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Real-Life Examples of How Meeting Professionals Use iPads at Their Events
ipad_tabletop
Jul 31, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

ipad rentalRecently I followed a LinkedIn discussion where the following question was asked:

"What's your favorite way to use iPads at events?"

Three meeting professionals participated in this discussion sharing their real-life use of iPads in this environment.

Here is a summary of their commentary as well as more information about each app and the overall benefits of iPad technology.  

Jill Mendoza, Meeting Architect at Kinsley uses an iPad for the following: 
  • Note taking
  • Downloading the conference app
  • Emailing
  • BEOs
  • Meeting specs
  • Vendor information

Mendoza stated, "I…use technology…to help eliminate the stack of paper waste and compress everything in one easy-to-carry device."

If you rent iPads for your next meeting or conference, you will find them to be a valuable resource. Rather than having the attendee carrying around a heavy conference binder in a bag and you and your staff having to do the same, an iPad weighs less than one pound and has a battery life of about 10 hours. In addition, think about all that paper you are saving! 

Thomas Hallin, Co-founder at ITM Mobile, LLC shared his recommendation about two applications. The first one is targeted to the attendee and the second is useful in small group settings.

Meeting Notes Lite, a free app, offers the following features: 

  • Compose and edit notes during a meeting 
  • Garner meeting details, including a list all attendees. 
  • Turn device upside down to direct microphone against the speakers for optimal recording
  • Email recording, photos and meeting details to self or others
  • Share recordings through iTunes File Sharing or Dropbox 

Idea Flight app lets one person (the Pilot) use their iPad to control a presentation to an audience (their Passengers) of other iPads via Wi-Fi.  This does not require additional cameras, equipment or wires. The Pilot has control over the presentation speed and can lock and unlock the content for Passengers to browse slides at their will. Great for keeping everyone on the same page, so to speak! This app is free to passangers but there is a cost for the pilot. 

In addition to these two apps, MeetingApps.com has thousands of meeting and event apps categorized by area. Corbin Ball Associates also has free meeting planner tools that run on iPads. 

Kate Hawley, Associate Expositions Manager at American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, likes iAnnotate PDF for the iPad. It allows attendees to read, mark up and share PDF, DOC, PPT and image files. The cost of this app is $9.99. 
 
Hawley stated, "This app allows you to upload a PDF presentation…and make additional notes, mark-ups, etc. right in the PDF. All the notes are in one place and you can easily share your docs with others."  
 
For more ideas on how attendees can use iPads in the meeting environment, check out the blog post:  iPad Works Like a Laptop? There's an App for That!
 
Are you event planning in California? Look to AV Event Solutions as your iPad provider!  To discover more about how you can rent iPads for your next event, request an iPad rental express quote now or call 1-888-249-4903.
How to Pick a Partner When Renting Audio Visual Equipment
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Jul 29, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

business cardToday's meeting budgets often contain audio visual equipment as one of the top expense items. Yet, as I talk to most meeting planners about AV, it is still the least understood budget item. And the truth of the matter is, now more than ever, it is important to forge a long-term relationship with an AV partner as interactive technology tool rentals change and become more integral to a meeting's success. 

Here are the four questions to focus on when choosing an AV partner. It isn't just about low price and delivery any longer. It needs to be much more than that to pull off a very successful event.

  1. Does your AV provider stake their success on your meeting's success?

    Recently, I had the opportunity to obtain quotes for equipment from two different AV companies. My client really wanted me to work with the first company, but the Account Executive did not readily return my calls and when he finally did return them, he did not answer any of my questions. Then when I asked him for a quote, it took him two weeks to deliver one! The second company delivered a quote within four hours. They returned my calls within two. They took detailed notes when I took them through the site visit. Needless to say, company number two got our business, because they showed they wanted to be as successful as we did. 
     

  2. Do they provide creative solutions? 

    Sometimes you don't know what you don't know. It is virtually impossible for most meeting planners to keep on top of the latest technology offerings. By explaining your vision through words and drawings (yes, they can be hand drawn), you start to paint a picture as to what you want. If you let the AV provider run with it, you may be surprised with what they can provide within your budget criteria. 
     

  3. Do they have long-term relationships with their clients? 

    Working with an AV provider that has been providing equipment to an association or corporation for many years, speaks well for that organization. That means they are in the relationship business. The company that I chose to work with came highly recommended and one of the things the person who recommended them said to me was, " I have worked with them for over 15 years." Wow! To me, that shouts stability and consummate care of the client. 
     

  4. Is this organization Internet savvy? 

    Providing iPads, laptops, touch screens and computer kiosks is one thing, but making sure they all work well together on the Internet is quite another. An AV provider that understands bandwidth and can boost your event's Wi-Fi network through fast, secure and robust Internet connections is even better. Someone who can speak the language of IT and provide the tech support should quell any concerns you have before and during the conference. 

    Margaret H Williams, CMP the Owner of Pizzazz Meeting & Event Planning Group stated the following when talking about venue choice, "High-speed wireless bandwidth made me realize that technology has become a great leveler of the playing field in the industry." 

AV Event Solutions, now part of SmartSource Rentals, is your Total Technology solution provider and has state-of-the-art equipment, including Wi-Fi network arrays. Give them a call at 888-249-4903 to start a long term relationship with this tried and true AV provider! 

Is Your Meeting Prepared in the Event of a Disaster? If not, Check Out These 5 Ways to be Disaster Ready
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Jul 26, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

No one wants to talk about it, but sometimes it just cannot be avoided. A disaster strikes your meeting and you need to have a plan because whether you like it or not, you are the "go to" person meeting participants will look to when something goes wrong. 

Here are 5 common crisis statements and the technological solutions that can help any meeting planner be better prepared. 

  1. I don't have a clue as to what to do if disaster hits my meeting. 

    femaThe Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has an iPad app that contains preparedness information for different types of disasters, an interactive checklist for emergency kits, a section to plan emergency meeting locations and information on how to stay safe. And to top it all off, this app is free.  

    Meeting planners should download the app for themselves and their crisis team. An emergency kit should be assembled before the meeting and be readily accessible by your team at the conference. 

  1. If disaster strikes, my attendees do not know who to call. 

    At check-in, provide your meeting participants with a listing of individuals and phone numbers of who they should call in case of an emergency. Be sure to include the local police, fire and rescue agencies as well as the cell numbers and hotel extensions of the crisis team. 
     

  2. I need to locate all my attendees. 

    If your meeting is large and has a trade show component, it may be difficult to locate all your attendees to give them step-by-step instructions about what to do next. Depending on the time of day, attendees could be at the conference, hotel or out on the town.  

    Rent iPads and tell attendees, if there is a crisis, they need to tell you where they are and what they need. This can be accomplished through the meeting's Twitter hashtag or by sending you an email. However, if technology is down, tell attendees to call one of the the crisis team members. 
     

  3. Everyone has been instructed to stay at the venue. 

    When you have been told to stay at the venue, it is important that you know in advance if they have the proper supplies for your group. Here are the questions to ask:

    – How much bottled water will you have on hand during our conference? 
    – What non-perishable food will you have available and in what quantities? 
    – What shelter provisions do you have in the case of a disaster? 

    If a venue doesn't have an adequate supply of the items listed above or a disaster plan, ensure that they will at the time of your meeting or move to another location. 
     

  4. Everyone has been told to evacuate the facility. 

    amrWhen you are in a strange city, where will you and your attendees go? The American Red Cross has an app called Shelter View which runs on an iPad or iPhone and includes shelter locations, capacity, current number of shelter residents, and the date and time of the last update for each activated shelter. This app is also free. 

Are you event planning in California? AV Event Solutions is your interactive technology tool rental provider and their inventory includes iPads and Wi-Fi network arrays. Call them today at 888.249.4903 to get your planning process started! 

3 Major Meeting Failures that Drive Attendees Away
fail
Jul 24, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

Fail

If you believe that old adage, it takes 20% effort to keep an attendee and 80% to gain a new one, it is in your best interest to keep existing participants coming back. While most planners know this intuitively, many struggle to fill the room and keep attendees returning year-after-year. If you are wondering why attendees are not returning, ask yourself the following question:

"Are my attendees challenged, engaged and valued?" 

If they are, they will continue to come to your meetings. And if they are not, you will receive many excuses as to why they are not coming back.

Here are three of the biggest failings of events and what you can do to avoid them.

1. You Failed to Challenge Their Intellect and Develop New Skills

If attendees think your meeting is boring and they are not learning anything new, what good is your meeting? The whole purpose of a conference is to return to the workplace with more knowledge. Growth and development are the name of the game. Yes, networking is nice, but attendees want to be blown away with new ideas, concepts and plans they can implement in their daily lives. 

Help attendees with this process by integrating interactive technology tool rentals that will stimulate their senses. Videos, photographs, music and messages conveyed through computer kiosks, large touch screens, video wall rentals and iPads will assist greatly in the learning process. Test what they know and what they are interested in learning more about through mobile polling apps or wireless Audience Response Systems

2. You Failed to Engage Their Creativity. 

Attendees want to learn through innovative and value-based means. They no longer want to sit in a dark auditorium and be lectured to by a less-than-engaging speaker. Putting fun and games into the equation can boost their engagement opportunity. All attendees have something unique to share with others; it is just a matter of getting their creative juices started. 

Gamification apps, icebreakers and entertaining speakers garnered through crowdsourcing are ways to get attendees more involved in the meeting make it fun!

3. You Failed to Give Them a Voice. 

Attendees want to interact with your speakers and tell you their thoughts about the meeting — including the good, the bad and the ugly. But often times, they are not given this opportunity or it is reserved for a 5-minute Q & A or a paper survey at the end of the conference. 

Give them a voice by encouraging them to interact with the speaker through social media channels and by placing microphones in strategic places throughout the room. Make certain your presenters answer all the attendees questions either on the spot or by following up with them in a timely basis. Audience Response rentals are another easy way to gain a pulse on what attendees are feeling and what changes they want implemented in the meeting. . 

AV Event Solutions, now part of the SmartSource Rentals family, is ready and willing to help you make your meeting fun, creative and interactive with their breadth and depth of state-of-the-art technology tools. Give them a call today at 888.249.4903 to get the process started! 

 

3 Things About Trade Shows That Just Aren’t True
blackberry
Jul 22, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

trade show

Recently, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) released a study called "Attracting Attendees" where they surveyed 400 participants from 14 industries about their decision-making process for attending a trade show and what influenced them when they were on the floor. From this study, CEIR identified three major myths that most trade show managers and organizers believe to be true. Here is what they found: 

Myth #1: Social Media is the major source of information for prospective attendees.

What CEIR found was that attendees wish to be contacted or be paid attention to in the following in order of importance: 

  • Telemarketing
  • Text Marketing
  • Email Campaign
  • Word-of-Mouth
  • Personal Invitation
  • Social Media

"While a social media engagement plan certainly plays a role in creating critical mass awareness about your show, connecting with attendees on a personal level is more important than ever before," said Carolyn Clark, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at PCMA. 

Implementation Strategy: Clearly the first three bullets are intended to be cross-generational with telemarketing focused on the Matures and Boomers, text marketing focused on Millennials, and email on Boomers and Gen X. Knowing your attendees and their connection preference can be determined by collecting data through wireless Audience Response Systems at your next meeting. 

Myth #2: All Trade Shows Must be Paperless. 

This study found that printed exhibition programs are still the primary method that attendees use to navigate the show floor. In fact, it found that only 25% of attendees rely on smartphone apps for their show information. However, they also found this is due to the lack of trade show apps available on mobile devices. 

"As the industry continues to evolve, there's an emerging attendee base that will download these apps and use them to get around shows and learn more about products," said Clark. 

Implementation Strategy: There are many benefits if you rent iPads for your next event, including navigation apps for the trade show floor. The key is to be comfortable with the vendor, app and hardware. While trade shows do not have to be entirely paperless, research shows a high percentage of printed collateral ends up in the trash! 

Myth #3: Technology give attendees a reason to stay home. 

While hybrid and virtual events abound, 81% of the survey respondents stated they are planning on attending the same number of trade shows in 2013 as they did in 2012, 15% plan on attending more shows and only 4% plan on attending less. 

Implementation Strategy: Give attendees a reason to stop by your booth and talk to you. One easy way to get them there is to rent a charging station for their mobile devices. You will be able to garner 10 minutes of their undivided attention while their battery is recharged. . 

AV Event Solutions, now part of SmartSource Rentals, is a national audio visual provider of Audience Response rentals, iPads, charging stations and much more! Fill out their express quote form to get the process started! 

5 Innovative Ideas to Introduce Technology Into Your Meeting
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Jul 19, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

technology

If you are a typical meeting professional, you know how technology can improve your meeting's efficiency, attendees' experience and exhibitors' ROI. However, with all that being said, you are still receiving resistance from management, attendees and exhibitors to change. Perhaps there is a better way to convince them.

Below are five innovative ideas to introduce and keep technology in your meeting. 

  1. Create a Future Lab. 

    Rather than force the "latest and greatest" interactive technology tool rentals onto your meeting participants, create a room where attendees can come in at their leisure, play with the technology and learn the apps on a more informal basis. "You will get a sense of the possibilities (with this technology) and you may be able to do things to innovate ahead of your competitors," stated Mike Walsh, General Partner at Structure Capital. 

    Tip: Poll your attendees via wireless Audience Response Systems as to what technology and apps they are interested in learning more about. 
     

  2. Hold a Hybrid Meeting. 

    Whether you put one on yourself or attend one virtually, it is important for planners to understand the ins and outs of this meeting option. Hybrid meetings have both advantages and disadvantages, but until you try one on for size, you won't fully understand it. "I just think there isn't any place in the meetings arena where technology isn't having a huge impact," stated Sandy Strick, Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina. 

    Tip: Planning a hybrid meeting is not a trivial task. Make certain you have the right partners lined up,including enough bandwidth to support the live and remote attendees in a fast, secure and robust Wi-Fi environment.  
     

  3. Keep Learning. 

    The best way for planners to introduce new technology into their meetings, is to continue to learn about all the available options. Going to meetings to learn about the latest offerings is one way, but Kristin Mahaffey Foldvik, MBA, CMP, Senior Global Program & Events Manager at Blackbaud stated, "Maybe pick up a course or two at a community college, attend conferences, talk to peers about what they are using and look to the younger generation." 

    Tip: Keep active on social channels and connect with organizations that produce valuable content such as ebooks, whitepapers and webinars. Set aside some time each day to read or view one of these learning tools. 
     

  4. Provide Multiple Interactive and Engaging Moments. 

    Attendees want to stay in touch with speakers, exhibitors and other attendees long after the conference is over. Leslie Thornton, President at Courtesy Associates said, "Everything needs to be driven towards providing the most value for attendees' time and be interactive and engaging." 

    Tip: Hire presenters that are going to engage your attendees through the use of mobile devices and apps. Rent iPads to keep attendees connected throughout the entire conference via social and gamification apps. 
     

  5. Don't Make Your Technology Choice Too Early. 

    One thing we know for sure is technology is going to continue to change rapidly and our use of it will change too. So, it is important to keep current and not make your app and hardware choice too far out from your meeting date. "It's better to go in steps and not go throwing a whole bunch of money to get the best, biggest…(because) next year it might be obsolete". 

    Tip: Choose an AV partner and app provider that keeps up on technology! Find out what their strategy is to acquire or produce the latest offerings. 

AV Event Solutions is here to help make your meetings very innovative through the use of technology. Give them a call today at 888.249.4903 to get the process started!  

7 Smart Ways to Help Your Attendees Write Great Social Posts
engage attendees, SmartSource Rentals, polling attendees, Audience Response Systems rentals
Jul 17, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

Whether you rent iPads for attendees or rely on the use of their smartphones, most of your event's exposure to the virtual world will be within the social postings at your conference. In a recent blog post, Leo Widricha Co-Founder at Buffer, a social media aggregator company, provided great tips that can help any meeting gain better digital exposure when using Twitter, Facebook and a blogging platform.

Here is a synopsis of what he wrote about and my own takeaways as they apply to the meeting industry.  

twitterTWITTER

Twitter is more challenging than the other social channels for two reasons: 1) It allows only for textual displays and 2) Your attendee's message is limited to 140 characters.

Here are 3 ways to position your meeting tweets to be retweeted or favored: 

  • Buffer analyzed over 200,000 links and found that tweets containing adverbs and verbs had higher Click Through Rates (CTR) than those containing nouns and adjectives. Here are some of the more retweetable words:

    • Adverbs: Please, Free, How to
    • Verbs: Retweet, Help, Follow, Top, Check out
  • According to Twitter, when you ask for a download, it increases your clicks by 13%
  • When you ask for a retweet, it increase retweets of that post by 311% according to Twitter. 

facebookFACEBOOK

With Facebook, one truism remains: Pictures outperform everything else — including videos, URLs, and textual posts.  But according to Buffer, pictures that are self-explanatory are the ones that do the best. 

  • Photos receive:

    • 104% more comments
    • 84% more click-throughs and 
    • 53% more likes than posts with text and/or links. 
  • Posts with 80 characters or less receive 66% more engagement.
  • The more you mention "I", the more likes you can get according to Dan Zarrella, a Social Media Scientist.

BLOG

According to Iris Shoor, Co-Founder and VP Product at Takipi, the best blog post headings contain the following: 

  • Lists work well: "8 reasons to…" or "15 tips to…" (By the way, both of these descriptors contain verbs)
  • Use digits vs. words: 10 instead of Ten
  • Put the number at the head of the sentence: "5 reasons you want to attend this event" versus "You want to attend this event for the following 5 reasons." 
  • Teach: Introduction, The beginner's guide, 5 minutes to and DIY are all good starts to a headline. 
  • Viral Headlines include one or more of the following words:

    • Smart
    • Surprising
    • Science
    • History
    • Huge
    • Critical

PRODUCTIVE EVENT PLANNER TAKEAWAYS…

  1. Encourage attendees, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors to sign up for Facebook and Twitter if they do not already have an account. 
  2. If your speaker's have white papers or presentations, let attendees know they can download them via Twitter. Here is an example: 

    Great find – Download this Free eBook on Conference Networking http://t.co/LoMBgxOLBJ via @velchain #eventprofs #mpi

  1. If you rent Tablet PCs, pre-populate the units with the social channels that make sense for your meeting.
  2. Run Social Media 101 sessions for individuals who do not know how to post on social and educate them on the items listed above. 
  3. Ask attendees to retweet content that is posted in the meeting's hashtag. 
  4. Ask meeting participants to post as many photos as possible on your Facebook Fan Page, but make certain they are self-explanatory. 
  5. Identify guest bloggers for your conference and send them a "cheat sheet" of words and items they should include in their blog postings. 

Ramp up your meetings and make a splash with iPad rentals (WiFi or 3G) from AV Event Solutions. To discover more their full line of interactive technology tool rentals, call 1-888-249-4903 today!

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