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Summer Events, Part 1: Elevate Attendee Experience and Engagement with RFID Technology
May 04, 2016 by Michelle Bruno

When it comes to summer events, radio-frequency technology—whether it’s RFID or NFC—is the new black (or tie dye). Whether you’re planning a music festival, a maker faire, or a lawn and garden show, wearables with embedded RF chips or tags open up a world of possibilities for organizers and attendees.

The Basics: RFID vs. NFC

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) and near-field communication (NFC) work similarly:

When Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is used, information (usually a unique number) is transmitted from an encoded memory chip (known as a “smart tag”) via an antenna to an RFID reader. The reader triggers an action. The tag can be embedded in a wristband or credential that has been activated, i.e. associated with a specific individual. At events, readers can detect RFID tags up to 30 feet away so that movements can be tracked even if wristband wearers don’t swipe or tap a reader.

Near field communication (NFC) is a type of high-frequency RFID but only works when the reader and the tag are no more than an inch apart—a feature that also makes it more secure. NFC chips can also be embedded in wristbands and other wearables. The chip is activated when the wearable is tapped or swiped on a reader (usually when the attendee enters the event for the first time) and is associated with the wearer. RFID and NFC differ from beacon technology because they don’t require a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone.

RFID and NFC are used differently. RFID is better for tracking individuals that are merely within the vicinity of the readers. With RFID, an event planner could, with the right software, monitor the traffic flow of a crowd to make sure there are enough restrooms, seating, and food. NFC, on the other hand, is better for payments and check-ins. The short-read range ensures that the swipe or tap of a wristband is intentional.

Adding the Fun Factor

So-called “smart” wristbands and badges are especially appealing to a young generation of digital natives who are accustomed to getting what they want with a swipe. Regardless of the mechanics, imagine that using RF technology is a very simple, automated, and entertaining way for your attendees to perform tasks in and around the event, including:

  • Voting—by tapping a wristband on a screen (Android tablets and iPads make great readers), attendees can register their votes for a product, a band, or an artist.
  • Payments—with the involvement of payment software, attendees can use their wristbands as electronic money for merchandise, food, even beer.
  • Engagement—from participating in the ubiquitous scavenger hunt to coming within range of a sponsor and qualifying for swag, RF technology lets visitors get in the game.
  • Stuff—RF-enabled wristbands let wearers apply discounts, obtain set lists, download free music, or get product information.
  • Social media posts—the wave of a credential can send a photo or a #hashtagged message directly to Facebook.

 

Greasing The Wheels

There are several reasons why event planners would want to offer RFID or NFC wearables in place of, say, money or paper forms or manual processes—especially when the readers are connected to Cloud-based software.  First, it’s easy and convenient for attendees. Cashless payments, for example, are much faster than using paper money or credit cards. Second, it’s an efficient way for planners to track attendee movements, behaviors, and preferences (potentially in real time)—data that’s useful for planning the next event.

Radio-frequency technologies don’t require wireless access to the internet in order to function; however, when a stable wireless infrastructure or local area network is available, the capabilities—real-time crowd monitoring, cashless payments, and swag distribution, for example—amplify. With WiFi, the readers can send data to the cloud and initiate tasks, such as reducing an individual’s account by the amount of his or her payment for a burger.

Today, RF tags can be embedded in almost any wearable, even a paper badge. The cost of the tags is becoming cheaper by the day. What event planners really have to think about is the strategy behind the technology—how it’s being used, why it’s being used, how it will be deployed, and where all the data will go. A good technology partner can help you parse through the many options.

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.
Ask the Experts: How Do I Ensure Excellent WiFi?
excellent wifi wirelessarray-01
Oct 13, 2015 by Anonymous

At today’s events, there is no excuse for inadequate WiFi. Business events depend upon connections for trade shows, conventions, conferences, product launches, expositions, and corporate events, the exchange of information and ideas relies on emails, websites, social media exchanges, streaming video demonstrations, document downloads, and the whole wide world of the web.

Lightning-fast Internet Facilitates Business Connections

Average web users, sadly, become frustrated after a mere 3 second delay in connectivity time. According to a recent survey,1 57% of online shoppers stated that they would abandon a web page after waiting 3 seconds for it to load. Multiple studies have shown that a 3 second delay is enough to cause visitors to bounce; furthermore, studies show that there is a significant negative impact on revenue when visitors encounter wait times. A page load slowdown of just one second could cost billions in lost sales each year.2

While this research focused mainly on the damaging effects of slow connection speeds upon eCommerce sites, these negative effects translate to business events as well. A recent study by O’Reilly3, demonstrated that slow WiFi (a 500ms network delay) created measurable amounts of frustration and negatively impacted emotional engagement. For Event Organizers, a trade show or convention’s primary goal is to facilitate valuable connections between exhibitors and attendees. If the event does not provide the lightning-fast Internet connections upon which modern business operates, then the event may not provide enough ROI for its valuable exhibitors and sponsors to justify their involvement.

Why Should I Use an Expert to Design my Event WiFi?

Event Planners can guarantee excellent WiFi coverage by consulting with a technology expert. A wireless array specialist can:
• Gauge the event’s needs based on how many people will attend—ensuring proper, adequate bandwidth.
• Ensure that the right amount of IP requests can be handled—giving each event the correct capacity.
• Ensure that the router(s) and access points are properly located.
• Ensure that the signal strength is strong throughout the venue areas.
• Offer advanced, plentiful access points—giving every attendee an excellent connection.
• Offer constant monitoring, on-site.
• Ensure that every access point is fully functioning for the entirety of the event.

Can Event Planners Just Use the Venue’s Free WiFi?

In a word—no. We’re all used to being offered Internet connection for free, offered to us, free of charge, with the purchase price of a hotel room, a sandwich, or a cup of coffee. Free WiFi is common; however, it is also:
• Unsafe
• Unsecured
• Unpredictable

Should I Use the Hotel WiFi or a Third-Party Vendor?

At this point, the vast majority of hotels and event venues have some type of WiFi network in place; very few venues offer these connections for free. Event Planners know that these services often come with heavy costs and complicated pricing structures. Unfortunately, Event Planners cannot guarantee that the on-site service can handle the number of attendees their event will pull in, the number of devices those attendees will use, the amount and type of content that the attendees will need to access, and the security needs of the attendees and their information.

Installing, maintaining, managing, and supervising WiFi is an important undertaking, and it’s very expensive for a large venue to properly install a system. Since the costs of installing proper infrastructure in large venues runs into the millions of dollars, a third-party vendor is often the best intersection of customized technology and cost savings. Technology experts like SmartSource Rentals can provide the ideal wireless connections for your event—giving you exactly what you need, without forcing your event budget to help foot the costs of the hardwired options that the venue worked to install.

For meetings, trade shows, and other corporate events, an expert technology team can ensure that your network is running, fully-connected and expertly operational for your guests!

Resources:
1 http://www.radware.com/PleaseRegister.aspx?returnUrl=6442455868
2 http://www.apmdigest.com/website-response-time-1?utm_content=buffer53cf6&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
3 http://www.oreilly.com/pub/e/3149

Public Relations – Speed and Timing are Everything
public-relation-
Oct 01, 2015 by Karen Daniels

The Internet has completely changed how we communicate. People from all over the world can connect with each other in the blink of an eye. And our ability to communicate and tap into the Web using technology gives us incredible opportunities in both our businesses and personal lives.

For anyone in Public Relations, this unparalleled ability to communicate via technology can be an incredible asset.

This also means that now, more than ever, timing and speed is everything in public relations.

Because everyone now has a voice and public opinion can be easily swayed by any number of sources, if your team is not on top of the information and stories that are being spread, this increase in communication can create some serious challenges.

3 Keys to Staying on Top of Your Public Relations Information

Whether your public relations event is planned ahead of time, or is a last minute response to an unexpected situation, there are several key things you should be aware of, if you hope to have an effective public relations campaign in today’s technology-driven market:

  • Use Social Media Marketing                                                                                                                            Have someone on the team who is an expert in social media marketing and Internet press releases. Social media marketing requires specific new skill sets that are entirely different from those used in traditional media.
  • Provide the Resources for Fast Online Communication                                                                        A public relations team that does not have the technology or ability to communicate effectively online won’t be able to create and maintain the desired public image, or be able to disseminate the necessary information at the required speed.
  • Respond to Damaging Information                                                                                                       Unlike traditional media, all information remains on the Internet. That means once a bad story come out, it stays out. You need team members who are skilled in their ability to stay on top of, and respond to, the information that is being presented all over the Internet.

Technology for Effective Public Relations

Your team also needs, of course,   so that they can do everything they need to do, exactly when they need to do it.

This is where SmartSource Rentals comes in. Our job is to give you all the technology support you need so that you and your team can focus on the strategy and information of your campaign.

We will provide the hardware, technology and service, you need to quickly ramp-up for an event or to grow your public relations staff.

Public relation events or situations we can help you with:

  • News and press conferences
  • Ceremonies
  • Big PR campaigns
  • Multiple events or specific PR meetings
  • PR presentations
  • In-office needs to support growing staff

For your public relations event or campaign we can provide:

  • Lighting, sound equipment, microphone kits and sound mixing, to make sure everything looks and sounds right when the cameras roll
  • Complex audio visual and IT integration
  • LCD projector rentals
  • Laptops and iPads so everyone on your team can plan, coordinate and tackle that social media marketing or tweet real-time news to your subscribers
  • Plasma monitors, interactive kiosks or touch screen rentals so that videos, photos and presentations can be displayed on and viewed inside and outside of the meeting room
  • Copiers, printers and workstation rentals to get your staff up and running quickly. Plus our technicians can pre-configure the equipment to suit your needs.

Since speed and timing are everything in public relations, the last thing you need is technology that fails so you can’t get your story out when you need to.

We offer you worry-free technology without having to be concerned about the long-term risk of buying, maintaining or supporting the hardware.

Give us a call today at 800.888.8686 or request a quote online.

 

Easily Create a Private Network with a Wireless Array Station
wi-fipic
Aug 25, 2015 by Karen Daniels

The success of any event rests heavily on the quality of WiFi, including both access to the Internet access as well as speed, safety, and ease of use. No longer is it satisfactory to simply provide WiFi for attendees and exhibitors. Event attendees and exhibitors expect instant, safe access for not just one device, but for all their devices. Which means that event WiFi has to be designed and setup to handle the maximum number of devices at peak usage times.

The truth is that most built-in venue WiFi, such as what you might find at a hotel, does not have the capacity to handle thousands of devices at the same time. So setting up a more robust WiFi system falls to those planning or managing an event. WiFi is one of those things you offer at an event that you want people not to notice. In general WiFi users only notice it when it doesn’t work well, when they can’t easily sign on, or when it’s too slow.

The right event WiFi system will offer your users:

  • Safety and Security. Internet security is becoming more and more of an issue as personal and critical information is transmitted during all phases of an event. Public WiFi systems always contain certain security problems so providing a private network is now more important than ever.
  • Speed and Ease of Internet access. Attendees now come to events with many devices, from smartphones to tablets and computers. And, often, they will want to have many, or all, of their devices online at the same time. This means your system must have enough bandwidth and capacity so people can get online quickly and easily.
  • Privacy. Setting up a private network for your event means your event won’t have to share bandwidth which will help you provide enough for high-demand usage times. This also means it’s easier to control the privacy of the users, since there is no public access.

Advantages of the SmartSource Wireless Array Stations

Our SmartSource Wireless Array Station gives you the capacity to create your own private network, or multiple private networks, for your event. And the advantages go beyond the privacy factor. This type of properly designed system gives you numerous additional advantages including adequate bandwidth, control, and the ability to monitor usage.

Bandwidth with the right number of routers. 

  1. Our wireless arrays come in different sizes, with each size having a different number of routers. This gives you the flexibility to easily have the right number of routers in the right locations at your venue.

Control

  1. Not only will these wireless arrays allow you to provide private, fast Internet access for all your users, it also gives you a great deal of control. For example, you can program each router within the different wireless station for different users. You might set up one router for attendees, one for exhibitors, and another for show management, each group with their own SSID sign in information. This gives you huge advantage of being able to create multiple private networks at a single show, helping to ensure that bandwidth is allocated as needed. For example, your exhibitors will never be without adequate WiFi to conduct business and take orders during a show. This can reduce tech support calls and reduce exhibitor satisfaction.

The Power of Monitoring

  1. You can monitor all activity on the SmartSource Wireless Array system with a computer. Through monitoring you are able to see who is using how much bandwidth. This gives you the ability to limit bandwidth on an individual basis, if needed. For instance, if you have a rogue user who is streaming video when they are not supposed to, you can limit that person’s bandwidth.

You don’t need to be a wireless expert to ensure that your event has the proper WiFi coverage and security. Surround yourself with the right technology experts and equipment and you can easily create powerful, safe, private networks for your next event.

For more information and to see the SmartSource Wireless Array Station in action, check out our Wireless Array Station video, hosted by Steve Shatsoff, Sr. VP, Technology Products & Services at SmartSource Technology Rentals.

The Allure of Free Wi-Fi and Why it can be Very Costly
free_wifi
Jul 29, 2014 by DeDe Mulligan

wifiFree Wi-Fi is so easy. You pull out your smartphone or laptop rental and up pops a number of Wi-Fi networks to connect with. No security keys to enter or charges to be incurred. 

So what is wrong with this picture? The truth: Just about everything. 

It turns out that hackers and scammers lurk in places where business travelers and attendees reside – hotel lobbies, trade show floors and airports. Most attendees have just gotten off a multi-hour plane ride, landed ground transportation and are comfortably in the hotel lobby or bar relaxing for the first time that day. Checking email and social platforms is part of their routine back home, why wouldn't it be on the road? 

It turns out these hackers are smart, smart, smart. They mimic the hotel or event's sign-in splash form and before you know it, you are on a rogue network and these hooligans are poised to steal your precious personal data within a blink of the eye. 

Here's more startling facts: According to Fox Business, over one terabyte of data is stolen every day over unsecure public Wi-Fi connections. That equates to 370+ million accounts that are leaked, hacked or scammed per year

What Can You Do to Protect Your Attendees? 

Before taking the venue's word for it that they have event WiFi solutions that will work for you, look at a venue Wi-Fi checklist to determine whether or not they can meet your needs. At a minimum, you need dedicated bandwidth, a limit to the number of attempted sign-ins and encryption of sensitive data. Ideally, you want a Wifi router rental that can deliver fast, secure and robust bandwidth all the time. 

If your attendees BYOD, make certain their software, antivirus and firewall protection is current. When renting event and trade show technology ask your vendor what software protection they provide on their devices. 

Even with all these precautions, advise attendees to avoid online banking, online credit card transactions and accessing sensitive or confidential information while they are at the event. 

Just Remember, Free Wi-Fi Comes with a Cost

When you are accessing free public Wi-Fi, keep your private transactions down to a minimum. 

When event planning, look at your true bandwidth needs and plan accordingly. The last thing you need are attendees complaining that their personal data was breached at your conference or they ate up their entire month's cell data plan in just two or three days. 

Spend the money on Wi-Fi and your attendees, exhibitors and presenters will thank you.

How SmartSource Rentals can Help

To explore a Wi-Fi booster, trade show technology rentals, or  laptop rentals for your next event, contact SmartSource Rentals at 800.888.8686!  

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