
  4. Obtain a locked storage room for AV equipment; at no extra charge. 
  5. If your AV order is substantial, ask the venue and/or conference equipment rental company to provide you with free lecterns, easels, flip chart paper, and markers in every meeting room. 

Are you event planning in California? Look no further than AV Event Solutions for all your meeting needs! Fill out their express quote form for quick response and to be connected with a qualified account executive to work with you on your budgetary needs. 

Halt Hidden Meeting Fees! 5 Things Planners can do to Protect Themselves
NoHiddenFees
Jul 16, 2012 by DeDe Mulligan

hidden fees

Sometimes planning a meeting feels like building a new house. You have the plans and the monies set aside. Construction has begun and everything seems to be going as smooth as silk. And then Wham! You forgot your husband upgraded the countertops to granite, the carpeting you wanted is out of stock so you end up with a more expensive brand, and don't even get me started on the landscaping! Bottom line: Add about $25,000 or more to your original budget and you should be golden.

But, corporate planners can't afford to do that with meetings. Budgets are already so tight and the last thing needed are big surprises on the master bill at the end of the conference. So what can be done to avoid hidden charges?

Joan Eisenstodt recently wrote a piece for Plan Your Meetings and she sited the examples below. But here's what it really boils down to: ask the right questions and get everything in writing. 

Hidden Fee #1: RFPs and Contracts…Its omission that will get you every time.

Before sending out a RFP or signing a contract, take the time to ask a lot of questions about various charges and then have the supplier submit their responses in writing. Never sign a contract that doesn't address all the charges that will be on the master bill. Have others within your organization read the contract thoroughly. Sign only when you are comfortable that every issue is addressed and every question is answered.

Hidden Fee #2: Meeting Room Rentals.

Every hotel is different and most will waive the room fee if there are enough hotel rooms sold for your conference or you have a certain dollar level for food and beverage. But don't assume this is true all the time. Ask for the terms upfront. 

Hidden Fee #3: Power Charges.

According to Eisenstodt, hotels are now adding charges for use of electrical outlets in meeting rooms — regardless if you use them or not. You need to know HOW they are going to charge you — whether it is a flat fee or it is based on the estimated amount of energy used in the room. 

Hidden Fee #4: Event Audio Visual Rentals. 

If you choose not to use the in-house AV company, the hotel may try and charge you for bringing in another company, patching into the house sound system, and electrical outlets. They may also try and charge you for move-in and move-out time. All of these items can be negotiated. For more information on this topic see the following two blogs: The Debate Over In-House vs. Outside Vendors When Renting Audio Visual Equipment and Renting Audio Visual Equipment? Know Your Bill of Rights

Hidden Fee #5: Plus, Plus, Plus Charges.

It used to be there was a percentage charge for state and local taxes plus gratuities. Now, there seems to be an additional charges for administrative fees. Find out what extra charges are all about and negotiate it off the contract or within guidelines you all can live with. 

AV Event Solutions is a California meeting equipment supplier that will work with you in a transparent fashion so all your fees are identified up front and along the way, if you have any last minute changes. Contact them today to learn more about their service offerings!

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