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Is it Time to Ctrl+Alt+Delete Your Conference or Meeting?
ctrl_alt_delete_ssr
Apr 30, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

control

If you are as old as I am, you may recall those early days of Personal Computers. I was in sales with IBM at the time, and PCs were all the rage…until that dreaded point when the system would "freeze" and nothing could unlock it…not a stroke of the keyboard or a click of the mouse.  

So, the user was left with no choice but to hold down the CTRL+ALT+DELETE buttons at the same time. All unsaved work on the computer would be lost, the user would complain incessantly but at least the computer would work once again.  

Which made me think of the meeting industry and bring to you these questions:

"Is it time to reboot your event?"

"Is your meeting stuck and frozen  –  unable to move forward?"

If your conference attendance numbers aren't growing and your exhibitors and sponsors are cascading out the door, this may very well be the time to change things up. Let's look at each function individually and determine what should stay and what needs to go. 

CTRL

When event planning, are you trying to control everything? Over-controlling meeting planners try to orchestrate everything and "freak-out" when things don't go along perfectly. The problem with this is, they are seeing the meeting through their own lens, not the one of the event's lifeblood: attendees, exhibitors, sponsors and speakers. 

Empower and trust your stakeholders to make your meeting powerful. Let them run your conference. Let them have a voice and guess what? Your attendance will shoot through the roof and you will sell out your trade show. But you need to sit back, give up that control and stop being so rigid. It isn't your conference and never was. It is their conference. 

ALT

I always say for every problem, there are 50 solutions. And I mean it. Same thing with events – there are literally hundreds of ways to coordinate, plan and execute events and all of them are valid. The key is to be flexible enough to be open to them. 

If your event is stuck and the current format is not working, you have to choose an alternative approach or just stop meeting. Here are a few ways to think differently: 

  • Empower your committee to plan and execute the event. Only serve as an advisor; let them run with it.
     
  • Listen more and talk less. Ask at least 3 questions before you make any statements. Use Audience Response System rentals to poll attendees and rent trade show kiosks to garner what people like and do not like about your event. 
     
  • Get to know your attendees, exhibitors, sponsors and speakers as people – not just money to your organization. We are all human and have families, hobbies and interests. Get to know each other – you might have more in common than you think. Use icebreakers or other methods to share information. 

DELETE

This is one behavior you can implement right away: Delete those things in your conference that are not working. Just because it worked in the past or your always have completed something a certain way, get rid of it if it doesn't serve your conference any longer. 

Continuously survey meeting stakeholders to find out what works and what doesn't. Eliminate unneeded and unwanted products, services, exhibitors and speakers. It is really as simple as that. 

SmartSource Rentals is your total technology solution provider for your next meeting, conference or convention!

5 Fabulous Ways Technology is Changing the Meeting Industry
technology_conferences__ssr
Apr 28, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

technology

Shel Israel, Co-Author of Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy recently spoke to Mitra Sorrells of BizBash Magazine about the five things to be to be aware of when it comes to technology and how they will impact events in the future. 

Here is a synopsis of Sorrells' interview, along with my thoughts on this, especially when it comes to trade show technology. 

THE FIVE TRENDS

Israel said to be on the look out for and continue to integrate the following: 

  1. Mobile Technology, especially Wearable Devices

    We have already been introduced to some of this with Google Glass and Samsung Galaxy Gear – a watch where you can receive phone calls, texts and emails on your wrist. Smartphones will continue to improve – while tablets and laptops will become faster, lighter and cheaper. 
     

  2. Social Media

    It is hard to tell what platforms will survive in the next 5 years; but this is for sure – whatever social channels we evolve to  – they will be apart of our everyday life. This will be true with meetings and events as well. Attendees will become reliant on social to communicate with you, other attendees and your speakers. 
     

  3. Sensors: things talking to things and/or people

    In newer cars, a computer tells you when you need maintenance. Your mobile device will tell you when your appointment is 15 minutes from occurring. This will continue to occur with computers and other devices you use when event planning. 
     

  4. Geolocation

    If you own a smartphone, it can figure out where you are and help you post your location on Facebook, Instagram and FourSquare. It can also help you map directions from Point A to B. There are apps now to show where you are on the trade show floor and those apps will continue to improve throughout time. 
     

  5. Big Data

    This includes data sets with sizes beyond the ability of commonly used software tools to capture, curate, and manage the data – it could have petabytes of data in a single data set.

    The biggest benefit of Big Data is the ability to see trends within a person, organization or event. 

TRADE SHOW USE

Geofencing uses Global Positioning System (GPS) or Radio Frequency identification (RFID) to define geographical boundaries. Programs that incorporate geofencing allow an exhibitor to set up triggers so when a device enters the booth boundaries, a text message or email alert is sent to the exhibitor as to who entered their booth.  

With respect to social media, you can send tweets to your clients and prospects and/or let people know what is happening in your booth via your Video Wall – which can be viewed several feet away.

You can use pinpoint marketing – using Big Data to know where your customers are, what they are doing and what their intentions are –  in order to offer them what they want, when they want it.

Take advantage of SmartSource Rentals experience and knowledge with tradeshow displays. Request a quote or call their sales team at 800-888-8686 for more information.

What does it Mean to be Green? 7 Simple Sustainable Conference Ideas
go_green__aves
Apr 24, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

green

Earlier this month, several of my peers gathered in San Francisco for the Sustainable Meetings Conference hosted by the Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC). The focus of this conference was: 

  • Shorter presentations with audience interaction
  • Visitation of sustainable locations in San Fran – from a green hotel to a farmer's market and
  • Providing a more flexible event format to meet attendee needs. 

This conference got me thinking about sustainability. What is it? How is it different or the same as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)? And with Earth Day just passing a couple of days ago, what does it mean to be green? 

It can all be so confusing when event planning. So here are the three definitions, along with seven simple ways to integrate "greenness" into your meeting. 

WHAT IS SUSTAINABILITY? 

According to GMIC, sustainability is the avoidance of burning fossil fuels, the mining of rare metals and the use of chemicals. Sustainability requires that we source the raw materials which fuel our society in ways which are both ecologically and socially responsible. 

How does this definition relate to the meeting industry? 

  1. Since transportation is often the biggest burner of fossil fuels, look at all the alternatives for your meeting, including: 

    No meeting – make sure your purpose and goals are well defined
    Virtual meeting
    Hybrid meeting – when planning this, consider your event WiFi solution as bandwidth can be a problem
    Regional meeting
    Alternative transportation including train, bus, subway and carpooling
    Choose a meeting that is highly walkable – Walk Score is a great resource for this.  
     

  2. In addition, think about all the energy involved in tree milling to produce your paper, oil to produce your water bottles and chemicals to produce your signage.

    Look for paperless and sustainable alternatives – such as tablets to replace paper, pitchers to replace water bottles and digital signage to replace posters. 

WHAT IS CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY? 

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is when an organization furthers social good, beyond the interests of the firm. CSR encourages positive impact through its activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities, and stakeholders. 

How does this definition relate to the meeting industry? 

  1. With regards to the environment, planners can start to look at the 3 R's (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle).
     
  2. Often times, you are in a destination several miles from your office.
    Work with the local United Way to identify community projects attendees can contribute to for a half-day. 

     
  3. Find out what cause your attendees and employees are passionate about and work toward a monetary and/or labor contribution to that cause. 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE GREEN

Eco-friendly or green practices refer to goods and services, guidelines and policies that inflict reduced, minimal, or no harm at all upon the environment. 

How does this definition relate to the meeting industry? 

  1. Ask for local products and services. 
    From locally grown food to renting audio visual equipment from a local office, all of this has a positive impact on the environment. It cuts down on shipping and storage, plus it is a great boost for the local economy. 

  2. Reduce as much as possible – go paperless, have a good RSVP count, make things simple
    Reuse – go with glass, silverware and china, rent as many items as possible. 
    Recycle – set up recycling stations at your meeting and encourage attendees to recycle. 

SmartSource Rentals is available to help you make your next meeting sustainable! Give them a call today at 800.888.8686  to learn more about their total technology solutions.

8 Items that can have a Huge Impact on Your Event’s AV Budget
budget, SmartSource Rentals, in-house audio visual, outside vendor, AV
Apr 22, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

budget

When event planning, it is important that you know as much about the room layout, presenters' needs, and AV required as it is about the lunch you are serving to attendees. Nothing can make a meeting really shine or make it really dull than faulty or half-baked audio visual equipment

Here are 8 things you can do to keep your budget in line while minimizing the "surprise" element, as originally reported in the Spring 2014 edition of BizBash Magazine

  1. Make Sure Everyone Can See. 

    Check every angle and position of the room and make certain your setting and seating are right. The last thing you want is an obstacle in the room or learn that the rear projector won't work because there isn't enough room for it based on attendance.  

  2. Ensure that Everyone Can Hear. 

    Quality audio is the key to keeping your audience engaged. While people can be inconvenienced if they cannot see the speaker, they will totally zone out if they cannot hear them. Don't share microphones; let every speaker have their own, especially if they are on a panel. 

  3. Understand the Lingo. 

    How much rigging are you going to need and how much will it cost? Rigging consists of the cables and/or ropes used to support any audiovisual rental equipment. 

    How many audio inputs are you going to use? Many things require audio input – including audience response rentals. Count them all up and make certain you have the right sound mixing board to accommodate all your inputs. 

    What about display inputs and outputs? Again you have a finite number of plugs, so you want to make certain you have enough. Account for backup systems, too. 
     

  4. Establish enough Time for Set Up and Teardown. 

    Labor can often times be the biggest AV cost so try and put a 24-hour hold on your meeting rooms before and after your sessions with no additional cost to you. 
     

  5. Ensure you have Enough Bandwidth. 

    AV companies, such as SmartSource Rentals, can provide you with event WiFi solutions. Make sure you read the 6-part series on how to calculate and contract WiFi at SmartSource's sister company, CRE Computer Rental
     

  6. Go Outside the House. 

    When renting audio visual equipment, you may experience a lot of pressure to use the in-house provider. However, there is nothing stopping you from using an outside vendor and you may find it is a lot less expensive to do so. 
     

  7. Check out Ancillary Charges. 

    Electricity, audio patch and storage charges are just a few that you may experience from a venue. Understand what those charges are and how they are calculated. Don't let these charges just show up on your master bill! 
     

  8. Give your Presenters' Clear Content Guidelines and Deadlines. 

    Don't allow your speakers to give you a jump drive or bring in an unknown laptop at the last second. Your AV team will spend more time trying to make the unit work with your PowerPoint presentation equipment than they would have if they had PowerPoint presentations days before the session. 

    Tell them when they need to send the presentation, what format you want it in, how many slides they can use and the time allotted for the presentation. 

 

If you are coordinating a meeting with breakout sessions in several rooms, multiple microphones are being used in one room or the audio visual requirements are becoming too complex, it is probably time to bring in an audio visual specialistsSmartSource Rentals will analyze your needs and budget and then recommend the best equipment for your desired results. Consult SSR early in the process so expensive, last minute changes can be avoided! 

Passive Meeting Participants are Poor Meeting Participants
engage
Apr 16, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

The teacher/student methodology of learning for adults is gone. Dead. Passe. 

With ever distracting technologies vying  for the meeting participant's attention and time, shouldn't you try and make it work for you? It isn't just about getting the attendee's attention, it is about keeping it throughout the duration of the meeting. 

Shawna Suckow, Founder & President of the Senior Planners Industry Network, states, "Return On Attention (ROA) is a fairly new term. Installing elements of collaboration is a requirement these days and speakers who don't realize and address this will become extinct. We learn best by getting involved with the content, not just hearing about it." 

Here are 10 ways to engage attendees at your next meeting, conference or trade show: 

  1. Make sure the speaker allows plenty of time for Q & A. 

    In fact, if they are using PowerPoint presentation equipment, there is a general feeling in the industry that less is more. Use only 10 slides, large visuals and minimal text. This gives a lot of time to address audience queries. 
     

  2. Break up into small problem solving clusters. 

    Break up into groups of 4-6 individuals. Rent iPads and allow for mind mapping or brainstorming applications that will help the group solve the problem at hand. 
     

  3. Use Audience Response System rentals to constantly poll your attendees. 

    Because this system is fast and anonymous, attendees can "speak their mind" without being directly identified. 
     

  4. Speakers can ask this question: "What do you expect to learn in the next hour?"

    Facilitators can write down the responses, ask people to respond via Twitter (using the event's hashtag) or just verbally address what attendees want to learn as they answer the presenter. 
     

  5. "Why are you here?" is another great question to ask attendees to get the conversation started.
     
  6. Begin with some entertainment to get participants laughing or smiling.

    Hiring a local comedian or singer can get your attendees loose and happy to be at your conference. The more people laugh and smile, the more likely they are to be engaged.  
     

  7. Ask your presenters to tweet to attendees – well before the session. 

    Having your speakers carrying on a conversation with attendees before the conference should help the speaker get to know the attendees and what subjects and/or trends they are interested in learning more about. 
     

  8. Rather than cursing social channels, use them to your advantage. 

    Give time for presenters, speakers and attendees to interact with each other through any social medium that makes sense to them. Make time in the program for the speaker to check the social chatter and alter their presentation accordingly. 
     

  9. Set up the room for better networking. 

    Diagram the room for maximum networking options. Ask the venue if they have stored furniture that might be used to create small groups. Once the room diagram is set, obtain buy-in from your caterer, speakers, and the organization you are renting audio visual equipment from. 
     

  10. Don't overset the room with tables and chairs. 

    Remember, you want to make the room look comfortable, cozy and inviting. A large, overset room gives off none of that vibe. 

Orignial Source: MidwestMeetings.com

SmartSource Rentals is a Total Technology provider with 21 locations to serve you! Give them a call at 800.888.8686 to learn more about their innovative technology offerings.

The 6S’ to a Successful Operation at SmartSource Rentals
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Apr 14, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

ssr

SmartSource Rentals (SSR) has taken a bold step to improve efficiencies among its 21 national branch locations through the implementation of  a program to streamline operations and improve workplace conditions. Below is an explanation of the 6S Program and why it should matter to you when considering an audiovisual rental company. 

THE 6S PROGRAM

This program consists of the following components: 

  • Sort: SmartSource consistently goes through their equipment to determine what should be kept and what needs to go. Rather than placing the burden on you, SSR is constantly studying which equipment makes sense to acquire, as well as, retire. 
     
  • Stabilize: They arrange the equipment in a way to create the best workflow with clear labeling and ample signage. Sometimes you need equipment in a hurry or it is a last-minute change request. Your company decided –  when onsite – to use Audience Response rentals instead of paper. Having confidence in an organization that can find the equipment and deliver it quickly, can make the difference in the success of your program. 
     
  • Shine: SSR works continuously to make their work area clean and orderly. As items return from meetings, conferences and trade shows, they are quickly reviewed, maintained and placed back on the shelf. Keeping conference and trade show technology rentals maintained and in great working order is as important to SmartSource as it is to you! 
     
  • Standardize: They are standardizing on work procedures for all team members across the country – from New York to California. 
     
  • Sustain: This phase consists of team members training new employees on the standards. This practice will continue as employees come and go throughout their 21 locations. 
     
  • Safety: This element of the program focuses on identifying and eliminating potential hazards on the floor and creating a safe environment for all workers. 

BENEFITS OF 6S PROGRAM

The following benefits are expected from the implementation of this program:

  • Heightened employee productivity due to proper placement of equipment, standardized work order processes, and ability to get the equipment out faster;
     
  • Reduced work order errors because of proper staff training and improved signage;
     
  • Enhanced safety due to quick and proper placement of equipment and keeping the warehouse very clean. 

"In order to meet our customers' demands, we need to maintain an efficient inventory system where everything is in its proper place, clearly marked, safely stacked and protected….By implementing the 6S program and getting our entire team behind this 'lean' system, we are able to maintain the high customer service standards we have set for our organization," stated Michael McClernon, President and CEO at SmartSource Rentals. 

SmartSource Rentals is your Total Technology Solutions provider and has the audiovisual, computer and Wi-Fi equipment to make your meeting run smooth as silk. Fill out their Quote form to get the process started!

The Ins and Outs of Hybrid Meetings and What They Mean to You
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Apr 10, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

virtual

Although hybrid events have been around for awhile, they are expected to garner more popularity as technology becomes faster, less expensive and more reliable. 

This blog will tackle what a hybrid meeting is, how it is beneficial to you and why it is important to choose a partner that has both AV and IT experience when event planning. 

HYBRID MEETING DEFINITION

A hybrid event is a conference that combines a live event with a virtual component.

WHY HYBRID EVENTS ARE GROWING IN POPULARITY

Hybrid events are: 

  • Cost effective because now they can offer an attractive price point for attendees.  
  • Increasing participation in traditional events. An attendee can "check out" your conference without spending 3-4 days on the road determining whether or not it was worth their time. 
  • Allowing attendees who cannot physically be there due to cuts in travel costs to garner valuable information.
  • Creating a way for attendees to be green if they wish to reduce the carbon footprint of the event. 

GREAT USES OF HYBRID MEETINGS 

If the virtual user is sitting in their office, they can still participate in the event! Here are four great examples of hybrid uses and how speakers and event organizers can make the best use of both audience types. 

Scenario #1: The speakers are up on stage using PowerPoint. 

Live Audience: Will actually see the speakers and view the PowerPoint presentations from a screen, Plasma display or Video Wall

Virtual Audience: Will view the presenter through a live streaming bridge or app and see the online presentation concurrently. 

Scenario #2: The presenter is being recorded, with synchronized slides, for viewing later as a webcast. 

Live Audience: If they know the session is being recorded, they can go back and review the information days and weeks after the seminar ended. 

Virtual Audience: This is probably best for corporate training purposes where for whatever reason you cannot plan on all the virtual attendees to view the presentation live, but the information is vital to the employee's job. 

Scenario #3: You desire interactive presentations between the live and virtual world. 

One of the easiest ways to merge both audience comments, questions and concerns is to create a Twitter Hashtag for your session and make certain everyone knows your speaker's handle from the very start of the session. Put the handle on the footer of their slides along with the hashtag so webcast attendees can go back to view the social stream. 

Scenario #4: You want to integrate photos, videos and other social channels to spread your message. 

Live Audience: By installing a Video Wall, you can have Instagram or Flickr photos displaying dynamically for all attendees to see. You can have a Twitter feed and Vine videos displaying as well.  

Virtual Audience: Remote attendees can view photos and videos on the same social channels as live attendees. They can share photos and videos that are pertinent the conference or topic. Those can be shared on the Wall as well. 

When considering a hybrid event, look for a partner with both AV and IT experience; one that can make sure there is enough bandwidth for the event to succeed and manage your peak usage. Call SmartSource Rentals because they have the experience and knowledge to manage your total technology needs! 

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