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6 Reasons Why Your Meeting Sucks and 6 Ways to Fix It
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Feb 27, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

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Have you ever wondered, "Why is my meeting not growing in attendance?" or "Why aren't attendees excited and engaged in the event?"

If you have thought one or both of these questions, you are not alone. Below six meeting problems and their fixes aimed to help you with meeting growth and attendee engagement. 

Reason #1: Your event is stale. 

If you are producing a meeting or tradeshow the same way you were 3-5 years ago, something is wrong. It says to your attendees that you have not adapted to change because you are either afraid of it or you feel "if it isn't broke, don't fix it".

Embrace change. Ask attendees what changes they want and why they want it. Much of your change will come in the form of interactive technology tool rentals. If you are uncomfortable with technology, by all means recruit someone from your team to help you with it.

Reason #2: Your event provides no value to the attendee.

Do not have a meeting just to have a meeting. If attendees fly or drive long distances, you don't want them saying to themselves and others, "That was a waste of my time!"

Your event needs to provide attendees with fresh and valuable content. By asking your audience what they want to hear and who they want to hear it from, you can be assured that you are addressing the age-old adage, "What's in it for me?" 

Reason #3: Black and white printing abounds with no imagery. 

Your handouts and surveys are black and white with many words and no visuals. 

In 2013, we are a very color-orientated, visual world. Videos, photographs and color can be delivered effectively through digital signagevideo wall rentals and touch screen kiosks. Not only are you cutting down on the amount of paper, but with these technology tools you have eliminated shipping and storage of your paper, and your organization is presenting a greener, cleaner image to attendees.  

Reason #4: Too many sponsors and exhibitors. 

Meeting planners rarely turn away sponsors or exhibitors even when these organizations have little to do with the meeting theme or demographics of the attendee. 

Having too many sponsors or exhibitors can overwhelm your attendees and allow your message to be lost in the process. It is all about balance. 

Reason #4: No social sharing. 

Your conference does not allow attendees to post information to social backchannels. 

Rent iPads and have the social channels already preloaded onto the systems. Create a hashtag for the conference and promote it to attendees well in advance. Encourage participants to post before, during and after the conference. Respond in a timely manner when they post a question, comment or complaint to social. 

Reason #5: No comment. 

You are not surveying attendees to find out what they like and dislike about the conference.

Wireless Audience Response Systems provide an easy way to take the pulse of your attendees in a quick and confidential manner. 

Reason #6: Comments are ignored. 

The worst possible scenario for your meeting is to question your attendees and then, ignore their feedback. 

Once the data is gathered and analyzed, post on your social media channels what is going to be different at next year's conference. Or better yet, consolidate the comments and recommendations in a visually-based report that attendees can review and download from your website. 

Are you event planning in California? Contact AV Event Solutions for all your audio visual needs! 

Do Your Attendees Get the Red Carpet Treatment? How to Make Your Next Event Feel More Like the Oscars
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Feb 25, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

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Yesterday, the 85th Academy Awards took place at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles. With over 1 billion viewers worldwide, the Oscars are in a category all by themselves.

As an event organizer, have you ever given any thought to what makes the Oscars so appealing and what you can do to mimic this hype at your next awards or appreciation event

Here are four areas the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences excels at in promoting and hosting their once a year event:

#1: The nominations are made six weeks in advance and are limited in each category. 

The Academy holds a short news conference to announce the nominations and the room is filled with media outlets from all over the world. This process creates a lot of buzz and causes the average movie goer to give further examination to their viewing choices. In addition, the studios re-releases the nominated films so the stay-at-home audience can see the movies prior to the Oscars. 

Why not limit the number of nominations for your appreciation event and let the attendees get to know each nominee better through the use of video, photos, and postings on your website or online community? This does two things; it helps build momentum for your event and builds a connection between your attendees and the nominees. 

#2: Each Academy member has a vote. 

Every one of their 6,000 members, whether they are an actor, director or part of the sound effects team, has an equal vote in deciding who wins the Oscar. But best of all — the voting is shrouded in secrecy — with no one tabulating or knowing the end results other than an outside accounting firm. This leads to a lot of anticipation, buzz and speculation by the media as to who will win. 

Does every paid member of your association or employee of your corporation have the opportunity to vote on who they believe should win? Does an outside organization tally the results? This process will convey to your attendees that their vote matters and the process is very fair. 

#3: Every celebrity receives the "red carpet treatment."

It probably isn't everyone, but there is such a clamor by the media to interview the nominees and other big names in Hollywood. It starts from the moment the limousines roll up and ends when the guests enter the building.  

Do your attendees feel special when they arrive at your meeting? Do you have greeters attending to their every need? And clamoring to get to know them better? 

#4: They save the best awards for last.

The Academy has a couple of good awards in the beginning of the show, but the best ones are always at the end. They keep the audience interested and engaged throughout the evening by hiring an entertaining emcee, integrating musical numbers and providing a fair amount of video clips. 

Do you save the best for last at your appreciation event? 

AV Event Solutions, now part of the SmartSource Rentals family, can make your next meeting or event feel more like the Oscars with their sound and lighting rental packages and creative interactive technology tool rentals. Their expert technicians can deliver, configure and provide on-site technical support for all your star studded events! 

How to Plan for a Hybrid Meeting Even When You Were Not Planning for One
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Feb 22, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

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Your event has been in the works for months and even though February and March can be iffy travel months due to weather, you have planned plenty of time for your attendees and presenters to arrive, right? Maybe so and maybe not.

According to FlightStats.com, an estimated 36,680 global flights were canceled and over 560,000 were delayed in just the last 30 days — mostly due to weather. So what can you do if a significant number of your speakers and attendees get stuck either at home or at the airport? Just like the saying goes, "Make lemonade out of lemons". Turn your face-to-face meeting into a hybrid meeting. 

Here is a checklist of what to do if your speaker is stranded, your attendees are delayed or worst case scenario — both your speaker and attendees are not going to make it. 

HYBRID SCENARIO #1: Your Presenter or Presenters Are Not Coming

First, always get your speaker's presentations days in advance and pre-load them onto your presentation services audio visual equipment. The audio visual technician can test and make certain everything is set up and ready to go. 

Second, select a platform for backup. Will you use Skype, Google Hangout or some other platform to allow the presenter to video conference into the meeting? Having Plasma TV rentals available for the audience to view will help them connect to the speaker while they are talking. 

Third, ask your speakers to come in a full-day early. Making this a requirement of your conference can potentially alleviate this issue and allow them to network naturally with attendees. 

Fourth, have an onsite facilitator that can be a conduit between the speaker and the audience. One thing is for sure, the presenter sitting in an airport lounge will not be able to read the body language and gage the interest level of attendees — but a live facilitator will. That person can guide the virtual speaker and help them remain connected to the audience. 

HYBRID SCENARIO #2: Some of Your Attendees Are Not Going to Make it. 

First, know where your attendees are coming from and check the weather pattern one to three days in advance. It is not a matter of if bad weather is coming, it is just a matter of when it will hit. Knowing how many of your attendees are going to be effected by a snowstorm, hurricane or fog can help you determine what you need to do. 

Second, select a platform and check your bandwidth. If 200 attendees are going to be virtually connected to the meeting, you will need to have a more sophisticated bridge available to prevent buffering or lag time. Utilizing a wireless network array rental can boost your bandwidth and provide local and remote attendees with a fast, secure and robust connection. 

Third, ask virtual attendees to go to a quiet place. If they are at the airport, go into the lounge. At a hotel, stay in their room. And if they are at home, ask them to be somewhere away from the telephone, TV and dog. 

Need help with Wi-Fi network arrays and interactive technology tool rentals? Look no further than AV Event Solutions to be your California meeting equipment supplier! Check out their Facebook page for great tips on Wi-Fi connections and other meeting ideas! 

4 Fantastic Reasons Why You Should Your Replace Your Printed Materials with Digital Signage
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Feb 20, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

digital signage rental

Think back to your last meeting or event: Were attendees confused or frustrated with your signage? Were they constantly getting lost and asking others for help in locating breakout rooms or finding a particular trade show floor exhibitor? 

You can spend the time, money, and effort on printed signage — but in the end, most attendees do not see it because it is not vibrant or visible enough to get noticed. In our real-time interactive world, do you really want to trust those posters and banners to meet your attendees needs? They were created to direct and inform the attendee somewhere or toward something. Why spend hundreds — if not thousands of dollars — to be ignored when a digital signage rental can bring life to your signs?

Here are the four reasons why you need to invest in digital signage today:

Reason #1: Your messaging can be dynamic. 

Digital signage can display a twitter feed one moment and information about a change in programming the next. Because this signage can display colorful text and imagery, attendees are more likely to notice it versus a printed piece that is static. 

Reason #2: You do not have to ship, uncurl and hang your signage. 

Most printed signage comes in a tube or large cardboard box. If it is a banner, you have to uncurl it and either hang it yourself or wait for the venue staff to hang it for you (which by the way, their time may end up on your master bill). 

local conference equipment rental company can provide you digital signage that they will set up, maintain and remove after your meeting is over. Digital signage is also a great environmental solution because there is no waste and it can used over and over again. 

Reason #3: You can get creative with your messaging. 

Because digital signage is real-time, the display options are endless. You can have live video streaming from the general session, twitter feeds, speaker bios displaying their photos videos and copy, a trade show map, sponsor information and your organization's logo just to name a few.  

No more directional arrows velcroed to a poster or engaging multitudes of volunteers to get attendees where they need to be. Digital signage is the better alternative. 

Reason #4: You do not have to worry about typos or misprints. 

Have you ever received your signage and found a typo? If yes, then you had to decide: a) to display it anyway, b) try to correct it or c) trash it. These are not great options because they can affect your organization's professional image or leave attendees with no signage at all. 

Digital signage is very easy to fix — if there is a typo, it can be corrected in a matter of a few moments.   

Use an audio visual vendor you can trust. Rely on the experts at AV Event Solutions, now part of the SmartSource Rental family, to advise you on the best digital signage configuration to meet your event needs. They have the audio visual experts across the country that can walk you through the entire process. To learn more, give them a call at 888-249-4903 today! 

How Pinterest can Help Promote Your Next Meeting or Event
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Feb 18, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

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Pinterest is a photo sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests and hobbies. Users can browse other pinboards for inspiration, 're-pin' images to their own pinboards or 'like' photos. With over ten million unique U.S. visitors, it is by far the fastest growing social media channel. 

If you are not familiar with Pinterest, it allows you to create or contribute to a series of boards. In the audio visual world, one such board might be "computer kiosks". You can complete a search on that term and find out what has already been pinned and re-pin the ideas you like onto this board. In addition, you can upload your own photos and videos. 

How can this tool help promote your next event? Here are four ways you can use Pinterest effectively as originally presented by Arwin Adriano, Founder and Editor at EventChecklist.net and with added thoughts by myself, an active Pinterest user.  

Brainstorm

If you are looking for fresh and innovative design ideas, Pinterest is for you. If you type in the word "meetings" and click on boards, you will find over 150 boards that contain over 1,000 pins! You can re-pin ideas on your event boards and start to follow pinners of interest. 

If you have a lot of small meetings, perhaps create a board for each meeting. You can create as many boards as you like and they are easy to delete if you find that too many were originally created. 

Crowdsource Ideas

You can create different boards for your event including: Lighting, Meeting Room Layout, Audience Response Systems, Food, Beverage, Presenters and so on. You can re-pin ideas on these boards as well as upload your own pins. The owner of the board can designate as many pinners onto each board as they would like. Once there are a series of pins on each board, you can ask attendees to vote on the visual ideas they like.  

This process not only engages your attendees, it also allows them to see how the lighting, room and food will look well before the event take place. 

Linking to other Social Channels

When someone looks at a pin, they can like it on their Facebook page, Tweet about the pin or email the pin to someone else. Every time you pin something, your web or blog address should be below the pin to drive more traffic to these entities.  
 

During and After the Event

Attendees can post photos and videos on the Pinterest site during and after the event if they have smartphones or if you rent iPads with the camera integrated into the tablet. Next year's potential attendees can see a visual summary of the event that can stay up on Pinterest long after the meeting is over. Attendees can also re-pin photos to their own boards. 

Here are some other interesting facts about Pinterest as reported in the Huffington Post: 

  • 80% of all American Pinterest users are women
  • Over 80% of all pins are re-pinned
  • 57% of the users interact with food-related categories
  • The average user spends 16 minutes on the site per visit

AV Event Solutions, now part of the SmartSource Rental company, wants to help you with state-of-the-art interactive technology tool rentals for your next meeting or event. Get started with our express quote form and an experienced Account Executive will return your inquiry within four business hours! And don't forget to check out their Pinterest Boards for great AV ideas! 

7 Surefire Ways to Cut Costs Out of Your Meeting Budget
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Feb 15, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

cut costsEven though we are seeing better economic times, many meeting and event planners are still faced with stagnant budgets. With certain revenue opportunities in question, such as sponsorships and trade show participation, planners are constantly looking for ways to cut costs AND keep attendees satisfied.

Below are seven simple, yet effective ways to cut costs out of your budget that should have minimal impact on the attendee:  

BEVERAGES

Eliminate individual servings of water and soda. 

Providing water and soda stations is not only more economical but it also has ecological benefits. By providing these stations in tactical locations and using a 2:1 ratio of water to soda, you will have a positive effect on your beverage bill. 

Cancel receptions, limit the hours or make it a cash bar. 

Alcohol can be a very costly line item on your BEO (Banquet Event Order). If the reception has been apart of your event for a very long time, eliminating it may cause attendee dissatisfaction. One way to avoid this is to have a limited happy hour with limited selections, such as beer and wine only. Or providing one drink for free and the rest on a cash basis. 

FOOD

Be creative about conference start and end times. 

Start an all-day meeting after breakfast and end it before dinner. If you cannot afford to provide lunch for attendees, give them enough time to explore the city, have lunch and come back refreshed. If you choose to have lunch onsite, reduce the cost by providing boxed lunches or a buffet-style serving option. 

SPEAKERS & PRESENTERS

Negotiate reduced fees by allowing them to promote and sell their materials. 

Many presenters will speak for free or a heavily discounted rate if they can sell their books, CDs or DVDs during your event. However, do not lose sight of the fact that your speakers still need to be subject matter experts and engage with your audience. A free speaker that is lousy or off-topic cannot make up for attendee dissatisfaction. So be careful because once you lose that attendee, it will be hard to get them back to your conference. 

CONTRACTS

Consider a multi-year and/or multi-event contract with your suppliers. 

When renting audio visual equipment, meeting space and other entities, know that most suppliers are able to give you greater discounts if they can look at the total dollar value of your business. 

If your business revenue is large enough, be sure to ask for comps. 

Depending on the business you are bringing to the venue or supplier, ask if there are fees they are willing to waive or items they can "throw in" for free. 

LOCAL SOURCING

By hiring local speakers, entertainment and suppliers, you are saving money on transportation, accommodations and supporting the local economy. Local conference equipment rental companies are more knowledgeable about the event venue and can most likely meet your needs in a tight timeframe. 

AV Event Solutions, now part of the SmartSource Rentals family, provides interactive technology tool rentals in California, New York and 20 other locations around the United States. They offer more than AV; it is all about the complete customer experience! Contact them today at 888-249-4903 to speak to an experienced Account Executive about their meeting equipment rental options. 

Back to the Future: Will Tradeshows be Relevant in 2016?
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Feb 13, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

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The ASAE Foundation, Exhibition Industry Foundation, Freeman, Gaylord Entertainment and the PCMA Education Foundation recently completed research about the future of convention exhibits and tradeshows. They gathered data from a variety of forums including LinkedIn discussion groups, PCMA Leader Summits in Toronto and Nashville and the PCMA Master Series where they interviewed over 300 industry professionals about what they predict the tradeshow arena will look like in 2016. 

Scenarios for the Future: Convention Exhibits & Tradeshows of 2016 is the 36-page report consolidating their findings. Below, is a summary of three of the major takeaways and my thoughts on how interactive technology tool rentals can play a part in this process. 
 

  1. Stay on Digital Alert and Implement Technology

The event team needs to be early adapters to technology, be aware of changes taking place in their exhibitors space and be ready to defend their event or increase their competitive posture with said technology. 

THOUGHTS: It is hard to say what new gadgets will be available in three years and how they will alter the exhibitor floor, but the point is trade shows are going to have to constantly evolve through technological offerings. It will no longer be an option to say "no thanks" or "not this year" to the technology that attendees want. You must have it or they will stay home. 

  1. Data, Data, Data. 

"Big Data" as marketing researchers call it, will help guide the successful design and execution of an event — for exhibitors, attendees and organizers. Having a way to collect, analyze and respond to the data will need to happen at the event to make real-time changes. 

THOUGHTS: Because there is so much data available at our fingertips now, it is easy to imagine that event organizers will have much more powerful mobile devices with apps to give instantness trending and prediction markets. This data should shape the planning and implementation of trade shows thus making the process attendee driven and very fluid. 
 

  1. Determine What You Need and Plan for it. 

    In 2016, event planners and exhibitors will complete a capabilities audit to determine if they have the resources and expertise in-house or they need to outsource it. If a decision is made to outsource, the vendors will need to be trustworthy and be able to respond to event needs in a fast and efficient manner. 

THOUGHTS: Now is the time for event planners to build relationships and trust with their suppliers, including conference equipment rental organizations. Finding suppliers that are going to be around in the long-haul and ones that can provide solutions in a fast and efficient manner will be important for trade show success. 

​Deborah Sexton, President and CEO of PCMA sums up these findings in the following way, " The convention exhibits and tradeshows professional needs new options versus the current model. So the goal of this investigation was to…envision what the future may look like and provide some guidance for discussions and actions that can happen to help our industry position (itself) for success." 

AV Event Solutions, now part of the SmartSource Rental family, can provide you with great meeting equipment with competitive pricing and will be here to work with you through 2016! Give them a call at 888-249-4903 to speak with one of their Account Executives!

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