SmartSource Rentals Blog


7 Tips and Tricks to Keep Your AV Budget Under Control
budget, AV budget, SmartSource Rentals
Apr 04, 2016 by DeDe Mulligan

The budgeting process is probably the least favorite part of a meeting planner’s job, but it is an essential part of the job. Ironically, the more time and effort that is put into the planning phase, allows for less time spent on explaining budget overruns to your board and/or boss.

Here are seven tips for building a better AV budget from start to finish.


AV Budgeting Tips and Tricks


  1. Review your event history.
    Look at your actual audio visual costs and your post-event notes for the last three events of similar size. Did you have overruns? If so, why? Was all the equipment used? Is there new technology available to replace older, costlier equipment?
  2. Remember AV in Cleveland is not the same as NYC.
    If your meeting wants to go from a second- or third-tier city to a first-tier city or from a Midwest location to the east or west coast, there will be additional rental costs when you do so. Both demand and labor are higher; not to mention the cost of inflation. As long as your boss and/or committee knows this going in, your budget should be fine and should be upwardly adjusted.
  3. Identify all costs, but add some cushion.
    AV rentals may include delivery and handling fees, service charges and gratuities. When you are working with a new partner or reviewing RFP responses, be sure to ask for all the fees associated with your AV equipment rental up front.In addition, be sure to add 5% to your budget, for any unexpected charges you might encounter at the event. If you need to “sell” this to your boss, tell them you don’t plan on using it, but it is for insurance purposes only. Explain any unused portions will be returned to their budget immediately following the event.
  4. Ask for the sun, but settle for the moon.
    When negotiating, it is okay to ask for big discounts and concessions, however, be prepared for some push back from your AV supplier. Many new equipment choices are in high demand so your partner does not have to discount the rental fee as much. In addition, with the economy rebounding, AV companies are busier than ever.Bottom line: Don’t have unrealistic demands. You don’t work for free and you should not expect your vendor to do so either.
  5. Get everything in writing and constantly communicate.
    Most budget misalignments come from assumptions on the part of the planner and AV organization. It is vital to get all your AV needs in writing from the speakers to the exhibitors and everybody in between.Review the budget every two weeks via a short, standing conference call.
  6. Determine who is authorized for additional charges.
    When onsite, identify 1-2 individuals who can sign off on additional charges and make certain to convey that to your rental supplier via email and on the contract.
  7. When onsite, ask for a daily AV charges review.
    If your event is several days long, at the end of each day, spend 15-20 minutes reviewing your AV charges thus far. It is easier to contest a charge onsite than wait 10-15 days after you are back at the office to review line item charges.

SmartSource Rentals is Your AV Budget Partner

At SmartSource Rentals we take great pride in delivering technology solutions that give our clients peace of mind through the entire event while saving them money in the process.

We have the largest national footprint in the industry with 175 certified and trained technicians to support you. Give us a call at 800.955.5171 to learn more about our offerings or submit an online quote.

Follow These Strategies to Better Engage Event Attendees
engage attendees, SmartSource Rentals, polling attendees, Audience Response Systems rentals
Mar 22, 2016 by DeDe Mulligan

Interaction + Fun = Participation


Every conference I have ever attended strived to be the best, better than last years and better than the competition. Even though the conferences had great motivational speakers, the message was many times lost – even just a few days after the event. Why? Because they were not speaking to me about my work challenges, I could not apply anything concrete from their advice.

What can you do to make sure this doesn’t happen at your next conference? For starters, attendees need to feel they can bring the meeting messages back to the workplace and implement fresh ideas immediately. While they crave knowledge, it has to be relevant. Oh, and by the way, the delivery of the message has to be entertaining, too.

Here are six tips as identified by Meeting Professionals International, along with my own suggestions about ways technology can aid in the learning process.


Prep Your Attendees for the Message

Before the presenter comes out, spend several minutes creating curiosity and buy-in about the message. Many times attendees don’t know what the presenter is all about until the 2-minute introduction by the event emcee. Prepping the audience can help attendees ask better questions and direct the speaker’s dialog to what attendees want to hear.

Keep the Speaker’s Content Simple

Complex content with over-scripted PowerPoint slides is out of style. Determine what is absolutely critical and, if necessary, give your presenters a template to follow that limits the number of words on a slide and the number of slides in a deck.

Learn from Each Other

Rather than having the presenter do all the talking, let learning occur between meeting participants. It is estimated that 70% of a person’s job is learned from their peers, so it is a natural extension for meeting attendees to both teach and learn from each other.

Switch Things Up

Hire storytellers, show a video and/or review a case study and discuss the salient points. All of these activities can potentially evoke emotions and spur conversation to help attendees grow.

Poll often

Whether you use a polling application on a mobile device or an Audience Response System (ARS) rental, it is important to ask relevant questions throughout the meeting so content can change based on the request and input of others.

Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate

Whether your meeting is large or small, live or virtual, collaborating around a large Smart TV rental makes a lot of sense. You can pull in documents, add comments, video conference with experts around the world and create an action plan that can be sharable, instantaneously, on the cloud.

SmartSource Rentals Helps Engage Attendees

SmartSource Rentals is dedicated to making your attendees’ meeting experience as memorable as possible. Simply request a quote or initiate a chat and one of our experienced Account Executives will help provide the best technology rentals for you from our depth and breadth of inventory.

Creating a Product Launch to Remember
Product Launch Technology
Mar 14, 2016 by Anonymous

A product launch is a critical time for any business. These sensitive events are the big reveal after months or—more likely—YEARS of research and development. Not only is a product launch the debut of an item, offering, or service, but these events are deeply intertwined with a company’s image and branding. The company speaks about the product, but the product also speaks volumes about the company, while—ideally—vast numbers of your target audience are watching, listening, and learning.

Needless to say, it is vitally important that a product launch accomplishes the following goals:

  1. It defines your product. Customers must understand what your business is offering and why they need it.
  2. It distinguishes the product from any competitors. In a perfect world, your product is so groundbreaking that it HAS no competition. In the real world, your product launch will clearly present your offering’s advantages ahead of its competitors.
  3. It positions your brand as an industry leader with innovative ideas, follow-through, and a strong future—a brand that is constantly developing, adapting, and ahead of the game.
  4. It will reach your target audience. The product was developed with a specific customer in mind. The product launch needs to reach out and connect with as many of those customers as possible.

Successful Product Launches Depend upon TECHNOLOGY

If your product launch begins with a “voice,” technology is the amplifier. The right combination of technology rentals will increase and enhance your brand’s message—delivering the compelling high-quality content that will inform your audience about the product and jump-start sales! Start the conversation by using technology such as video walls, lighting, staging, and interactive tech rentals that can become a talking point in their own right! Consider the following technology options:

1. Digital Signage – Use digital signage to ensure that your product and brand are presented with perfection and consistency, while accommodating multiple content formats and allowing for minute-by-minute edits and adaptations.

2. Touch Screens – Use interactive displays to connect guests to videos, surveys, e-literature, social media, games, contests, contact information, QR codes, and all the product information they could possibly want. Options include: digital walls, LCD touch screens, iPads, tablets, and interactive touch screen kiosks.

3. LCD Projectors and Screens – Use projectors and screens to present visual or written material, as well as backgrounds and logos!

4. Video Walls – There’s no better way to present a captivating visual display to a large audience. A video wall presents your images in eye-popping dimensions!

5. Charging Station Kiosks – Charging stations offer a useful service to your guests and increase the time spent at your event. Guests spend an average of 7 to 10 minutes at charging stations—during which the units’ built-in screen is offering product videos, a call-to-action, or additional content.

6. MacBook Pros and Laptops – For some product launches (software and gaming come immediately to mind) an audience needs a hands-on approach to connecting with the material. Laptop rentals can give guests a chance to experience a product for themselves.

7. IPads and Tablets – Encourage personal involvement and expand your fan base by offering contests, sign-ups, social media options, newsletter and email opt-ins, and giveaways related to your product and brand. Tablets are an inviting, space-saving way to give guests digital access to sign-up for your promotions.

Product Launch Technology from the Experts

Whether your product launch is a single event or occurring at multiple locations, consistent brand and product representation is crucial for your business reputation. When you choose SmartSource for your product launch technology, you can guarantee that our team of dedicated technicians will manage and support your event’s tech rentals from start to finish. Our nationwide network has inventory coast-to-coast, to cover your events—any time, any location! Get a quote from the experts, today!

Wonder What a Perfect Meeting Looks Like? Wonder No More!
perfect meeting, SmartSource Rentals, CSR, meeting space, green practices
Feb 26, 2016 by DeDe Mulligan

Structure, Sustainability and a Touch of Health


Think about the last several meetings, conferences or events you attended. Can you remember a meeting that you loved? One that you felt connected and part of something larger than the event itself? If so, then you attended “the perfect meeting”.

According to Successful Meetings, this type of event is composed of three key elements:

  • Good Meeting Structure
  • Green Practices and
  • Healthy Choices

Today, we will explore all three and let you be the judge whether they are workable solutions for your event or conference.


Meeting Structure


  • Provide a lot of breaks.
    Research states that the average adult can only sit for 15-20 minutes without interrupting their work. They desire to check their phone, move around or talk to the person next to them. Therefore, don’t schedule back-to-back sessions or hold lectures for 90 minutes. Give individuals time to nosh and network with each other!
  • Encourage small group interaction.
    If you are running a large convention, it is easy for attendees to get lost in the crowd. Breaking up into small groups, either through tabletop discussions or spreading out in groups of 4-8 throughout the venue, allows time for attendees to work on solving the challenges facing the company, association or community they serve. An easy way to keep everyone in sync, is to provide these groups with iPad rentals preloaded with applications that can sync with each other and the cloud for real-time storage and access.
  • Provide more workshops.
    When individuals come to your conference, the first question they will receive from the boss upon their return is, “Was it worth it?” of which you want them to give a resounding “Yes!” But in order to do so, you need to provide education that is pertinent to them. With a wide diversity of attendees (novice to experts) the key is not to provide general, middle-of-the-road sessions but something everyone can dig their teeth into.
  • Provide easy Wi-Fi access everywhere.
    Users want access everywhere and they want an easy sign-in process. If you are concerned the venue may not have enough bandwidth to adequately serve your group, you may wish to rent a Wi-Fi booster.

Green Practices


  • Choose a Corporate Service Responsibility (CSR) project.
    Rather than doing the project in the beginning or end of the conference, make it smack dab in the middle of it to change up the meeting flow.
  • Go paperless.
    Replace binders with apps, posters with digital signage and goody bags with CSR activities. Millennials demand it and most attendees appreciate it, given there’s much less waste and everything can be stored on a tablet or iPad rental.


Healthy Options


  • Give them brain-friendly foods.
    The DASH diet has identified the following foods as making an impact in keeping our brains healthy:

    • Green leafy vegetables (lunch or dinner)
    • Nuts (snack)
    • Berries – blueberries and strawberries preferred (breakfast)
    • Beans (dinner)
    • Fish (lunch or dinner)
    • Poultry (lunch or dinner)
    • Wine (dinner and networking)
  • Look at farm-to-table options.
    A big trend is to source food within 50 to 100 miles of your meeting location. Attendees are interested in organic, natural food sources that are not shipped to your meeting destination from thousands of miles away.
  • Add relaxation/fitness options as part of the day.
    Typically, if you wanted to work out while at a conference, you are limited to the fitness center early in the morning or late in the evening. More and more meetings are fitting these options right into the meeting day as long breaks for attendees to enjoy healthy moves and relax at the same time.Here are a few creative ideas:
  • Provide yoga or meditation programs during breaks
  • Allowing individuals to go to the spa in the afternoon
  • Walk and talk about a current company challenge
  • Ride bikes around the property or city

SmartSource Rentals is Your Perfect Meeting Partner


SmartSource Rentals can provide the audio visual rentals you need to make your meeting vision a reality. Simply request a quote and one of our Account Executives will respond quickly to your needs.

The Smartphone Generation of Meeting Attendees
Smartphones, smartphoners, SmartSource Rentals, mobile technology, meeting attendee
Feb 13, 2016 by DeDe Mulligan

Crossing Over into the Technological Divide

While it has been highly touted and written about that the next generation of meeting attendees (Gen Y) are running the show on meeting demands, Futurist Mike Walsh disagrees.

He stated in his presentation before PCMA, it is the smartphone generation that is going to shape our meetings and events and I whole-heartedly agree. For example, my 76-year-old mother and my 13-year old nephew are equally active on Facebook and both have smartphones, while my 52-year-old brother has no social accounts — let alone an email address – and is perfectly happy with his flip phone.

Let’s take a closer look at what these technology-dependent attendees really seek in a meeting, event or trade show.


What Smartphoners Want


  • Content that captures and holds their attention

It doesn’t matter if the attendee has an iPad rental or Galaxy Note in front of them, they will pay attention to the presenter if he or she has something captivating to say. The moment the attendee is bored, ignored or isolated is the moment they turn to technology to fill in the time gap. Keep them interested and engaged for short periods of time and you will see an engaged audience.


  • Comfortable, chic seating

“People don’t want to be in a room that is set up theater-style anymore,” stated Joe Martin, Partner & Director of Conferences at

Work toward creative setups with overstuffed chairs, whiteboards, and small tables grouped together in configurations that will seat 4-8 individuals comfortably.


  • To be outside and still be Wi-Fi connected

    It is important to plan various sessions and activities outside. Whether it is sitting through a keynote address, doing a CSR project or taking a hike around the venue grounds, attendees want to be constantly connected to the Wi-Fi.A Wi-Fi network array might be the ticket to help bolster the bandwidth. Be sure to take the time to fully understand the Internet capabilities on your site visit and all the venue has to offer in the great outdoors. Make sure the Internet is fast, secure and robust.


  • A Regiception

    Rather than having individuals stand in long registration lines to check-into your conference, make things much more relaxed by combining your registration process with the opening reception. As a general rule, receptions are much more welcoming and lend themselves naturally to more networking.While it is important to adequately identify your attendees from potential event pirates, focusing their attention to the self-serve kiosk rentals and asking them to take 2 minutes to check-in during the 2-hour reception, should not be a problem.


  • Recharging Lounges

    Believe it or not, the number one thing travelers leave at home or in their hotel room is a smartphone charger. That means they need to buy a charger in the airport or schlep back to their hotel room toward the end of the day, possibly cutting short valuable content or networking opportunities.Why not create an environment where the attendee can sit down, relax and network all while their smartphone is connected to the charging kiosk? This is possible by renting charging stations and creating a relaxation lounge where attendees can sit comfortably and talk to others for at least 10 minutes while their mobile device is being brought back to life.


  • To go all Green

    Rather than having paper, smartphoners want everything on their mobile device. This initiative allows for a totally paperless program – where presentations can be viewed on mobile devices, notes can be taken on tablets and presentations are accessible anytime on the cloud.


SmartSource Rentals is Ready to Help Smartphoners


Choose SmartSource Rentals as your technology equipment provider because we are committed to on-time delivery, guaranteed quality assurance, correctly configured, name-brand equipment and 24/7 technical support. Give us a call today at 800.888.8686 to learn more about ways we can support your technically savvy attendees.

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!




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