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Trade Show Exhibit Technology Tips for a Better ROI – Part 1
Kiosk
Sep 30, 2014 by Karen Daniels

Every week it seems there is some new form of technology that is advertised to make your life or business bigger and better. And, as with all advertising, sometimes it actually does help, and sometimes it creates more headaches for you or becomes a technology nightmare you want to shot-put through the window. Really, how many of us want a smartphone that makes us feel dumb?

The trick, as they say, is to select the right piece of equipment to suit you, your goals, and your budget. Sure, when it comes to your personal phone there are plenty of experts who can help you make the right selection. But when it comes to technology for your business and exhibiting at trade shows, the vast array of technology choices makes decision-making much more complicated, so it’s harder to find an expert with your best interests at heart.

But no worries, we’re going to walk you through some of the questions to ask and ideas to consider to make your choices easier.

The First Question to Ask Yourself about Exhibit Technology

When you’re in the market for trade show technology and you’re not familiar with what the best options for you are, one of the first questions you should ask yourself is this:

Will this particular technology really help me meet my goals and boost my bottom line?

The latest technology can be fun, but it’s probably not worth investing hundreds or thousands of company dollars just for fun. And getting the best ROI from your booth at a trade show or conference is always a primary consideration.

To help determine if a certain piece of technology will help you meet your goals, here are some tips to follow:

  • The technology you select must be relevant to your message and the person viewing or interacting with the technology. Coolness with no relevance is ultimately not going to be good for your ROI.

Will the technology help you gather the right data for your company to be able to follow up with potential customers?

If you need to gather specific data for more effective follow-up, then make sure you have the technology in place to give you what you need.  If you are selecting a type of entertainment equipment, will it work with your brand and your message and create the right impression?

Will it enhance product or service engagement?

You can seek out technology that creates an atmosphere of direct interaction (touch screen), or you can rent technology such as a charging kiosk and create a lounge that gives your crew the time and opportunity to create personal engagement with potential customers.

Will the equipment give you a more creative and impressive way to display product information?

Something as simple as a large-screen slideshow can add some great punch to otherwise potentially mundane information.  If you need to be able to update your event information on the fly, make sure the technology you use will allow you to do so easily.

Will the technology make it more fun for customers to interact with your brand?

People are much more into interaction than just watching as a bystander, so aim for technology that gives potential customers a hands-on experience.

Will your booth crew be able to handle technology issues (or will you hire an expert)?

The last thing you want is to have technology as part of your exhibit that is not working properly. This goes for all technology – don’t assume your crew automatically knows how to use iPads, for instance.

For more Trade Show Exhibit Technology Tips for a Better ROI go check out Part 2 where we discuss creative ways to use your event technology to make a greater impression and therefore gain higher ROI.

 

How to Virtually Read Your Customer’s Mind with Data Collection
Steve Shatsoff
Sep 24, 2014 by Karen Daniels

In our recent article “The Right Way to Tap into Technology Trends for a Successful Event,” we picked Steve Shatsoff’s brain – Senior Vice President at SmartSource Computer & AV Rentals  – about how properly utilizing technology trends is one of the best methods for creating the customer base you need and want.

This article, also based on information gathered from an interview with Steve Shatsoff, is all about how you can essentially read your customer’s mind by using technology to collect data. Data collection now goes way beyond gathering the information a customer, or potential customer, gives you. From knowing where they touch an interactive screen to face recognition and more available technology now—it makes it possible to learn things about your customer base that was unthinkable not that long ago.

Welcome back, Steve. Can you tell us a bit about the information and data revolution we’re currently living in and why it’s so important for a successful business to understand?

Well, not that long ago information used to be much harder to track down. There were fewer sources to go to, it took more time to locate those sources, and not everyone had access to all sources.

Now, of course, that has all changed. While people who grew up in the “information dark ages” have to mature into the idea of all this easy availability and the ever-present ways to enhance data collection, the newer generations, such as Millenials, just get it. They were born into this technology in a way that makes it integral to every walk of their lives, and that is changing the face of the business world.

For businesses, at the end of the day it’s all about data – technology that captures data, interactive technology, and then using that data to create customer solutions. The best ideas are always going to come from their customers, what they need, what they want, and what they are seeking. The right data can give you a virtual glimpse into their mind.

And how does this play into events and trade shows?

As an example, at trade shows and events registration used to be all manual, so no one focused on more than the basic data. Now, with multiple technologies to expedite registration in better, faster, and more interactive ways, we’re just starting to get it. It’s not just about getting through someone’s registration, it’s about learning why they are registering, what solutions they are seeking, and what they believe would make their life better. Technology such as a touch screen kiosk, for example, gives you the opportunity to interact digitally with everyone who comes to one of your events and capture important data.

But we’re moving into an era where capturing data is going to be about a lot more than the thoughts and facts someone enters into your database. I’m also talking about where people touch an interactive screen, the ability for facial recognition, who is looking at something particular on a screen, and how much time they spend looking. All of these things are changing advertising. For instance, when you use technology that recognizes a face, then things of interest to that person can move onto the screen. All these types of data are only going to continue to grow, but the key—and this is always the key—is that using the data effectively is what really matters.

So, we can see that the concept of data collection at events is changing. What is the best approach then for a business to get the most bang for their trade show buck?

As I’ve said before, whether you’re exhibiting, attending, or creating a trade show, getting the most bang for your buck is always dependent on what you are trying to accomplish.

If you are going to exhibit at a trade show, it can be very costly, so one of the primary goals is always getting a good return on your investment. If that is one of your primary goals and you’re looking to combine good ROI with some great data collection, a great technology that is highly effective would be a digital document library.

When you exhibit at a trade show you’re almost always going to need to distribute information. Think about how many handouts you get at every trade show. All of that material has to be printed, shipped to the exhibit location, and then you have to find a way to get it into the hands of as many people as possible. You have to figure that about 75% of the documents people collect at a trade show get thrown out. Plus, the ones that you weren’t able to pass out have to be shipped back to your headquarters. This all costs money, and frankly, it can be a lot of money down the drain.

In addition, all that handed out information doesn’t give you any feedback. Offering the customer or potential customer valuable information should be only part of the equation. There are so many other factors to consider. For instance, when you use technology such as a digital library, avoiding the cost of printing and shipping is only part of the value. Not only do you save all that time and money (not to mention the trees) but you also get, yes you guessed it, the data. You learn who used which documents, how long they spent reading them, and other vital data, and from there you can easily develop sales leads – something that is rarely possible with printed material. This makes it so much easier for an exhibitor to hugely increase their ROI for every trade show.

So when we think trade show we should be thinking data, data, data, all the time?

Absolutely. Approach trade shows and other events with the idea of using the best technology to gather the right data, which is kind of like virtually reading your potential customers’ minds. You can utilize this data in ways that increases your customer base and customer information. This not only gives you a leg up from those who aren’t taking advantage of the technology, but it allows you to deliver solutions to your customers that they truly want and need, and that is the best way to a successful business.

 

 

Trade Show Strategies to Maximize ROI in 2015 – Part 1
Maximize Event ROI
Sep 17, 2014 by Karen Daniels

Do you ever feel like you can’t live with trade shows – yet your business can’t live without them? Even though trade shows can be one of the best ways for a business to gain new customers and develop relationships with other companies, you may have come away from shows wondering if it was really worth the time and money. That’s why it’s key to make sure you have the right trade show goals, technology, and follow through so you can maximize your trade show ROI.

In this article, Part 1 of Trade Show Strategies to Maximize Your ROI in 2015, we’re going to look at an overview of the approach you can take to help ensure you get the most bang for your booth buck.

Your Trade Show Goals

When you’re planning future trade shows where you are going to have a booth to promote your business, there are a couple of key questions you need to ask yourself right away:

  1. Why am I going to exhibit at this trade show? and
  2. What are my business goals?

If your answer to the first question is “because we do this every year,” then you need to reexamine the situation and more fully define your goals.

It’s not enough to enter a trade show with the single goal of doing your best to connect with people and grow your customer list. To truly maximize your return on investment, you need to know specifically what your objectives are for a given trade show or conference, what you’re going to do to reach those goals, and how you are going to measure your level of success so you know if what you did worked.

So if you are haven’t sat down with your crew and fully defined the specific objectives for a given trade show, then now is the time. There are a lot of reasons to do a trade show, but knowing what’s most important to your business at this point in time will improve your focus, and therefore the outcome, during the planning phase, implementation, and in the evaluation of your success.

If you’ve never moved beyond the basic goal of “getting more customers,” here are some additional reasons your company might want to have a booth at a show:

  • gather leads
  • sell a product or service
  • build your list
  • interact with current customers
  • boost awareness of your company
  • increase your company’s credibility
  • improve the perception customers have of your company
  • launch a product or service
  • reach a new market
  • gain press
  • understand your competitors
  • support your industry
  • connect with suppliers
  • increase awareness of upcoming trends

Narrowing your objectives to a few primary ones will allow you to more fully achieve them by training your booth crew to stay on track, using your online presence to support those goals, and making sure interactions with potential customers move toward goal objectives.

Use the Right Technology for Your Goals

It’s certainly no secret that the right technology used properly is a necessary component for any trade show today. The thing about this that many businesses forget is that you need to select the technology that will help you reach your goals rather than selecting a tech tool simply because it’s available or new and cool – unless your business is about introducing new and cool technology, of course.

That’s why it’s imperative to first define your objectives and then to select the technology that will best help you reach them. With the number of affordable tech choices out there today, it can feel daunting.  So if you need to, take the time to speak with a technology rental expert such as Smart Source Rentals.

There is a lot of technology that will help you attract booth traffic and streamline the process of gathering leads, so if those feed into your objectives, then here are some tech tools for trade shows that you may want to consider:

  • Charging Stations –  potential customers will come into your booth to charge their devices
  • Computer Kiosks – will help you distribute your message, information, and services
  • Digital Document Libraries – creates an interactive experience for capturing leads and providing valuable information
  • Digital Signage – used properly, digital signage will help your message and info stand out
  • Lead Retrieval System – facilitates real-time tracking and helps convert leads to sales
  • Plasma Displays and Video Walls – these can be a way of making your booth stand out, and you can go for something simple such as a large screen to something as intriguing as providing a 3D customer experience with a new product
  • Directional Sound Speakers – trade shows can be noisy – proper sound helps to ensure that your message is heard

This is just a small sample of available technology.  It’s key that you do your research so you can select the best option for your business goals and tradeshow objectives.

Measuring Your Tradeshow Success

When you’ve set your objectives and selected the technology that will best support them, it’s also vital that you decide how you are going to measure your trade show success, and there are many ways to measure your success. Here are some suggested methods to consider:

  • the number of current customers you spoke with
  • the number of people who came through your booth or who interacted with your technology
  • sales numbers
  • the number of people who signed up for your list
  • the number of people who attended your presentation if your company gave one
  • the number of strategic partners you connected with
  • insights you gained
  • increased knowledge of competitors
  • the concrete feedback you were given
  • surveys that were completed

Many companies spend all their energy and efforts to get to a trade show but neglect to clearly define their goals, to prioritize lead follow up, or to have a rigorous method for knowing if that trade show was a success. Making sure you do those things will go a long way in helping you use trade shows as an effective method for getting your business where you want it to go.

 

Interview with Steve Shatsoff, VP at SmartSource Rentals
Steve Shatsoff
Sep 15, 2014 by Karen Daniels

The Right Way to Tap into Technology Trends for a Successful Event

Human beings like trends. Whether it’s home theater systems, movies, smart phones, or other technology, we are driven to keep up with the trends – and events and tradeshows are no exception. If you’re going to attend an event in a field of interest, you always want to check out the “latest and greatest.” And when you’re putting on a tradeshow or other big event, you’ll most likely face some decision-making around which technology trends you want to put to use to increase market interest.

Because trends by their very nature mean that more and more people are interested or involved, it’s pretty much impossible to put on a successful event in any field today without utilizing at least some of the tech trends that are flooding the market. And if you don’t, you’re going to be labeled obsolete.

There are many people working in technology-related industries today who can offer great insight into important technology trends, but when you have the opportunity to learn from someone who has been around the technology business for a few decades, you get a hugely valuable perspective on what the important upcoming trends will be and how you can utilize them to your advantage.

So when we were given the opportunity to pick Steve Shatsoff’s brain – Senior Vice President at SmartSource Computer & AV Rentals – we took the opportunity and ran with it. Steve has been part of the SSR family for 29 years, so he has great perspective from the past along with laser focus vision towards the future of technology and technology trends.

Steve, can you talk a bit about why tapping into technology trends through rentals can be such a good move for someone planning to host an event, or exhibit at one?

Well, there are literally millions of reasons why people would need to rent technology for their event – and often at the last minute. It’s not uncommon for us to get people who call up and say they need 25 computers tomorrow. Because technology and technology trends are evolving so quickly, in recent months renting has really taken off in popularity.

The truth is that there are very few companies that can afford to be constantly upgrading and buying all that new equipment. And if you’re not completely in front of the trends by the time you budget for equipment and then get it, you’ve already been passed by and you’ll end up putting on an event that is not state of the art.

For instance, anyone coordinating or creating an event or tradeshow who’s been around at all knows that bigger is becoming better – such as the latest trend with video walls. And people who attend events expect that ‘bigness.’ But it’s not only size that they expect, it’s the clarity – you can now get equipment with tremendous clarity that was unavailable just a short time ago, and we know that that trend will continue – better equipment with better clarity creates more buzz and therefore higher event attendance.

So, it’s just like our home televisions. By the time we save for that larger better screen, there is already something more advanced on the market.

Exactly. But at home you can easily decide, “well, okay, we can live with this television for a few years and then upgrade.” But if you do that at events it can cost you a lot of attendees. No one wants to go to an event to see what they’ve seen before.

Let’s suppose you are creating an event and you’re trying to decide just which technology to rent. With the constantly changing trends and so many choices, how can someone decide which equipment is going to be the best choice?

Clearly understanding trends and how to tap into them to create more successful events goes way beyond just choosing the latest and greatest or the bigger and better.

Here’s the key: You have to ask yourself, “What am I trying to accomplish?”

Too many people do this backwards. You can’t pick a piece of equipment and then decide how you’re going to use it. Define your needs, then find the right equipment.

As an example, suppose you are going to have a booth at an upcoming event. You know what your company goals are for that specific event and you know your budget. If one of your primary objectives is capturing leads, then you would look at which technology equipment or trends can help you do that more effectively than if you did not have that equipment.

One of the biggest trends in this area is charging stations because more and more people have tablets and smart phones. Let’s face it, there are at least 19 ways you can use your smartphone – with #20 being that you can make a call – so everyone is desperate for power. So they come into your booth to charge up their equipment and then they’re standing or sitting there, visually exploring your booth and you have their attention for more than the average booth time. What you do with that time should feed back into your goals.

And that’s when things get really interesting. If the charging station you rented has a large touch screen, you can do a lot of advertising and promote branding. You can presell sponsorships to help subsidize your booth or you can highlight a product launch. With an interactive touchscreen you can capture their vital stats and get them to sign up for your email list. Anything that has a touch screen can capture data and produce real-time analytics. All of this helps you capture leads.

And don’t forget, technology does not have to keep us from the human factor. When you have someone in your booth using your charging station it’s easy to have an engaging face-to-face conversation that creates the basis for a relationship which then turns into a hot lead.

Charging stations are one of those great ideas that create a win-win situation – the potential customer gets their batteries recharged and you get their time and attention.

The bottom line is that tapping into technology trends in the right way can help you create the atmosphere you need and the customers you want. Whether you’re getting set to market an upcoming event or to host a booth, renting the right technology for your business is one of the key ways you can ride the tide and use it to your marketing and sales advantage.

 

 

 

Fact or Fiction: Quiz Yourself on Current Meeting Challenges
Event-Fact-or-fiction
Sep 07, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

When planning a major meeting and/or trade show, there are a lot of variables to consider including budget, attendee experience and destination. In addition, as a planner, you know it is part of your job to interface with a lot of partners and suppliers.

In today’s market, however, with rapidly changing technology choices and interfaces, it is important that your knowledge is the most current is can be.

Below is a quick FACT or FICTION guideline to make you all the smarter when planning your next event. Here we go:

You should find out what type of devices your attendees, exhibitors, and speakers are bringing to your meeting.

FACT. It is very important that you determine the type and quantity of devices they are bringing and how they plan on using those devices during your conference. A quick online survey 30-60 days prior to your conference should help. From there, you can plan for the right amount of iPad rentals and the proper event WiFi solution.

The venue has the Audio Visual and Wi-Fi handled.

FICTION. No matter what they say, all that matters is how the AV and Wi-Fi perform on the days of your conference. First, it is important to remember that you have the right to obtain a quote from an outside vendor, and in many instances, the outside vendor will be less expensive than the in-house provider.

With Wi-Fi your job becomes a bit trickier. Finding out the number of BYOD from your event stakeholders is one thing, and then measuring utilization of the bandwidth is quite another. Talk to the venue’s IT provider, and if you are unsure they can give you enough bandwidth, look outside the venue to rent a Wi-Fi network array.

Transportation and Parking can encourage or deter individuals from attending.

FACT. When considering a particular city or venue, determine if it is easy to get to via air, train, bus, subway, and/or driving. If flying, how easy and what distance will someone have to travel to get to the facility? And what about parking? Is it free or fee? And is there enough parking adjacent to the meeting facility?

All of these factors will make a difference in attendance. Bottom line: Make it easy for attendees to get to your conference and stay there.

All venues are available for your conference, all the time.

FICTION. All venues and supply partners have busy times and slow times – and what you think might be slow for them – could be just the opposite. For example, I just finished a site visit to a convention center that is attached to a water park outside of Cleveland, Ohio. One might expect it to be busy in the summer, but not so much in the winter. It turns out; this place is jamming almost year around, even in 5 degree weather! Their slow period is mid-week days during the school year.

Don’t assume. Ask and find out.

There is an easy way to tell if attendees enjoyed the meeting and facility.

FACT. With Audience Response System rental units, you can gather feedback from your attendees easily, instantly and anonymously. You can also survey them several times during the conference in order to keep a pulse on what is important to them and make changes accordingly.

A group can get lost in a large facility.

FICTION. With digital signage rentals and mapping apps provided on attendee’s iPad rentals, it is easy for them to know exactly where they are in a very large convention center space. In addition, with a geofencing app, attendees can be guided to visit particular trade show booths based on their demographic profile.

How SmartSource Rentals Can Help

SmartSource Rentals is dedicated to helping you meet your event challenges and make your meeting memorable and successful! Simply request a quote and one of our experienced Account Executives will turn around a quick response to you.

A Wearable Charger? The Pros and Cons of This Little Device
wearable_device
Sep 03, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

While many wearable technologies can answer your calls, track your fitness level and even record a presenter’s talk, the ability the charge your phone from a bracelet is something very new.

The QBracelet is touted to do just that for iPhone and Android devices.

So given that this technology is available now, why would anyone want to use a standard charging station? Without a doubt, there are pros and cons to this device. Let’s take a closer look:

Pros and Cons of a Wearable Device Charger

Pros Cons
It is with you all the time. Great for travel and people on-the-go. You might be the most popular person in the room because multiple people will ask to use it, if charging options are limited.
A little charge is better than a dead device. It can only charge to 60% of the device’s battery life.
The bracelet can get hot while charging.
It uses LED technology, which show the current battery level of the smartphone. It takes 90 minutes to charge a device.

 

Pros of Renting Charging Kiosks

It can charge up to 8 devices at the same time

With the capability to charge multiple devices from the same station, this gives booth exhibitors or event planning staff the opportunity to have a captive audience of up to 8 different individuals for a slice of time.

A kiosk rental can charge a mixture of tablets and smartphones

Most attendees use 3 devices at a conference – phone, tablet and laptop. Having the capacity to charge two of these units at the same charging station is very appealing to attendees.

In 7-12 minutes, the charging station will you get you going

While the time you spend at the charging station may not get you to 100% battery life, this unit will be there for the entire duration of the conference and you can come back to it often. However, a charging station will juice your device as fast as your plug at home or back in the hotel room.

A charging station will keep attendees at the conference

Assuming your conference is more than one day, you can position these units physically around the exhibit hall space for attendee use. Better than having them miss out on the trade show or other sessions to return to their hotel room early in order to charge their devices.

Kiosks do not get hot

No worries about burning your skin or holding the device in your hand. Plug your devices into the unit, relax and let the devices charge while you recharge.

SmartSource Rentals can provide you with a variety of charging stations equipped with an LCD Display to rotate videos, photos, presentations and your company logo to boost your brand awareness. Give them a call today or request a quote to start the charging station rental process!  

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