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What Does the Meeting Industry Think About Technology? Inquiring Minds Need to Know!
second_screen_technology
Feb 28, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

technology

LiveTech londonlaunch, a master-class in digital engagement and social media, recently polled their attendees about the use of social media and technology for maximizing attendee engagement at their meetings and events. Below are the survey results broken up into two categories – Social Platforms/Apps and Technology – plus some of my ideas of how interactive technology tool rentals can help in each area. 

 

SOCIAL PLATFORMS/APPS

What social platforms and apps do you currently use in your events? 

76% Twitter

61% iPad voting app

46% Twitter Wall

38% Facebook

23% LinkedIn

23% Instagram

7%  Google+

If you rent iPads, the AV provider can preload Twitter and other social channels onto each device. In addition, you can use the iPad rentals for surveys and voting on important topics throughout your conference. A video wall rental unit is great as a gathering point for attendees to see the Twitter feed and up-to-the-minute conference updates and news. 

 

How often does your business currently use social media

54% use it all the time

27% should use it more, but don't have the time

19% don't use it as effectively as they could

 

Who manages social media for your company? 

45% said it is something we all contribute to

28% stated it is handled by the marketing department

27% said they have a dedicated social media person

If everyone contributes to social, from the administrative assistant to the CEO, it is much easier to garner interest and participation with your attendees at an event especially if they see you tweeting and taking Instagram photos or videos. 

 

TECHNOLOGY

What do you think are the biggest barriers to using technology at events? 

92% said lack of budget

58% said lack of understanding; it's easier not to use it

17% said concerns it won't work the day of the event

8%   stated lack of human resources to manage it

Budget is one of those things you need to approach in a different way; sponsorship opportunities are endless on interactive technology tool rentals such as charging stations, iPads or computer kiosks. It is really important that event organizers start to understand technology because the use it is just going to continue to ramp up, not decrease. If you hire certified AV technicians and keep them onsite during your conference, you will not have to worry about technology blackouts or the resources to manage it. AV organizations are trained to test and manage large, complex installations and address problems very quickly. 

 

At what stage do you include technology when planning your event? 

82% said during the creative process

18% stated at the beginning

The best choice is at the beginning where ideas are formed, goals are set and budgets are massaged. However, Dr. Peter Heath of LiveTECH reminds us, "Technology for technology's sake is never going to be worth the money, but if it is used to enhance your event, it'll be money well spent." 

 

How do you feel when you hear about new digital innovations – such as interactive touchscreens, RFID and NFC? 

67% said intrigued

33% stated excited

 

Do you use smartphone or tablet-based apps at your events?

67% said yes

33% said no, but would like to start using it. 

 

SmartSource Rentals has fully-staffed and equipped branch offices in 21 major metro markets and is the largest national footprint in the computer and audio visual rental space. Give them a call today to understand how they can can help you with your technology needs! 

How Green can Your Meetings Go? You Might Just be Surprised
standards_of_being_green
Feb 26, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

green

Although the industry has been talking about this for a long time, there isn't one place to go to see the standards and certifications for going green. This blog brings the event information to you, will help you wade through it and gives you a few simple steps to bring your meeting to a more sustainable level.  

STANDARDS 

APEX/ASTM Environmentally Sustainable Meeting Standards

The Convention Industry Council and ASTM International teamed up to complete nine individual standards (displayed in the diagram above) and recognized through an ANSI-accredited international standards setting organization. They address every scope of the meeting and event planning process and each standard can be purchased through the ASTM website

ISO 20121

This system standard has been designed to help organizations in the events industry improve the sustainability of their event related activities, products and services. 
 
ISO 20121 applies to all types and sizes of organization involved in the events industry – from caterers, lighting and sound engineers, security companies, stage builders and venues to independent event organizers and corporate and public sector event teams. 

CERTIFICATION: Certificate in Sustainable Event Planning

The Green Meeting Industry Council, in partnership with Twirl Management,offers the Certificate in Sustainable Event Planning  as a 360-degree learning environment to create a new class of sustainable event practitioners. The students are responsible for the successful implementation of the sustainable event initiatives. 

In addition these standards and certifications, here are four things you can do to be greener: 

  1. Go for destinations that have high walkability scores. 
    There are several advantages to this – cuts down on transportation charges, attendees get out and exercise and they can obtain a first hand view of the city – which may incent them to come back to it. 
     
  2. Choose local. 
    From renting audio visual equipment to speakers and entertainment, you will save a lot of money on shipping, storage, and accommodations – all which have an impact on the environment. In addition, you will be helping out the local economy and keeping the tax dollars local, as well. 
     
  3. No more paper. No more bags. No more promotional items. 
    Rent iPads to handle all your paper. Wireless Audience Response Systems are perfect for surveys. Plastic bags are not biodegradable so stop giving them away with marketing materials. Put all marketing docs on a Digital Document Library if you are an exhibitor. Stop ordering cute little giveaways that will be thrown out at the end of the conference. 
     
  4. Reuse and recycle. 
    Use china, silverware and glassware in place paper or Styrofoam products. 
    Use linens – both tablecloths and napkins. 
    Put a living plant in the middle of each table and encourage the venue to use it again. 
    Set up recycling stations all around the venue for cans and plastic bottles. 

Choose SmartSource Rentals for your technology equipment rental needs because they are a national company with a local presence. They provide on-time delivery, correctly configured name-brand equipment and 24/7 technical support. 

3 Things that Befuddle Planners and What can be Done About Them
worried_ssr
Feb 24, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

stress

If you are a meeting planner, you know the stress associated with planning and executing a large, complex event. You can be the best project manager and communicator in the world, but when the event actually starts to unfold, things can go sideways rather quickly. 

Here are three items that most planners deal with at every meeting and nine strategies to maximize attendee happiness and minimize your own stress levels

NO SHOWS

10 years ago, the no-show rate was about 5-10% for all meetings and conventions. Now it is about 25-30% – depending on the meeting. If your event is free to the attendee, such as a product launching event, it can be even higher. The problem with no-shows is they impact every element of your budget from food and beverage to meeting space. 

So what can you do to stop the hemorrhaging of no-shows?  

  • Communicate often with your attendees to confirm and reconfirm they are coming to your event. 
    I recommend you reach out to them 30, 15 and 7 days prior – especially if they registered early. 
     
  • Keep the event fresh in their mind by sharing the latest and greatest news about the conference. 
    Share new information about the speakers, agenda, venue and city. Use email, social channels, blogs and direct mail to maximize your message exposure. 
     
  • Overbook and oversell – without increasing your budget. 
    Look back at your meeting history for the last three years and if you have an average of 30% no-shows, overbook by that percentage. This problem is not getting better, it is actually getting worse. One other thing – set your meeting space for the total number of attendees minus your no show percentage. Speakers like a crowded room and so do attendees. You can always add more chairs, if need be. 

LAST MINUTE REQUESTS

Your speaker brought an Apple laptop instead of a Window-based one and now needs a connector for the presentation services audio visual equipment. Some of your attendees need gluten-free meals. Your CEO wants to rearrange the agenda for tomorrow's event, even though your team spent hours and hours putting together the conference binder. 

What can you do? Last minute requests are going to come up, but here are three ways to help minimize them: 

  • Get everything in writing and communicate it to the appropriate partners. 
    From the presenters' AV requirements to the BEO, it is important to get every moving part of your event in writing and communicate these documents to suppliers via email or a shared cloud platform. 
     
  • Make certain your registration form is complete. 
    The best way to avoid last minute requests from attendees is to ask them about their meal, rooming and anything else pertinent to meeting. 
     
  • Get rid of the conference binder and rent iPads and use Video Walls
    The best way to communicate last minute changes is through social media, texting or emails. If you provide each attendee with an iPad at the beginning of your conference, you can communicate real-time changes quickly and easily. In addition, they can be posted on a Video Wall rental unit or all to view. 

TECHNOLOGY PROBLEMS

Your PowerPoint presentation equipment freezes. Your speaker's mic cuts in and out. Or the Internet is slow as molasses. All of these AV and IT problems cause you great headaches, Here are three simple things you can do to avoid this problem:

  • Have certified AV technicians onsite to maintain and manage your configuration.
    You can rest assured that proper testing will be completed before each presentation; but in the unlikely event that something goes awry, you have immediate access to your support team.
     
  • Understand your bandwidth requirements.
    For access to a series of articles about Wi-Fi, including a checklist and estimator, go to this website: http://computerrentals.com/articles
     
  • Communicate with all your partners. 
    At a typical meeting or event, attendees, speakers, exhibitors and sponsors bring their own set of equipment – in addition to what interactive technology tool rentals you will have. Sometimes the devices your stakeholders bring conflicts with what you rent or the venue provides. Ask and understand. 

SmartSource Rentals is a national total technology firm based in New York. 

3 Things that Drive Attendees Away From Your Conference
drive_away_attendees
Feb 21, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

no wayIs your conference shrinking or does it experience high turnover? If this is the case, chances are your attendees have not received the kind of treatment they should have; either when registering for the event or at the conference itself. They have the budget approved and they want to be there – but something went awry in the process.  

Here are the top three things that drive customers always as identified by Bill Murphy, Jr., an author specializing In leadership and entrepreneurship. He recently shared his thoughts with Inc. Magazine. I have tailored his findings to the meetings industry. 

Driver #1: Being secretive

In the industry, there seems to be a progression to a conference that follows this order: 

Sponsors, Exhibitors, Attendees, Speakers, Content

It is almost as if the event organizers are keeping the sponsors, exhibitors and attendees in suspense as to who the speakers will be and what content they will deliver. But the truth of the matter is, if you reversed the order to be…

Content, Speakers, Attendees, Exhibitors, Sponsors

…think how much easier your sell cycle will be! Content drives everything and if you start with that, you will be amazed how much more open you can be with everyone and how the rest of the revenue puzzle will easily come together. 

 

Driver #2: Being hard to contact

When you and your staff don't return phone calls, emails or respond on social in a timely fashion, it sets up a barrier with meeting participants. What is timely? One study I recently read said 42% of Social Media users expect a response within an hour. 

Here's what I know – when you ignore potential attendees you are sending a signal that your time is more valuable than theirs.

Make it very, very easy for attendees to connect with you at your conference. Rent iPads at your meeting so attendees can connect with you on social with any questions, comments or concerns they might have. 

Marriott knows how to do this best – here is a question that appeared on Twitter: 

 

7 Super Things All Conference Planners can Learn from Montreal’s C2MTL Experience
c2mtl_logo
Feb 19, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

c2

When Daniel Lamarre, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cirque du Soleil, came to the SID LEE agency in 2010, he wanted a corporate event where business leaders could instill creativity and innovation into their organizations. And out of this collaboration, C2MTL was born – an intensive three-day event now into its fourth year. With 75% of the event sold out with three months to go, no wonder BizBash upholds it as a "must-attend conference" model.

Here are seven takeaway items you can put into your conference planning process:

  1. Take risks with your budget.

    60% of C2MTL's budget is dedicated toward the tried and true items, while the remaining 40% is available for testing of new ideas. "They expect to make mistakes and feel that to innovate you have to be wrong," stated Emmanuelle Legault, Vice-President of Marketing for Tourisme Montréal. Mickey Drexler, CEO of J. Crew said it best, "Every good idea started out as a bad idea." 
     

  2. Engage your attendees before and after the event. 

    Here are the things an attendee can do once they register for the conference: 

    –  Access C2MTL's networking platform, up to eight weeks before and after the conference, to create an online profile, plan one-on-one meetings with other participants and define their meeting demands;

    – A designated Concierge helps tailor the experience to meet the attendee's business priorities

    – Participate in discussion forums with other meeting participants, event organizers and speakers

    – Access to the conference videos, photos and reports after it is over
     

  3. Attendees crowdsource the agenda.

    C2MTL created an app where attendees could suggest speakers and topics. "The delegates felt they were part of the process and they became engineers of the conference," stated Legault. 
     

  4. Speakers are expected to deliver original content. 

    As you already know, many presenters like to give the same presentation over and over again. C2MTL mandates that all approved speakers create original content only for their event. And with the ability to search the speakers website, YouTube account and talk to peers in the industry, it is easy for determine if the content is original or not.  
     

  5. Hire a storyteller to deliver introductions.

    Rather than having boring intros, C2MTL makes it personal by having someone deliver a story from the speaker's life that is relevant to the audience. 
     

  6. Music makes the conference fun. 

    The event organizers hire local musicians instead of piping in background music. "It wasn't that expensive and wasn't hard to find," stated Legault. Hiring local suppliers, including when renting audio visual equipment, will save you money on transportation, storage and/or accommodations. Local companies support the local economy, grow the tax base and are considered to be a "greener" alternative. 
     

  7. Give your guests air. 

    Having areas where attendees can retreat outside just take in the scenery or providing inside living room spaces where they can recharge themselves and their mobile devices, helps keep the conference fresh in their minds. 

SmartSource Rentals is your event planning partner and has LCD projector and screen rentals, sound and lighting rentals and Wi-Fi network arrays available for your next conference. Don't delay, contact Smart Source today!

10 Terrific Trade Show Tips for Show Managers and Exhibitors
trade_shows_ssr_w640
Feb 17, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

trade shows

As meeting planners, show managers and exhibitors work together toward a successful trade show experience, there are things they can do to make it better, as recently pointed out in the February 2014 edition of The Meeting Professional. So, rather than fight to make things happen, seasoned trade show pros highlighted ways managers and exhibitors can work more effectively as a team 

Here are the ten items outlined in the article: 

SHOW MANAGERS

  1. Get exhibitors involved in the planning process. 

    Instead of working in a silo, invite booth exhibitors – a segment of small, medium and large vendors – to participate on the committee. By getting all parties involved, you will make certain the total objectives of the show are met.  
     

  2. Schedule exclusive trade show time. 

    "There must be dedicated hours for the trade show when there is nothing major competing with it," said Susan Friedmann from The Trade Show Coach. 
     

  3. Don't be too rigid and put your revenue objectives above anything else.  

    I get it – you want to have standards and make money. Who doesn't? But you have so many rules when it comes to EACs that make it virtually impossible for outside vendors to come in, even if they have a long-term relationship with the exhibitor. Standards make sense but knocking a vendor out because you don't personally know them, doesn't. 

    Also, adding exhibitors that are not a right fit for the show is a mistake. You will get them once and then they will be gone. 
     

  4. Give exhibitors information in the way they want to receive it. 

    Some will want attendee information on paper, others digitally. Some will want detailed information about attendees others just a cursory scan. The important thing is to give them what they want. 
     

  5. Allow for flexibility on the floor. 

    Some exhibitor's will want to set appointment, others will want to have a product launching event and others yet will want to set up a relaxing lounge armed with a charging station

    As long as the booth participants don't create a safety hazard or infringe on others, let it happen. 


EXHIBITORS

  1. Target your attendees. 

    Every attendee is not a right fit for you. If you receive #4 from above from your show manager, you should be able to target a very small segment of attendees in hopes you will have long, mutually beneficial conversations with them. 
     

  2. Go to the education. 

    If you and your team attend the conference as attendees, you may learn about the concerns and challenges of your market and be able to highlight the products and services you offer when they come by your booth. 
     

  3. Keep it interactive. 

    Rent iPads and have touch screens in your booth so attendees can be more in command of the experience. The more visually appealing your booth should equate to more traffic to it and can foster engagement with attendees. 
     

  4. Man the booth with experts. 

    "Attendees don't want to be sold to anymore — they want to be educated," shared Traci Browne, Owner of Red Cedar Marketing. 
     

  5. Emphasize what's new. 

    Attendees want to know what new products and services you have and what is on the horizon. They can go to your website to see what you currently offer. Think of the lure of the auto show; it isn't about what is on the road today, but what is coming. 

Take advantage of our experience and knowledge with trade shows that SmartSource Rentals can provide you! Request a Quote online or call them at 800-888-8686.

6 Super Ways Event Planners can Properly Vet All Speakers
speakersbureau
Feb 14, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

speaker

We have all had them – great, mediocre and just down right lousy speakers. The great ones resonate with the audience; they either make them laugh, cry or think. The lousy ones are all about their message and could be talking to a wall for all they care. You want the great ones, but how do you know if someone is going to make the mark with your attendees? 

Here are six things you can do to make sure you hire the right talent

  1. Book a storyteller. 

    If possible, go see your speaker live before you sign on the dotted line. Do they tell a gripping story that pulls the audience in, all the while getting their message across? This is the year of storytelling and if they aren't good at it, don't hire them. 
     

  2. Make sure they are entertaining. 

    You don't have to hire a jokester, but this person should at a minimum, make your audience members smile and laugh during some part of their talk. Their sense of humor should be natural and part of who they are – not an act. 
     

  3. Timing is everything. 

    If you are hiring someone for a 45-minute presentation, make certain they don't go over their time. At TED, as soon as the speaker starts talking they have a large red timer on stage (that only the speaker can see) that does a countdown. In fact, the more compact their message all the better. It gives the audience time ask a lot of questions and make comments. 
     

  4. Attendee engagement is key. 

    Does the presenter give time in their talk for attendees to learn from each other? The speakers that are most sought after, throw up a question on the PowerPoint presentation equipment and let the audience members talk among themselves about possible answers to that question. You want to observe how the speaker pulls the audience in and if that methodology is effective. 
     

  5. Message + Speaker = Relevance to Attendees

    Can the meeting participants take that message home and immediately apply it to their work? If not, don't hire that speaker! I remember about two years ago, I sat in a presentation where the speaker was trying to use an analogy of how herding horses was like herding attendees. He showed these beautiful photos of the horses on his farm, but at the end of the day there was absolutely nothing I could take home and implement in my business. 
     

  6. Help your speaker be successful. 

    I personally love the TED approach to speaker selection. Not only do they go out and visit potential speakers, but once selected, the TED team helps the speaker cultivate their message to ensure they will be successful. How cool is that? Do you do that for your speakers? Odds are you too busy attending to other meeting logistics or think the speaker will be offended. But the truth of the matter is you both have a vested interest to make each other successful. I think this is why TED sells out consistently year-after-year; because attendees know those speakers are going to be great. 

SmartSource Rentals has a wide array of presentation services audiovisual equipment that can enhance any presenter's talk! Give them a call at 800.888.8686 to learn more about their interactive technology tool rentals

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