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The Power of Data: Knowing Your Customers’ Needs and Wants
powerofdataimage
Nov 24, 2015 by Anonymous

Big data is flooding business news. While this ground-breaking wave of technology gives businesses the opportunity to possess nearly prophetic knowledge and intuition about their consumers, it can be difficult to process the torrents of information—both information on how the technology can be applied, and also literally processing the billions of pieces of data that companies may receive.

To cut through the noise, every company needs to approach data collection with clearly defined goals. Businesses must decide what SPECIFIC questions they want their data to answer—for example, how to:

  • Identify precise demographic groups
  • Attract customers
  • Match consumers to products
  • Increase margins
  • Meet business objectives
  • Streamline operations
  • Improve efficiencies and processes
  • Improve products and services
  • Identify seasonal highs and lows
  • Gauge customer satisfaction (and dissatisfaction)
  • Identify and decrease churn rates
  • Boost key performance indicators

The Fine Line between Big Business . . . and Big Brother

Big data seeks to offer consumers information that is targeted precisely to them; however, there’s a fine line between customization and “creeping.” Greeting a stranger by their first name, for instance, may be received as a pleasant or unpleasant surprise—making some consumers feel special and others feel uncomfortable. Ideally, a business’s data collection leads to:

  • personalization that impresses
  • timely offers for products and services
  • new products thoughtfully designed
  • advanced customer service
  • an opportunity to listen to customers directly

Technology that Genuinely Leads

SmartSource Rentals has options for any business that strives to know their consumers better. Whether for conferences, trade shows, corporate events, fundraising, product launches, training sessions, or road trips, the following suggestions can provide a technology portal that connects you to your target audience.

Lead Retrieval – lead retrieval systems are one of the easiest and most efficient methods for gaining insight into the behavior of your ideal consumer! Businesses, event organizers, sponsors, and exhibitors can gain use any combination of desktop terminals, software applications, barcoded badges, or hand-held units and scanners to gain minute-by-minute knowledge of attendee tracking that can boost ROI, increase attendee satisfaction, improve product offerings, and help convert leads into sales.

Digital Document Libraries – a digital document library offers all of a business’s print collateral in digital form, ready for immediate downloading, emailing, or even printing! This electronic library saves money on printing and shipping, while reducing waste; however, this technology also provides extensive real-time analytics by hour, event, attendee, session, kiosk, or digital asset—offering the best of content management and lead generation, while helping businesses to know what topics their customers find most interesting.

Touchscreen Kiosks – touchscreen kiosks and monitors are an excellent, interactive way to give and receive information from your audience. They are a highly-customizable technology option for:

  • Audience response
  • Live voting
  • Polling solutions
  • Capturing lead information
  • Offering interactive demonstrations
  • Extending surveys

By utilizing interactive technology rentals, events and businesses can be more fully connected with their consumers. Tracking can help event organizers determine the popularity of sessions, booths, exhibits, breakouts, and mixers—gathering information that leads to better events and services, without disrupting the guests’ experience. Most importantly, interactive technology can easily gather direct feedback from consumers—providing an open forum for them to speak candidly about their needs and wants, before, during, and after an event.

“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress . . .”

-Kofi Annan

EventTech Recap: How to WiFi Your Next Outdoor Event
EVENTtech20015
Nov 19, 2015 by Cynthia Corona

At Event Marketer Magazine’s annual event technology conference in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago, industry leaders from across the country presented the latest technology meant to inspire attendance and engagement at experiential marketing events. Here is a recap of what was hot:

  • WiFi for Outdoor Events: To begin, it is important to know that Google was in the house! That’s important because, well you know why. They are huge and always at the forefront of technology and consumer engagement. Speaking at the event, Chris Tillman, Program Manager for Google’s Event Technology Division, had this to say about the use of technology at events:

“… having internet connectivity, having networking at your event, having data, is just as crucial as having water and air conditioning at your event these days. …”

We are right there with you Chris, which is why SmartSource’s regional sales director and WiFi guru Milko Figueroa delivered one of the most anticipated presentations of the event, “WiFi for Outdoor Events.”  You can hear a summary of Milko’s presentation in this short podcast hosted by our expert in technology for experiential events, April Moore.

PodCast

  • Multi-media creative tools for consumers at events: The growing sophistication of social media platforms has raised the bar for what consumers find engaging and “sharable” beyond the immediate experience. Knowing this, several large brands rely on video to capture the experience and extend the legs of their big-ticket branding events. Often, the most compelling of those videos are created by the consumers themselves.  New multi-media tools like TheSlowMotionBooth.com and TheBoothPhotoVideo.com provide a space at events where consumers can create quixotic videos awash with special effects like slow motion or stop motion; or create GIFs  and Cinemographs, which are visual pieces that combine still and video elements.  Pretty cool stuff.
  • Data Capture and Real-Time Lead Engagement: While lead retrieval is not new to the event industry, capturing leads in an online or offline setting and engaging them in real-time is. What does that mean? Imagine a consumer enters your space with an inquiry. You engage that person in conversation and figure out quickly what they want and that you have the solution. You can hand them a bulky packet of printed material and watch their eyes glaze over (FAIL!), OR you take a quick second to scan their badge or business card and immediately email them the information. Boom! You are high-tech.  Your lead is impressed with the instant and paperless exchange of information, and the lead’s info has already been assigned to sales. Whaaaaa? Check it out:  Leadapture.com
  • Event-to-Event Live Streaming: Ok, this is not a technology for the faint of heart.  But if your production skills are tight enough to guarantee simultaneous excitement across multiple locations, ClubCast Live’s event streaming solution could be a game changer for you.  See how it works here:

                                EVENTtech-20015-Drone

In addition to these technologies, we had a few other observations:

  • Cloud Computing on the production end of events is here to stay.
  • Drones are sexy and exciting, but still carry a lot of risk, especially in unregulated environments.
  • RFID is going to explode in 2016.

If you attended EventTech this year, we would love to hear from you and get your thoughts and opinions on the show.  Send us an email at:  ccorona@smartsourcerentals.com

5 Ways to Enhance your Event with Twitter
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Nov , 2015 by Anonymous

Twitter walls have become an indispensable addition to business events. This unique social media technology enhancement is an important method for:

  • Facilitating business connections
  • Creating interest and buzz
  • Promoting the event and its sessions, both internally to guests and externally (to FUTURE guests and exhibitors)
  • Providing a valuable opportunity for attendees, exhibitors, and—of course!—sponsors to promote themselves

Twitter is More Respected than You Think!

According to a July 2015 study conducted by Pew Research Center, Twitter is quickly becoming a preferred channel for news updates, such as political issues, national events, or to fill specific informational needs. Of the 2,000 participants in the study, 63% are now depending on Twitter as their preferred source for journalism. Furthermore, 59% of participants said that Twitter was their preferred source for breaking news, as well as for following up on developing stories.

Indeed, journalists were one of the first groups to realize Twitter’s potential for reaching a targeted audience. According to Cision’s State of the Media 2015 Report, 80% of journalists use Twitter for marketing and promoting their work.

How does this information affect your business event? Twitter can boost your event by offering your guests, exhibitors, speakers, and sponsors a chance to promote themselves!

Promotion is a Powerful Motivating Tool at All Levels

Every event participant has a story to tell—or sales goal to meet, ROI to boost, and networking requirements to achieve. Twitter is an ideal platform for sharing ideas, actions, and conversations in real time! If you view your event’s Twitter feed as an open mic, the following five suggestions can help you set the stage for a business gathering that facilitates promotional success for all the businesses and individuals involved!

1.  Social media, popularity, and the “me” factor – at the very least, guests want their social circles to know that they’re participating in a vibrant work experience that is advancing their knowledge, expanding their opportunities, and accelerating their career. It’s exciting to let people know that you’ve been asked to represent your company! Provide a unique (sponsored) photo opportunity—one that’s easy to tweet and lets guests show off what a great time they’re having.

2.  Use Twitter to extend the event’s promotional capabilities – pre-, during, and post event commentary is all useful and appropriate.

  • Before the event, establish the event hashtag as soon as the venue and dates are set: starting a conversation, letting people know what the event is about, giving information on how to get involved, and—naturally—letting businesses, exhibitors, sponsors, and individuals spread the NEWS that they’re participating!
  • During the event, Tweet compelling content from every angle, perspective, and corner of the event floor. Distribute schedule reminders and teaseqrs. Include strong calls to action. Always encourage guest participation in the Twitter chatter.
  • After the event, continue promoting your hashtags, and ask people to share their event experiences. Unlike radio or TV (where you wouldn’t pay for ads about an event that’s already occurred), Twitter is an excellent way to continue post-event discussion amongst participants—also letting potential guests, exhibitors, and sponsors know what they missed!

3. Use live event tweeting to make the customer experience more fun! – A business appears more active, involved, engaging, and INTERESTING when it has a life outside of the office. Tweeting from the trade show floor or from a conference session is an excellent way of showing your clients and customers that your business has a lively social side!

4.  Offer behind-the-scenes and unlimited access information through Twitter Interviews – maybe your event does have a camera crew and reporter offering video coverage—if not, you can easily substitute Twitter interviews as a simple method to achieve a similar result. (If you do have a video feed, you can promote that through Twitter as well.) Simply select a staff member to do the interviews, create a list of compelling questions, and instantly distribute the interviewees’ responses to your guests.

5.  Create a deeper level of engagement with TweetChats – as an alternative to interviewing a single “thought leader” or speaker, TweetChats are a way to prearrange a panel discussion that’s published in real time. Select some exhibitors, speakers, or representatives with compelling ideas, and choose a time when these participants can promote their views to the preferred audience.

A Twitter feed is quickly becoming a necessity for any successful business event. SmartSource Rentals has all the technology that can make the most of this opportunity, including digital signage and video walls to display the feed itself, and WiFi boosters that ensure excellent wireless connections within the venue. Contact us for a quote today!

6 Technology Trends Expected to Explode in 2016
SmartSource Rentals, tech trends, technology, 2016
Nov , 2015 by DeDe Mulligan

 

It’s hard to believe, but before you know it, you will be ringing in the New Year with new ideas about ways to improve your meetings and events.

However, with the plethora of technology that is generally available and limited time to review it, it can be difficult to assess which solutions make sense for your meeting.

Here are six technology trends identified by Brian Pesin, Marketing Manager at Event Farm and Corbin Ball, Owner of Corbin Ball Associates as the ones to keep on the radar in the coming 12 months.

6 Exploding Trends

Mobile Event Apps

Whether you have used them at your event or not, it is most certain that your attendees are tweeting about something that just happened or checking out your speaker on Google.

Because all apps are now being developed to be mobile responsive, hardware selection is no longer a factor as the apps can run on anything from Android smartphones to iPad rentals.

While there are thousands of apps available, the ones that should be in every planner’s pocket for 2016 are:

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Vine
  • ChirpE, for your photo booth and
  • Meerkat or Periscope for live video streaming

Smart Video Walls

These large video wall rentals will make images pop because of the Ultra High Definition within the unit. Uses can include:

  • Pictures taken at the event via Instagram and shared on the event’s Twitter feed
  • Video clips of presenters that entice attendees to stay at the conference or attend specific sessions
  • Live video streaming of the keynote speaker address

Second Screen Technology

Although this is highly utilized today in the entertainment industry, especially with TV shows, Corbin Ball believes this technology will used to displaying content such as:

  • PowerPoint Slides
  • Polling Apps
  • Video Streaming
  • Social Media Channels and
  • Real-time Updates.

The issue in 2015 has been the limited number of apps that can deliver SST. Ball believes the number of apps will continue to grow over the course of 2016 and the use will make the use of stage screens will become obsolete.

iBeacons and BLE

With an iBeacon and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) network, an event organizer, sponsor and booth exhibitor will be able to understand exactly where an attendee is in the event space. This provides an opportunity to send attendees highly contextual, meaningful messages and advertisements on their mobile devices.

For example, the attendee carrying a smartphone or tablet walks onto the trade show floor. Apps installed on their device listen for iBeacons or BLE technology. When an app hears this technology, it communicates the relevant data to its server, which then triggers an action. This could be something as simple as a welcome message or more complex things like targeted messaging, special offers, and helpful reminders.

 Metrics Matter

According to Event Farm, 67% of Chief Marketing Officers believe that event ROI will be the primary measure of an event’s effectiveness which mean that goals and objectives need to be in place before the event occurs.

Each social media platform has their own set of metrics, as well as standard website measurement tools, such as Google Analytics.

However, it needs to be more than that. As wearables and other technology options become more available, your CEO is going to expect to know how many people came to your event, how long they stayed at a particular booth and how engaged they were at each educational session.

Virtual Reality

This computer-generated simulation of a 3D image or environment can interact with, in a seemingly real way, a person using special equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors.

Corbin Ball notes that Facebook, Samsung, Sony, Google and GoPro have made significant investments in virtual reality (VR).

What are the benefits of using VR in meetings and trade shows?

  • Booth vendors can demonstrate products in an interactive manner via a large monitor rental, thus eliminating the need to ship and store physical products.
  • Because attendees will be using googles and/or gloves, attendees can easily play games that cement the message of the organization, sponsor or presenter.
  • Virtual attendees can feel like they are in the meeting room, because they will look like they are real attendees.

SmartSource Rentals is prepared for 2016 and beyond

With fully-staffed and equipped branch offices in 21 major metro markets, SmartSource Rental has the largest national footprint in the computer and audio visual rental space. Give us a call at 800.888.8686 to learn more about ways we can serve you!

3 Ways to Create an Outstanding Financial Conference
Outstanding Financial Conf image1
Nov 17, 2015 by Karen Daniels

As a financial conference planner, it’s up to you to anticipate the reasons people attend a conference and provide solutions that will help your attendees satisfy those reasons. These reasons may be a desire to gather new knowledge within an industry, to network, as well as taking advantage of an event location, making it a mini-holiday.

You can’t always control where your event is held, but you can create an Outstanding Financial Conference that leaves your attendees feeling satisfied and excited for future events.

Provide Awesome Networking Support

       Help attendees maximize social media opportunities

  • Social media for you, as the event organizer, as well as for all attendees, should begin before an event, and continue during and after the event.
  • Encourage enrollment and create excitement about your event. Plan on creating online opportunities that encourage attendance and give the inside scoop to those who are already registered. 
  • Also, make it easy for people to meet other attendees ahead of time. Make a special Facebook group for those attending where everyone can introduce themselves and ask questions ahead of time. Often,other attendees will jump in and answer questions, so it’s a good way to get a conversation going and for attendees to learn some names and set meet-ups before the conference even begins.
  • Publicize Your Speakers/Events through social media. Have one or more of your speakers hold a pre-event Chat session or host a Q&A.

      Create Unique Social Events

  • The usual wine and cheese meet and greet can be nice and a good networking opportunity for those who are comfortable going up to new people and introducing themselves.  Instead, consider hosting a Make Your Own Sunday/Fruit Salad Bar for those who are intimidated by the usual Meet and Greet.

      Create an Event that makes it easy to Engage with Others

  • For example, you can have staff on hand who greet everyone who comes in and then introduces that new person to someone else who is already there, creating a kind of new buddy system. Or, you can have items in a bag, such as candy bars or fruit. As people enter, they draw one out and then go to the table or area where all the other “oranges” are gathered. This gives everyone something to laugh about, as they introduce themselves to each other, and gives everyone the feeling of inclusion.

Use Cutting-edge Technology to Engage, Enhance and Amaze Attendees

Outstanding Financial Conf image2

Financial events and technology go hand-in-hand. Technology that helps increase customer interaction can be hugely beneficial and go a long way in making your event more memorable for attendees.

With the advancements in technology and tools such as touch screens, your ability to increase engagement by incorporating the right technology is significantly easier than it used to be.

Here are some of the more popular technology offerings SmartSource Rentals can supply for financial conferences:

  • State-of-the-art sound, lighting and staging will help ensure you “wow” attendees. Conference attendees like to be part of an experience and powerful sound and lighting can make all the difference.
  • Capture attendee attention with video walls that can dazzle your attendees with visuals that make any topic more engaging.
  • Instant Updates using digital signage will highlight conference details, sessions, speakers, and room information allowing you to update all information in real-time so when change happens, you are prepared.
  • Highlight Sponsors & Exhibitors with strategically placed touch screens and kiosks creating a dynamic interaction tool.
  • Provide much appreciated and necessary service with standalone charging stations for attendees’ personal mobile devices. Don’t forget you can use the display screens to show important information and bring attention to sponsors.
  • Go Green with Audience Response Systems and Digital document libraries by providing attendees with conference materials and company information without handouts and flyers
  • Cutting-edge Wi-Fi network arrays will ensure the bandwidth provided is fast, secure and robust – a must for exhibitors and attendees alike so they can easily access information, conduct business, and stay in touch.

Supply Information about the Surrounding City

Remember, conference attendees are not only there to gather all that great information and meet new people, they also want to experience the sites and other highlights the city has to offer.

  • Offer digital versions of local restaurant menus on your Digital document library.
  • Provide information on local sites and maps of surrounding areas on interactive kiosks. Set up the programming so viewers can read reviews by other attendees.
  • Include “must see” attraction list in their welcome packet – and discount tickets for those attractions or shows. Encourage social media conversations about those events or raffle tickets throughout conference.
  • Plan scheduled outings with groups. This is especially nice for those who are attending the conference by themselves. Many local events will open up early or stay open late for a large group. Call SmartSource Rentals, the largest technology solutions rental company in the United States, and let us help you create an outstanding financial conference. Call us at 800.888.8686 or request a quote today.
Attitude of Gratitude: 9 Ways To Show It This Thanksgiving
Attitude of Gratitude, Thanksgiving, thank employees, SmartSource Rental
Nov 12, 2015 by DeDe Mulligan

It’s not about the products and services your company makes or delivers; it’s the people that make all the difference. Your employees are the ones who sell your goods, talk to your customers and make your corporate events happen.

This post will talk about why you should appreciate your employees this Thanksgiving season and nine creative ways to do so.

The Research

Several studies have concluded that appreciated employees are productive employees. Here is the data:

  • According to Harvard Business Review, the most engaged, loyal and positive employees felt their emotional, mental and physical needs were being met at the office.
  • Research from Florida International University sited the following benefits of showing recognition and rewarding employees:
    • More pride in their work
    • Feeling appreciated
    • Willing to go the extra mile
    • Heightened commitment to the organization
    • More open to constructive feedback
    • Support and promote a positive work environment
  • 75% of employees stated they would work harder if their contributions were recognized according to a study by Globoforce.
  • According to FlexJobs
    • 82% of professionals say they would be more loyal to an employer if they had more flexible working options while
    • 74% said flexible working options would allow them to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
  • Companies with engaged workers have 6% higher net profits per Towers Watson.

The Acts of Appreciation

Showing a true act of kindness, doesn’t have to cost you or your company thousands of dollars. Here are a few creative way that can really make the difference:

  1. Write a handwritten card of thanks to a fellow employee.
    If applicable, have several members of your team sign the card.
  2. Write a recommendation for a fellow employee on LinkedIn.
  3. Add $50 to an employee’s paycheck when they do something great or give them a $50 gift card to their favorite establishment.
  4. Give to a charity they are passionate about.
  5. Throw a Thanksgiving lunch.
    Bring in all the elements of a Thanksgiving dinner, right down to the turkey, stuffing and pecan pie. Do this the Thursday before Thanksgiving and invite all employees (in office and virtual) to attend.
  6. Put cookies, cupcakes and candy in the breakroom during Thanksgiving week.
  7. Offer time off.
    Give every employee the option of paid time off on the Wednesday before or the Monday after Thanksgiving.
  8. Send a gift of flowers, food or wine to the employees’ home with a personalized note from your CEO.
  9. Create an Appreciation Wall.
    Have employees tweet or use an app to write thoughts of appreciation for other coworkers. Display those notes of appreciation on a video wall rental unit during the month of November and December.

SmartSource Rentals Appreciates All Our Employees and Customers

We at SmartSource want to wish you and your family a truly wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! Please know that we really appreciate your business and all you have done to make us truly successful. Once again, thank you!

Happier, Healthier Attendees
Happier, Healthier Attendees image
Nov 10, 2015 by Anonymous

Wellness is a trending buzzword for workplaces and business events—and for good reason! For business meetings, events, trade shows, and conferences, happy, healthy attendees are far more likely to:

  • Engage with other guests
  • Interact with exhibitors
  • Share and network through social media
  • Attend sessions more frequently
  • Report higher satisfaction levels about the event itself
  • (Most importantly) RETURN year after year!

Happiness, however, can seem quite elusive. Here are some tips and trends that are breaking guests out of the rut, leading to the ideal combination of a positive professional experience AND an exciting personal experience.

Business Events that Energize and Engage

Yoga – According to a recent article in Adweek, yoga is replacing coffee and happy hour as the event networking opportunity of choice. For example, this year’s SXSW provided extensive yoga opportunities, either branded or targeted for networking purposes. Since yoga is both invigorating and relaxing, it’s an ideal way to help attendees release tension and focus their energy (or “Chakra” energies, if you prefer) on being present and mindful in the moment: in other words, yoga helps create perfect attendees!

Branded yoga has become a particularly “hot” (sometimes literally, yes) sponsorship opportunity. Brands and sponsors have a chance to fund and coordinate a yoga class that functions as a refreshing and relaxing attendee break and also doubles as a networking session.

Interactive Exercise Classes – Provide classes and challenges that make it easy for guests to incorporate exercise. Consider exercise options that encourage guests to loosen up—mentally and physically.

  • Pilates, climbing walls, obstacle courses, punching bags, dancing, and cycling opportunities allow attendees to fit new, personal, healthy practices into their conference experience.
  • Pedometers, water bottles, and yoga mats all make excellent branded promotional materials.
  • Offer fitness wearables as a giveaway and provide opportunities to connect wearables to the event app.

Foodie Fun – Culinary experiences have always played an important role in human interaction and enjoyment. Consider working both the health side (accommodating the guests that would prefer low calorie, high fiber options, and allowing for food allergies and intolerances) while also creating exciting taste options that mix the best of local cuisine with fresh, unique menu items.

  • Offer local, organic, farmer’s market and heritage produce as part of the menu. These items taste fresher, support local farms, and reduce the event’s carbon footprint.
  • Offer appropriate portion sizes.
  • Make fresh water conveniently available throughout the entire event.
  • Modify food vending contracts to increase the number of healthy options.
  • Label foods to show high-quality ingredients and nutritional content.

Green Initiatives – Attendees feel good knowing that the event has taken steps to reduce waste. Help guests to feel that the event supports socially and environmentally responsible practices.

  • Provide reusable or compostable plates, drinkware, and cutlery.
  • Offer extensive recycling opportunities for food waste, paper, and plastics.
  • Lower the event’s carbon footprint by utilizing renewable energy and sustainable materials.

Natural Connections – if possible, consider an event venue that can allow for outdoor interaction! Hiking trails, beautiful views, natural spaces, and inviting gardens are all chances to help attendees get their nature fix. In conclusion, by enhancing business scheduling with opportunities for self-care, business events can double as a retreat where attendees can feel personally recharged!

 

About SmartSource Rentals

With over 30 years of experience and 21 locations nationwide, SmartSource Rentals has the knowledge and inventory to help provide your event with any technology necessary. Our Long Range WiFi Router can help provide excellent WiFi for outdoor spaces—allowing your events’ deeply contented outdoor sunset yoga class members to tweet . . . “Namaste.”

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