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3 Active Steps to Make Certain You Have the Right Event WiFi Solution
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May 30, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

wifi

With the plethora of technological choices available today, as well as, the constant churning of new offerings, is it any wonder that attendees and exhibitors alike yearn for the "shiny new penny"? While renting technology for technology's sake is not a good idea, the important thing is to understand what your meeting participants want to use and how they will use said technology.

Once the technology needs are established, if you don't have enough bandwidth to support the apps, your meeting is virtually dead in the water. Your attendees are going to be extremely dissatisfied and probably won't come back to your conference, given a choice. So, pay attention to what needs to happen in order to serve your audience best. 

"All of this great technology that people talk about is predicated on having a live Internet connection and the proper bandwidth, and in 95% of venues that doesn't exist today. We often found that hotels treat meetings like a wedding with a projector," Christopher J. Kelly, President & Co-Founder of Convene Conference Centers, told Meetings Focus.  

Active Steps to Prepare for WiFi

  1. Survey your attendees, speakers, sponsors, exhibitors and the media about their Internet needs. 

    It is very important to know the following: 

    * What type of devices are they bringing?
    * What apps are they going to run? 
    * What apps are you going use at the conference? 
    * If they are an exhibitor, are they planning on setting up their own MiFi system? 
    * What bandwidth speed is acceptable to all parties? 

    All of these responses are important when determining your true bandwidth needs. 

  2. Negotiate your contract early in the planning process. 

    This may be hard to do if your event is several years out, but start early with the plan and then update or change accordingly. For example, if your conference is 3 years away, gather what you know today and then every 6 months adjust your Wi-Fi plan. 

    What should you be on the look out for? The three things that will probably change your event's WiFi needs over the next couple of years are:

    * Wearable technology such as Google Glass and Samsung SmartWatch
    * Faster WiFi such as LiFi and Google Fiber and 
    * Smarter, higher definition displays such as Touch Screens and
    4K Displays

    Don't assume these Internet solutions will be generally available when your event occurs. Constant monitoring of concrete solutions is what is needed; try and make your contract as fluid as possible. 

  3. Make sure the venue and company you deal with have the proper experience and can recommend fit for purpose event WiFi solutions. 

    If the venue doesn't have enough WiFi capacity, perhaps a WiFi network array is the right addition to your meeting. The important thing is to work with a suppler that is knowledgeable about the proper bandwidth and routers. That supplier should know how to accent the bandwidth that is already in-house and the experience to provide fast, secure and robust Internet service to all attendees. 

 

To explore a Wi-Fi booster for your next meeting, event or trade show, contact SmartSource Rentals at 800.888.8686

Check This Out! Planners Weigh-In on the 3 C’s: Challenges, Changes and Cautions
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May 28, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

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About 600 meeting planners took part in a Meetings Focus Trends survey that concentrated on what planners anticipated to be some of the forthcoming issues in 2014 and beyond. 

Below is a 40,000 foot view of the survey results and a few thoughts and ideas of ways to overcome some of these real-life event planning challenges.

Here are the questions and answers: 

What will be your biggest challenge when planning meetings in the coming year?  

41% said Increasing Costs

27% stated Lower Budget

15% replied Declining Attendance

There is no doubt that meetings are more expensive today due to rising hotel and food charges. With stagnant budgets and waning attendance, this can be the perfect storm to increase a planner's stress level. It is important to shop around for the best value, provide great content and garner more sponsorships for your meeting. 

How has the planning of your meetings changed in the past year?

30% said Increased Workload due to Reduced Staffing

24% stated No Change

24% replied More Complicated Contract Negotiations  

One way to reduce your workload is through the implementation of audiovisual rentals. Electronic registration can overtake manual reg. Audience Response rentals can replace paper surveys. Yes, there is a charge for this equipment, but with the right mix of sponsorships, attendee fees and stakeholder buy-in, you may actually save money! With regards to contract negotiations, strive for a win-win scenario. If you don't understand the contract, continue to ask questions until you have absolute clarity. 

What do you believe is the biggest threat to the meetings industry? 

52% said the Economy

12% stated the Perceived Value of Profession

11% replied Virtual Meetings

The good news is the economy is coming back and meetings are alive and well. With regards to the value of the profession, it is important when event planning that you have measurable goals, objectives and know why the meeting needs to take place. There are relevant reasons why virtual meetings make sense, so don't view them as a threat, but rather an opportunity to work harder at growing your face-to-face events. 

Of the following, what are your most important criteria for selecting a hotel? 

82% said Location

81% stated Rates

40% replied Free Wi-Fi

While I could not agree more that location and rates are very important to your meeting's success, free Wi-Fi can be problematic to most planners due to security and availability issues. Free Wi-Fi isn't really free; so it is best to explore all your event WiFi solutions in order to serve your attendees well. 

In the coming fiscal year, how do you expect your meetings and events budget to change? 

48% said Stay the Same

17% stated Decrease Up to 10%

14% replied Increase Up to 10% 

With most budgets staying the same or decreasing, analyze all your budget items very carefully to determine if they need to stay or go. Many budget items should be evaluated and negotiated year-to-year or meeting-to-meeting. Look at the total cost of the item, including expense, staff time, shipping, drayage and printing. 

For over 30 years, SmartSource Rentals has provided a unique range of rental products and services. Serving the trade show, professional conferences, and general technology markets, they are widely recognized for their breadth and depth of rental offerings and seamless systems integration. 

How Event Planners are Evolving to be Great Content Managers
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May 22, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

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Let's face it: Whether you like it or not, attendees are creating content about your meeting or event. The good, the bad and the ugly. But rather than trying to hold your attendees down or back — why not let their commentaries, along with your own, add to the value of your meeting? 

Julius Solaris, Editor of the Event Manager Blog, recently wrote a post about ways event planning is changing. Below are a few of his thoughts, along with mine, on how audio visual equipment can assist in your own event's evolution. 

BENEFITS OF ALLOWING CONTENT TO FLOW

  • You Can Influence Attendees and They Can Influence Each Other. 

    Rather than trying to control the meeting, you can listen to attendees because as Solaris states, they are a "gold mine for content." Encourage creation and give attendees tools to share it. iPad and laptop rentals, preloaded with social channels, are ideal if attendees are encouraged to leave their devices at home. Listen and join the conversation. Let attendees change up your meeting organically and by listening, you will show them that you care. 
     

  • It is Exclusive to the Meeting. 

    Your meeting has unique content because you are creating a face-to-face experience with a set group of attendees, exhibitors and speakers in a destination that cannot be created again. It is reality TV at its best. 
     

  • It is Media Rich. 

    Meetings have the best combination of PowerPoint presentations, photos, videos and social postings. Show the information on Video Walls, Charging Stations and Trade Show Kiosks. 
     

  • The Best Content is Co-Created. 

    Rather than trying to post everything yourself, if attendees are encouraged to share, like and create content, your load becomes a lot lighter and the content now has legs. More points of view on a topic, speaker or event make it interesting – even if they don't happen to coincide with your own. 
     

  • Attendees Want it. 

    61% of consumers say they feel better about a company that delivers custom content and are more likely to buy from that company. 

    According to Solaris, this transfers to attendees as well; so trade show exhibitors take note. Customize your content to each attendee's needs. 
     

  • It Tells Your Event's Story. 

    We all crave great stories and want to be told or be part of them. A good story is authentic, creative and makes a personal connection that inspires action, according to Fathom Events

FOCUS ON CONTENT CURATION, CONTENT CREATION and CONTENT PROMOTION

  • Content Curation focuses on gathering and sharing valuable information to attendees about posts, blogs and articles that are relevant to your attendees. 
     
  • Content Creation is just that – encouraging attendees to write original posts, blogs and articles about what they experienced at your conference. 
     
  • Content Promotion is the use of social channels to allow the content to go viral. 

 

SmartSource Rentals can provide your meeting with iPads, Video Walls and Trade Show Technology to make your event spectacular! Give us a call today at 800.888.8686 to get the process started!  

Tech Trends and Advice for the Future, Meeting U Style
May 20, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

Jim Spellos,Owner of Meeting U., recently spoke to Michael Pinchera, Editor of The Meeting Professional about future technology trends and challenges for both meetings and their planners. Below is a synopsis of the article, along with a few definitions and my own thoughts about what Jim had to say. 

3 Tech Trends That Are Evolving

Spellos believes,when event planning, you should be on the lookout for the following technologies: 

  • Augmented Reality (AR) is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. 

    Here is a brief video from The Wall Street Journal demonstrating how AR works: 

    When event planning, AR apps can be used in conjunction with iPad rentals or other mobile devices. I can see them being utilized when an attendee scans a photo of a speaker's face and the app will launch into a brief video about that presenter's topic. It can be used to enhance sponsorships or with trade show technology to drive attendees to your exhibitor's booth. 
     

  • Geofencing is location-based mobile service that lets you, your exhibitors and sponsors send messages to an attendee's smartphone when they enter a defined geographic area. 

    In the meeting industry, this app can be used to engage attendees. Speakers, sponsors and exhibitors can send messages, promotions and invitations to attendees when they enter a specific region. 

    "All you need is an app and GPS coordinates," said Tony Costa, Senior Analyst at Forrester Research, to CIO magazine
     

  • Mobile Devices are small, handheld computing devices, that typically having a touch screen and weigh less than 2 pounds. 

    In the meeting industry, you are usually talking about iPad rentals or tablet rentals. With the addition of wearable technology, including Smartwatches and Google Glass, mobile devices will continue to grow in acceptance and popularity with attendees. 

    However, as a planner, you need to be aware of event WiFi solutions. Due to weak antennas on most tablets and wearable devices, you will need more access points and many times the venue will not be able to provide you with the bandwidth or the access to run your meeting efficiently. 

Meeting Planners Greatest Challenges

Spellos stated planners have many challenges, which include: 

  • Keeping up with changes. It is important that you know what your tech options are and how they can save your organization time and/or money. 
  • Making sure technology is supporting the goals and objectives of the meeting.
  • Feeling you are always behind. Technology usage can be overwhelming; solicit the use of mentors and peer groups to help you make the best decision for the organization. 

"There's a fine line in today's tech workplace between patience and being 'behind the times,' and that puts everyone, not just planners in an awkward acceptance cycle," Spellos stated. 

What Planners Should Do

Spellos said you should: 

  • Educate yourself about the above trends and continue to be open to new technology options. 
  • Push past your own comfort zone. 
  • Don't abandon the technology if it isn't adapted right away; give it some time. 

Contact SmartSource Rentals at 800.888.8686 to request a technology rental quote today!

8 Great Ways Google Glass can Rock Your Next Meeting
May 16, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

What is Google Glass and how is it applicable in the meetings industry? Glass is a wearable technology that goes over a user's right eye and allows them to do pretty much everything they would on a computer or smartphone including web searches, answer phone calls, and complete video recordings. It is integrated with Google+, GMail and other apps

Here is a brief video of what Glass looks like: 

Below are 8 great uses of Glass by meeting professionals that are using this technology and are part of the Explorer program. This blog post is a microcosm of an article originally posted in BizBash magazine and has even more meeting uses cited there.  

Hugh Lee the Owner of Fusion Productions has been wearing Glass for around four months and uses it in the following ways: 

  1. Hands-Free PowerPoint Presentations Control
    Instead of having to look at the screen or teleprompter, Lee can look at his notes and slides on Glass. 
     
  2. Translation of Your Digital Signage
    This is great for international attendees who cannot read the signage. It isn't perfect, because it is slow, but Lee stated it is better than the alternative – which is no translation at all. 
     
  3. Breakout Descriptions as You Near the Room. 
    Through the use of Glass and geofencing, Lee can see a brief description of the speaker, including tips and slides, while he is nearing the session. 

Jessica Levin, President of Seven Degrees Communications, has been wearing Glass for over 10 months and feels it offers the following insights: 

  1. The Ability to Transition to a Hands-Free World. 
    She feels this is the next big boom with technology; just as smartphones were 5+ years ago. 
     
  2. Second Screen and Elimination of Large Screens in the Front. 
    Individuals will be able to see PowerPoint on their Glass and hold interactive presentations with the presenter through social media channels or texting. No screens in the front; just the presenter. 

Dan Parks the President and Creative Director of Corporate Planners United has been using Glass for 6 months and finds it useful in the following areas: 

  1. Taking Notes. 
    When he wants to take notes, all he has to do is say "take a note" and a microphone will appear and when he stops, it sends the results to Evernote. 
     
  2. Video Recording. 
    When in a meeting, you can record what everyone says and then that becomes the living, breathing document of truth. 

David Haas, Director of Technology Solutions at Freeman XP has been a Glass Explorer for about a month. He loves: 

  1. Google+ Hangouts. 
    As long as you have a G+ account, you can have a hangout which allows you to videoconference with up to 10 individuals at the same time. All he says is, "Glass, set up a Hangout" and it is done. 

Are you event planning soon? Call on the audio visual and Wi-Fi experts at SmartSource Rentals to help with your next event! 

5 Key Trends that Will Transform Your Next Meeting
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May 14, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

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At the Global Pharmaceutical and Medical Meetings Summit last February, Compliant Venues Ltd., outlined 10 global trends they see that will affect healthcare meetings and events. What I find interesting about these trends is they are not going to just resonate in the healthcare field; but in the entire industry as a whole. 

I have plucked out 5 of the 10 for today's blog post and how they apply in event planning efforts for future meetings. 

Global Trend #1: Hybrid meetings, sponsorship of third-party activities and multi-company events will increase. 

What does this mean for you? Let's break down each one of these entities for further clarification: 

Hybrid meetings have a live and virtual component to them – hence the term hybrid. It should not be a shock to anyone as individuals become busier, technology options improve, and event WiFi solutions present more robust options, that individuals pick and choose which meetings they will travel to and which ones they will view from their laptop. 

Sponsorship of activities is not a new concept but is gaining some ground because of third-party activities in the areas of CSR, networking and digital options are expanding. These opportunities will continue to grow as planners implement fun into their meeting through gamification and entertaining speakers. 

Multi-company events are similar to the co-location model. Why spend more money on a venue, room block, and audiovisual rentals when two or more organizations can band together and use the same meeting space, hotel, and AV equipment – while harnessing true economic leverage? This is a "win-win" for all parties. Each organization spends less money, the hotel and suppliers more than double their expected revenue. 

Global Trend #2: Events for 20 or more people will increase; one-on-one events with healthcare professionals will decrease. 

What does this mean for you? This is good news for event planners because you will now be planning and executing more meetings. 

Global Trend #3: Meeting-management companies will be central gatekeepers to corporate spend. 

What does this mean for you? If you are an independent meeting agency, your client will be looking to you to set the budget, send out the RFPs and manage the event vendors. 

Global Trend #4: Sponsored attendance at international events will decrease in favor of attendance at niche events with focused science at a national level. 

What does this mean for you? Hosted buyer programs will decrease on the international level and focused, niche events will take precedence here in the US. We are seeing it already because potential attendees are having to justify their reason for going to a conference.  

Global Trend #5: Terms and conditions will be increasingly central to meeting-venue choices by corporate buyers. 

What does this mean for you? It means that T's and C's will be driving the venue choice, so make certain you understand the contract front and back. The last thing you want to happen is to have the buyer ask you why your meeting incurred a bunch of extra unexpected expenses.  

SmartSource Rentals is your Total Technology Solutions Provider! Whether you rent iPads or a WiFi array, know that they have a wide selection of AV, computer and IT tools to take your meeting into the future. 

2 Ways Attendees Can Hear Your Trade Show Messages without Going Deaf
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May 12, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

listener

"What did you say?" 

Think about your exhibit hall…what words come to mind? How about noisy, busy and hard to hear? 

But what if you and your exhibitors could deliver your messages in a quiet atmosphere – albeit, still on that noisy floor? Impossible you say? Not really! Below are two examples of doing just that:

The first is using wireless headsets (think museum exhibits) and the other is called a sound shower where conversations are encapsulated in a "dome" to ensure background noise is kept to a minimum. This blog post will explain how both of these offerings work and how you might take advantage of them for your next show. 

Wireless Headsets

At the Million Dollar Round Table last February, the exhibit hall has many barriers to hear, which included: 

  • 2,000 attendees on the floor at the same time; 
  • 10' x 10' trade show booths stacked next to each other; 
  • Booth presentations – with many of them being concurrent sessions
  • Networking pods
  • A hospitality area and
  • A trade show technology bar. 

With all this activity going on, is it any wonder attendees had a hard time hearing? 

Given that things were not going to change, the organizers' turned to an infrared amplification system to broadcast the presenter's message to wireless headsets. The ConneXion Zone, as they called it, was divided into 5 zones, each one having its own audio channel. 

The results? 

"Attendees were able to really focus in on the sessions they wanted to hear, without any other distractions. We saw people asking questions, and in every one of the zones, people went up to talk to the speakers to continue the conversation," stated Audra Kubilius, event program planner for Million Dollar Round Table. 

Sound Shower

Have you ever been on a trade show floor and wanted to see a demonstration of a product or talk further with a vendor but really could not because the noise level was too high? 

Welcome to the environment of a large, crowded trade show floor. 

But what if you could carry on said conversation with highly-focused and amplified audio, tailored specifically to be heard only by visitors within a specified listening area? In other words, only the people in the zone could hear and listen to each other – what would you think of that? 

This technology, offered by SmartSource Rentals, has a microphone and amplifier that listen to and automatically respond to the level of ambient noise based on real-time noise level on the trade show floor. 

The benefits of a sound shower are: 

  • Clean and crisp audio 
  • Highly targeted sound with no spill-over effect
  • Volume control automatically responds to background noise

In summary, whatever you choose to rent for the trade show floor, it is important that attendees hear the message! 

When renting audio visual equipment, please contact SmartSource Rentals to learn more about their innovative sound offerings! 

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