SmartSource Rentals Blog


Event Beacon Technology for Better Decision Making & Revenue Growth
Jun 22, 2016 by Michelle Bruno

Beacon technology in the event industry is picking up steam. While it was originally designed in conjunction with event mobile apps (and many providers still deploy beacons that way), it can also be implemented (sans app) using a wearable. Either way, beacons deliver actionable data, which can translate into more compelling customer experiences and revenue opportunities.

Beacon how it works diagram

Exhibitor App collects in-booth data; beacon readers placed around show area capture activities in common areas; everything is processed in the Cloud.

Heat maps—an aggregated visualization of how event participants move through a space—can highlight (often in real time) areas of a trade show floor or meeting space that are either heavily or sparsely trafficked. If the lack of activity in a location is chronic, planners can take action in any number of ways:

  • Place a food or beverage cart in the area, so that attendees have to walk by the poorly trafficked booths or area in order to get a soft drink or snack.
  • Send out push messages via the event mobile app with coupons, gift certificates, or bonus game points for attendees that check into booths or visit the area.
  • Review the layout (post-event) to determine what may have been the cause of the diminished footfall and prevent it from happening in the future.

Beacon technology collects the attendee’s identity, the day/time that he arrives to a specific place, and the length of time he stays there (dwell time). With such simple data points, planners can see who has visited the trade show floor or meeting rooms, as well as how often and how long. So, if attendees leave and reenter multiple times throughout the day to, for example, have private meetings, make phone calls, attend sessions, or grab lunch, planners can make changes to keep attendees inside the event and save them the trip:

  • Place more amenities inside the show or conference space: napping pods, food and seating areas, smartphone charging stations, quiet areas with good cellular/WiFi connections, and interesting demonstrations.
  • Schedule conference sessions and show floor hours so that they don’t compete with each other.
  • Place readers/beacons offsite (in hotel lobbies, at elevator banks, or by the pool) to determine whether attendees are actually even interested in the meeting content and make programming changes accordingly.

Show organizers can track attendee activity in real-time and make decisions on the fly from data shown on the beacon dashboard.

Depending on the provider, beacon software can report on any number of data points, including the user’s role (director, manager, VP), department (marketing, IT, communications), or type (attendee, exhibit staff, speaker). It can inform planners of the average number of trade show booths visited or average length of dwell time in certain locations. Event organizers can use such fine-grained detail to build additional revenue streams:

  • Selling data back to exhibitors, ranging from a segmented list of attendees (a list of all the CEOs that visited their booths whether they engaged with staff or not) or reports on everyone who came to the booth, how long they stayed, and with whom they engaged in a format that can be exported into the firm’s CRM.
  • Justifying the sale of larger booth spaces to exhibitors that register healthy numbers of highly valued attendees compared to others with smaller booth footprints.
  • Charging companies more for sponsorship opportunities that yield high-value data vs. those that only deliver awareness (hanging banners, for example).

Proximity data (who, where, when, and for how long) can also reveal behavior patterns, such as “session hopping” (when attendees visit multiple sessions in an hour rather than stay in a single one-hour session) or “scan and dash” (when an attendee allows his badge to be scanned (often to obtain CEU credit) at the entrance of the room, but leaves before the presentation is finished. With this kind of intelligence, planners can make some specific changes:

  • Reduce the length of presentations so that attendees can get the information they need in a shorter amount of time (three 20-minute sessions of highlights vs. one-hour of a PowerPoint lecture).
  • Modify the business rules around what makes an attendee eligible for education credits (visiting multiple related sessions for fractional credit, for example) to make it easier for them to get credit.

When beacon technology supports a strategic plan for meeting event objectives and is provided by a vendor that understands the event industry, it can be one of the most powerful tools for enhancing the customer experience and discovering new business opportunities.


To learn how beacon technology can create opportunities for revenue and improved attendee experience at your next event, click here.

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!




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.

Trade Show Booth Technology Tips for 2016
Jan 12, 2016 by Karen Daniels

With 2016 now upon us, it’s time to take a look at tech ideas and tips that you can use for your trade show booth to get the most engagement and best ROI this year.

You may, or may not, already know which industry shows you will be attending this year. But even if you haven’t made your final list yet, the most important thing you can ask yourself before you commit to any booth design, or technology, is this:

What technology did you use last year in your exhibits and how did it work for you?

If you don’t know exactly what worked and what didn’t work, it becomes much harder to determine what technology you might want to use again, or what you need to discard and replace with something more innovative.

Set Yourself up for Exhibit Success

Once you’ve completed a year-end evaluation, it’s time to determine your goals for 2016. Goals are an important part of creating a map to success for the upcoming year!

In general, your overarching goal is likely increase new business, but as you know different shows often give you different opportunities such as:

  • Spreading brand awareness
  • Working your way into a new market
  • Networking
  • Gaining sales leads
  • Connecting with partners
  • Getting media coverage
  • Releasing a new product or service
  • Strengthening customer relationships

Having one or more show goals is the key to selecting the best technology because…

you want technology that is going to best support your specific goals.

TS floor

Booth Tech Tips

No one is asking if they should include technology in their booth exhibit, it’s really a matter of what types of technology are most appropriate to achieve show goals and positively impact the perceptions of your target audience.

1. Try something new to attract booth traffic

You’ve done your evaluation and have a good idea of what worked before and what didn’t. But here’s something to consider – technology is ever-changing. So just because a specific technology worked for you last year does not mean it’s the best choice for this year. There might be a new technology that will better support a specific goal, or allow you to gather more lead information, or create more of a wow factor that will increase booth traffic. So, know what tech choices exist.

2. Create more customer relationships, use technology for lead retrieval  

Selecting technology, such as our tracking and Lead Retrieval Systems, which allow you to easily gather attendee information, frees up your time so you can spend it where it matters – having face-to-face conversations to create more and stronger customer relationships.

3. Extend your points of interactivity  

Potential customers who visit your booth are certainly going to spend more time there when you give them something they can interact with. And since you will only have a certain number of employees working your booth, you can extend those points of interaction by utilizing certain types of technology. For example, Touch Screens boost interaction while providing information and extending your reach.

4. The reality is, relevance matters 

The point of exhibiting at different shows relates to having different opportunities, or achieving various goals. So, as you are determining which technologies are your best choices, make sure you are thinking about that show, that audience, those potential customers. The truth is, you might have the most high-tech, clever booth, at the show but if it is not relevant to that specific set of people, you won’t get the results you’re looking for. So know your audience and then select your technology.

5. Use technology to help attendees feel heard  

At a trade show, you can achieve this in numerous ways. For example, you can use digital signage to stream social media channels where viewers can watch their tweets and posts go live for all the world to see. Or, you could provide preprogrammed iPads to collect information and ideas on potential products and services.

No longer do potential customers want to sit and be spoken to. Business today is about strong customer relationships and letting your customers know they are being heard.

Get the Most from Your Trade Show Booth with SmartSource Rentals

The bottom line? For a successful trade show exhibit, your technology needs to support your goals, bring the customers in, boost interactivity and engagement, enhance your booths relevance to the audience, and let them know they are being heard.

We can help you achieve all that. Select from our extensive technology inventory to make your 2016 trade show booths the most successful you’ve ever had.

Call us at 800.888.8686 so that we can help you select the best technology for your exhibiting goals, or request a quote today.

Tech Rentals for POP-UP Events!
Product Launch Technology
Dec 29, 2015 by Anonymous

Pop-up events and pop-up retail are growing in popularity—for good reason! The new economical focus on small business and business expansion has led to a rise in temporary business locations—often as part of a greater area event or promotion such as:

  • Festivals
  • Downtown initiatives
  • Citywide events
  • Expos
  • Brand “experiences”
  • Temporary exhibitions
  • Art installations
  • Pop-up museums

Pop-up retail has emerged as the antidote to stale shopping malls. By creating a limited time opportunity, businesses create spontaneity and excitement. Rather than sales and promotions located within an everyday brick-and-mortar branch, the temporary nature of pop-up retail shops uses a short-term location to deliver the message “get it while it lasts!”

While, the success of these pop-up shops depends on a wide variety of factors, one thing is certain—pop-up retailers need to impress their customers quickly, with space limitations and under temporary circumstances. Technology rentals can help!

Testing New Business (and Technology) on a Short-Term Basis

Similar to technology rentals themselves, pop-up shops offer businesses a chance to try out a new location, new product, new neighborhood, business plan, marketing campaign, new branch, or even to start a new business. With a short term rental in an existing or empty store front, a pop-up shop can test the waters, generate excitement and interest, and help revive businesses and business communities!

Here are some of the most popular technology rental options that can help your business turn an opportunity . . . into an event!

Digital Signage – considering that a pop-up shop has—well—popped up in an unexpected new location, it’s extremely important to get attention quickly. Time is limited for these shops, so it’s vital to make as big of an impact as possible, in a short amount of time and often with a short amount of space. Digital Signage can provide an eye-catching chance to display the shop’s name, logo, and other important information. Pop-up shops don’t have the chance to establish permanent signage—digital signage is essential!

IPad Kiosks with Stands – after getting people through the door, you’ll need a fool-proof way to capture payment information. An iPad kiosk is an ideal way to create an efficient, space-saving, temporary yet professional option for accepting credit card, debit card, and other electronic payments. IPad kiosks and tablets are also an excellent way to start an email list for newsletters, coupons, and information about future events—helping you to expand your customer base and roll your pop-up retail success into long-term business growth!

Internet Connection and WiFi – fast, safe, reliable Internet connection is necessary for any business. In addition to the regular business communication needs, temporary locations can help lure passers-by with free WiFi hotspots—giving another excellent reason for guests to stop in and start an interaction with your brand.

Touchscreens – there’s no doubt that touchscreens are inviting, accessible, and informative. For pop-up retail, strategically placed touchscreens can help provide guests with information on your business—helping to satisfy their natural curiosity about your business story, mission, goals, future events, and alternate locations!

Video Walls – while many video walls are enormous and many pop-up shops are small, video walls can be configured from sizes beginning with 2×2 grids—offering a proportionately large digital backdrop. As temporary shops cannot rely on the same level of customized décor as permanent locations, a video wall can provide a maximized viewing space that serves to give customers a feel for the brand using images and video rather than wall coverings, fixtures, and furnishings.

In conclusion, pop-up shops deserve technology that’s as fresh, exciting, and engaging as pop-up retail! With 21 branch locations nationwide, SmartSource Rentals can guarantee the customized technology, expert installation, and fast delivery that will make your pop-up a success! Contact us today at 800-888-8686 to be connected to the branch nearest to you!

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