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Thanksgiving Wishes
aves_happythanksgiving
Nov 27, 2013 by Melissa Bailey

Happy Thanksgiving

 

For each new morning with its light, 
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends, 
For everything Thy goodness sends.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving…

Your friends at SmartSource Rentals
and
AV Event Solutions

Seth Godin Speaks About Ways to Make Your Meeting Worthwhile
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Nov 25, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

meeting

Mitra Sorrells, Associate Editor at BizBash Media, recently interviewed marketing aficionado Seth Godin about the changes he thinks meeting and event planners must make in order to attract quality attendees to their conferences. 

Godin is the author of 17 books about marketing, leadership and most of all, changing everything. You might be familiar with his books Linchpin, Tribes, and his most recent book, V is for Vulnerable: Life Outside the Comfort Zone. 

Below is a summation of what Seth said in his interview and my take on the interactive technology tool rentals that will help improve the attendee experience

MARKETING IS STORYTELLING

Up until 1994, Godin stated that marketing and advertising were one in the same. However, in 1994, marketing became more about telling a story as to how your product is remarkable through the lens of your customers.  

Help speakers tell their story through the PowerPoint presentation equipment and video wall rentals which are full of images that tell your conference story. 

EVENT PLANNERS SQUANDER EFFECTIVENESS

Seth stated that the trade show portion of an event is ineffective because exhibitors have to compete for the meeting participant's attention. 

Event organizers don't engage with attendees all year long. Instead they engage only at the meeting and once it is over, the attendee is a distant thought. 

He said event planners need to shift their thinking to see the attendee is a treasured guest who has many choices and at this particular moment chose to be at your conference. Focus your attention on your attendees and all will be right with the world. 

MOST MEASUREMENTS ARE OVERRATED

Most conference service organizers are trying to measure their way to meeting success. Attendance is up. Sponsorships are up. So all must be good.  

However, they are not focused on attracting the right people to the right place for the right reasons. Having 100 attendees who attend your meeting year-in and year-out is better than having 150 attendees where 80% of them are new each year. 

One way to learn if you are on track in delivering quality content is to measure feedback through wireless audience response systems. Find out what attendees want and continue to refine your conference to meet their needs. 

FACE-TO-FACE ENGAGEMENT IS STILL NEEDED

Godin states we crave connecting with one another, which only truly happen F2F. We can make all the connections we wish to virtually and even process and chunk down the educational content via our computer, but the reality is meeting planners have a great opportunity to key in on attendees through networking events and interactive, value driven content. 

Give attendees a sense of intimacy, even in a large convention environment. Much of this can be captured by unique seating options and if your organization rents iPad devices, through the promotion of second screen technology which offers videos, photos and presentations right in the hands of the attendee. 

STOP PLAYING IT SAFE

Seth thinks that meeting planners are under pressure to play it safe, follow industry standards or do what others do. Break the rules and do whatever the attendees want of you. This method will be risky, but it will never be wrong. 

AV Event Solutions, now part of the SmartSource Rentals family, has the technology to help you plan a highly interactive and engaging event. From Video Wall rentals to iPads, get the right solutions for you that can meet your budgetary parameters. 

How One Little Device Can Screw Up Your Meeting Attendees’ Wi-Fi Experience
mifi_device__aves
Nov 22, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

We have all been at a conference or meeting where we have experienced that infamous circle on the top of our smartphone screen or a statement that says "still loading" on our tablet device. And while we are checking our mobile device every few seconds to see if that important email was sent to the home office, we start cursing the venue or planner for making our Wi-Fi experience suck.

But what if it isn't their fault? What if the blame lies with other attendees or exhibitors?

Welcome to MiFi hell. These little personal Wi-Fi networks are wreaking havoc on meetings. I will explain what MiFi is, why it is a problem and what meeting planners can proactively do to help keep their attendees' Wi-Fi connection in tact.  

MIFI DEFINED

mifiMiFi is a wireless routers that acts as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. MiFi stands for "My Wi-Fi". A MiFi device can be connected to a cell phone carrier and provide Internet access for up to 10 devices. The MiFi works at a distance up to 30 feet and will provide Internet access to any WiFi-enabled peripheral device.

WHY MIFI IS A PROBLEM

Think about your venue's bandwidth as a pipe that transports water. Even with a large pipe, if the water is coming in like a flood, the pipe will either burst or back up. In this scenario, people who are lucky enough to get water will experience a greatly reduced flow because the pipe is now under tremendous stress. 

Same thing with bandwidth. The venue has a certain sized pipe to transport data through it. If the data is complex, such as video, the pipe is going to start to slow down. And if people use a MiFi device (of which the planner was not expecting when projecting their Wi-Fi needs), the pipe will start to backup (page loading, circles) or just come crashing down all together (Internet connections are not available). 

In addition, if the MiFi device runs on a different radio frequency than the rest of the Internet, it can actually interfere or jam the signal of the main router and cause the system to come to a crawl. 

WHAT PLANNERS CAN DO

At IMEX America in Las Vegas last October, they asked attendees and exhibitors to refrain from bringing and using their MIFI devices while they were at the event. This is certainly one way to try and curtail this problem but with over 4,500 attendees and exhibitors present, I am guessing it was difficult to monitor this activity. 

If you are unsure about basic Wi-Fi and Bandwidth terms, check out the following resources:

After evaluation of the venue's bandwidth capabilities, access points and the number of MiFI devices you think may be present at your event, consider renting a Wi-Fi Network Array rental unit. This unit can significantly boost your bandwidth and provide your organization with additional access points. 

How are you handling MiFi devices at your meeting? How are you dealing with this challenge? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below. 

AV Event Solutions and SmartSource Rentals are ever ready to help solve your Wi-Fi issues at your next meeting, event or trade show. Give them a call at 888.249.4903 (if you are event planning in California) or 800.888.8686 for the rest of the country! 

Why the Cheapest Lead Retrieval System Isn’t Really that Cheap (Part 2)
sales_leads
Nov 20, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

lead

Part 1 of this series, we focused on business card and printout options to lead gen. Today's blog post will focus on smartphone apps and the risk associated with too few lead retrieval systems in your booth. 

It is cheaper to use a free iPhone/Android app.

While there is no question that these apps look really good and have many bells and whistles, they have some drawbacks as well.

First and foremost, everyone in the booth needs to have the same phone system in order to maximize the use of this app.
Hardly a chance of this happening and very unlikely a free app provider is going to support a multitude of platforms.

Second, only part of the lead system is free.
If you want more, you will need to pay. They try to hook you with a low monthly fee usually consists of a year long contract.

Third, if you have to take a call while you are gathering the contact’s data, the call trumps the data collection and all is lost.
You need to look the prospect in the eye and say “Sorry, we need to start over.”

Fourth, if the app is native to the person’s phone they could keep the lead for themselves instead of turning it into the company.
Although this is rare, it can happen especially if you do not know your employee very well or worse you have temporary staff manning the booth for you.

The cheaper solution is an automated Lead Retrieval System.

A Lead Retrieval System has many benefits including the ability to have a standard platform that everyone can learn to use in a matter of minutes.

  1. While the unit is not free, what you see is what you get. You rent it for a trade show and that’s it. There are no lingering monthly fees and nothing to upgrade.
     
  2. Because you scan or swipe an attendee’s badge, there is not risk of data interruption. The system is dedicated to collecting leads, period.
     
  3. Your data is protected. Once the data is in the lead retrieval system it stays there or it is uploaded to your CRM system. Your system is not going to walk away and neither are those precious contacts.
     
  4. The system will work with or without Wi-Fi.  So if the Internet connection on the floor is interrupted, you can still collect the data. This may or may not be true with a smartphone app.

It is cheaper to rent only one Lead Retrieval System.

While this may work for some booth exhibitors, you should not take a “one size fits all” approach. You need to consider the following before making a decision of how many Lead Retrieval rental units make sense.

  1. How big is your booth? If it is large, will staff have to walk a long way to scan a card or badge?
     
  2. How many leads are you hoping to capture? 
     
  3. How many staffers are you going to have? You don’t want them all crowded around one machine. It takes a lot of time and takes the focus off the real reason the prospect is at your booth; to learn more about your products and services.

The cheaper solution is multiple automated Lead Retrieval Systems.

Because your mission is to learn more about the attendee so the lead is very warm once you leave the trade show, it is important to scan the pertinent information about the attendee as quickly as possible.

This makes the follow-up easier on the people back home who can receive the leads the next day or on a real-time basis.

Bottom Line

Hopefully you have gathered by now, the seemingly cheapest option is not always the most efficient. By investing in automated Lead Retrieval Systems, you will not only save money but you will have much better leads in the long run. 

SmartSource Rentals and AV Event Solutions can provide you with a plethora of total technology options. Rent iPads, laptops and Wi-Fi network array systems by giving them a call at 800.888.8686 to get the process started! 

 

Why the Cheapest Lead Retrieval System Isn’t Really that Cheap (Part 1)
lead_retrieval_av_business_card_w640
Nov 18, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

Many times booth exhibitors’ hem and haw over the rental cost of an automated lead system. They justify the cost of exhibiting, time away from the office and staffing to their boss. But when it comes to automating the collection of leads, the conversation falls short.

Here is the ironic thing — that is exactly what exhibitors are there to do. Meet new people and turn them into clients. Period. End of story. This blog will define the seemingly cheapest ways to collect leads and the truth about the total cost when looking at your image, pace and ability to follow-up with prospects.


It is cheaper to collect business cards and sort them out after the show.

After your 3-day conference, you and your team “pow-wow” over the 100’s of crumpled up, coffee-stained business cards you have gathered.

“What did John Doe from XYZ company want to know?” one of your teammates asks.

Everyone discusses it and no one can remember who he was or what he wanted. So, his card goes into the general email blast pile, that lead becomes cold and is most probably lost to your competitor.

Let’s analyze the total cost:

  1. You are relying on the memory and note taking of yourself and others (costly)
  2. The business card could be lost (more costly)
  3. The follow-up is most likely going to be cold, if completed at all (most costly)
  4. You and your staff are now spending precious time doing something that could have been completed on the trade show floor (2 hours x 5 people x $35/hour = $350)
  5. Data entry needs to be completed of which many mistakes can be made (20 hours x $35/hour = $700)

The cheaper solution is an automated Lead Retrieval System.

By scanning the attendee’s bar coded badge or a magnetic strip card, you can gather basic information about the attendee in a fraction of a second. Here are some of the other benefits of a Lead Retrieval System:

  • Once you gather the basic information and what the attendee is interested in learning more about, you can easily organize the data and import it into a spreadsheet or CRM system.
  • Once in the CRM system, you can assign which rep will follow up with the attendee after the show and have a process to see when and how often they followed up with each lead.
  • It will help your team close business started on the show floor because the data will be correct and the follow-up will be timely and tailored to the attendee’s need.

It is cheaper to use the paper printout provided by the show manager.

The show manager has provided you with an alphabetical listing of the 2,000 attendees at the show. You can tell by perusing the listing, it is cumbersome and incomplete. However, you are committed to using it and since you have 4 other individuals in your booth, you have made 5 additional copies.

Someone comes to the booth. You or your team is slyly trying to locate their name on the listing by looking at their badge. You find their name and realize it is incomplete, and before you can even ask a few engaging and qualifying questions, you start drilling down on the quantitative information of the attendee. Not a good start and probably makes that person ill at ease to begin with.

Then to top it all off, you have no room for notes by their name. So you hope that no one comes after them so you can write something down. But if you are busy, that too goes by the wayside.

So the best case you can hope for is a complete listing, minimal notes, and a prospect that already thinks you are running your business in the stone age.

Here are the true costs:

  1. Copying the list ($25)
  2. Consolidating the listings of others into one master list (10 hours x $35/hour = $350)
  3. Data entry of which many mistakes can be made (20 hours x $35/hour = $700)
  4. Asking the attendee about incomplete information on the listing (costly)
  5. Not knowing what the prospect truly needs because of limited or poor note taking (more costly)
  6. Negative brand image (most costly)

The cheaper solution is an automated Lead Retrieval System.

For all the before mentioned reasons, an automated system makes a lot of sense. If your booth is already stocked with marketing collateral, tchotchkes and business cards, having a paper lead retrieval system is going to add one more thing to your staff.

Because an automated system takes a few seconds to gather basic information, you can spend the bulk of your time asking qualifying questions and recording them into the lead system. All the data is collected on the spot; no need to consolidate lists or rely on memory.

Check out Part 2 on Wednesday to catch the rest of the story on why the cheapest lead retrieval isn’t really that cheap.

Contact AV Event Solutions and SmartSource Rentals for state-of-the-art interactive technology tool rentals including lead retrieval systems!

How Cloud Computing Can Enhance the Attendees’ Meeting Experience
cloud_computing__aves
Nov 15, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

Due to advances in computing power, bandwidth and storage, cloud computing is becoming the name of the game in the business community. It used to be that you backed up all your information to an external hard drive in case your computer failed. But now, it makes sense to back everything up to the cloud…and not just for recovery reasons but for security and sharing reasons as well.

According to Daniel Burrus, Innovation Expert and Global Futurist, cloud computing will transform the way we do the following: 

  • Market our meetings
  • Communicate and collaborate with each other and   
  • Train and educate attendees. 

Today's blog will focus on the definition of the different types of cloud computing and the meeting applicability for each one. 

cloudCloud computing is the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage and process data. 

PUBLIC CLOUD

The services rendered over a network that is open for public use is the definition for this type of cloud. Service providers own and operate the infrastructure and offer access only via the Internet. Here are two examples of Cloud Computing providers: 

Google Drive: 15 GB of free storage, Every meeting participant can use this for note-taking, photos and document sharing. 

Apple iCloud Backup: 5 GB of free storage. It is a great backup system for iPads and iPhones. 

Meeting Applicability: This type of cloud is great when you have an event where the public is invited into it whether they are physically there or not. Whatever is posted is totally public and transparent. The events that make the most sense are: 

PRIVATE CLOUD

This is a cloud infrastructure that operates solely for a single organization or event. It is a secure system and allows any authorized employee or attendee to access the cloud from any device anywhere. 

Meeting Applicability: This type of cloud is used where data is either sensitive or confidential. The event might be a: 

HYBRID CLOUD

This type of cloud computing is some combination of private and public cloud services from different providers.

Meeting Applicability: This type of cloud service is applicable where you have a private meeting that is part of a public event. Examples of this are: 

  • A Board Retreat before an Association Meeting
  • A Vendor Meeting before a Trade Show
  • A Press Conference before a Convention

Whether it is public, private or a hybrid configuration, there a many benefits to cloud computing. They include:

  • Globalization of your meeting. Any attendee worldwide can access the cloud, provided they have an Internet connection and are authorized to do so.
  • Improved accessibility of information. Attendees, employees and clients can have access anytime or anywhere to the data.
  • Ability to duplicate successful meeting models. Cloud services are based on the collective learning and input of attendees and attendee feedback continues to deliver the best meeting results.

Are you in need of interactive technology tool rentals as you plan your meetings and events? Remember, cloud computing will impact your venue's Wi-Fi network so be prepared with a Wi-Fi network array and rent iPads for maximum computing flexibility. Call AV Event Solutions, now part of the SmartSource Rentals family today to learn more about the benefits of cloud computing. 

Top 10 Checklist When Planning Your Corporate Holiday Party
holiday_party
Nov 13, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

holiday

Do you feel overwhelmed in planning your company's holiday get together? Believe it or not, December is just 3 short weeks away and the parties will be here before you know it. Hopefully, you have figured out where to hold the event and have a rough idea of what is going to happen. However, there may be a few details that could cause your budget to balloon out of control if you don't plan carefully. 

Below are the 10 things you should work on between now and the day of your big event. Please do them in order, as one item builds on the other.  

Here is your holiday planning checklist: 

  1. Decide on the agenda and format. 

    Is this event going to be onsite or off?
    Is it going to include business content or be entirely social?
    Will it include spouses, children, and/or customers?
    How many total people do you anticipate will be there? 
    Will it be during the day or evening? Weekday or weekend?
    How long will the event be?
    Will it include alcohol? 

    If you haven't made decisions on the above questions, now is the time to round up the troops and get your answers.  
     

  2. Book your partners. 

    Once you have decided on the items listed above, now you will need to book your suppliers which may include: 

    Meeting Venue
    Caterer
    Speakers
    Entertainment and 
    Audio Visual Company.
     

  3. Invite your guests. 

    Send a brief email about the date, location, time and dress code. You may not have everything locked up at this point, but at least you can let the guests know there is a party planned and another email with more details will follow. Ask them to RSVP to ensure you have an accurate headcount. 
     

  4. Capture everything in writing. 

    From the caterer to the conference equipment rental company, make certain you have the menu, room setup as well as the speaker and entertainment requirements in writing. 
     

  5. Consider going green

    Instead of printing signage and program materials which are "one and done", why not rent iPads, digital signage and video walls to display your signs, photos and social channels? These interactive technology tool rentals can be changed on a real time basis and display photos and videos taken from your guests. 
     

  6. Invite guests again but this time with more specifics. 

    Give guests agenda information, suggested dress and any other details pertinent to the event. Encourage them to RSVP by a certain date and give them an incentive to do so, such as winning a contest. 
     

  7. Instead of goody bags, consider giving back to the community. 

    During this holiday season, promote a CSR initiative such as collecting canned food for a food pantry, raising money for a women's shelter or collecting toys for underprivileged children.  
     

  8.  Set up conference calls to confirm, confirm and confirm again. 

    Holding 30-minute conference calls weekly with all your partners will make your planning process goes a lot smoother. Having them on the same time and day of the week will ensure maximum participation. Start and end on time. 
     

  9. One week before the event, schedule an on-site visit with all the partners. 
     
  10. The day of the event, arrive several hours early. 

    In addition, have your suppliers arrive early to test and rehearse the day's festivities. Remember this is a holiday celebration and you want everything to go perfectly! Make certain the speakers work with the AV technician and run through their slides on the PowerPoint presentation equipment at least 2 hours before the event.  
     

Trust the corporate audio visual event rental experts! As the largest event technology rental provider in the United States, SmartSource Rentals, of which AV Event Solutions is part of, can provide you with a complete line of audio visual equipment including sound and lighting rentals, staging and production. Whether it is one wireless mic or AV for an entire party, AV Event Solutions and SmartSource Rentals have the knowledge and expertise to make your holiday planning experience stress free! 

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