SmartSource Rentals Blog


Thinking of Holding a Paperless Meeting but Can’t Justify it? Get Two Calculations that Will Help
Jan 30, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

Imagine,  if you will, a conference where there are no paper programs, exhibitor manuals, session handouts, or surveys. There is no paper. Period.

Sounds great, right? You and your staff don’t have to spend tireless hours printing, collating, punching and assembling binders AND then shipping them to the conference. Somewhere, somehow you know with all the interactive technology tool rentals available there is a better way. But how can you justify the spend? Surely, it is going to be very expensive to rent iPads and the apps to go on it. Right?

EventPilot, an organization that markets a mobile app for scientific and medical meetings, recently came out with two calculations that can help justify the use of mobile devices both from a carbon footprint and revenue standpoint. By sharing this methodology, hopefully you can plug in your own numbers and sell a paperless meeting to your boss, board, and staff members.


The major benefits of integrating mobile technology into your conference are:

  1. The attendee can have all the documents in a central location, including PowerPoint presentations
  2. Speaker information includes bio, photographs, video and any other information can be easily accessed
  3. Evaluations happen on-the-spot
  4. All exhibitor information and mapping of the trade show floor is readily available
  5. Real-time conference updates can happen across all devices
  6. The iPad is light and can usually last all day without being charged
  7. Connection to social channels, email and the Internet are an icon away.

Here is one example of a carbon footprint calculation:

Number of attendees: 1,000
Total number of sheets of paper per attendee: 100
Average printing cost per attendee: $8
Average tote bag cost: $2

 Total CO2 savings: 6,100 lbs.

Minimum waste savings: 1,200 lbs. 

Total number of hours to stuff tote bags: 17 x $35/hour = $595

Total cost for Shipping and Handling: $1,200

Minimum cost savings: $11,336


The question on every planner’s mind is who is going to pay for the hardware and apps that reside on the mobile device? Unless your meeting is extremely small and you know for a fact the apps you are going to use are prevalent across multiple mobile devices, you will want to stick with one mobile platform (think rent iPads). It will save you a lot of time when you are trying to configure the right Wi-Fi network support for your program as well.

Here are some possible revenue opportunities for your meeting:

Type of Sponsor Number Investment Total Value
iPad 1 $5,000 $5,000
Wi-Fi Splash Page 1 $5,000 $5,000
App Sponsor 1 $5,000 $5,000
Rotating Sponsor Ads 10 $500 $5,000
Featured Exhibitors 10 $250 $2,500
Exhibitors with Social Media Links 10 $500 $5,000
Timed Ads 6 $600 $3,600
Total Revenue Opportunity $31,100

Of course, you will have to take into account the cost to rent iPads and the apps. Some apps are going to be free and some apps are going to web-based so the attendee can download the app themselves, thus saving staff and vendor time.

AV Event Solutions, a SmartSource Computer and Audio Visual Rental Company, is available to serve your AV needs if you are event planning in California. They have iPads, Wi-Fi network arrays, and much, much more! Contact them today for more information!

Can Short and Sweet Meetings Exceed Attendee’s Expectations?
Jan 28, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

short & sweet

With flatter organizations, an increase in responsibilities and technology improvements, some of your potential attendees may feel they don't have the time for long, multi-day meetings or are inclined to catch the presentation in the comfort of their office via a webcast. In addition, with the emergence of Gen Y attendees who are constantly multi-tasking, long drawn out meetings can have the connotation of being boring. 

But the overriding question is: How do you design a meeting that is long enough to meet the attendee's objectives but short enough to get them there and engaged?  Here are 8 tips to make certain your meeting is the right length of time. 

Short and Sweet Tip #1: Identify the core purpose of the meeting. 

Do you really need to have a meeting or can your message be conveyed via an email or conference call? If a face-to-face meeting makes the most sense, attendees need to know the purpose, key takeaways, speaker bio, and time allowed for the meeting. 

Short and Sweet Tip #2: Choose a presentation style that forces brevity. 

You can be creative in your approach, but here are the 3 most common short presentation options:  

  • Pecha Kucha is a presentation methodology in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each. The total presentation is 6 minutes and 40 seconds.
  • Ignite gives presenters 5 minutes to speak about their ideas on 20 slides where each slide is displayed for 15 seconds.
  • TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) where speakers are given 18 minutes to present their ideas in the most innovative and engaging ways they can. 

If you have multiple speakers, be certain to load all the talks onto the presentation services audio visual equipment hours before the session starts. 

Short and Sweet Tip #3: Load all the presentations onto mobile devices. 

If you rent iPads, all the presentations can be loaded onto the tablet so attendees can review each presentation before the meeting and have their questions and comments prepared in advance.  

Short and Sweet Tip #4: Give them a hashtag.

Having the ability to communicate via Twitter or another online community, will keep all comments, questions, and complaints in a central location so attendees do not have to be redundant. In addition, event organizers and speakers can answer those questions before, during and after the session to save valuable time. 

Short and Sweet Tip #5: If you have multiple speakers for multiple days, consider a video wall rental unit

A video wall is a great way for attendees to gather and catch videos of your speakers, check to see if there have been any last minute changes to the schedule, view the conference twitter feed, or obtain directional signage to each break-out session. This can be a gathering place for attendees before the meeting starts and during breaks. 

Short and Sweet Tip #6: Provide plenty of networking time. 

Hold networking functions before and after your meeting and make it mandatory for your speakers to stay during this time. Attendees can ask questions of the presenters in a more informal setting thus helping the attendee feel more connected to your meeting. 

Short and Sweet Tip #7: Start and end your meeting on time.  

Short and Sweet Tip #8: If you have breakout sessions for brainstorming, hire a professional facilitator to keep the conversation on track and on schedule. 

AV Event Solutions can help make your next meeting short and sweet through their complete suite of interactive technology tool rentals, including iPads, video walls, and much, much more! Check out their express quote form to get started!

Just Like Zuck: What Meeting Planners Can Learn from This Facebook Leader
Jan 25, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

Mark ZuckerbergWho would have thought 10 years ago a 29-year old, Harvard drop out would run a phenomenally successful organization with over 1 billion users? Certainly not me and probably not you. But here we are in 2013 and almost everyone knows the name of Mark Zuckerberg. Even though Facebook had a rough IPO start, it now seems to be on the path of stability as its stock price continues to rise. 

Ekaterina Walter, Social Media Innovator and Author of Think Like Zuck: The Five Business Secrets of Facebook's Improbably Brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerberg, has identified some of the keys to Facebook's success. While they are fairly basic in nature, I think this is a good time to review how event meeting services organizations can use these principles (P's) in their every day interactions with attendees, partners and sponsors. 

Here are the 5 P's: 
Zuck Nugget #1: Passion
According to Walter, for as long as he can remember, Zuckerberg spent time designing programs to enable people to interact with each other. At Facebook, they call it "the hacker way". 
"The word 'hacker' has an unfairly negative connotation from being portrayed in the media as people who break into computers," Zuckerberg stated. "In reality, hacking just means building something quickly or testing the boundaries of what can be done. Hackers believe that something can always be better and that nothing is ever complete."
Takeaway: Are you and your team always trying to improve your event? Do you have passion for your meetings and are you trying new things and pushing the envelope? 
Zuck Nugget #2: Purpose
Zuckerberg's long term vision is to make the world more open and connected and the company's journey is only 1% finished. Everyone at Facebook knows what their purpose is which helps build customer loyalty. 
Takeaway: What is your event's purpose? Does everyone know it, including your staff, volunteers, sponsors and exhibitors? 
Zuck Nugget #3: People
According to Zuckerberg, Facebook has a hacker culture which is extremely open and meritocratic. The best idea and implementation should always win — not the person who is best at lobbying for an idea or the person who manages the most people.
Even though they have over 4,000 employees, because they have a flat management infrastructure, every employee's voice can be heard.  Their motto is "Code wins arguments." 
Takeaway: Is your meeting open and do the best ideas win — despite who proposes them? Are you using interactive technology tool rentals, such as wireless Audience Response Systems, computer kiosks, or mobile device apps to keep a pulse on what attendees, sponsors or exhibitors want? Is your meeting fluid and spontaneous or systematic and rigid? 
Zuck Nugget #4: Product
Facebook has always put its users at the center of their business model. They have made improvements in their product based on what they believe the "Facebook Friend" wants and needs. They work on the premise that if you meet the user's needs, the money will follow. 
Takeaway: Are you putting your attendees first? Do you know what they want — or are you always focused on the budget and logistics? 
Zuck Nugget #5: Partnerships
The partnership of Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, is one of the keys to Facebook's success. Their strengths are different and complimentary, according to Walter. 
Takeaway: Who are your event partners? Do they make your meeting stronger, both from a content and financial prospective? What do they really bring to the table? 
AV Event Solutions can provide you with great options when renting audio visual equipment. Please give them a call at 888-249-4903 to learn more about how they can assist you with your next event! 


The Different Type of Association Members and How to Get Them to Your Next Conference
Jan 23, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan


As a long standing event planner, association members usually fall into one of these annual conference categories : 1) Will Always Attend, 2) Have To Attend, 3) Probably Should Attend, or 4) Never Will Attend.  It also seems to me that event planners take for granted the "will" and "have" attendees and spend a lot of energy focused on the "probably" and "never" member. But is this really a productive use of your time? The answer is: maybe. 

Here is a closer look at each type of attendee and what you can do get them to your conference this year and hopefully keep them coming back. 


This type of attendee believes in your association and its mission. They sign up early for the conference each year and are as close to an automatic renewal as you you can hope for. They look forward to the annual meeting because they learn new information, renew old acquaintances and establish new connections. 

You need to make this member type happy. They help you sell the conference to others. Here are some ways to gain better insights into this category of attendee:

  • While at the conference, use wireless audience response systems to track the reasons why they love to come to your annual meeting. Use those reasons when making sales calls. 
  • Tailor your conference agenda based on their feedback. 
  • Keep communication active with them throughout the year through email, telephone calls and social channels. 
  • Ask if they will act as a mentor for first-time attendees. 


This type of attendee feels like they have no choice because they need to exhibit their product or service to your attendees or they need educational credit for certification. They may or may not be happy to be there, but they know they must attend this year. This type of member is fleeting at best because you cannot count on their loyalty. If they find a better option, most likely they will be gone.  

Here are some ways to keep them coming back: 

  • Thank them for their attendance and ask what you can do to make the conference more enjoyable. 
  • Keep the communication active throughout the year and let them know how much their attendance means to your association. 
  • Have your event staff spend some quality one-on-one time with this attendee. 


This type of member has been thinking about coming to your annual conference for quite sometime, but for whatever reason has not made it happen. They know they need more education, networking and it is "the right thing to do." But for some reason, the conference comes and goes and they don't make it. 

This member isn't sure what they will gain by coming to the association meeting. Here are some tips to sell them on it: 

  • Sell them on the benefits of the conference…what they will learn, who they will meet and why they should attend. 
  • Understand exactly what their reservations are and address them. 
  • Find out their expectations and make sure your conference can meet or exceed those expectations. 


Don't waste any effort or time on this member. For whatever reason, whether it is budgetary, time away from the office or location, they are not going to come to the meeting. Just be glad they are members and if it makes you feel any better, research says that about 25% of an association's membership falls into this category. Thank them for their membership and spend your marketing efforts on the other 3 categories.

Are you event planning in California? Contact AV Event Solutions for premier interactive technology tool rentals! 

5 Reasons Why Meeting Planners Stick with Certain Suppliers
Jan 21, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

relationshipEver wonder why meeting planners do business with particular suppliers over and over again? Why they don't send out RFPs on certain items any longer? It seems to be more than just a business transaction, so what is the key to a long term relationship for both parties? 

Meeting Professionals International (MPI) recently published their 2012 Business Barometer findings that explored the 5 elements of great relationships between planners and suppliers . MPI interviewed over 1,000 individuals in the event meetings services industry with a 50/50 split between planners and suppliers. 

Here are the top 5 reasons — along with some of my own thoughts on why certain suppliers do so well.

#1: Good Customer Service 

How is your customer service at your organization? Do the phones get answered and calls returned in a timely fashion? Are emails answered by the end of the business day and is someone monitoring your social channels? Does your organization "say what you mean and mean what you say"? Is everyone positive and smiling in the organization? 

This is a perfect time to do a customer service audit on your company. Survey your clients and ask your prospects what you can do to improve your customer service. 

#2: Competitive Pricing 

Everyone wants to pay the right price for the right value received. People are always willing to pay more for extra features or better service.

This hold true in the meeting industry as well. Planners are going to want to get the best pricing for the hotel room blocks, food and beverage, and renting audio visual equipment. Meeting suppliers need to ask the following questions: 

  • Do you offer the same equipment and services that your competitors do?
  • If yes, are you competitively priced to win the business?
  • If no, what makes you special and unique? 

#3: Good Personal Relationships

Needless to say, this is probably the most important building block in a long-term arrangement. Does your staff get along with the planner and have a personal interest in their life? Do you talk to them like a friend? Are you courteous? Building this type of relationship takes time and effort, but in the end it is worth it.  

#4: The Offering is Uniquely Suited to the Planner's Needs 

Do you ask a set of inquiring questions to really understand what the planner needs? Do you know what the attendees, sponsors and exhibitors want? How can you provide more creative solutions? By taking the time to ask good questions, you will build a better solution for that particular meeting. 

#5: Good Follow-Up and Being Proactive

Are you following up on all planner requests? Do you proactively call on planners even when you have not received the business? Changes occur everyday, so it is important that you proactively work toward gaining new clients as well as servicing your existing clients. 

AV Event Solutions, a California meeting equipment supplier, works with meeting and event planners on all their audiovisual needs. Give them a call at 888-249-4903 to get the process started! 

5 Good Reasons to Use Mobile Devices at Your Next Conference
Jan 16, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

mobile technology

Mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and e-readers are outselling standard cell phones and computing devices nearly 2 to 1 according to Forbes magazine. If you are on the fence about integrating mobile devices into your next meeting or event, here are 5 reasons why you should use mobile devices at your next event:   

Mobile Devices are mini computers. 

With several Gigabyte (GB) available at an attractive price point, attendees can do almost everything they want on a smartphone or tablet as compared to a laptop. These devices are much smaller, sleeker and have longer battery life than a laptop. Due to technological advances, they will continue to get faster and hold more data. 

Mobile Devices have thousands of apps. 

There are somewhere around 500,000 apps available on either a smartphone, tablet or both. That number will continue to explode in 2013 and apps will become easier to download and more intuitive to use. If they are web-based apps, the attendee will be able to download the app themselves and the event meeting services company can easily keep those apps updated on a real-time basis. 

Mobile Devices are a communication tool. 

They are not just dedicated to email and phone calls. They are used for social media and blogging to CRM and note taking. Mobile technology is used for listening to music, taking photographs and recording video. Lastly, mobile devices enable the  sharing of all this data with other attendees and event staff the instant it happens.  

Mobile Devices are for people on the go. 

Individuals can use their phone or tablet while they are sitting, standing or walking. Attendees can check their emails, social networks or voicemails from almost anywhere at all times. 

Mobile Devices can help you and your sponsors with event branding. 

If you rent iPads, you can put your logo and/or sponsorship information on the splash page. You can integrate company video, photos and a tutorial for a product launching event. Sponsorship information can be worked into a gamification app. Every time an app is opened up, there can be 10 second video about your organization. The possibilities are endless and can be worked into the program in a very clever way. 

Now that you are sold on the use of mobile devices, it is important that you answer the following 3 questions in order to proceed: 

  1. What apps are you going to use for your meeting? Are they off the shelf, written just for your meeting or somewhere in between? Are they web- or native-based? 

    Obviously, off the shelf apps are going to be the least expensive and many of them are free. However, most of the free apps are web based, therefore potentially causing a strain on the Wi-Fi system at your venue. These decisions will require some thought and budgeting on your part to see what serves the best needs of the attendee. 

  2. What mobile platform are you going to use? 

    Most apps are written for 2 or 3 devices. It requires a lot of code to convert an app that runs on an iPad to an Android tablet. It is highly unlikely that your attendees will have the same smartphone or tablet technology. Rent iPads because they have the most applications and every attendee will be able to access the same applications at the same time. 

  3. Based on answers to questions 1 and 2, is the Wi-Fi system at the venue enough? 

    Chances are the venue's Wi-Fi system does not have enough bandwidth to keep up with your attendees' needs. Having an outside company do a thorough examination of your bandwidth needs is important to keep your network fast, robust and secure. 

AV Event Solutions is your mobile device provider in California. They have iPads and Wi-Fi network array rentals available. To check out more Wi-Fi tips, visit their Facebook page and please like it! 

6 Success Tips to Make This Year’s Events Stand Out From the Others
Jan 14, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

happyWouldn't it be great if your attendees, sponsors, exhibitors, employees and/or executive team left your meeting or event totally motivated and clamoring for more? It seems to be the latest trend in everything we see and do — the "wow" factor. We expect it at the movies, at an amusement park and even now with meetings and events. 

With a limited budget and a conservative management team, how can you make your events seem more like a Hollywood production and less like a stilted presentation? Follow these 6 tips and you might just do it!

Spend Time Selecting the Right Location and Venue. 

Whether your meeting is on location or off, a local meeting or thousands of miles away, take the time to make the meeting location work for you. Learn all about the local attractions, food and customs. Sometimes the people who live the closest to the attractions are the ones who never take the time to see them. Choose a city, venue and/or space that you can get excited about and then spread that excitement to the other attendees. 

Hire Great Presenters and Entertainment and — if Possible — Entertaining Presenters. 

Really spend the time getting "the best of the best." With YouTube, live streaming of presentations and peer review communities, there is no excuse in a complete vetting of your speakers and entertainment. Today's attendees want to learn in an interactive and entertaining fashion. 

Great Food with a Flair for Presentation and Local Traditions Sell.

Contract a creative caterer that can tie local food choices into the menu. The food must be good, but presenting it well on the plate is also important. Attendees always talk about the food and most conference service organizations come up short because the choices are too bland, limited,or have no local influence. 

Let Lighting Set the Mood. 

Decorative, bold, and colorful light equipment rentals set the tone for the meeting. Even a company auditorium can be set up with creative lighting options. As attendees walk into the meeting room, make sure the lighting is giving off a warm and inviting atmosphere. 

First and Last Impressions Count. 

A friendly event meeting services team to greet attendees, sponsors and exhibitors when they arrive will make an impression on them. Don't forget to check the outside of the venue (including the parking lot), foyer and restrooms. Most individuals make an assumption about the venue based on what they see when they arrive on site. 

Start out with your best speaker and finish with your second-best presenter. People rarely remember the middle of a program but they will almost always remember the first and last part of it. 

Make it Fun and Interactive.

Having scavenger hunts, icebreakers, gamification, and tweet-ups creates a fun, learning environment. Rent iPads loaded with social channels and networking tools. Have great contest prizes and create some suspense and intrigue with your event. 

AV Event Solutions is a conference equipment rental company that can provide you with great technology options for your next meeting or event! Get started by filling out their express quote form and someone will get back to you within 4 business hours!

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