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4 Ways to Turn Off Trade Show Attendees
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Jun 27, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

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You worked so hard with your organization, event planning staff and the show manager to obtain the right position on the floor. You spent hours combing the best marketing materials and tchotchkes to provide. And last but not least, you spent thousands of dollars to fly yourself and staff to the 3-day conference. 

When it was all said and done – what was the result? Less than stellar leads and staff that were bored out of their mind. 

Before you go blaming the show manager or event planner, take a harder look at your booth, technology and staff. Trade Show News Network recently wrote a blog post about the reasons attendees don't trust booth staffers. Here are four reasons why you might be missing the mark and what to do about each and everyone of them. 

Turn Off Tactics

Your Booth Looks Like it was Built in 1960. 

When an attendee comes toward your booth, does it look clean, new and modern? If you don't have comfy seating, touch screen monitors and charging stations for attendees to charge their mobile devices, you are probably missing out. Digital is in, print is out. Sitting is in, standing is out. Modern clean designs are in, shabby overcrowded booths are out. 

Your Staff Ignores Attendees. 

It is critical that you have knowledgeable, friendly staffers that are "on" all the time. They need to pay attention to the flow on the floor. If they have iPad rentals, they can move around the floor and and engage the attendees wherever they are. 

Your Staff Does All the Talking. 

No one likes someone who talks all the time and never asks any questions. If your staff is constantly pitching your products without asking any questions, the attendee will cut the conversation off quickly. In addition, you don't know if the person they are talking to is a qualified lead or not. 

Invest in a lead retrieval system to capture attendee demographic information. Train your staff to ask qualifying questions and then to listen for cues about what direction to go with the attendee. Remember, very few attendees are going to match up with your product offerings, so it is important to spend time with the ones that do and acknowledge the ones that don't. 

Your Staff Doesn't Know Your Company Offerings. 

"Booth Babes" are also a thing of the past. While they may still be effective for basic B2C shows, when you get into technical B2B shows a good looking man or woman who knows nothing about your products or services is a booth albatross. They offer nothing but their looks and attendees wonder why they even bothered to stop by. 

Bring knowledgeable staff to your show and arm them with technology that will help build credibility to your team, company and most of all, garner you a better chance at closing new business. 

SmartSource Rentals is a total technology solutions provider and a preferred vendor at many trade shows.Call them at 800.888.8686 to learn more about their offerings! 

7 Super Questions to Ask Your Lighting Partner
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Jun 25, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

Lighting – just like sound – can either enhance or degrade your attendees’ meeting experience. Lighting is meant to set the mood and create an atmosphere where meeting participants feel invited and welcome.

Most organizers, when event planning, rely solely on the venue to provide lighting options. However, the right audiovisual rental company can provide a plethora of excellent lighting options for your next event. The key is to determine who can and cannot meet your lighting needs.

BizBash recently consulted industry experts and came up with seven terrific questions you should ask any lighting vendor when you are considering using them. Here they are along with a few of my own thoughts.

Lighting Questions

  1. Do you own your lights? Sometimes when renting audio visual equipment, the vendor needs to subcontract to other suppliers due to the sheer volume of the request. However, if your partner owns very little of their equipment, this can be problematic because they ultimately do not have total control over availability and pricing.
  2. Do you have insurance and are your employees bonded? Ask to see the vendor’s certificate of insurance and make certain everyone that is working on your event is bonded. The last thing you want to happen is to have your lighting supplier have an unbonded workman rigging your lights onto a 20 foot ceiling. Don’t open yourself up to a lawsuit – keep those certificates with you onsite and make copies to keep back in the office.
  3. Does the vendor have enough power to run the lighting? Have your lighting partner come to your site visit and meet with venue personnel that understand the power grids in each meeting room. You want the vendor to accomplish two things at this meeting: 1) Determine if there is a potential for electrical overload and 2) Will the venue be charging you additional electrical fees and how much to expect. Try to cap that fee in your contract, as it is really a guess on the part of the venue when they bill you.
  4. What is allowed and not allowed by your vendor at the venue? Can your lighting vendor bring in, install and strike the lighting? Or do they need to rely on the union folks to bring in and rig your lighting? If it is the latter, how much will that cost you?
  5. Is a lighting console needed and how much space is required? If the answer is yes then you need to work this table (plus power requirements) into your meeting room schematic.
  6. What are my lighting options? Color, LED, pinpoint are all great options depending on what you want to accomplish. Make sure you ask what lighting works best in which environment. Don’t assume anything!
  7. Can the cables be hidden? It is great to have wonderful lighting options, but if the cables look unruly or are taking over your meeting space, all mood effect is lost. Work with your lighting experts to come up with a great plan to meet your needs.

SmartSource Rentals lighting designer can determine which type of lighting works best for your event and fits into your budget. They will work hard to provide you the light equipment rentals you need to create the mood and direct the attention to where you want it. Request a quote or call them at 800.888.8686 today!

Perfecting Your Sponsorship Pitch in 8 Easy Steps
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Jun 23, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

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It doesn’t matter how much you hate to do it, it must be done. I’m talking about getting out there and asking for sponsorships for your next meeting, conference or trade show. Most individuals in the event planning arena, postpone this like a trip to the dentist or doctor. And this is knowing that sponsorship dollars are even tougher to get.

What can you do to make those dollars flow your way? Eventbrite recently posted a blog about the 15 ways to perfect your pitch deck of which I gleemed some ideas and have thrown in a few of my own. Please let me know if these thoughts are working for you and any other ideas you have to gain new sponsorship funding.

8 Steps to Sponsorships

  1. Research your prospects. Based on what you know about your attendees and exhibitors, figure out which sponsors make the most sense to go after. Make your list and do some research about the company, top management and their involvement in your industry BEFORE placing that call.

  2. Present factual details about your conference. Don’t try to snow your sponsors with how many attendees and exhibitors you are going to have and the type of speakers you are trying to get. Sponsors want to know what you have right here and right now. Share with them the dates of your event, location, agenda, booked speakers, booked sponsors and confirmed attendees.

  3. Paint a picture about last year’s conference. If you are asking early in your conference cycle, give them the facts about past conferences.

  4. If possible, always go for a face-to-face ask. Sponsorship asks should not be handled through blanket emails or social channels. They should handled over a meal or at your sponsor’s office. After all, you are asking them for thousands of dollars.Your order for requests should be: face-to-face, telephone call or videoconference followed immediately with an email, or an email followed up with a phone call. 

    Whatever you do, don’t send out blanket emails or social channel requests. These type of requests smack of laziness and apathy on your part. Show that you care and you will get the respect, if not dollars, you deserve.

  5. If they sponsored your event in the past, remind them what year(s) they did so and at what level. 

  6. Make it very easy to connect with you. At a face-to-face meeting, give your business card and all your pertinent contact information. Make sure you are on LinkedIn and all your contact information is filled out there, as well. Make it a point to let prospective clients know you are very responsive and they can reach you via phone, text, email or social. And then respond within at least 24 hours.

  7. Always be willing to customize your offerings. Throw out the concept of diamond, gold and silver levels. Those are dead, dead, dead.Look at new digital offerings such as video sponsorships on charging stations or via electronic registration kiosk rentals. When event participants log onto the WiFi splash page or access an app, sponsors can show a brief video prior to that access permission.

    Ask what they want and be flexible.

  8. Give them time.Don’t expect the sponsor to pull out their checkbook on the first call. It might take up to 7 touches and several months before they say yes. You want them, so give them the time to run it up the flagpole for approvals. Typically, the larger the company, the longer the process.

SmartSource Rentals is your national Total Technology provider with 21 locations around the United States to serve you. Give them a call at 800.888.8686 to learn more about the breadth and depth of their offerings!

Bring Your Conference Enthusiasm Back to the Office in 3 Easy Steps
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Jun 19, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

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Have you ever attended a conference so jazzed when you left you thought your feet were off the ground? You heard great speakers, absorbed new content and made a list of 15 things you want to do differently when you return to the office. 

The problem? 

No one heard what you did and when you share with your team the content, you receive a less than enthusiast response. 

This is exactly what happened to Dan Berger and Trever Lynn from Social Tables, an event planning company, when they returned home from PCMA's Convening Leaders conference last January. 

"They both came back so energized about everything they learned and they wanted everyone else on the team to feel the same level of inspiration," stated Sarah Ghessie, Operations Manager at Social Tables. 

Here are 3 simple ways to keep the folks back home in the loop during your conference and help them grab that enthusiasm shortly after you return home.

 

Tip #1: Make Every Session Hybrid. 

With hybrid sessions, part of your team can be at the session and part can be at the office or at home. The most important thing is that everyone sees the same content at the same time. In addition, if individuals back home are tied up, they can bring up the session on demand at a later time and date. 

However, with hybrid events you need to work on your event WiFi solutions. Just relying on the venue's WiFi infrastructure is probably not enough – look into WiFi Router Rentals for additional capacity. 
 

Tip #2: Have Every Employee Choose a Session and Create Interactive Presentations about it. 

At Social Tables they did exactly this and in the interest of time each presentation was Pecha Kucha style (6 minutes and 20 seconds for each presentation). 

"For about an hour each day for one week the entire team gathered to learn about the key trends and issues impacting our industry," stated Ghessie. 
 

Tip #3: Use SlideShare or Prezi on iPad or Laptop Rentals and Annotate Your Thoughts. 

One way to get everyone involved, is share all the PowerPoint presentations with attendees on their mobile rentals, allow them to take notes within the app and ship the presentation and notes back to the office via the cloud or email system. 

The home crowd can even view the same materials at the same time via screen sharing technology such as JoinMe. 

 

SmartSource Rentals is a premier interactive technology tool rental company that provides iPads, Wi-Fi network arrays, kiosks, and technical coordination for events. Give them a call at 800.888.8686 to learn more how they can help you keep the enthusiasm going between local and virtual attendees! 

3 Ways Planners can Stay Ahead of the Technology Curve
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Jun 17, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

I think most event planning organizations would agree with this statement: Meeting planning used to be a whole lot simplier. Food & Beverage, Rooms Blocks and renting Audio Visual equipment was a breeze. No worries about food allergies, attendees going around the block or confusion about what to rent. 

In the meeting room, it would be coffee, a stage, podium and PowerPoint Presentation Equipment. Easy-peasy. Attendees were happy. Presenters were happy. Sponsors were happy. 

So, what happened? In a word – technology. Here are 3 ways most rental companies are keeping up and bringing value based alternatives to planners like you.  

AHEAD-OF-THE-CURVE SOLUTIONS

  1. Look at All Your Alternatives. 

    When planning your meeting, keep an open mind about technology. Here are some things to consider: 
     

    • Stage Lighting – Could be anything from LED to Solar Powered – check and choose the best option for your event. 
    • Trade Show Technology Rentals now include Sound Showers to keep sound in a bubble and remove exterior noise.
    • Learning Lounges or Relaxation Stations are now set up in living room formats armed with iPad rentals and Charging Stations to allow attendees to recharge themselves and their devices at the same time. 
    • WiFi event solutions now need to be in every area of the event space; as those areas are now community meeting areas of 4 to 14 individuals. 
  2. Flexibility is the Key. 

    Attendees now want flexible seating in meeting rooms and opportunity to meet in ubiquitous locations such as hallways or previously considered dead spaces within the venue. 

    These new configurations are calling for Second Screens, where attendees can view what is on stage from their mobile device. They don't even need to be in the room due to live streaming options available at most event locations. 

    In addition, large Plasma Displays may make sense where meeting participants are unable to easily view the stage; whether they are in the back of the room or out in the hallway. 

    "Events today are constantly evolving in terms of formats, technology and delegate expectations and centers need to be able to respond to this – often within the constraints of a fixed set of spaces," stated Geoff Donaghy, CEO of International Convention Centre Sydney. The good news is your audiovisual rental organization can provide great options when you run into limitations within the space. 
     

  3. Natural Light can Now Work to Your Advantage. 

    Do you remember the days when the curtains needed to be closed and the lights dimmed in order to see a presentation? Due to great innovations, this is no longer the case. The lumens on a LCD projector can vary and respond to natural light within a meeting room. Attendees are more engaged and responsive if they are exposed to natural light and a scenic view. 

    In addition, many planners are moving their meetings outside. When event planning, consider using WiFi Network Arrays that can extend the venue's network outdoors in a safe, robust and fast Internet environment. 

Overall, event planners are looking for attractive, modern seating options with the right lighting coupled with fit-to-purpose WiFi solutions for business and social interaction. If you work with a partner like SmartSource Rentals, they can bring state-of-the-art interactive technology solutions to your meeting while staying within your budget guidelines! 

4 Fantastic Ways to Find Attendees for Your Next Conference
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Jun 13, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

searchAs a meeting planner myself, I understand the struggles you have in achieving maximum attendance at your meetings and events. It seems as if everyone is in "last minute" mode and I know a number of associations have taken the penalty fee stance for walk-in or late registrants. 

Rather than fighting the attendee to come to your event, shouldn't there be a better way to get them there? Here are 4 ideas that were originally inspired by The Meeting Professional magazine. I hope they help you achieve maximum success! 

4 FANTASTIC WAYS 

  1. Content is Your Trump Card, Every Time. 

    When attendees make their decision to attend your conference, they are looking for great content that can help them improve their job, team and/or career options. Spend most of your time defining why you need this meeting, what needs to be said and how the attendee will benefit from the messaging. 

    All things being equal, attendees will come to your conference if you have more to offer than competing conferences. 
     

  2. Make Your Destination Easy to Get to and Affordable. 

    You now have the attendee interested in coming to your event based on your content, but now you need to wrestle with 3 logistical considerations

    1) The date
    2) The location and
    3) The total cost

    Regarding the date, remember no matter what date or dates you choose, approximately 25% of your prospective attendee base will say no for a plethora of reasons that have nothing to do with you. So, focus on the 75% who are going to make their decision to move forward based on the following criteria: 

    1) How long will it take me to fly or drive to that destination? 
    2) Can I obtain a direct flight? (Big deal nowadays with constant flight delays)
    3) If I fly, is the event close to the airport?
    4) If I drive, is there free and ample parking?
    5) What is the cost of the conference?
    6) What is the cost of the hotel room?
    7) Will I have someone checking my email or handling my appointments when I am gone or am I expected to keep up with everything going on back at the office? (This is where event charging kiosks can help in a big way.)
     

  3. When building out the agenda, leave ample time for networking and fun. 

    Even if you are holding your event in a second- or third-tier city, there are things to do and place to go that attendees have not participated in before. Poll your attendees beforehand and have a list of interests that will include attractions, dining and networking options. 
     

  4. If you are using digital methods for promotion, know where your attendees live. 

    With 5 generations potentially attending your conference, know which social channels they use and make effective use of those channels. For example, Facebook is not an effective tool for Gen Y and Z, but it is for Xers and Boomers. Gen Y and Z do not check emails, yet this is a very effective tool for Boomers and the Mature market. 

SmartSource Rentals, provides meeting and event planners with laptop rentals, kiosk rentals, and much, much more! Give them a call today at 800.888.8686 to learn more about their offerings! 

Survey Results Can Shape a Better Conference Experience
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Jun 11, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

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SAP recently held their Sapphire Now in Orlando for 20,000 attendees. Based on feedback from meeting participants who attended last year’s conference, the event planning team at SAP really stepped up to make this user conference everything the attendee wanted.

Michael Trovalli, Vice President of Global Events at SAP, recently shared with BizBash, “The top two things (attendees) want is to hear the thought leadership and future vision of the company from our senior executives, which we’ve always given them. But a close second is they want the ability to network with peers.”

WHAT EVENT LOGISTICS CHANGED

SAP event management changed two major things; the number of small meetings and the number of sessions within the conference.

Event managers added 40% more meeting space for one-on-one or small meeting groups. These individualized sessions went from 3,000 to 5,000 meetings taking place over the three-day conference. Organizers also made the space more approachable by removing walls and making it more airy and open.

In addition, SAP changed their event line-up. They took the following actions:

  • Went from 6 to 3 campuses
  • Reduced presentation theaters from 9 to 5 and
  • Cut down the number of event sessions by 20%

“We’ve reorganized the content much more in the terms and worlds they think in as opposed to how we like to think of ourselves,” stated Trovalli.

HOW SURVEY METHODS CHANGED

SAP focused on attendees through extensive surveying methods. Here is what they did:

  • 400 volunteers asked attendees about the registration process or the mobile app. This data can be collected through an app on an iPad or laptop rental. Volunteers can ask the questions and immediately input the data. In addition, Audience Response rentals work well if the attendees are in a large meeting space.
  • 70 members of Trovalli’s staff gathered and continue to gather customer feedback on a monthly basis. 
  • 20 individuals served on a customer advisory board and conducted pre-event surveys and worked with facilitators on their sessions. 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • By focusing on different survey methods, through a combination of volunteers and staff, SAP was able to create and use measurable, workable conference solutions aimed a pleasing the attendee.
  • Attendees need opportunities to meet one-on-one or in small groups with living room style environments.
  • Attendees want fewer, quality sessions focused on content where they can easily network with each other.

​​SmartSource Rentals is your event planning partner and has laptops, iPads and Wi-Fi network arrays available for your next conference. Don’t delay, call SmartSource today at 800.888.8686 for more information!

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