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Attendees Not Coming Back? 5 Fab Ways to Retain Them
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Aug 26, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

Every event planner’s dream is to have 100% (or close to that) of attendees come back to their conference year-after-year. While this may seem like a lofty goal, the fact that most meetings are experiencing 50-90% turnover at their annual conferences is not good.

And to drive home the reasons why retention should be important to you, let’s look at these two startling statistics:

  • It takes 20% of your time to keep existing attendees and 80% to groom new ones.
    Why is that? Because you have to market, sell and persuade prospective attendees to come and maybe even help them convince their boss. Existing attendees know the drill – and more importantly – what to expect.
  • According to Harvard Business Review, increasing retention by just 5% can mean increased profits of 25-90% at your event.

But you are still left scratching your head and wondering, “Why don’t they come back?

Julius Solaris, Editor at www.eventmanagerblog.com recently compiled 20 Attendee Retention Tactics. I have highlighted 5 of them that you can complete while at your conference in order to keep attendees from slipping away.

5 Retention Tactics

Engage Attendees

Whether it is a gamification app on iPad rentals or displaying live Tweets and Instagram photos on a video wall, attendees love to play and engage in content regardless of age or other demographic details.

Find speakers who encourage this interaction and work on contests and challenges as an integral part of your event strategy.

Surprise Them

The most memorable conferences I ever attended were ones that had some mystery to them. I can remember attending an incentive conference years ago and every night, when I returned to the room, there would be a little gift and note from the event staff thanking me for attending the conference. It really wasn’t about the value of the gift, it was more about “what would tonight bring?”

Think about ways you can shake up your conference.

Ask for Feedback…and then Do Something with it

It is one thing to ask for feedback, but it is quite another to do something about it. If there are questions, complaints or comments on site, listen to them and get a response back to the attendee as quickly as possible. If you are going to do fix or do what they want, great! Let them know when. If you are not, let them know why.

You can use Audience Response System rentals to quickly and anonymously gather feedback from your group.

Listen and Respond to Social Channels

It is very important that in addition to Audience Response rental unit use, you and your event planning staff be tuned into what is going on within the social channels. Have someone monitor them constantly, set up an event hashtag and promote it often.

If someone is at your event, the expectation will be that they will receive some sort of response within an hour (unless their comment is posted at 3 AM).

Announce Next Year’s Conference Early and Often

While you have a captive audience, let them know the date, time and location of next year’s event. Post it on the video wall rental, message it to attendee’s mobile devices and remind them several times throughout the event.

Even allow for electronic registration during your conference. If you think it is needed, give them a discount as an incentive to register.

SmartSource Rentals, is your total technology solutions provider and has a breadth and depth of feedback engagement tools including wireless Audience Response systems, iPads and much more. Give them a call today at 800.888.8686 to get started!

Have Mobile Event Apps Reached Their Tipping Point?
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Aug 22, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

Ah yes, it appears they have.

According to a recent survey of meeting and event planning professionals by DoubleDutch and MPI, mobile app integration into conferences is already happening or is planned to take place in the future.

Below is an executive overview of their findings and how you and your stakeholders can prepare to adapt.

Survey Says

  • 63% of planners currently offer or have developed a mobile app for their meeting or event.
  • 60% plan on using an event app in the future while
  • 40% have not used a meeting app and do not plan to use one anytime soon.
  • Senior planners are more likely to use a mobile app than junior planners.
  • Budget approval is related to the attendee experience versus how much revenue the app can generate.
  • What are the barriers to entry for the mobile app marketplace?
    • First is Cost
    • Second is the App Doesn’t Fit the Event Needs
    • Third is a concern about WiFi availability

How You can Address the Barriers to Entry

COST

When you look at the total cost of mobile, including iPad rentals, development time and the app itself, you need to weigh it against the total cost of the current way you do things. Consider your time, staff time, writing, printing, editing, correcting copying, assembling, storage and shipping of printed products. IIf you add up everything, your comparative costs will be closer than you think.

APP DOESN’T FIT THE EVENT NEEDS

While this can possibly be true, and I do not believe in implementing technology for technology sake, chances are pretty high there is an app out there to replace your conference binder, allow your attendees to take notes and let them communicate efficiently with the speakers and each other. It just may be that you are not looking in the right places.

Do a deeper search. Ask event technology experts. Ask your peers. Check with Google. But most of all – ask your attendees what they want and what they use. If your attendees don’t use mobile technology at all, handing them an iPad or laptop rental won’t mean anything to them. However, if they use technology every day, handing them a conference binder will be just as offensive. Figure it out by asking precursor questions.

CONCERN ABOUT WIFI AVAILABILITY

This is a very valid concern and one that needs to reach its own tipping point. What bandwidth the venue provides may or may not be enough. On top of that, it may not be fast or secure. For more on event WiFi solutions, check out this article series from CRE Computer Rentals.

About SmartSource Rentals

If you are looking for audiovisual rentals from a national company with an established reputation, look no further than SmartSource Rentals! Give them a call to learn more about their WiFi, iPad and event solutions at 800.888.8686!

5 Flatout Facts about Social Media that Planners Can’t Contest
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Aug 20, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

I have been in the event planning industry for over 20 years and I know my colleagues are slow to accept change. In addition, many managers, clients and stakeholders want to continue to plan their event in the same old ways.

With over 3 billion individuals worldwide on social, it is time to accept the following facts about Social Media and the Meeting and Event Planners who use it.

Social Media Facts for Events:

  1. Boosts your meeting attendance
  2. Promotes your organization’s brand
  3. Extends the life of the conference
  4. Builds excitement about future events
  5. Is less costly than traditional marketing methods

In the latest edition of The Meeting Professional, several event planners weighed in on this subject coming to the same conclusion I did: social media is not to be ignored, shoved in a corner or used infrequently. Embrace it or be obsolete.

Let’s take a closer look at each item listed above.

Social Media Boosts Your Meeting Attendance

How is this possible? Look at your attendees; they can potentially touch four generations and maybe five depending on the scope of the event. Each of these generational groups communicate differently with different medium. It is your job to find the right social channels for your meeting and then continuously provide value based content about your event. Yes, email and direct mail campaigns may still work for a subset of your attendees, but even my 75 year-old mother uses Facebook.

Social Media Promotes Your Brand

When you send social updates out via your Facebook Events page, under your Twitter and Instagram hashtags or on your Google+ Company page; you are promoting your brand and creating top-of-mind awareness of who you are and what you have to offer. The key is moderation; too many updates creates noise in the channel and too few makes you obscure. Strive for an update about your event once a day.

While individuals are at the conference, they can see all Twitter feeds, Instagram photos and Vine videos via a video wall rental which helps create excitement about what is going on at the conference. In addition, if you have iPad and laptop rentals, you can send notices directly to attendees’ devices. Trade show technology can allow for geofencing, a social tool that allows your exhibitors to send targeted messages to attendees that are within a certain zone.

Social Media Extends the Life of Your Conference

Have your presentations uploaded to SlideShare using the event’s hashtag on each slide. Record your speakers and upload their talks on YouTube. Run contests about content. Ask questions. Solicit feedback from a mobile app that runs on iPad rentals.

All of these options extend the life of your conference and allow potential attendees to catch a glimmer of the action.

Social Media Builds Excitement About Future Events

Once you have built up your followers, don’t let your social channels grow cobwebs. Keep the conversation going even if your next event is a year off. Run videos, show photos and give individuals up-to-the-minute updates about your program.

Social Media is Less Costly than Traditional Methods

If you compare the time it takes to write, edit, print and mail any marketing piece, I think you would agree that social is less costly and more relevant than anything written. In addition, if you advertise in print publications it can cost you thousands of dollars. Social channels are free, but more are requiring advertising (i.e. Facebook) to get noticed. However, these PPC options are highly targeted and you only pay for the clicks to your website or event page.

How can SmartSource Rentals Help?

SmartSource Rentals can provide you with audio visual rentals to help build and boost attendee interactivity. Give them a call at 800.888.8686 to learn how!

Want Attendees at Your Booth? Provide Interactive Experiences!
Aug 18, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

Last Fall, BizBash Magazine highlighted 15 companies that were doing amazing things with trade show technology. This blog will highlight five of the companies, what they did and what you can do to enhance your booth…even with limited time and a small budget.

5 Tradeshow Displays

At the Game Developers Conference, Game Insights has multiple stations for attendees to play their games.  In addition, they had a large video wall previewing a trailer of their new game.

What can you do? One thing is for certain, gamification is here to stay. Installing a gaming app on iPad rentals or trade show kiosks is one way to engage potential clients at a reasonable cost. In addition, renting a large video wall that can display a number of things including your logo, video about your organization, social feeds or game standings can be very effective.

At the NACS show, Hershey’s created the convenience store of the future by presenting a 3D model of a store on an 18′ x 20′ screen that visitors could navigate through with a game controller.

What can you do? Start by renting 4K 3D Glasses-Free Monitors! These plasma displays have four times the resolution of a standard monitor and can make your visitors feel like they are part of the action!

The Consumer Electronics Show provided The New York Times with the opportunity to use iPads to make Word Cloud portraits of attendees. Here is a brief video of how they did it:

What can you do? iPad rentals can act as computer kiosks and run 100,000+ apps. Find an app that makes sense for your business and will be successful in pulling in attendees into your booth.

At the Offshore Technology Conference, National Oilwell Varco created a customer appreciation booth that encompassed a cafe, lounge with touch screen coffee tables and an interactive area with iPad stations.

What can you do? Large touch screen monitors can walk attendees through photos, presentations and videos of your product offerings while iPads can be used for web browsing, social channel apps or second screens synced with the large monitors.

When Ply Gem exhibited at the International Builders’ Show they created a home like booth that housed a kitchen, meeting space and even a fireplace.

What can you do? While you don’t need to go that far, creating a resting place for weary attendees is a great way to get and keep them in your booth – especially if you offer a charging station for their mobile devices.

How SmartSource Rentals Can Help

Take advantage of SmartSource Rentals experience and knowledge when event planning! Give them a call today at 800-888-8686 to learn how.

13 Touching Technology Tips to Enhance Your Event
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Aug 14, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

Whether your event is a gala, product launch or tradeshow, touch screen devices and monitors can help increase fundraising, interactivity and brand awareness. Today’s blog will focus on four types of touch technology, how you might use them at your next event and the overall benefit of this option.

iPad Rentals

  1. When running a silent auction, you can have iPads available at every bidding station and allow guests to peruse through videos and photos of the item.
  2. Renting iPads for each gala table, allows guests take photos of the happenings around them and post their pics to a large video wall for all to see.
  3. If you are conducting a product launching event, iPads can give greater details about the new offering via a gamification app or providing the presentation directly to the user for note taking.
  4. For large training purposes, iPads are great for second screens and social sharing. The attendees can see the presentation from the mobile device, toggle to Twitter for Q & A and test their knowledge through an online polling app.

Charging Stations

  1. These mobile charging units have touch screen monitors above them allowing a sponsor or exhibitor the ability to show video and presentations about their products or services for up to 10 minutes while the attendee’s mobile device charges.
  2. Charging kiosks can be placed in strategic locations throughout the event including event registration, a learning lounge or outside busy sessions.
  3. Exhibitors or event planners can hold an interactive networking activity via a touchscreen contest, as an opportunity to get to know the attendees better and let them network with others.

Computer Kiosks

  1. Kiosk rentals can allow walk-in attendees to utilize electronic registration and self-serve check-in which is extremely useful when your staff is busy. Plus these units allows for 24/7 access of your event information.
  2. Kiosks can be placed in areas throughout your conference. Attendees can use the touch screen to: learn more about the speaker, find a breakout room or look at flight information for their return home.
  3. Trade show show managers can use kiosks for interactive booth maps that can allow users a virtual tour of each exhibitor so they can plan out who they will see during the course of the show.

Touch Screen Monitors

  1. These monitors are great in trade show booths to allow high-resolution depiction of product videos and live streaming of activities around the conference.
  2. Much like iPads, these monitors move apps in a sweeping motion making it easy for attendees to sweep through product presentation slides and photos.
  3. These monitors can act as digital signage in high traffic event areas directing attendees to sessions and displaying up-to-the-minute meeting information.

Overall Benefit

Touch technology helps connect attendees to your event because it engages them with tactical feel and because most devices are equipped with high resolution monitors and good audio output, three out of the five senses are immediately engaged – which allows your message to better resonate with attendees.

About SmartSource Rentals

SmartSource Rentals is your one-stop shopping agency for all of the technology listed above! As a national provider with 21 local branches, SmartSource has both the depth and breadth of touch screen technology to meet your needs. Give them a call today at 800.888.8686 for more information!

What Event Planning Organizations can Learn from Successful Trade Shows
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Aug 12, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

Last fall, BizBash Magazine identified the best trade shows in 2013 and gave a little blurb about each one. That got me thinking that there must be something special about the nine that were identified; especially when there is a lot written that trade shows are slowing down or dying.

Rather than put them in number order, I identified the month that six of the nine are held. This should give you food for thought as you complete your event planning cycle for next year.

January Shows

The International Gift & Home Furnishings Market

Location: Atlanta, GA

Attendance: 95,000

Exhibitors: 3,900+

Number of Days: 8  

What They do Right

  • Experts are on hand to discuss the latest product developments
  • Exclusive varieties of products are showcased at this event
  • Fashion shows are held
  • Extensive foreign participation of 90+ different countries
  • Special sections for kids and bridal dresses are also set up at the event

North American International Auto Show

Location: Detroit, MI

Attendance: 795,000+

Exhibitors: 216

Number of Days: 19

Technology Used: They offer virtual tours with video and photos, as well as,providing a mobile show floor map. They use Twitter and hashtags extensively, which can be displayed on iPad rentals and video walls

What They do Right

  • Feature worldwide vehicle debuts
  • Welcome over 5,000 journalists from 60 countries, with 30% of journalists from international destinations
  • Offer a media preview
  • Provide an industry preview
  • Work on CSR initiatives with a charity preview and
  • Have a 9-day public show

PGA Merchandise Show

Location: Orlando, FL

Attendance: 41,000

Exhibitors: 1,100

Number of Days: 4

Technology Used: Extensively use YouTube Videos, Twitter and Facebook to convey information about their speakers and show information. They offer a “My PGA Show Planner” app that can run on mobile devices.

What They do Right

  • One day dedicated to PGA Show Demo
  • Show Exhibitors are Listed by Product Category
  • PGA, LPGA Members and Allied Association Members register free of charge
  • The registration for Non-PGA Members is nominal and a portion of the fee is donated to support We Are Golf 

February Show

Magic Online

Location: Las Vegas, NV

Attendance: 345,000+

Exhibitors: 3,800

Number of Days: 4

Technology Used: Extensive use of social channels including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and blogging. Extensive array of collective photos and videos. 

What They do Right

  • The largest global marketplace for contemporary men’s and women’s apparel, footwear and accessories
  • Most comprehensive forum for fashion buyers and brands.
  • Attendees can shop a portfolio of ten merchandised and curated shows across every category
  • $200+ million in orders written daily

March Shows

Arnold Sports Festival

Location: Columbus, OH

Attendance: 175,000

Exhibitors: 800

Number of Days: 4

Technology Used: Extensive use of social channels including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

What They do Right

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger comes to this event every year
  • Kids Fitness Expo is part of the program
  • Educational Seminars about fitness
  • Offer a 5K and Pump event to emphasis cardio and weightlifting

International Beauty Show

Location: New York, NY

Attendance: 60,000

Exhibitors: 500+

Number of Days: 3

Technology Used: Extensive use of social channels including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Multiple photos and videos on their web site.

What They do Right

  • Exhibitors provide discounts and special show pricing to attendees
  • Attendees are invited to attend the Spa Show – free of charge – with an IBS admission ticket.
  • 100+ hair, nail, makeup and business classes offered at the event
  • 94% of attendees purchase products on the show floor and 84% participate in in-booth education

The net outcome? It really doesn’t matter where your trade show is (Detroit in January…yikes!) but it does seem to matter what time of year and providing new and interesting content to your attendees.

How SmartSource Rentals can Help

Thinking about renting audio visual equipment and securing trade show technology rentals for your next event? Look no further than SmartSource Rentals with 21 locations to serve you!

The Future of Mobile Meeting Apps is Geofencing
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Aug 08, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

At InfluencerCon 2012, a yearly conference that supports artists, entrepreneurs and innovators, the event planning staff wanted to connect attendees across the globe, as well as, attendees seated near each other. Given that 2,000 individuals were in five cities around the world, the task of building an online community seemed difficult, if not impossible to achieve.

InfluencerCon Founder Philip McKenzie found a solution with Topi, a free/fee app that runs on mobile devices, including iPad rentals. Topi allows for:

  • Real-time broadcasting of changes to the meeting schedule
  • Polling attendees about the event
  • Holding private or public chat rooms with fellow meeting participants and
  • Sending audience questions to speakers and sponsors

In addition, Topi offers geofencing, which has already caught on in the retail environment, but has a lot of potential with events. Let me explain. 

What is Geofencing?

Geofencing is a location-based service, much like GPS, that sends messages to mobile users who enter a defined geographic area. Some companies send promotions to said users when they enter their space.

For a trade show exhibitor this can a great way to get attendees to the booth by letting them know about a special giveaway, product demonstration or even give weary attendees the ability to relax and use a mobile charging station.

What Other Benefits are There to Topi?

Topi uses an algorithm called PeopleRank which gives attendees recommendations of people they should meet,  based on each of their LinkedIn profiles.Topi developers believe the use of PeopleRank will allow participants to break the ice more easily and start making connections because they have things in common, such as they attended the same university.An additional benefit is it can send automatic LinkedIn invitations to attendees within the geofence.

This app supports 66 languages and can allow the recipient of the message to have it translated into their prefered language. This is great for international meetings or a stateside meeting that brings in a lot of international attendees.

This app allows for automatic electronic registration once the attendee reaches the geofence. It will also allow for automatic access of the event materials at that point.

What is the Future of Geofencing Applications?

Whether you like it or not, geofencing apps are here to stay. It can seem a bit like “Big Brother” but the reality is with the prevalence of Big Data tools it is only a matter of time before all apps move in this direction. For events, this means more targeted attendees at your exhibitors’ booths, the ability to keep data to a predefined area for privacy reasons and the ability for even the most introverted attendee to find common connections at large, unwieldy events.

How SmartSource Rentals Can Help

Whether it be trade show technology rentals, PowerPoint presentation equipment, iPads or anything in between, SmartSource Rentals is your total technology supplier! When renting iPads, SmartSource can preconfigure the apps on the devices. You can be assured that the operating system and security software are always up-to-date!

Sources: Topi, PCMA Convene Magazine and Tech Crunch

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