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Technology Solutions That Make Us Thankful
turkey
Nov 26, 2014 by Karen Daniels

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, in a previous article titled “What to be Thankful for at Your Next Event”, we talked about some of those little things at events and conferences which are worth noticing and being grateful for.

Those of us who work in the business of technology have a lot of reasons to be thankful. Technology is a tool which can save a life, serve as an inspiration, and it can support leaders and speakers to help get their message out. And most of us here would not have the business we have without technology.

And no doubt you can name how technology is part of your daily life.  In an instant you can connect with a friend who lives on the other side of the world and you can run a business from your home office or help your customers who live in any part of the world. You can follow your far-away family on their daily adventures or you can become a singing sensation without first having a record contract.

At SmartSource Rentals we have provided rental products and services for over 30 years so we’ve seen many technology trends come and go. We’ve watched phones and computers get smaller, and display screens get bigger. And we know a lot about what the right technology can do to improve your trade show or event so your business can be more successful. From large digital signage to SmartStation Kiosks our goal is to help you with the technology you need.

But technology goes way beyond helping us with modern day conferences and corporate events.

Technology allows us to get a closer look at history:

  • archaeologists have found that there is far more to Stonehenge than meets the eye by using ground-penetrating radar and GPS-guided magnetometers1
  • lost pyramids have been discovered with satellite images2
  • and using a remote-operated underwater vehicle a Canadian research team has solved one of Canada’s biggest historical mysteries3 by finding one of Sir John Franklin’s lost ships3.

Space technology helps us monitor the environment:

  • data from satellites and probes gives us the ability to collect information about changes in the climate
  • and space technology can help us improve the accuracy of disaster forecasts, such as floods.4

And many forms of technology give us incredible opportunities in medicine such as:

  • the ability to operate on patients from hundreds of miles away through the use of a robot surgeon
  • or by giving someone tools for a better life, like with Sgt. Russ Marek who uses NASA technology5 to control a prosthetic arm.

Technology lets us look into the past and will take us into the future. As a technology rental business we are, of course, thankful for technology.

But more importantly, we are thankful for the chance to serve you, our customers. We are grateful that you give us the opportunity to work with you side by side in our mutual endeavors to provide the very best in Total Technology Rental Solutions for your business.

Article Resources

  1. http://memeburn.com/2014/10/why-we-should-be-grateful-to-tech-for-helping-unveil-the-mysteries-beneath-stonehenge/
  2. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/lost-pyramids-egypt-discovered-satellite-images/story?id=13693894
  3. http://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/lost-in-arctic-for-169-years-franklin-ship-found-a-great-moment-for-canada-1.1998353
  4. http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=27104
  5. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140516-i-operate-on-people-400km-away
  6. http://www.space.com/27724-wounded-army-vet-aided-by-nasa-tech-video.html
  7. http://www.jobs.net/Article/CB-85-Talent-Network-IT-3-Tech-Pioneers-Not-Named-Bill-or-Steve/
What to be Thankful For at Your Next Event
turkeys
Nov 24, 2014 by Karen Daniels

For those of us who attend events, either as a spectator or exhibitor, or both, we enter into a magical world where there is a lot to see, people to walk with, and new products to become familiar with. If we’re exhibiting, we set up our booth with some jazzy new technology (which we of course rented from our most reliable favorite company SmartSourceRentals) that is bound to attract attention and strengthen our message and brand.

  • We take for granted that everything will be there for us.
  • We take for granted that we’ll be able to get online to take orders.
  • We take for granted that there will be power.

We take a lot for granted at every event we attend. But it takes a lot of behind-the-scenes manpower and hours to pull off a successful event. We’re quick of course to notice something when it does go wrong –such as when we can’t connect to the Internet, when it turns out they aren’t serving vegetarian options at lunch even though we pre-ordered one, or when the speaker can’t get their slide presentation to work.

Yes, it’s all too easy to focus on those things that let us down. But since the season of Thanksgiving is upon us in the United States, we thought this would be a good opportunity to share with you a list of things you might want to notice, and be grateful for, the next time you attend an event.

Things to be thankful for at an event

  • Open parking spaces – someone has the foresight to select a venue that could accommodate all the attendees so you don’t have to walk 10 blocks.
  • Well placed tables and chairs so you can pause to take notes or sit and relax at nearly any location in the venue.
  • The person who vacuums so well that you’d never know there was an all night 800 person wedding party the night before.
  • Clean bathrooms that stay clean throughout the entire conference.
  • The person or people who spend countless hours taping over cords so you don’t do a face plant when you walk into a presentation room.
  • The unlimited pitchers of water so you don’t have to lug water bottles around all day.
  • The smart event planners who give enough thought and budget to the WiFi technology so that every conference attendee can connect at any time, with any device.
  • The event marketing person who brings in enough awesome vendors to keep everybody happy and engaged.
  • The person who lays out the exhibition hall in a way that allows you to comfortably navigate through the booths, even when it’s crowded.
  • The person who makes sure they select a conference room that has enough outlets so everyone can plug in their laptop.
  • The coffee vendor that has getting good coffee out quickly down to a science so you never have to wait long, even right before the keynote begins.
  • A keynote speaker that is supported with the right technology so you can actually hear what they’re saying even though you’re way in the back corner.

Events are meant to be enjoyed and to help us grow our business. When they work well, we don’t notice the details, but great effort has been put into the planning and implementation. So, here’s a thank you shout-out to everyone out there who works tirelessly behind the scenes at any event.

Don’t forget to check out our article “Technology Solutions That Make Us Thankful“.  Happy Thanksgiving.

Saving Green by Going Green
Saving Green by Going Green
Nov 20, 2014 by Anonymous

Events are fleeting, but their environmental impact can last forever. Delightfully, we live in a time when environmentally responsible options are not only tolerated, but encouraged! Modern Event Planners no longer need to make sacrifices in order to meet the green standards that their clients and attendees now prefer. Best of all, many green options save money as well as resources—leaving budget goals met, and allowing for upgrades in other areas!

Think Local

While it’s easy to dream of exotic locations and to assume that attendees will flock at the chance to travel to a new and exciting city, from a global perspective the more complicated our travel becomes, the more wasteful (and expensive) our energy requirements will be. In fact, the “local” movement has taken off on its own wings—becoming a call-to-arms against impersonal, generic choices and one-size-fits-all business options. Use the power of the local and green movements to support and validate environmentally (and fiscally) responsible choices for your next event. Consider these points as you begin your planning:

  • Venue – as much as possible, determine a location that is centralized and convenient for the majority of your attendees. Sending employees to far-away places is expensive, both financially and in the use of non-renewable resources. Staying close to the home office saves money and reduces the carbon footprint of travel, but familiar doesn’t need to feel routine! Find a local venue that inspires your guests with a sense of community pride. Your budget will breathe a sigh of relief, and you can feel good about the amount of jet fuel your event didn’t burn. Look specifically for a venue that is committed to efficient, clean, renewable power, and be certain that the venue is able to assist you with appropriate recycling options.
  • Vendors – once your venue is selected, look either for local vendors, or national vendors with a strong network that makes them “local everywhere.” With local choices, not only will you pay less in shipping, delivery, and travel costs, but you’ll know that you’ve made a responsible choice by avoiding the unnecessary cost of importing. The less distance that products and service-providers need to travel, the lower the carbon footprint of the event. In every supply category, search for providers that are willing and able to help you along the “path to green.” Does the caterer use organic, pesticide-free produce? Can (and will) compostable items be handled properly? Don’t worry about being perfect, just look for partners that are aware and making an effort. Look around for products and suppliers that are already in the area. It’s an excellent way to support a community, while reducing costs and carbon emissions.

Reuse It

Reducing landfill waste is an important issue across the globe. Businesses want to be seen taking the high road and avoiding one-time disposable use items that will become tomorrow’s trash. Events rely heavily on large quantities of temporary items—food service and beverage options, table settings and decorations, hospitality supplies, paper materials. Let’s look at the following categories where simple and cost-effective changes will quickly reduce waste:

  • Printed Materials – switching from printed paper materials to reusable electronic options is one of the most straightforward ways to save money and reduce landfill waste. Although in the past, events needed brochures, printed maps, printed agendas, and other hardcopy paperwork, today’s event apps can almost completely eliminate the costly, error-prone, heavy, wasteful printing that was traditional for so long. It’s now remarkably easy to display, store, and distribute business and event materials without paper. Use kiosks for event registration—eliminating paperwork and printed ticketing. Kiosks can also be used for agendas—clearly allowing guests to navigate through the schedule, while being endlessly adaptable and reusable. Digital documents save time and money by eliminating trips to the printer and by preventing the high cost of emergency reprints. Interactive kiosks can also be used as digital document libraries—housing all of the information that a business or event would like to offer, immediately available for downloading directly to an attendee’s device, on demand.
  • Signage – in the past, Event Planners used printed signage for wayfinding and as banners. Unfortunately, these items were almost always unusable for future events. By using digital signage such as LCD, plasma or touch screen monitors, Event Planners have the option to create and recreate exactly the signs they need—whether for wayfinding, informational purposes, event promotion and decoration, or for sponsorship opportunities that can help stretch the event budget even farther by producing sponsorship revenue.

Overall, the green philosophy is good for any business—not just the Events Industry. If companies focus on eliminating wasteful practices and turn towards local supply chains, reusable products, and sustainable materials, those businesses will come out ahead . . . naturally!

 

 

 

 

Event Technology – How to make Bigger Displays Truly Better
Steve Shatsoff
Nov 13, 2014 by Karen Daniels

Steve Shatsoff – Senior Vice President at SmartSource Computer & AV Rentals – has been in the technology rental industry long enough to remember when PCs and the floppy disk first came out. This long-term perspective gives him the ability to not only appreciate where we’ve come from as a society, but also where we are going and what you need to know to make good technology rental choices.

Steve, everyone seems to love the “wow” factor that comes from mammoth digital signs. Does this mean every company that’s going to exhibit at an event should get the absolute biggest video wall or display that their budget allows?

The most important factor in deciding which size or type of display will give you the greatest return on your investment should be more about your goals rather than the size of your company’s wallet. It may be that another type of technology is more suited to your overall goals and intentions for attending that particular trade show.

That being said, “wow” isn’t a bad thing. And if a large display ties well into your messaging and will help you hit your goals, then there is no denying that a larger screen does capture the viewer’s attention in a way that smaller displays can’t. It used to be that if you wanted to go bigger with a digital sign, you had to give up a certain amount of quality. But now LED walls can be created in any size or shape with tremendous clarity and with no bezels, so it appears to be one giant wall – very cutting edge.

So, for someone who decides that a large trade show display supports their goals, what do they need to know to get the most out of that technology as possible?

First, I encourage companies to get professional input before making any final decisions. Most companies benefit from time with a technology professional talking about the type and size display that will best fit into their budget and goals.  Because the field is constantly changing, it’s really challenging to be your own expert – unless you happen to be in the business. For instance, you might need to choose between LCD, Plasma, or LED and very few people know which one is best for them. There are also other options to consider such as 3D – which you can now have without the need for those pesky glasses.

But beyond getting that expert input before you make a decision, there are a couple more key factors to keep in mind. It’s really important not to take your usual content and just run it up on a big screen. You should absolutely be creating content that is specific for that particular trade show and the technology.

For example, if you happen to have a display that is going to be located in an area where people are passing through rapidly, then you need to adjust your content accordingly.  Key components are going to have to be of shorter duration than they would if you were to have people milling about or sitting in the vicinity of your display. If you are going to have their attention for only a few seconds, then you’d better create some images and content that can be taken in that quickly.

People often think that because your screen is bigger, you can fit more on it. Though this may be true, it often is the wrong decision. You want really large text, powerful relevant images.

The biggest mistake most people make when creating content?

Assuming that what looks good on their PC is going to look great up on a giant display wall.

If you don’t have anyone on staff with the design experience to truly maximize the large screen experience for the viewer, then I strongly suggest you hire someone who does. Remember, “wow” is only wow if it actually delivers the message and the information you want to get across. It’s kind of like those advertisements you see and think are hysterically funny, but when someone asks, ‘what was the ad for,’ no one can remember. You can’t leave out key components such as branding.

It sounds like creating content for a large, say video wall, requires a lot of prep and planning.

Well, think of it like this: a PC is only a piece of hardware – it’s the software and what you do with it that makes it come alive. It’s the same thing with a large video wall or touchscreen display.

Anything else we should know about when we’re thinking about those big displays?  

Always – and this goes for any technology you’re going to use for a trade show or conference – always think about it in terms of the end user’s perspective. What is going to capture their attention, what experience do you want them to have, and what type of message or information do they need to get?

If you start from the perspective of the end user and then work your way up from there, you’ll do a much more effective job of creating the impact and ROI you want. Don’t make the mistake of having your crew sit around the conference table brainstorming all the cool images and taglines they can think of without keeping in mind who is going to be looking at the display and what you want them to know about your company.  That alone will put you a notch ahead of the competition.

Avoid These 30 Mistakes so Your Booth is Not a Bust
bad booth
Nov 11, 2014 by Karen Daniels

Knowing the common mistakes most event goers make when it comes to planning, preparing, and running their exhibit booth, and then avoiding those mistakes, will allow you to fly through each stage with ease, confidence, and a much better booth ROI.

Here are 30 exhibit booth mistakes to avoid:

  1. Picking the wrong shows.  It’s important that you know why you are going to exhibit at a particular show. Attendance should not be your key factor but rather the potential quality of the leads. In other words, are the people going to that show really going to be interested in what you have to offer?
  2. Missing tradeshow deadlines. Missing deadlines can cost you money.
  3. Going to a show because you did it last year.  Let’s face it, habits are not always good, either personally or professionally. Before you decide whether or not to attend a show your company went to last year, know how good your ROI was. And if it wasn’t great, then have a clear idea of why and how to make it better—otherwise you’re likely to have a repeat of last year’s low numbers.
  4. Choosing a low traffic location.  To the best of your ability, select a booth that has more traffic flow. Think about where people congregate or the places they frequently go to, such as by snack tables, bathrooms, corners, by doorways, or by another hot vendor.
  5. Ignoring the senses.  Appealing to attendees’ senses makes your booth more memorable. Try and draw in more than the visual—include something they can touch (like touch screen monitors) hear, feel, or taste.
  6. Being too complicated.  If you stand back and look at your booth, are your eyes clearly drawn to a focal point? Or is there so much going on that it’s a visual free-for-all? Your message should be clear, engaging, and obvious.
  7. Poor graphics. This speaks for itself.
  8. Outdated display. Booths need to look fresh and have the feel of being current. This means that you need to keep every aspect of your display up-to-date, clean, and freshly painted.  Technology such as iPads or display screens need to be current also or you risk having viewers think your entire company is out of date.
  9. Holding a contest that is totally unrelated to your brand or message.  Relevance works – don’t give away something because everyone else is. Make it matter, make it relevant to your brand and/or message.
  10. Not training your staff.  Your booth staff will make or break the success of your trade show. The best booth in the world will fall flat if your staff doesn’t know what the goals are and how to get people to come into your booth. Too many companies spend a lot of money going to trade shows and then man them with staff merely because they are available. These people are going to be your front line, so put in staff that has the right training, the right personality, and the desire.
  11. Not having goals.  The biggest mistake you can make is planning for a booth that has no rhyme or reason and hoping for a good ROI. Know your objectives, how you’re going to reach them, and what will indicate success.
  12. Not doing pre-show marketing is a major foul. You should do a major reaching out campaign with your current customers, on your social media channels, via your website, and any other place where you have potential customer reach.
  13. No follow-up. It’s astonishing how many companies do everything right until after the show. Then they pack up, go back to headquarters, and call it a day. Follow up with leads quickly – even during the show if possible.
  14. Not qualifying leads. Not everyone who walks into your booth is going to be a potential customer. Part of staff training needs to cover this so that effort is going where it will have a higher payoff.
  15. Letting hot leads slip through the cracks. You don’t have to wait until the trade show or event is over to follow up with hot leads. You can schedule a meet-up over coffee the next morning or at other break times during the show.
  16. Going too big – either literally or budget-wise. Big booths can be impressive. But if you don’t have the budget or staff or the ability to really use and maximize such a space, then chances are good that you are throwing money away.
  17. Being too small. On the flip side, going so small that you can’t generate the numbers you need can also be a mistake. Booths are like the three bears, you need the one that is just right for your company, your goals, your budget, and your staff.
  18. No daily booth prep. Booths get messy. Each morning the booth should be cleaned and straightened BEFORE the show opens. Period.
  19. Too much partying. You and your staff are at the event as professionals. Everyone needs to remember that 24/7 because everything reflects on your brand.
  20. Poor packing.  When you are packing to get ready, pack the things first that you will need last. Then when you are packing up your booth after the show, don’t just heave everything together. Pack in the reverse of what you did to prepare for the show.
  21. Not checking out the competition or cruising the exhibit hall. It’s always good policy to walk around, make yourself visible, and see what everyone else is doing. At the very least, it’ll trigger some good ideas for your next show.
  22. Not investing in the right technology.  Know what your goals are and then rent the technology that supports your objectives and branding.
  23. Not leveraging social media. Your company should be using social media before, during (in real time), and after every trade show.
  24. Not having a backup plan. Things happen, so make plans accordingly. Staff gets sick, WiFi goes down. Be prepared.
  25. Using the wrong words in your graphics. With one quick glance, viewers should know what your product/service benefits are.
  26. A crowded booth. We’re talking about your booth supplies here, not the visitors. Make sure visitors have ample room to move around and get the information they need.
  27. Lack of a customer experience. What do you want a customer to experience when they come into your booth? Determine that before you start designing your booth.
  28. Not having fun. If your booth staff is having fun, your visitors will have fun. How many booths have you walked by because the staff was sitting listlessly, or worse, just whining amongst themselves and not even attempting to engage viewers? Happy people draw in happy people.
  29. Blocking the entrance with a table. It’s amazing that so many companies do this, considering that it effectively puts up a barrier between them and a potential customer.
  30. Staff letting low traffic slow them down. Every person who walks by your booth might be a potential buyer, so don’t let what feels like a really slow exhibit hall ruin your mood or make you turn to your smartphone for company.  That pretty much defeats the point of being there at all.

Every trade show or event is a great opportunity to create a new influx of leads and customers. Your staff should be seasoned, well trained, and know how to capture a lead and close a sale. If you are aware of these 30 pitfalls and avoid them, you will be well ahead of the competition at any show.

 

SSR – Customized Technology for Financial Services Events, Part Two
Financial Services Part 2 Pic
Nov 06, 2014 by Anonymous

By Tia Crawford

In Part One of this article, we discussed six critical objectives of Financial Services Industry events. Moving forward, customized technology can help you attain the high standards and lofty goals that are expected of financial institution meetings and conferences. Financial Services Industry events have a strong focus on corporate image, and financial institutions rely heavily on the data they are able to collect from events as a result of integrated event technology.

If high-end Investment Portfolio Investors are expecting a remarkable experience from your event, what technology can reinforce and leverage the connection with your brand? We move into a discussion on the particular event technology offerings that support FSI events and their unique circumstances.

Maximized Security – a trusted technology advisor will provide a secure server—a safe system that is the foundation for all of your event technology. Financial Services events must have a closed network, established onsite and in advance of all other setup. Beginning with installation, moving through the event itself, and continuing through take-down, the technology used in Financial Services Industry events must GUARANTEE security and confidentiality. Industry event experts recommend a long-term partnership with a reputable technology advisor—one that can ensure that sensitive data is properly contained and wiped clean after the event conclusion, a partner that is committed to preserving the safety and security of your data long after the event is finished.

World-Class Attendee Experiences – how do you differentiate your business from other players in the industry? Wow them with a superior experience! Make the event experience effortlessly simple for attendees and investors. Wayfinding, registration, updates, meeting information, agendas, and scheduling should all be automatic and highly personalized. With the right technology, lines are eliminated and information transfer is immediate. Consider the following specific examples:

  1. Barcoded badges, RFID or NFC technology can ensure that guests are constantly on-track with sessions and meetings. This technology can also provide superior customization and personalization for guests—tailoring exactly the experience that they desire.
  2. Charging stations with large screen monitors help keep attendees powered up, while also keeping them in-touch and informed with industry news. The more in-touch they can feel with the office, the more time they can donate to the event.
  3. Document libraries allow attendees and investors instant access to the documents that they need.
  4. For conferences, uniform technology is expected. All iPads, laptops, and computers need to be identical.
  5. Technology must be integrated into the surroundings in a well-executed, customized, streamlined design.
  6. Corporate branding is important. Images must be crisp, screens must have the highest possible resolution, and all branding must be consistent.
  7. Data collection must be executed flawlessly. By providing guests with coded badges or wearable devices, your clients can receive the most complete and relevant attendee data. The data collection should be specifically tailored to provide precisely the information that financial institutions need to support their business decision-making.

The Power of Event Technology

The right event technology can provide superior event experiences supported by masterful data capture—impressing clients and guests alike. Today’s data-driven events are allowing Event Planners to craft meetings and conferences that exceed the expectations of Financial Services institutions and their attendees!

SSR – Customized Technology for Financial Services Events, Part One
Financial Services Part 1 Pic
Nov 04, 2014 by Anonymous

By Tia Crawford

As an Event Planner in the Financial Services Industry, you recognize that your events have specific needs, and technology is a critical factor in modern events. More than just providing equipment, the right event technology partner can become a trusted advisor that helps you ensure that your event is exceeding the demands of the industry. In Part One of this article, we look at the mission and focus of Financial Services Industry events, and discuss the unique objectives and standards that are particular to the industry.

  1. Maximize Impact – at each stage of the event, your technology should impress your attendees. The right technology functions in symbiosis with attention to detail—personalized attendee information feeds the technology, which in turn creates a customized experience for each attendee. This level of personalization reflects stunningly on your client. Investment professionals and other Financial Services attendees are expecting an “experience” from your event.
  2. Streamline Technology – for the Financial Services Industry, your event technology must feel seamlessly integrated into the surroundings in an elegant and unobtrusive way. Certainly, information-gathering and ROI reporting analytics technology is vital; however, Event Planners for FSI events know the importance of gathering the necessary data with technology housed in sophisticated yet functional designs.
  3. Facilitate the Attendee Experience – look at your event from the perspective of your guests. Use technology to get them registered, keep them informed, ease their information-gathering, and help them find their way with as little effort on their part as possible.
  4. Security is Paramount – from event set-up through take-down, the information gained and exchanged at a Financial Services event must remain confidential. For the sake of clients, attendees, and investors, all technology needs to run on a secure server. In many cases, the technology used may need to be wiped clean of data and presentations after the event, to guarantee that sensitive information remains private. Clearly, these events require constancy and true professionalism from a technology provider. This is a situation where “saving” on an un-tested technology vendor could result in billions of dollars in damage.
  5. Gather Data – Financial institutions expect a flawless system of data collection—one that captures demographics and patterns across dozens of categories, while also being unobtrusive to guests.
  6. Be Ahead of the Curve – many of your attendees may cycle through multiple industry events, in which case, your technology needs to be a step ahead of your competitors. With each event, visitors are expecting more interactivity, more connection, more personalization, information that is both relevant and immediate, faster information transfer, and the latest cutting-edge technology. In short, you must exceed their expectations.

It’s not difficult to notice that the bar is set pretty high—Investment Professionals and Financial Institutions hold high standards. Rest assured, in Part Two of this article we’ll discuss the event technology options that can help you achieve these lofty goals!

 

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