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Why Using a Digital Document Library is so Useful at Events
Dec 30, 2014 by Anonymous

If you’re gearing up to create some spectacular events in 2015, there are a few elements that have to be included if your event is going to be powerful and memorable for the attendees.

As we’ve written about before, interactive technology is big and only going to get bigger. Interactive technology is becoming one of the must-have elements for any successful event today. We live in a time where using a touch screen is becoming second nature. In fact, you’ve probably experienced touching a computer screen that didn’t respond and feeling a vague sense of disappointment. As customers we now expect interaction, and we want technology to interact back with us. So, how do we create the most effective interactivity for event attendees, and not only in a way that intrigues and captures their attention, but in a way that can also increase the bottom line so it’s worth the investment?

Well, certainly there are a myriad of different ways to create an interactive experience including using event apps and games, social media, or audience response systems. But it’s important to think in depth about your tech choices as an event planner or exhibitor, so that you’re utilizing some form of interaction to help you fulfill your goals and objectives – and deliver high value to attendees.

For instance, one very effective interactive technology which has a broad range of uses and is highly adaptable is a digital document library. So we’ll use the digital document library as a specific example of a powerful method for creating an intriguing interactive experience.

If you are one of the many people who believes that a digital document library is simply a one-way avenue for providing information to people, then it’s time to take a closer look at how you can use one to your advantage at an event.

The beauty of a tool such as the document library is that it is such a win-win for the developer and the user. Yes, it’s true that a digital document library is a managed collection of information – a way for users to access and retrieve important documents. But that’s only the beginning. The key to the importance of a digital document library at an event is the fact that when set up properly, it creates an engaging and memorable method for delivering information while at the same time giving you the ability to captures leads and therefore generate potential sales.

On the user side, the library gives your customer, or potential customer, unlimited information. And providing them with the right information that is useful to them is great for your brand.

Some of the information you might want to include in a digital document library includes:

  • easy-to-follow links on how to use the library
  • company brochures, marketing collateral and how-to videos (relate to products and services)
  • whitepapers (tips and information that help the user with their businesses)
  • industry resources (highlighting important and useful links)
  • relevant ebooks
  • how to connect info (social media information)

Remember, though, your digital library is not just about the information you are providing to the user – you, too, will be receiving useful information to increase sales. When a digital document library is set up properly, you can track what documents or resources are being accessed at each event, which attendee is accessing them, what specific document they are accessing, and how much time they are spending in your ‘library’, and from which location. In other words, you’ll know who is accessing what, when, where, and how much – detailed lead information that can help you fine-tune sales messaging and campaigns. All of this can help you accelerate your event revenue.

In addition, these sales-ready leads can be a huge time saver for your sales team who will know instantaneously which person interacted with which documents, giving you a solid platform from which to approach them. Plus, all that great lead information can be automatically stored for your use so you can respond to the user from anywhere in the world, in real time, which can keep your leads from growing “cold”.

And like any well-chosen technology, there are other benefits as well. For instance, you can also use that same document library to generate income by selling sponsorships and ad space. On top of that, a digital document library will save you money since there are no printing fees (remember 70% of printed event material gets thrown out before it’s even read), shipping, or storage for all that material.

There is also the versatility aspect to consider. Users can access your library from virtually any device:  large screens, tablets, PCs, mobile devices, iPads, or interactive kiosks.

Though we’ve focused on digital document libraries as an example of effective interactive event technology, it’s important to approach any technology decisions by keeping in mind how it will serve your customers and how it will increase your bottom line. When technology is beneficial to both the end user and to your company, the choice becomes a no-brainer.

Happy New Year!

SSR – 10 Ways Technology can Boost Fundraising Events
Donation-Tips 1
Dec 24, 2014 by Anonymous

By Tia Crawford

Now that we’re deep in the season of giving, we’ll take a little time to look at the remarkable ways that technology has changed the landscape of fundraising events. Although fundraising galas will always rely heavily on a beautifully decorated venue, exquisite dining and excellent entertainment, technology is—not surprisingly—becoming more and more prevalent in these events. Here are some of the many ways that technology can support and enhance your efforts—encouraging your guests’ generosity!

  1. Registration – event registration software is the foundation of modern events—fundraising events are no exception! Whether online registration, onsite manned registration, or self-registration is most appropriate for your fundraising event, registration software lays the groundwork for administration, guest services, personalization, efficiency, and accurate data collection.
  2. Guest Data – you already have a database for guest information, and your database—when combined with the right event hardware and software—becomes the gateway to a technologically advanced event where you’re able to effortlessly gather and utilize attendee information, providing guests with a personalized, customized, convenient experience and fast, effortless check-ins.
  3. Badge Printing – produce and print barcoded badges that can facilitate every aspect of the attendee experience. Barcoded name badges can instantly provide attendee information, seating assignments, bidding information and payment information.
  4. Bidding and Auction Data – for fundraising events that incorporate auctions, barcoded badges and barcode scanners are an excellent method for streamlining bidding and keeping track of vital auction data.
  5. Digital Document Library – your organization has a mission, and that mission relies on educating and informing guests about your policies, procedures, and projects, as well as making your organization’s needs known. A digital document library is an elegant and unobtrusive way to help guests access the information they need to feel most connected to your purpose.
  6. Payment Collection – fundraising brings its own unique set of financial concerns. It is essential that your event has a secure network through which it can process the donations and bidding payments that your event brings in.
  7. Hybrid Events/Auctions – hybrid events work especially well for fundraisers, since auction bidding can be opened up to a world of virtual attendees, rather than in-person guests alone. If remote bidding is an option that your organization is willing to consider, tech solutions such as live video feeds and video walls can go a long way towards bringing long-distance contributors into the heart of the action.
  8. Sponsorships – whether you choose on-screen logos and videos, or branded wraps on kiosks, charging stations, and iPads—for every document and registration kiosk, or every video wall and touchscreen monitor, there is an opportunity to allow sponsorships for like-minded businesses—sponsorships that can go a long way towards helping you meet your financial goals.
  9. Social Media Feeds – every non-profit organization strives to expand its network of supporters. Social media is one of the greatest networking tools that society has ever known. Distribute information on your event through social media. Establish a hashtag for your event and generate interest and conversations regarding your mission. People enjoy being seen doing good work in a lively atmosphere. Give your guests every possible chance to share their enthusiasm for your cause with their social network. Use video walls and LCD monitors to display real-time social media posts, tweets, and photos—it’s a great way to encourage social sharing.
  10. Reports and Data Analysis – at the end of the evening, it’s time to count up the donations, collect data, and generate reporting on the overall success of the event. From demographics and attendee information, to detailed reporting on the donations and bids, the registration event software and barcoded badges you utilized will provide you with a clear and accurate assessment of the evening’s activity!

SmartSource Rentals has laptops, desktops, tablets, kiosks, touchscreen monitors, iPads, and video walls that can enlighten and delight your guests, and help your fundraising event shine!

 

 

The Many Ways ARS Rentals Can Engage Your Attendees
ARS system SSR
Dec 23, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

If you are an event professional, you have probably conducted some meetings and wondered what your attendees thought about it. You might have been so lucky to receive random comments here and there or had about 10% of your attendees fill out a paper survey; but truth be told there is a much easier and faster system available. What is it you might ask? Audience Response System rental units of course!

This blog will focus on the best way to prepare and use ARS devices in your meeting – from the planning to the execution stage.

Planning for ARS Rentals

Here are the four things you need to do to most effectively engage your attendees.

First, remember that Audience Response rentals allow attendees to answer close-ended questions. So it is important to have a mix of multiple choice, true and false, and yes and no questions for your attendees. I would suggest you have a committee brainstorm what questions you want answers to before starting. In addition, determine how often you are going to poll your audience – at every session, at the end of the conference, or stages in between.

Second, use ARS to measure ROI. Review your conference goals and objectives and determine what questions can be posed to your attendees. For example, perhaps you want 85% of all attendees to feel that the conference was excellent or very good. You can ask a multiple choice question to obtain this answer. You will receive quick, quantitative data that you can use in planning next year’s conference.

Third, ask all your presenters to use ARS integrated into their talks. It is vital that your presenters are engaging attendees. The quickest way to do this is to ask a question, obtain the immediate feedback from the system, and have your presenters use this information to reswizzle their content. Ask them to have 3 ARS questions in their presentation.

Fourth, obtain your ARS rental units, LCD projector rental, as well as your computer and screen rental for each room. Have an experienced AV tech team load the PowerPoints and go through the questions with each facilitator or presenter. Have the tech team test the ARS wireless devices and explain to each presenter how they work.

Using ARS Rentals

Below are the two items you need for maximum audience participation.

First, take time to show attendees how to use one. Don’t assume everyone knows how to use an ARS device; some may have never even seen one before. Explain that the information gathered is anonymous and can not be linked to the person holding the device. Also explain they will see the results instantaneously and their feedback will help with speaker interactions, spark conversations, and make the conference next year all that much better.

Second, when completing corporate training, an excellent way to get attendees involved is for them to answer pre- and post-training session questions. This will do two things: 1) It will allow the trainer to know very quickly where the attendees are in terms of knowledge and 2) At the end, the trainer will know whether or not employees understand the material.

Why You Should Source Your ARS Rentals From Smartsource

By choosing SmartSource Rentals, you can count on guaranteed delivery, 24/7 technical support, and certified AV technicians who can remain onsite during your entire conference to make certain everything goes according to plan. Give us a call at 800.888.8686 to learn how we can help you!

AV Equipment Rentals Empower You to Say “YES” to Every Job
Dec 18, 2014 by Melissa Bailey

I used to run a business, and one day we decided that we wanted to create some promotional collateral that would require some video. So, I called a guy that I knew in the area (let’s call him Joe) who had a reputation for producing quality videos. As we began to discuss my business’ creative vision and conceptual ideas, it became apparent that we were also going to need a green screen. Well, Joe didn’t have a green screen. He apologized for not having the equipment necessary to handle our project and wished us luck in finding someone that did.

So, we called around until we found another promising vendor (let’s call him Bill). Now, Bill admitted that he didn’t own a green screen but explained to us that he could easily rent one and had done so for several other clients. Bill got the job. We paid him about $5,000 for that project, and his invoice included the cost of the green screen rental and delivery fees, which he had simply passed along to us. The project went so smoothly that Bill became our go-to guy for all of our video work. Plus, on more than a few occasions, we referred Bill to other businesses and even for a wedding or two.

Think about it… renting that green screen did not cost Bill a dime (because he passed the costs to us), yet between our repeat business and referrals he must have made a small fortune over the years that he worked with us. There’s no telling how much money Bill made as a result of that one rental, but it was the exact same amount that Joe lost because he failed to rent a green screen and seize that opportunity to be our vendor.

Here’s the great news – you don’t have to wait for a phone call to start thinking proactively about creative ways to leverage equipment rentals in order to expand the capabilities and offerings of your current business. Just ask yourself if there is some additional service your business could provide customers if you had access to equipment that you don’t currently own. Now, consider this – since there’s practically no piece of AV-related equipment that can’t be rented – you almost certainly do have access to that equipment.

Plus, equipment rental offers a host of other advantages, like:

  • You can try out a new service offering to see if there is demand for it and if your business can accomplish it effectively without making an expensive and risky capital investment.
  • You can potentially attract an entire new customer base that was not viable before you added the new capabilities.
  • You can take on new jobs and generate new revenue streams without negatively impacting cash flow.
  • You can avoid getting stuck with outdated and obsolete equipment due to rapid advances in technology – and you’ll always have affordable access to the latest and best equipment.
  • If you intend to buy equipment, renting allows you to test out different types and brands before making a purchase decision.
  • You can pass the costs along to your customers and even mark up the rental for added profit.
  • You can give your business more flexibility and versatility to bid on jobs you may have passed on before.

Expanding business offerings and growing revenues are just a creative thought away. For example:

  • Videographers could rent green screens (like Bill did) to expand their ability to shoot all kinds of videos and commercials. Or, they could rent web streamers to offer clients live feeds of their events. How many brides would like the ability to stream their wedding to friends and family that couldn’t make it to the wedding?
  • Photographers could rent specialty lenses or even drones to offer the most unique photos and angles.
  • Event producers could rent a video wall to take presentations to a whole new level of professionalism.

Whether you’re proactively searching for new revenue streams for your business, or you just want to be more flexible and expand your ability to serve a wider range of customer demands, equipment rental is an often overlooked and untapped ocean of opportunity. If you don’t own the equipment you need to do a job – just rent it and take the job.

 

About the author

Robert Preville is the CEO of KWIPPED, an online B2B equipment rental marketplace. At KWIPPED.com businesses can quickly and easily locate, discover and rent specialized equipment from a global network of suppliers that span 16 industry verticals. Learn more at www.kwipped.com.

6 Way Attendees Get Annoyed and How Planners Can Make it Right
annoying
Dec 16, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

As we move through the holiday season, it is the time for festive parties and gatherings. A time to reflect on what irks our attendees the most and ways to improve upon the meeting planning process this month and in the coming year. Sometimes the “little things” that are overlooked in the planning cycle become big things which can lead to poor attendance in future events, meeting participants leaving early, and scathing social postings about your organization and event.

Six Things That Can Really Screw Up Your Meeting

Presenter Problems

  • The presenter is really boring.
    It is your job to make sure attendees are engaged in what is happening on stage. If the person on the riser is delivering a yawner of a talk, your attendees will let you know.The solution is to really vet and coach your speakers. Spend time with them letting them know what your attendee’s expectations are. Take time to review their PowerPoint slides at least 10 days before your meeting and be direct with your presenter about what needs to be changed.
  • The presentation is too long. 
    They used to say a presentation could be no longer than 50 minutes without Q & A. Now they say 18 minutes is the max anyone can go without self-interruption. Guy Kawasaki says everything you ever want to teach someone can be covered in 10 slides. I tend to agree. Make sure the speaker is focused and give them a time limit to deliver their message.

 Audio Visual Problems

  • No one can see or hear what is happening on stage.
    An easy way to disconnect with your attendees is to have a sound system that doesn’t work properly. Or when attendees are so far away they cannot see what is going on or they have to look around obstacles.Hire a professional AV company to come in and set up, test and maintain your sound system. Have them rehearse with your speakers several hours in advance and remain onsite with backup microphones if there is a problem. Rent iPads to allow attendees to view your presenters or facilitators on their second screens.
  • Everything is too loud. 
    From the presenters to the DJ to the background music, attendees often complain of loudness. I went to an event a few years ago that was impossible to network effectively at because the music was way too loud. Most attendees waited for the band to go on break or left before the evening’s function ran its course.If you cannot conduct a conversation, than the sound system needs to be adjusted.

Room Setup Problems

  • The room is too hot or too cold.
    When the room temperature is just right, attendees don’t focus on it any longer. When the room is boiling or freezing, that is all they think and talk about. Make it comfortable at all times. Take a poll of attendees to check in; ask them to send you a tweet if they are uncomfortable.
  • The room is too sparse or too crowded.
    You don’t want attendees to walk into a room and see lots of empty chairs and tables and by the same token, you don’t want the room to be so crowded attendees have no where to sit. It needs to be in between – the right amount of chairs and a room size that is appropriate for your group.

SmartSource Rentals Can Help You Overcome Many of These Annoyances

Partner with SmartSource Rentals, an experienced technology rental company with 21 locations nationwide. Request a quote or contact your local SmartSource Rentals branch today to learn more about the many ways we can make your meeting a real success!

SSR – Socially Savvy Events
sociallysavvy
Dec 12, 2014 by Anonymous

By Tia Crawford

Events are always about making social connections—even when they’re about budgets, product launches, sales figures, rallying employees to get them excited and energized (or any of the two million other reasons that businesses participate in or organize events), the real reason behind getting people together is . . . getting people together. The human element is the most important difference between sending a memo and holding a meeting. For this reason, no matter what the official focus of your event may be, it needs to be socially savvy!

Socially savvy events need to work in three dimensions: by helping make social connections between participants within the event, by fostering connections that bring news of the event to the outside world, and—most importantly—by connecting the community of participants to the content of the event itself.

The Techniques

  1. Social Media – social media is now in a class of its own. With new platforms and channels appearing almost every day, managing social media has literally become a full-time job. For the purposes of this article, we’ll need to keep the discussion fairly simple! Research the most popular social media channels for your event’s main industries and focus on those platforms for promoting the event—before, during, and afterwards.
  2. Remote Attendance – face-to-face events are the most powerful form of meetings since they bring about the strongest chances for social interactions; however, not all interested parties have the time and resources to attend conventions, conferences, and trade shows in person. By creating hybrid events and enabling remote attendance, your event will cast a wider net—allowing participation on broader terms. Remote participants enhance an event socially, even though they are not physically present.
  3. Streaming Content – streaming content is like an open invite for participation. Imagine the difference between a closed-door session and an open-forum discussion—when we stream content from an event, we give outsiders a chance to become insiders.
  4. Videos – with approximately 65% of the population being visual learners1, attendees (both onsite and offsite) are far more likely to connect with, relate to, and remember content and contacts that are SEEN rather than only heard. Whether you’re looking for the best way to help attendees make social networking connections, you’re looking to push your event content out to remote attendees, or you’re interested in having your content go viral through social media channels, videos are an excellent choice for making deeper connections.
  5. Crowdsourcing – ever since 2006 when “You” were Time magazine’s person of the year2, businesses and individuals alike have realized that the opinions and ideas of individuals can, should, and DO make a difference. Truly socially savvy events can and should harness the tremendous potential of attendees’ ideas and opinions, whether for fun or in brainstorming for the future—attendees need to feel that their voice matters.

The Technology

  1. Digital Signage – from social media feeds to streaming videos, digital signage is the ideal technology choice to display all of the crisp, stunning, visual information that keeps your attendees connected—both near and far.
  2. Audience Response Systems – crowdsourcing becomes easy with an Audience Response System. Simply hand out keypads to allow polling and surveying, instantly gathering feedback from your attendees.
  3. Lead Retrieval Systems – a large portion of business events need social connections to turn into leads, follow-ups, and sales. Lead Retrieval Systems ensure that face-to-face contacts come with trackable data.
  4. Charging Stations – keep attendees’ devices charged, while putting a captive, engaged audience in front of you.
  5. Video Walls – all the practicality and beauty of digital signage, with the fun of being so much bigger!

For the best video presentations possible, don’t forget that SmartSource can provide the AV equipment rentals necessary—from lighting and staging, to sound and interactive video technology!

Resources: 1- Forbes, 2- Wikipedia

Interactive Event Technology Trends for 2015
Steve Shatsoff
Dec 11, 2014 by Karen Daniels

If you’re planning on exhibiting at any events in 2015, or you’re an event organizer and you’d like to know what you should be thinking about when it comes to your technology choices, read on. We recently had a chat with Steve Shatsoff – Senior Vice President at SmartSource Computer & AV Rentals to get a glimpse into upcoming event technology trends for 2015. Steve has been in the technology rental business for decades, so he has a good perspective on what trends are coming up that are worth tapping into.

Steve, to get started we’d like to ask you, when it comes to technology at events, what’s going to be different in 2015 than it was in 2014?

One of the first things to understand when we’re talking about technology trends for events is that the use of technology at events is somewhere behind the curve of general technology trends. The event business has been slow to adopt some aspects of technology; however, now with Millennials coming more to the forefront, the demand for cutting-edge technology at events is gaining greater momentum.

One of the biggest pushes we see coming from that momentum is more interaction and interactivity between attendees and organizers. Things such as social media, like Twitter walls, are part of that.

We’re also going to see more gamification. Explained loosely, gamification is about using game thinking in a non-game situation to increase user interaction and contribution. For example, you could create a contest to provide a “wow” interactive experience that totally engages the user who might otherwise walk right by your booth.

And here I thought gamification was only about playing games.

A lot of people think that. Gamification is the kind of thing which, when used properly, can be promoted to increase attendance and even help attract more top-notch speakers.

So interaction isn’t about creating more engagement just for the sake of it – a lot of positive outcomes can come from increased interactivity. Can you give us some additional ideas of what could potentially be done to improve interactivity at an event?

Certainly. You can create greater interactivity with the integration of hardware and software, like a large touch screen, for instance. There’s a big movement towards touch screen and interactivity or motion screen interactivity (think of the movie Minority Report) and the ability to manipulate screens.  This helps improve matchmaking and networking and messaging between an attendee and the event. What this means is that the message the viewer sees gets changed dynamically with the use of technology—for instance, blue tooth technology like iBeacon. As you walk past a digital sign, the content could change based on who you are. This allows for more personalized welcome screens and alerts; it can even tie into badging and say hello to you. This can be powerful stuff – someone walks past your booth and they get a personal hello from the screen. Who can resist walking in to your booth to see what this technology is all about? Personalization can certainly create more dwell time in booths or in different areas at an event.

There is also interactive technology such as projection mapping – which is a big projector that makes something look 3D that someone can interact with through hand gestures.

Near field communication technology, or NFC, is continuing to gain traction. An example of this is iPay, using near field, where someone uses their touch phone to make a payment.

Also, greater interactivity can be part of continuing education credits at events; checking people in and out and providing CEU tracking and the metrics that come out of that can all be enhanced with newer technology.

In fact, it would be hard to think of an event where most aspects couldn’t be improved by greater interactivity. It’s all about incorporating the tech lifestyle into the event lifestyle. People are going to want and expect that they can do everything at an event that they do out in the world, and then some. The best events spark imagination, and technology used right plays a major part in that.

So, if a company or event organizer is looking to tap into some of these trends, how can they make sure the technology they choose creates a meaningful interaction, rather than just being a gimmick?

Great question, which brings up one of the key factors for making technology work for you, whether it’s interactive or not. Any technology you select—and this is where it pays to have an expert work this out with you—needs to be the right technology for your purpose, your brand, your message. It does no good to have cutting-edge technology that captivates attention but does nothing to further a specific purpose.

You need to match the type of interactivity you are creating with what you are creating it for. As an example, if you want to create greater interaction in a break out space, you can set something up which not only captures attention but also gathers data that you can use in real time. You can use interaction to find out what hot topics people want to hear about, who they want to hear it from, or to get real-time feedback on how they rate a speaker.

Anytime you’re creating interactivity through technology, you shouldn’t just think in terms of capturing an audience’s attention.  You should also always think in terms of what data you could gather, which can then be used for better event marketing and design, or for the ability to brand well.

Thank you so much, Steve. You’ve given us a lot to think about. Any last words about interactivity for the upcoming year?

Yes, I’d like to wish everyone happy and joyous interactions this holiday season – whether they are low tech or high tech. Remember that, at the core, everything is about connecting with people.

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