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3 Brilliant Benefits that Gamification of Your Next Meeting will Bring
Jan 31, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

We all know them and love them. Gamers, I'm speaking of…people who love spend time at the computer playing against online villains, trying to work their way through a maze or move up to the next level. 

According to the Entertainment Software Association

  • 58% of all Americans play video games
  • The average age is 30 and that individual has been playing games for 13 years and
  • 36% play games on their smartphones. 

And according to Big Fish, a gaming blog site, this trend is going to continue to increase as more families and women start to play games. 

So, what is the lure of games and how can gamification be used at your next meeting? 

This is a great video from Jane McGonigal she delivered at a May 2010 TED talk that speaks about the value of gaming: 

In a nutshell, gamification is the use of game thinking and mechanics to engage users in solving problems. Gamification is applied to improve user engagement, return on investment and learning.

Let's break down each of these elements to describe the benefits of gaming your next event: 

Brilliant Benefit #1: User Engagement

Games automatically set up a competitive environment with built-in challenges.

What if you rent iPads and form small teams at your next meeting whose mission is to collect points and complete the tasks in front of them? Imagine an environment where the company or association challenges are integrated into a game and teams need to collectively solve the problem. Can you see a setting where a leader board is in the front of the room and it dynamically changes as different teams take the lead? This can happen at your next event. It just requires time to plan and implement the program. 

Brilliant Benefit #2: Return on Investment

Here are a few real-life examples: 

  • Galderma, a dermatology company, used gamification to train their sales division for a product launching event. Despite the voluntary participation, 92% of targeted employees ended up playing
     
  • Deloitte's training programs, that were gamified took 50% less time to complete and massively improved long-term employee engagement. 
     
  • BlurbIQ introduced interactive video Interruptions and within two weeks obtained 915% more interaction and 95% increase in recollection. 
     
  • GMIC at their annual conference provided more concise presentations to attendees, allowed for better group discussions, and provided networking time, which resulted in positive feedback about their gaming app. 

Brilliant Benefit #3: Real Learning Occurs. 

According to TeachThought, a learning and technology organization, the following learning objectives are reached through gamification: 

  • Increases Memory: Games often revolve around the utilization of memorization  Individuals need to track critical sequences or narrative elements in a game. 
     
  • Promotes Risk Taking: Playing a game allows attendees to take risks they might not take in a general discussion which allows real learning and brainstorming to occur. 
     
  • Helps With Strategic Thinking and Problem-Solving: Most games require quick thinking. Moreover, attendees will have to utilize their logic in order to think three steps ahead to solve problems and complete levels. 
     

SmartSource Rentals is your Total Technology solution provider and can provide you will the right interactive technology tool rentals to make gamification an easy option at your next meeting or event. Give them a call at 800.888.8686 to get the process started! 

4 More Global Meeting Trends to be on the Look Out for This Year
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Jan 29, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

amex

American Express Meetings & Events recently published their 76-page report forecasting “Signs of Stability” as we move through 2014. Below are four trends they garnered from in-depth interviews with planners and suppliers around the world. Today's blog is focused on North American trends. For more information about the rest of the world, please download their entire report.  

Trend #1: No Increase or Decrease in Overall Meeting Spend and Individual Meeting Budgets

The overall meeting spend predictions are as follows: 

  • 37% of the respondents said budgets would stay the same
  • 26% stated the budget would decrease by 1-5%
  • 25% stated the budget would increase by 1-5%  

The only change to this figure is expected to be in the area of interactive technology tool rentals which are expected to allow for easy registration and provide online payment solutions. 

The individual meeting budget predictions are: 

  • 41% of the budgets would stay the same
  • 29% would decrease 1-5% 
  • 20% would increase 1-5% 

Trend #2: Large Cities Rule. 

According to survey participants: 

  • 74% primarily book their meetings in large city locations
  • 19% primarily book in second-tier cities and 
  • 7% primarily book in resorts or suburban areas

According to Cvent, the 10 cites with the most meeting and event activity are the following (in descending order), 

  1. Orlando 
  2. Chicago
  3. Las Vegas
  4. Atlanta 
  5. San Diego
  6. New York
  7. Washington, DC
  8. Dallas
  9. Miami
  10. Phoenix

The interesting thing about this data is seven cities are in the south with two of them being in Florida. (SmartSource Rentals has branch locations in all of these cities with the exception of Miami.) 

Trend #3: Lead Times for Meetings are Going to Get Slightly Shorter. 

Here is what participants shared: 

  • 42% said lead times would stay the same
  • 18% said lead times would decrease by 1-5% 
  • 16% said lead times would decrease by 6-10% 

With most lead times already being 60 days or shorter, this is not a good indicator. When considering all the factors that go into planning a meeting — space, food, speakers and renting audio visual equipment — shorter is not always better. Ironically, short lead times can causes budget increases due to limited supplier inventory at your desired location. 

Trend #4: Use of Social Media will Increase.

This is no surprise, but in North America, social media use is expected to increase by 4% over last year. According to a May 2013 Pew Research report, 72% of US Adults are on at least one social channel. And according to Google, 55% of social users are updating their status on their smartphones.  

So don't fight social any longer because it is here to stay! And to better prepared for it, rent iPads and have a Wi-Fi network array rental unit available to provide attendees with social and the bandwidth to make postings interactive and easy. 

"Meeting organizers are looking to utilize social media tools to create higher quality and more engaging programs that better meet the needs of attendees," stated Issa Jouaneh, Vice President & General Manager of American Express. 

SmartSource Rentals is your total technology provider and is here to help at your next meeting or event. Give them a call at 800.886.8686 to get the process started! 

Sweet Social Success: How Godiva Pulled off a Great Product Launching Event
Jan 27, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

Last September and October, Godiva completed a #TruffleTakeoff Tour in New York City, Atlanta, Dallas and Los Angeles to promote their six new truffle flights. Not only could a passerby experience the new line of chocolates, but they could pose for pictures in front of six unique tableaux. 

Here is a brief video and summary of what Godiva did and how you can capitalize on this for your next event. 

TRUFFLE TAKEOFF TOUR

  • Godiva took this tour to the standard top cities (NYC – #1, LA – #2, and Dallas – #9) but also included a lower ranked city as a method to capitalize on exposure (Atlanta – #33). 
     
  • They encouraged the use of social channels, including Instagram and Twitter, by creating the #TruffleTakeoff hashtag and @GodivaChoc handle for the campaign. They displayed these social feeds on a large video wall for all to see. 
     
  • Godiva set up a six-sided truffle themed structure for photo taking and sharing on social. Each side represented the different flights they were introducing. 
     
  • In NYC they created a contest asking individuals who were dining in the meatpacking district to tweet or Instagram their meal photos the night of September 17th. Godiva chose three winners and paid their bill, sent a car from Uber to pick them up and provided dessert.  
     
  • They hosted flight tastings for bloggers that was narrated by David Funaro, Godiva's Global Senior Chef Chocolatier. 

"We are bringing the truffle to life in an Instagramable way," Larry Abel of Abel McCallister Designs told BizBash. 

Jill Schwartz Gabin, Senior Director of North America Marketing and Communications at Godiva Chocolatier added, "We wanted to have big buzz. It's not just giving out samples. It's a whole educational program." 
 
KEY TRUFFLE TAKEAWAYS
  • Rather than having one large event, consider hosting several events in cities both large and small. 
     
  • Set up a unique hashtag and handle that will run the course of the campaign. 
     
  • Create some sort of interactive display that will encourage attendees to take photos and videos to share on social channels. Display the feed on large video wall rental units or touch screen rentals for all attendees to see. 
     
  • Put together a contest that involves social media and make certain it links directly to the product or service you are launching. 
     
  • Invite bloggers, influencers and the media to a special showing of the new offering. This will make it easy for them to write about it. 
     

When renting audio visual equipment, think of SmartSource Rentals! They have 21 locations across the country to serve you with state-of-the-art interactive technology tool rentals. Give them a call at 800.866.8686 to speak to an experienced account representative about your product launching needs. 

5 Fabulous Tools to Curate Meeting Content
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Jan 24, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

curate

Recently, Corbin Ball shared his expertise regarding meeting curation with Midwest Meetings magazine. He identified six apps that will help spread the word about your meeting, tell a story and/or collect data across social platforms. 

I will share in today's blog five of those apps, the number of users on the channel, whether there is a cost involved, what platforms these apps run on, and how they can be scaled up with other interactive technology tool rentals. But first, let's define the term "content curation". Here is a quick definition: 

Content curation is the process of collecting, organizing and displaying information relevant to a particular topic or area of interest. People or systems that implement content curation are called curators. 

PINTEREST

A photo-sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections for an event. Users can browse other boards, "re-pin" images to their own boards, or "like" photos. It is easy to create separate boards for speakers, sponsors, exhibitors and attendees. 

Number of Users: 70 Million

Platforms Supported: iPad, iPhone, Android Devices and Desktop

Cost: Free

 

SLIDESHARE

A slide hosting service that allows users to upload PowerPoint, PDF, Keynote or OpenDocument presentations. Slide decks can then be viewed on the site itself, on hand held devices or embedded into other sites. 

Number of Users: 3.5 Million (but may be more due to their acquisition by LinkedIn)

Platform Supported: Desktop

Cost: Free

As an event planner, you can upload the presentations to a Video Wall rental unit, email the presentations to attendees or embed the code into your website. All of these actions are green and will allow your speakers' presentations to grow legs beyond the initial presentation. 

 

CONFERIZE

Allows you to follow any live conference from anywhere at any time. It allows you to follow conferences on a real-time basis and find videos, presentations, photos and social feeds about that conferences all at one location. 

Number of Users: 2.5 Million

Platform Supported: Desktop

Cost: Free

This is a great tool to bring in virtual attendees into the conference, promote your conference and speakers ahead of time, and encourage your speaker to invite folks via their social channels. Potential attendees can register right from this site. In addition, you can use Plasma Displays to show content to attendees outside the meeting room. 

 

EVENTIFIER

Give them your event hashtag and they will fetch out all the event related content from across the social stream. Eventifier collates all the event related contents from various social media streams like Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, Flickr, and Slideshare. 
 
Number of Customers: 100+
 
Platform Supported: Desktop
 
Cost: $499 – $1,999+ per event
 
This would be a great tool to show on a video wall, what happened the previous day at a multi-day conference. In addition, what a great tool to archive the event after it is all over and show next year's potential attendees, exhibitors and sponsors this visual storyboard. 
 
 
 
Collect media from across the web, publish on Storify, embed anywhere, share and notify sources — and hopefully your story will go  viral. 
 
Number of Users: 1.2 Million
 
Platforms Supported: Desktop and iPad with iOS 6.0 or later
 
Cost: Free
 
When promoting speakers and sponsors you can search the web for all their information and post it on one story line and then insert the code into your website or blog. Also if you rent iPads for attendees (as long as they are 2nd to 4th generation), they will be able to curate content about your seminar as it is going on. 
 
SmartSource Rentals is your national total technology AV provider with 21 locations to serve you! 
Governmental Watch: Transparency and Reporting Will Affect Meetings
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Jan 22, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

flagOn November 18, 2013, the House of Representatives passed HR 2061 known as the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2013, by 388-1. Below is a summary of the bill, a review of the Senate version, US travel association reactions and key takeaways for us all. 

GOVERNMENT AT WORK 

The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2013:

  • Discloses direct federal agency expenditures and links federal contract, loan, and grant spending information to programs of federal agencies to enable taxpayers and policy makers to track federal spending more effectively.
     
  • Provides consistent, reliable, and searchable government-wide spending data that is displayed accurately for taxpayers and policy makers on the USASpending.gov website.
     
  • Analyzes federal spending data to proactively prevent waste, fraud, abuse, and improper payments.
     
  • Simplifies reporting for entities receiving federal funds by streamlining reporting requirements and reducing compliance costs while improving transparency; and
     
  • Improves the quality of data submitted to USASpending.gov by holding federal agencies accountable for the completeness and accuracy of the data submitted.

S. 994, which is very similar to HR 2061, goes onto define in more detail the following: 

  • Transfer from the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to the Secretary of the Treasury the responsibility for maintaining the website USASpending.gov.
     
  • Require spending data for all federal funds to indicate the appropriation, federal agency, sub-agency, account, program activity, and object class for such funds.
     
  • Require the Secretary to establish government-wide financial data standards for federal funds and to use data collected under this Act to detect, prevent, and recover improper payments. 

TRAVEL ASSOCIATION REACTIONS 

"Lawmakers are seeking publicity for tackling a number of well-publicized incidents from several years ago in which government travel budgets were unquestionably abused by a few irresponsible parties, but those issues were already addressed by new accountability protocols at the administrative level," stated Roger Dow, President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. 

"Use of professional travel management principles can avoid the embarrassing, expensive and indefensible costs and stories like GSA's Las Vegas scandal. Congress should mandate that the federal government should uniformly follow everyday practices adopted at thousands of U.S. companies – optimizing the use of travel dollars by effectively implementing policies that drive appropriate traveler behavior," stated Mike McCormick, Executive Director of Global Business Travel Association. 
 
KEY TAKEAWAYS
 
Here is my assessment of this governmental action. Please comment below and let me know what you think about all of this.  
 
  • Whether we like it or not, transparency is king.
    It doesn't matter if you are working with the government, Fortune 500 company or a start-up, they want to know what they are paying for and that it is a fair and equitable fee. So, don't fight it – provide it. 
     
  • Reporting is a fact of life and should become easier as we move to mobile apps.
    Get everything in writing from your vendors, keep it in an online folder and make certain you get what you pay for. 
     
  • Don't overlook the value of local, regional and hybrid meetings.
    With a variety of interactive technology tool rentals available to you, make certain you justify why you need to fly everyone to one location for a 3-day conference. Sometimes virtual, hybrid, local or regional meetings will work just as well. 

SmartSource Rentals is a national total technology solution provider with 21 locations to serve you! 

Concrete Questions for Checking Out an AV Provider
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Jan 20, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

ready to go

Whether you are planning a new meeting or considering changing your supplier for an existing one, it is important that you assess the overall capabilities of the AV provider. Without a doubt, it is easier to stay with what you know. However, you have not been totally satisfied with the level of customer service your existing company has provided you, and are left wondering if there may be a better choice. 

Beyond pricing, location and interactive technology tool rentals, what should you be asking the references that this new prospective provider gave you? Here are some great questions that can help you assess if this supplier is right for you. 

  • Do they arrive on time for set-up and strike? 

    When you are on a tight schedule, the last thing you want is to be chasing down your AV company. If they say arrival time is 3 PM, they should be there at that time unless unforeseeable circumstances get in their way. Same thing for striking the equipment – they need to be on time so you can get out of the meeting room at the designated period.
     

  •  Do the AV personnel greet you in a friendly way? 

    Let's face it; your stress levels are high when setting up a meeting. The last thing you need to deal with is someone who is inattentive or unfriendly.  
     

  • Are they eager to help and do they address your requests? 

    You want a partner that will be proactive, listen to you and address any questions and concerns you have until they are resolved to your satisfaction. They need to have excellent communication skills. 
     

  • Do they treat you like you are a VIP? 

    Whether you represent $1,000 or $1 million worth of business, the client experience should be the same. Your vendor should always treat you with the utmost respect. 
     

  • Do they test their set up and make sure you are fully satisfied with it? 

    It is one thing to bring AV equipment on-site and quite another to make certain it is fully tested and works to your satisfaction level. When renting audio visual equipment, you want to make certain your partner is prepared to work in the ever changing, dynamic world of meetings and events. 

SmartSource Rentals is your total technology rental solution provider and has 21 locations to serve you. They can provide your organization with a plethora of AV products and services including video walls, computer kiosks, charging stations, wireless Audience Response Systems and much more — making your meeting Ready to Go!  

As Expenses Increase and Budgets Stay the Same, Will Your Meetings Survive?
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Jan 17, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

calculator

 

Successful Meetings polled planners in late October of last year and found out a key nugget of information: Meeting net budgets are projected to get smaller this year as compared to last. The rationale is most budgets are expected to remain flat or slightly increase, but expenses such as hotels, airfare, F&B and renting audio visual equipment are projected to be on the rise.

So what oh what is a meeting planner to do? Below is the raw data as reported by Successful Meetings, as well as, some thoughts on how to keep your budget intact.  

 

How does your overall meetings budget in 2014 compare to 2013? 

  • ​42% said it was unchanged
  • 23% said it increased slightly
  • 22% stated it decreased slightly
  • 11% responded it decreased significantly
  • 2% said it increased significantly

With 75% of meeting budgets remaining the same or decreasing, is it any wonder planners are looking for more creative ways to increase sponsors or reduce expenses? 

What cost-cutting measures is your organization implementing in 2014? 

  • 47% are offering fewer optional activities
  • 43% are reducing their food and beverage budget
  • 30% are booking at lower-tier hotels
  • 26% are avoiding resort destinations
  • 16% are eliminating all optional activities

The emphasis here is on reduction or elimination of budget items instead of increasing revenue sources. 

If your organization is canceling a meeting in 2014, how are you maintaining the engagement levels? 

  • 39% are taking no action
  • 28% are combining meetings
  • 25% are increasing the level of internal communication
  • 24% are replacing the meeting with a virtual event
  • 19% are replacing the off-site meeting with an on-site meeting

Three of these items – combining meetings, increasing comm levels and moving the meeting on-site – are all positive initiatives to keeping the face-to-face element going and maintaining engagement levels. Doing nothing or replacing a live event with a virtual one is just going to continue to erode your C-Suite's confidence in the value of meetings. 

How does the number of meetings you will run in 2014 compare with 2013? 

Number of Meetings – Change Percentage
Type of Meeting More Meetings Less Meetings The Same
Virtual 49% 7% 44%
Hybrid 28% 14% 58%
Training 22% 27% 51%
Incentives 9% 37% 54%
Trade Shows 17% 34% 49%
Association 11% 29% 60%

With virtual, hybrid and training meetings taking off, it is important that your meeting room be armed with the right equipment to accommodate all attendees. One thing you will need to take a hard look at is the meeting venue's bandwidth to determine whether or not they can handle all the video requirements across the wireless network. Chance are you will need to look into a Wi-Fi network array rental unit.  

What is your projection for your attendee levels in 2014 compared to 2013? 

Number of Attendees by Percentage
Type of Meeting Increased Attendance Decreased Attendance About the Same
Virtual 44% 16% 40%
Marketing 33% 27% 40%
Training 33% 28% 39%
Association 19% 31% 50%
Trade Shows 19% 31% 50%
Sales 23% 29% 48%

Looking again to an increase of attendees with virtual and training meetings, it looks as if more individuals will learn how to do their job better at their desk through a series of webinars. 

I think the message conveyed in the two tables above is it is important to be aware of the lure of virtual, especially as a cost cutting measure.  For more on this, read this blog post: Virtual or In-Person Meeting: What Makes Sense When

SmartSource Rentals is a here to help you with all your interactive technology tool rental needs! 

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