SmartSource Rentals Blog


Are Virtual Trade Shows Becoming a Reality?
SmartSource Rentals, Virtual Trade Shows,
Jan 28, 2016 by DeDe Mulligan

The Benefits & Drawbacks of Virtual

As long as I have been in the meeting business, virtual trade shows have been talked about as something that is just around the corner. Think about it: The ability to reach thousands of attendees from the comfort of their home or office computer, with minimal expense to the exhibitor. What a fantastic concept!

Yet for all its talk and bluster, virtual trade shows have not taken off. Here are the primary benefits and drawbacks of virtual trade shows that will help you formulate your own conclusion why live trade shows are still very relevant.


Virtual Trade Show Benefits


No Travel Required

The ability to participate in a show from your office or home has a lot of appeal to the person that is very busy or has a restricted travel budget.

Participants Are Active

According to a survey by Marketing Profs and ON24, 77% of virtual trade show attendees download exhibitor information.


Low Cost Per Lead

Exhibitor Magazine found in their virtual event survey, that the cost per lead was lower than an in-person trade show because exhibitors received a high quantity of leads at an overall lower cost to participate in the show.


Virtual Trade Show Drawbacks


No Standards

Unlike a live show with specific sizes and rules to follow, virtual trade shows are like the wild, wild west. They can be anything from a static site with exhibitor logos, links and PDFs to a video site with scheduled appointments with exhibitors and anything in-between.

Lower Quality of Leads

While Exhibitor Magazine found the quantity of leads to be high in a virtual show, they also found the quality of those leads to be lower than live shows. This makes sense because at a trade show there is an opportunity for exhibitors to see attendees several times – whether it is at receptions, educational events or just impromptu networking. Qualitative questions can be asked over time, versus a 5-minute appointment virtually.

No multi-sensory experience

You can engage an attendee with sight and sound virtually but there is no way to use touch, smell or taste with this format. And forget engaging attendees in a multi-sensory experience.

The Press Has No Interest

It is easy to pitch your trade show when you can paint the picture for the media about the number of attendees and exhibitors that will be there, product announcements that will happen and VIP access they will have. This cannot happen in a virtual environment – no one is interested in this platform.

It May Be More Expensive Than You Think

When you think about having a fast, highly reliable and secure platform to access the virtual show, you will need to put more burden on your own IT team or outsource the job to a service provider. Either way, you need the integrated technology for audio and streaming video.

And because there are no standards, the budget dollars will depend on your audience size and level of sophistication they desire. For example, if you have 2,000 people signed onto the site at the same time viewing live video from the trade show floor, the last thing you want is constant buffering to keep up with demand.

SmartSource Rentals is Your Trade Show Partner


SmartSource Rentals is regarded as the trusted experts in technology solutions for businesses and events and maintains the largest national footprint in the computer and audio visual rental space.  SmartSource is widely recognized for its breadth and depth of offerings and seamless systems integration for even the most complex temporary installations.

By leveraging high performance IT, AV, and the latest interactive technologies, SmartSource helps marketers effectively convey and distill their brand messages with optimal impressions. SmartSource Rentals has fully-staffed and equipped branch offices in 22 major metropolitan markets. With a multi-million dollar inventory and a team of professionals who deliver excellence every time, we also serve as the official technology vendor in 375+ trade shows every year. For more information, visit: or call: 800-888-8686.

Thinking Outside the BOX for Trade Show Event Tech
Jan 26, 2016 by Anonymous

Trade show exhibitors and event planners are perpetually looking for fresh ways to promote their business, products, services and ideas. Businesses are always in need of unique ways to distinguish themselves from the competition and help draw a crowd off the showroom floor. Industry professionals know that the success of trade show exhibits often relies on technology—from the basics of sound, lighting, and lead retrieval, and moving up to leading-edge event technology that sets new standards.

Create Connections before the Event

Use social media, games, and apps to extend your exhibit’s reach beyond the booth—building excitement for your exhibit beforehand and helping to create a virtual space to engage your customers and help them to interact with your brand.

One award-winning social media campaign used gamification, social media, smartphones and devices, interaction, and QR codes to create a remarkable promotion! Their campaign succeeded above others by incorporating the following aspects:

  1. Creating a custom-made app that introduced the company’s product.
  2. Encouraging guests to download the app and game before the event or allowing them to connect to it quickly through an eye-catching QR code station onsite.
  3. The app allowed guests to select and customize gaming personas, helping to create a fun and interactive community and networking potential.
  4. The app used a scavenger hunt that encouraged competitive teamwork.
  5. The scavenger hunt involved locations in the event’s host city, not just the event facility—creating a broader event experience for attendees (while also cleverly limiting the time that attendees wanted to spend at competing booths).

The company’s campaign opted for smart phones, social media, and Quick Response (QR) codes, believing that customers were most comfortable with these technologies. Backing up this concept, research from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project shows that:

  • 61% of online Americans now use social-networking sites daily
  • 62% of gamers engage in game play with others (either in person or online)
  • 33% of gamers play on their smart phones

Trade shows can be work—help to make them feel like fun!

Expand a trade show booth with sights, sounds, and a more tactile approach to exhibit display!

Every trade show exhibit revolves around a physical display area. While a successful exhibit should utilize social media and virtual engagement, the booth itself cannot fail to draw in guests and help form face-to-face interaction as well! Here are our top five suggestions for event technology that can help your business’s trade show booth expand beyond its footprint and reach out to guests!

  1. Beacons – if your trade show is offering an event app that enables Beacons, take advantage of this unique opportunity to connect directly to attendees through their own devices. Beacons can “enhance a visitor’s experience by delivering improved customer service and offering digital content through event-specific mobile apps.”(1) When an app enables Beacons, it can allow:
    • Check-ins
    • Contactless registration
    • Ticketing
    • Signups
    • Location-based services
    • Push notifications
    • Proximity marketing
    • Time-sensitive promotions
    • Personalized deals and offers
    • Rewards programs
    • In-app discussions and feedback
    • Content delivery
  • Virtual Reality – virtual reality displays and VR headsets add the elements of novelty and fun to your trade show booth’s promotional videos and demonstrations. At the low end of the pricing scale, Google Cardboard uses apps, smartphones, and a bit of cardboard origami to provide a 3D immersive viewing experience that can give visitors an excuse to stop, look, and linger for your sales demonstrations and content.
  • Sound Shower Directional Speakers – directional speakers mount from nearly any angle and offer highly-targeted sound directly to your guests. They offer an excellent opportunity to give visitors a uniquely layered and dimensional “surround sound” auditory experience, as well as being an ideal method for competing with the noise of the showroom floor!
  • Video Projection Mapping – similar to the searchlights used at grand openings and movie premiers, the right lighting can stimulate interest and intrigue! In the case of trade show booths, video projection mapping can break up the monotony of box after box of exhibitors—helping you extend your business’s appeal beyond the 10×10 foot “pre-defined area.” Video projection mapping can allow you to project images, logos, videos, or lighting effects over the walls, floor, and furnishings in your booth—including any wall surfaces, tabletop displays, fabric draping and panels, and rigid or semi-rigid substrates—distinguishing your display from your competitors.
  • Curved Screens – monitors are always a good choice for exhibits. Not only do they deliver valuable video content, but they fit easily into a trade show booth design. The latest 4K UHD curved screens are extremely useful for presenting crisp, eye-catching images, and the screens still possess the novelty that helps a booth make an impact!

About SmartSource Rentals

SmartSource Rentals has over 30 years of experience in trade show technology and technology rentals. With our coast-to-coast network of branch locations and our multi-million dollar inventory, SmartSource is ready and able to provide any rental technology your business or corporate event requires—all backed by the support of our expert technicians! Give us a call today at 800.888.8686 or contact us for a quick quote!




Top Event Business-Friendly Products from CES 2016
Jan , 2016 by Cynthia Corona

The Consumer Electronics Show is one of the most anticipated shows of the year for Techies around the world. While most attend to get a preview of what is new and exciting in the consumer world, there are many products that can change the way we do business at events and conferences in the future. Here is a look at some of the most exciting business-friendly products showcased at CES this year.

Leave the easel, take the cannoli:  The Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro

Imagine a collaboration meeting where dialog is captured on a tablet and displayed simultaneously onto a wall in the meeting space; or where displaying a PowerPoint presentation to a group no longer requires 3 pieces of technology– a computer, a screen, and projector. With the new Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro, it is not only possible, it is as easy as pushing a button.


With QHD display, immersive audio and 18 hours of battery life, the Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro can help turn a tug-at-your-teeth dull meeting into an efficient and responsive experience.  Cannoli can help too.

Do as I say and watch what I do: The Lily Camera

Drones are all the rage at every technology event, but this one is different and possibly the best yet for capturing that coveted personal experience at an outdoor event. Programmable and linked to a tracking device, the Lilly Camera flies itself and from a bird’s eye view will capture the experience of the person holding the tracking device. While it is made with the solo athlete in mind, it could just as effectively capture the experience of one person among many at the “It” outdoor festival of the year. Check out how it works here:


The world is not flat, so why should your event be? The Ricoh Theta 360

If social media promotion of an event is important to you, then you might want to sit down for this. The Ricoh Theta 360 captures a 360 degree view in still picture and video format, and … wait for it…. it can also LIVE STREAM in HD! Pretty amazing right? See how it works here:

Make mine a double! The Somabar Robotic Bartender

Full disclosure, I am not quite sure how this fits into the event world, but I know it can! It is compact, simple to use and it involves alcohol. Or maybe I love it because it reminds me of the Star Trek food replicator. This much I know for sure, give me a booth at a tradeshow equipped with this, a charging station and a comfy place to sit and I will give you all my contact information, that of my boss and every executive up the chain of command! Check it out:

Best Practices: Mobile Apps as a Revenue Generator
Jan , 2016 by Cynthia Corona

Know your audience. This old-school marketing adage is at the heart every planning decision made at the 50 fastest growing events and conferences. From venue location to dinner menus, top meeting planners rely on a deep understanding of their attendee’s tastes when making big ticket decisions. But did you know that a deep understanding of your attendee’s behavior could translate into revenue dollars for your event?

Here is how it works. Consumer behavior is a key driver behind trends. Trends are a key influencer in economic markets. Anticipating trends, predicting trends and leveraging trends can be worth billions of dollars. More to point, the information required to manage trends, otherwise known as Big Data, is estimated to be $125 billion dollars.

“So what does this have to do with my conference?” you might be asking. The answer is this: you have your own mini-Big Data set waiting to be collected at every event you produce. Through a process called analytics, you can spot and, more importantly, quantify trends in attendee behavior, which can unlock sponsorship opportunities that are new and go beyond what we generally see on the sponsorship menu.

For example, let’s say your conference rotates between three or four venues, such that every third year you are in Anaheim, the next year you are in Texas. If your mobile app is configured with WayFinder and geofencing, you can, within a couple of cycles, vet out the extracurricular activities of your attendees by venue. If you are in Anaheim, you can guess without analytics that a portion of your attendees will arrive to the conference early or stay afterward to visit Disneyland. Analytics, however, might tell you that they prefer to live their Disney life from a less expensive hotel. This creates a new opportunity for sponsorship in a category perhaps previously undefined, Pre-Show/Post-Show. As luck would have it, Disney is surrounded by small-chain and boutique hotels suited for just this purpose. With the analytics in your pocket, you can sell these businesses a captive and relevant audience, to which they can sell their services. Genius, I know… Just because it has not been done before does not mean it cannot be done now. In fact, analytics can prove that it can work, without it actually having been done before.

There are a dozen other ways analytics derived from mobile apps can generate revenue, especially in a year-over-year analysis, but this post has to be fewer than 400 words and there is still a video to watch.

Why Outsourcing AV Can Be a Sure Budget Bet
budget, SmartSource Rentals, in-house audio visual, outside vendor, AV
Jan 21, 2016 by DeDe Mulligan

The Skinny on In-House vs. Outside Vendors


As a meeting planner, it may seem like a logical and easy choice to go with the in-house AV provider. After all, your convention center contact or hotel sales staff have confidence in their ability to pull off your event, why shouldn’t you?

However, there may be some “gotchas” when it comes to dealing with the preferred in-house providers and, whether you are planning the first company conference or the hundredth, knowing the true facts and options will help you to have a more complete picture about the best option for your event.


7 Key Questions You Need Answered

  1. Am I allowed to bring outside Audio Visual equipment into the venue?

    While the sales staff at the venue may say no, the true answer is yes. The key to avoiding any misunderstanding and ancillary charges is to read the venue contract and red line the part about using their in-house provider exclusively.The venue staff may state that they need to charge you for loading and unloading the equipment and make it a requirement that their people move the equipment to its proper location, but unless they are a union shop, chances are these charges can be dropped or heavily discounted.
  2. Is there a commission paid to the venue?

    It is estimated that in-house suppliers pay between 50-55% of their revenue to the venue in commissions.Outside vendors pay nothing to the venue.
  3. What about a service charge?

    It is estimated that up to 24% of the total order can have a service charge tacked on to the end with in-house providers. Which means on the surface, an in-house provider may beat the price of an outside vendor but when all charges are totaled up, the in-house provider may be more expensive.

There is no service charge with an outside provider.

  1. What type of equipment and accessories do you have to offer?An in-house provider usually has a limited repertoire of equipment, which may or may not meet your event       needs.A national outside provider can be more creative and offer the latest and greatest in hardware technology. If they don’t have it in their local office, they can obtain the equipment from another location nearby.
  1. Will there be an AV team dedicated to my event?

    The in-house provider is dedicated to serve,equally, all the events at the hotel or convention center. So if there are six events and two technicians, they can be spread thin.An outside vendor can have one or more individuals dedicated to your event only. You will have one point of contact and have immediate turnaround for any problems or last-minute equipment changes.
  1. What is your technicians’ experience and educational level?

    Depending on the venue, the AV team’s experience can vary all over the map.Most national outsourcing firms have standards for experience levels and hire almost exclusively certified technicians.
  2. Will back up units (such as laptops, LCD projectors and iPad rentals) and supplies be available if something goes wrong?

    The last thing you want is the laptop rental connected to the projector to die and leave you with no presentation options, because all the other equipment on-site is in use.An outside provider will usually have spare equipment and supplies in their truck or at the venue. Worst case, they can call the local office and have it onsite within minutes of the call.

Outsource Your Next Event with SmartSource

SmartSource Rentals is your outsourcing specialist with trained, professionally certified staff plus the breadth and depth of state-of-the-art equipment that is ready to meet your event needs.

We give you the best value and flexibility for your AV investment. Give our experts a call at 800.888.8686 to learn more about the ways we can help you!

Getting the Most Out of Audience Response Systems
Jan 19, 2016 by Karen Daniels

With Today’s technology, everything is about “instant.” We access information instantly, communicate in a flash anywhere in the world, and we can find out in real time what our audience is thinking and what they care about.

Tapping into that “instant” ability is part of creating and running a successful trade show, conference, or corporate event. If you are running or presenting at an event, you are always looking for ways to boost attendee engagement and audience participation. Audience response systems can do all that.

At their best, audience response systems (ARS) promote live interaction, engagement and feedback. They can take an already good presentation to the next level and alert trade show managers to areas that are weak during an event.

The New ARS – Mobile Event Applications

With advances in smart phone and tablet technology, audience response systems for events are now often run right through attendees’ mobile devices. This makes ARS more affordable and easier to deploy, since most people attending an event have one or both of these devices with them (Plus, you can always rent iPads for those attendees who need them).

A mobile event application designed to allow attendees to respond to, and comment on, presentations and other event activities, not only helps boost participation and engagement, it provides you with priceless information that you can use to improve this event, and future events.

However, like all technology, if not used properly, ARS can fall- short of your expectations. That’s why it’s important to understand how you can best use an ARS, especially during a presentation when you’re trying to connect with an audience. Here are some tips to get you started.

17 Audience Response System Tips

  1. Like all technology, it’s good practice to test the equipment prior to live use.
  2. Make sure that everyone running the presentation knows how to use the equipment. For example, the presenters and/or moderators.
  3. Consider using two screens during the presentation, one for the presentation and the other for the ARS.
  4. If you’re using an ARS during a presentation, take the time early on to draw everyone in and demonstrate how to use the ARS. Keep it simple, such as asking them to sign in. Or, you might ask them for some simple demographics questions. This helps them feel comfortable with the technology and can give you valuable information.
  5. Always let participants know if the responses are going to be anonymous or are going to be tracked.
  6. You can generate engagement by polling them early on and letting them know that you will reveal the results at the end of the presentation.
  7. Don’t over use the technology. You don’t want to present them with dozens of questions they need to voice their opinion on. A good average number is about 5 questions for every hour of presentation.
  8. Make it as easy as possible. For example, number each of the answers to match a number on the keypad.
  9. Ask questions that are useful and relevant.
  10. Avoid questions that are worded confusingly. As an example, don’t use double negatives.
  11. Make sure to include some opinion-style questions.
  12. People want to be heard. If at all possible, use the responses you are receiving to change the course of the presentation. Or, at least, talk about the responses. No one has continued engagement in a vacuum.
  13. Keep the questions short and use questions that only require brief opinions. However, brief does not mean that you don’t want to ask challenging questions. Controversial questions can be good for generating discussion.
  14. Gameshow style questions or running a competition can help generate responses.
  15. If the presentation is designed to actively teach the audience something, use your ARS to find out what they know about the topic at the beginning and then again at the end. It’s good to know if how you are teaching them actually works.
  16. Let everyone know that the equipment must be returned at the end.
  17. Don’t be afraid to have a call to action at the end, such as having them sign up for something or, ask a question that you will respond to personally.

These tips will help your effectiveness no matter what type of ARS you are using. Technology is only effective when you use it to engage your target audience.

Get the Most from Your ARS and all Your Technology

With our extensive cutting-edge inventory and highly-trained professional staff, we will set you up for success. Every time.

Want to get the most out of your ARS? Call us at 800.888.8686 or request a quote today so that we can help you get the most from your trade show or corporate event technology.

Tech to Tweak your Corporate Culture
Jan 14, 2016 by Anonymous

Corporate culture helps define a business, and employee habits and attitudes are at the heart of every work environment. For businesses, new technology can be used to bring fresh mindsets into a work community—helping to keep employees engaged, energized, and effective!

Tech Initiatives to Keep your Work Community Modern and Dynamic!

According to an interview with Molly Graham at Facebook, “a new philosophy is emerging in business and today’s young workers are driving a change in corporate culture . . . challenging our thinking about company codes of conduct and business philosophy.”(1)

A company may need to adopt new techniques in order to stay current and relevant, and although technology may bring a learning curve for business teams, it’s important to incorporate the technology that helps your brand connect with your team members.

Using Data to Keep your Business Culture Active and Relevant

While there’s a lot of focus now on Big Data and its insights about customers and markets, gathering information internally can help to:

  • Streamline operations
  • Increase productivity
  • Expedite supply-lines
  • Improve employee morale
  • Increase employee retention

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about the digital age, it’s that there’s simply no excuse for being out of touch.

“When employees are provided with ways to make suggestions that could improve the productivity or the general working environment of the company, it can be said that the environment is inclusive, as it allows for free communication between everyone employed by the business.”(2)

Businesses should offer frequent (perhaps even continual) opportunities for feedback—both anonymous and in forums. In meetings, training sessions, and presentations, audience response systems are an excellent way to gauge the feelings, opinions, and wishes of your team—helping managers and administrators make decisions that reflect the overall attitudes of employees and improve the corporate culture.

According to the SmartMeetings article (3), “Generation Tech: Leverage leading-edge technology to engage millennials,” written by SmartSource Rentals Vice President of Sales, Jeffrey Byrne:

Audience response systems give millennials another way to share their voices in real time. They’re perfect for audience polling about the event, exhibits attendees are enjoying, the winner of a prize drawing at a sponsor’s booth, reactions to speakers and more. They promote a highly interactive event while helping planners stay abreast of attendees’ opinions regarding various aspects of it. Exhibitors can use audience response systems to gain better insight into how their display, sales presentations and promotions are being received—valuable on-the-spot information to have if they want to make any adjustments.

Real-Time, Streaming, and Fresh Communication Techniques

Is your team using Slack? Millions of users are claiming that the instant messaging service has cleared out their inboxes and made team communication lightning-fast. Real-time streaming video services are also becoming more and more popular. According to, we’re “approaching the point where people get annoyed if certain things aren’t streamed.”(4)

Communication (both within an organization and in a business’s external contacts as well) will become increasingly dependent upon newer, faster, real-time options for written and visual interaction. These applications and services make work-life better by:

  • Making communication easy and instant
  • Reducing time spent in physical meetings
  • Helping projects move faster
  • Reducing the time-drain of email
  • Improving overall productivity and satisfaction
  • Increasing teamwork and collaboration
  • Allowing for more flexible work schedules and remote offices
  • Building more positive relationships

Collaboration that comes out of personal connections is amplified.(1)

Offer a Technology or Gaming Lounge in the Office

Obviously, businesses focus a great deal of time and energy on events and technology that help engage customers and create profitable B2B relationships, but many of the techniques that our SmartSource Blog discusses in relation to business events can be applied to your corporate culture.

For instance, we’ve discussed the benefits of offering a technology lounge at events, but the advantages of a tech lounge apply equally for your work teams! Yes, your employees have access to desktops, printers, and charging stations in their work areas, but a workplace tech lounge is a common area which serves as a place to:

  • Gather
  • Exchange ideas
  • Enhance creativity through play
  • Recharge mentally and socially
  • Build stronger work relationships

All of these benefits help to create a better work/life balance—one of the most important qualities that today’s employees want from their job!





(3) Byrne, Jeffrey C. “Generation Tech: Leverage leading-edge technology to engage millennials.” SmartMeetings Nov. 2015: 34.


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