SmartSource Rentals Blog


5 Fantastic Questions to Ask A Potential Meeting or Event Supplier
Sep 28, 2012 by DeDe Mulligan

questionI don't think it should surprise you that most meeting planners don't ask enough questions of their potential partners or suppliers. While many focus on price and availability, if they are going to build a long-term relationship with a vendor, they need to go deeper. Event planners need to pinpoint how effectively they can work with a new hotel sales person, or event audio visual services organization.

Here are 5 questions to ask that can take you beyond the typical "rates and dates" conversation:

Question #1: Given our event history, how does your experience match up to ours? 

For example, choosing an organization that has held many product launching events is going to give you more confidence than someone who has no experience in this type of meeting.   

Question #2: What professional value will you bring to the table?  

Finding a partner with experienced, educated, and certified staff  — speaks volumes to their level of commitment to their employees. In addition, an organization that is well connected to MPI, PCMA, ISES, or IAEE, will act as a resource you can go to when looking for partner recommendations in other areas. Someone who is new to the industry or not well connected probably can't help you out in a pinch or serve as a value-added partner. 

Question #3: What are your organization's key attributes? 

See if what they say matches your needs. If they say "low price" and "experienced staff" but nothing about a "large inventory of equipment", "fast turnaround" or "quality customer service", and the latter items are important to you, this is probably not the right supplier. 

Question #4: How do you meet or exceed customer expectations?  

Meeting expectations is one thing, but exceeding them puts a vendor on a whole different playing field. Ask them for examples of ways they exceeded expectations and what the long-term benefit was for their company. 

Question #5: Is it possible to speak to 2-3 other persons within your organization? 

Interviewing other people in the organization will shed some light on their corporate culture. You will be able to assess the size of the company, educational and experience levels, and have a better understanding whether or not you want to do business with them. 

AV Event Solutions, a California meeting equipment supplier, is available to provide you with answers to the above questions and more! Consider them for all your AV meeting needs and be sure to check them out on Facebook and Twitter

6 Success Tips from Sir Richard Branson that can be Applied to Any Meeting
Sep 26, 2012 by DeDe Mulligan

Sir Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson has built his success running and managing 400+ different companies — all without having a college education. In his latest book, "Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won't Teach You in Business School", he spells out 18 of his best business success tips. 

Today's lets examine a compulation of 6 of those tips — applied to  the event meeting services industry. Here they are: 

#1 You can't run a business without taking risks

Take a hard look at your meetings. Have you changed with the times? Do you have a pulse on what attendees need and want? Most meeting professionals I know are pretty adverse to change. Their adage is: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." However, that doesn't work in today's world. You need to take risks with your meetings and events. Which leads to the next tip:

#2 When it comes to making mistakes, bounce back, don't fall down. 

If you take a risk and it doesn't work, learn from it. Don't assume it was a terrible decision. One of the ways to keep a pulse on your attendee's satisfaction level with the meeting is to conduct polling with wireless Audience Response Systems. If corrections need to be made, you can do so based on attendee feedback. 

#3 The first impression is everything. So is the second. 

There is no doubt that it is important to make a great first impression with the attendee. Greeting them warmly when they arrive at your conference is very important but keeping that attention up during the entire conference and year-after-year, should also be your focus. 

#4 Be visible. 

Drive visibility before, during and after the meeting. Creating a digital strategy of engagement that can be carried throughout the event and after, will be one of the keys to your success. Having all of your staff and volunteers highly visible and identifiable through nametags and/or corporate logoed clothing will help attendees identify who to go to when they have a problem or question. If you rent iPads for your event, you can create online communities to share questions and comments. 

#5 Define your brand. 

Are you trying to be all things to all attendees? If you are, perhaps that is why your attendance is slipping at your meetings and events. Hone in on your targeted attendees and plan your event accordingly. Your speakers and content will be much richer and deeper. 

#6 Seek a second opinion. Seek a third. 

Before making a decision about a destination, venue, or speaker, seek the advice of other meeting planners. There are a variety of ways to reach out to them, but here are just a few suggestions:

  • Ask for recommendations on Twitter or LinkedIn groups you belong to,
  • Read the venue ratings on TripAdvisor, Google Reviews, or AAA. 
  • Contact professional organizations, such as MPI, PCMA, or NSA. 
  • Send out an email blast to other meeting planners asking for their help. 

Are you event planning in California? Get in touch with AV Event Solutions, a Los Angeles based organization that serves the AV and Wi-Fi needs of the entire state. Reach out to them today! 

5 Keys to Building a Better Technology Team for Your Next Event
Sep 24, 2012 by DeDe Mulligan


Meetings and events can be so complicated nowadays. You have the client, venue, event audio visual rental company, IT staff and if your event is a hybrid one, you could be dealing with 2 to 4 additional organizations. And it isn't just a matter of ordering the equipment — it's the management of the process that requires a fair amount of time and attention.

Given this potentially complex process, what is the best way to proceed to make sure that everyone does their job and the attendee is happy with the event? Here are 5 key ways to building a better technology team so that your next event goes off without a hitch.  

  1. Assess the Talent Within Your Organization. 

    Do you have a strong project manager, someone who knows a lot about technology, or an individual who has experience running hybrid or virtual events? Perhaps you have the skills to manage the technology within your own organization. However, if you do not, you will need to outsource this talent.  

  2. Assign One Overall Project Manager.

    While it is probably worth the money to hire both AV and IT project managers — especially for a large, complex event — there needs to be one person that has overarching responsibility for the meeting. This person needs to be responsible for the complete project plan and be an excellent communicator. 

  3. Have a Communication Plan.

    The project assignments need to have the action, person responsible and expected date of  completion for each assigned tasks. Having a communication calendar leading up to the event with scheduled conference calls is also very important. In addition, when the team is onsite, they need to know who is responsible for what. Having a Twitter hashtag or Google Hangout where everyone can communicate in an instant will be key to resolving attendee issues quickly. 

  4. Make Sure There are Good Dynamics Among Team Members.

    The last thing any event meeting services organization needs is a bunch of finger pointing within the team. Does everyone get along? Are they positive in their approach and do they have critical thinking skills? Do they communicate missteps and delays — even if they know it isn't a popular conversation? Making certain individuals get along and can work toward a good resolution to the problem, will help the event run smoothly. 

  5.  All Hands Must be on Deck During the Test Phase. 

    Having all the team players in the meeting room when you are testing the Wi-Fi network array, virtual broadcast equipment, computer equipment, and sound and lighting rentals, will go far in determining if there are any glitches in the equipment and if you need more equipment to handle the load. 

AV Event Solutions, a California meeting equipment provider, has project managers, technicians, Wi-Fi network arrays, and other state-of-the-art technology options available for your next meeting. Give them a call today at 888.249.4903!

8 Great Tips to Plan Your Next Employee Appreciation Day
Sep 21, 2012 by DeDe Mulligan

great jobYou value your employees and want to show them so, but you have a limited budget and are "busy, busy, busy". You also know in the coming year things are going to be tough. How do you show your most valuable asset — your employees — that you care about them? By holding an employee appreciation event!  

Here are 8 ways to get started on planning an event to be remembered: 

Tip #1: Establish an overall budget for the day. 

Find out the budget number you have to work with and then breakdown that number in the following areas:

Tip #2: Choose a day that will work with most people. 

Talk to management about giving people a day off. If that is not possible, put an email together with 3  possible dates and ask people to vote on their number 1 choice. Most of the time, you will not be able to get everyone to the event, but 75-85% is what you want to strive for. If the majority of employees are not able to make it on the designated dates, reschedule for another time.  

Tip #3: Get employees involved in the planning process. 

By crowdsourcing with them what the day will look like, employees will feel like it is their event instead of your event. 

Tip #4: Determine the activities and entertainment. 

Will you be including employee spouses and families? Will it be in the evening or during the day? Determining who will be invited, sets the stage for activities and the type of entertainment (face painting versus DJ) you will have on-site. 

Tip #5: Plan out food and beverage. 

Figure out what kind of food you will serve and whether it will be catered or you will ask employees to bring a dish. To minimize liability, most event meeting services organizations recommend that you stick to a no-alcohol policy, especially if you are gathering on company premises. 

Tip #6: Choose a location. 

Once you have determined the activities, entertainment and F&B, consider the location that best serves this event. Will it be on-site or offsite? Day or evening? Indoors or out? If you are going to have an evening outdoor event, consider light equipment rental to create a certain ambiance for the setting. 

Tip #7: Provide Awards and Prizes. 

This is a great forum to present employee appreciation awards. You can also give goody bags to each employee as they leave the event. If you have games, provide prizes for each contest. Set up a stage for award presentations and make certain your sound and lighting rental system can been heard and viewed by the entire group. 

Tip #8: Have Fun.

When the day finally arrives, remember you are an employee, too! Smile, tell employees how much you appreciate them being there and participate in the fun! 

Are you event planning in California? Think of AV Event Solutions when you plan your next employee appreciation event! They can provide you with lighting, sound, and much, much more. Give them a call at 888.249.4903 for more information. 

6 Steps to a More Successful Sales Meeting
Sep 19, 2012 by DeDe Mulligan

sales meetingEvery business day, thousands of U.S. companies gather their sales team together for a meeting. The purpose might be the rollout of a product launching event, to share confidential company information, or to provide quota challenges or accolades to members of the team. 

If you are responsible for gathering the sales professionals together — whether it be monthly, quarterly, or yearly — you may be wondering:

"What are the essential elements of a successful sales meeting?"

Here are 6 tips to keep your team energized, motivated and on track:  

Tip #1: Define the Purpose of the Meeting.

What exactly are you going to be talking about and how long will it take? Having a well-thought out agenda, with defined outcomes, will help employees stay focused. 

In addition, make certain you actually need to have this meeting. Is interactivity, brainstorming, and/or confidentiality the reason for the meeting? If the answer is yes, forge on. If it is no, you may want to deliver the message through a different forum. 

Tip #2: Have Your Timing Worked Out. 

Start and end your meeting on time. If people arrive late, have some sort of "fun" penalty for them (such as bringing in the bagels at next month's meeting). Once employees come to 1 or 2 of these meetings late, they will get the picture and arrive on time. 

Tip #3: If presentations are planned, consider Pecha Kucha or TED style talks. 

Limiting the presentation to minutes instead of hours, sets the tone for the presenters that they need to "cut to the chase." In the case of multiple presentations, you can pre-load them on the Powerpoint presentation equipment well in advance. This will give employees more time to discuss the material presented.  

Tip #4: Consider Holding a Stand-Up Meeting. 

Have a meeting with no chairs, requires employees to stand the entire time. According to one research study, this method cut the meeting time by 40 percent. If time is of the essence or you have meetings on a frequent basis, try this method and determine if it works for you. 

Tip #5: Have One Person Designated as a Scribe.

Creating a list of action items, including who is responsible for what by a defined time-line, sets in motion the feeling that employees are being heard and their questions, issues, or concerns are being followed up on. 

Tip #6: Summarize the Next Steps. 

Taking the last 5 minutes and summarizing the action plan, shows the sales team there was a legitimate reason to get together. It brings clarity to the group as to why they took this time to meet in the first place. 

AV Event Solutions can provide corporate audio visual equipment across the entire State of California! Check out their express quote form to determine how they can help bring your next sales meeting to life! 

5 Essential Elements for a Successful First-Time Meeting or Event
Sep 17, 2012 by DeDe Mulligan


Sometime in your meeting career, you will need to plan a first-time event. The first gala or golf outing. The first employee gathering of a merged company. Or the first national user conference.

Whatever the first meeting or event is, there are 5 essential elements that can make your planning process easier and get your attendees excited to come to this brand new event. They are as follows: 

1) Have measurable and realistic objectives. 

Having clear, definable goals will help shape the meeting content. Whether it be a product launching event with 5 members of the press and 500 clients and prospects in attendance or a gala with the goal of raising $75,000, having definable measurements will be the key to determining your meeting's success. 

2) Provide rich and compelling educational content.  

Providing attendees with compelling content and dynamic speakers will always be a draw. Have a complete agenda with speakers and topics identified BEFORE you invite your attendees. Sending an email with "TBD" behind the topic or speaker says to the potential attendee "You have not thought this meeting all the way through." 

3) Make networking part of the agenda. 

Put time in your event for networking and use icebreakers, contests and interactive technology tool rentals to engage attendees. Rent iPads with a gamification app on it. Ask questions on a video wall rental unit. Get people up, moving around, and meeting new people. 

4) Price your meeting at the right level. 

Having a free event isn't always a winner. Many individuals think of "free" as "cheap." Check around and find the right pricing level that will bring in the maximum number of your targeted attendees. Ask your attendees what they are willing to pay for the content you are delivering. Check and make certain you aren't competing with another big event during the same week. 

5) Choose a unique destination and/or venue.

Try and find a destination that your group will be excited to go to —  whether it be an interesting city, hotel, or venue. Try places that might be off your usual grid, such as a national park or college campus.

Providing great content at a unique location and at a reasonable price can be the ticket to get more people to your event. What other things do you think make up a great first-time meeting? 

If you are event planning in California, contact AV Event Solutions for all your audio visual needs. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, they service the whole State of California with iPads, kiosk rentals, video walls, and much, much more! 

Step-by-Step Speaker Selection Checklist to Prepare You for Your Next Meeting
Sep 14, 2012 by DeDe Mulligan


You have been put in charge of obtaining top-notch speakers for your 2-day conference next year. Your budget numbers are limited and unfortunately most of the organization's volunteers are engaged in other priorities. So, it is up to you to find them and negotiate their contracts.

Where do you start and what do you do? Here are 10 sequential steps to help you along the way. 

  1. Define the speaker's objective. Are they there to educate, persuade, or entertain your attendees? Have defined learner outcomes or key takeaways. 
  2. Put the word out. Ask your LinkedIn groups, post your needs on your social channels, check with associations, such as MPI, PCMA, and NSA for recommendations. Don't forget your local sources such as the CVB and Chamber of Commerce. And of course, you can look into partnering with a speakers bureau like Executive Speakers
  3. Once you have a listing of potential speakers, ask each one of them how they will meet your meeting objective. If possible, go view them in person or watch their talk on YouTube. Will their style mesh with your attendees? Are they content deep?
  4. When you go for your venue site visit, make certain the speaker can be viewed from all angles in the room. Check the meeting rooms for sound, lighting, and viewing obstacles. Do you need to have Plasma TVs or extra screen rentals to make certain the audience feels connected to the presenter? 
  5. Negotiate a flat fee. This saves you from worrying about additional impact on your budget if the presenter books their hotel and airline reservation late in the game. 
  6. As part of the contract, have the speaker spell out their contingency plan. What happens if they get ill, miss their flight or have a natural disaster in their hometown? Putting the onerous on the speaker or speaker bureau to find an alternative speaker of the same knowledge level and entertainment depth should be their responsibility, not yours. However, make certain you have the final say whether that speaker fits the bill for your attendees. 
  7. Have them attend the entire conference. If they come early and stay late, many of your worries are taken care of and it gives attendees a chance to network with the speaker one-on-one. Make certain you waive the conference cost if they come and let them know that is a value-add to them. 
  8. Ask them to be involved in the program. Perhaps they can MC, introduce other speakers, attend networking events, or man your registration table. In exchange for their involvement, you give them a table or booth to sell their books, CDs or DVDs. This allows you to double-purpose every presenter and cut down on volunteer and staff resources. 
  9. Make sure they know the total time they have for their talk, including Q&A. If they have 50 minutes, make certain they have no more than 25 slides to present. 
  10. Obtain a written confirmation of the event audio visual equipment they need. Find out what they are bringing to the conference…exact model of PC or Apple computer, operating system and application software. Put that on the same equipment order as your conference services equipment, noting what the presenter is bringing and what you are renting. Send the entire order to the presenter to sign off on and send a copy of the signed document both to the presenter and AV company. 

AV Event Solutions, an AV conference services organization, is here to help you with your next meeting or event. Check them out on Facebook and get started with their Express Quote process. Don't delay, get started today! 

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