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5 Things to Know About WiFi for Outdoor Events
Wifi1
Apr 18, 2016 by Cynthia Corona

In the last year, WiFi has gone from being a “nice to have” to a necessity. But you have probably already figured that out, along with the fact that getting WiFi for an outdoor event is way different than getting it for an indoor event. Here are 5 things you need to know about WiFi for outdoor events that may help bring bigger success to your next event:

  1. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to WiFi. How the WiFi is being used dictates which technology option is best and most affordable.
  2. Most outdoor event production companies use WiFi only for production purposes, leaving attendees to rely on their personal data plans for virtual communications.
  3. Everything from payroll to medical services (VoIP communications), RFID ticketing to vendor transactions require stable and secure WiFi at an outdoor event.
  4. It is possible to offset the cost of WiFi by creating sponsorship opportunities using Captive Portal and Voucher marketing tools at events with a high number of attendees.
  5. There are three primary vehicles for distributing WiFi bandwidth at outdoor events: Cellular, Satellite, and Microwave. Which technology works best depends on how you’ll use it and the landscape and remoteness of your event.

If you are interested in learning about real-life applications of WiFi technology at outdoor events, we invite you to listen to our podcast, “WiFi Options for Outdoor Events.”

PodCast


To learn how SmartSource Rentals and our team of WiFi Architects and Engineers can bring stable and secure WiFi to your next outdoor event, please contact Milko Figueroa at (877) 266-7725 or email mfigueroa@smartsourcerentals.com for a FREE WiFi CONSULTATION.

Industry News: Museums Turn To Technology for Immersive Experience, Raise Engagement
RadicalMedia-March
Mar 23, 2016 by Cynthia Corona

Earlier this month at the SXSW Interactive Media Festival, experiential marketing pros gathered to discuss the changing landscape for museums. AV Network, a leading industry publication, covered the seminar titled “Tomorrow’s Museum: Designing Engaging Experiences,” where case studies were shared and hypotheses about the future were discussed. Read about it here.

We have experience in this space, having worked with Radical Media on a breakout museum installation called the Museum of Feelings, which happened last year in New York’s Battery Park. Over 60,000 people attended the pop-up museum that ran for three weeks. If you have a similar project and are interested in learning how we can help, please contact our expert on museum technology, Andrew Bassin, of our Manhattan office at 718-361-4542, Ext 3608.

RadicalMediaDisplays

How the FCC Rulings Can Help Planners Get A Better Deal on WiFi
Mar , 2016 by Milko Figueroa

Late last year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a ruling on a controversial practice of some hotels and in-house convention center Internet service providers. Jamming the signal of a mobile hot spot or personal wireless device is apparently a no no in the eyes of the government. While the ruling is considered a win for exhibitors and hotel guests, it also paves the way for event planners to have more choices and negotiating power when it comes to venue-wide wireless access.

The FCC was pretty clear in its decision stating, ”No hotel, convention center, or other commercial establishment or the network operator providing services at such establishments may intentionally block or disrupt personal Wi-Fi hot spots on such premises, including as part of an effort to force consumers to purchase access to the property owner’s Wi‑Fi network.  Such action is illegal, and violations could lead to the assessment of substantial monetary penalties.”

So, now that a clear precedent has been established for third-party providers of Internet access—the MiFi users and the companies that sell or rent hot spot equipment—there is little (legally) standing in the way for planners to entertain proposals for venue-wide wireless Internet access from outsourced and independent providers of temporary event WiFi. In fact, there are some very good reasons why they could benefit substantially from doing so.

FREEDOM OF CHOICE

The first, and most obvious, benefit of being able to work with a third-party wireless WiFi engineering firm is the ability to source competitive bids for the service. For so long, planners had only two choices for wireless Internet access:  to use the in-house provider or forego offering wireless Internet access to exhibitors and attendees. That has changed. Planners may now openly (as far as the government is concerned) choose from among several companies, which enhances their bargaining power with the prospective providers and the venue.

That’s good news for planners because outsourced WiFi engineering companies can often deliver capabilities that many in-house providers can’t:

Pricing consistency. There is no consistent WiFi pricing model for hotels and convention centers. Some charge event planners based on data consumption. Others charge based on the number of devices or number of users at the event. One outsourced provider used consistently across multiple events and venues (more on that below) can bring organizers a level of pricing consistency that is predictable and manageable.

Service customization. Every event is different. Many require various levels of customized access—for example, separate subnets for production teams, attendees, and event management. Others need more sophisticated local area networks to support activities such as webcasting or live streaming. Experienced third-party providers can configure network access to accommodate very specific requirements.

Location flexibility. For the most part, venues have fixed infrastructures of hardwired routers and access points.  Premium WiFi architecture teams, on the other hand, bring their own arsenal of WiFi equipment to a project in order to enhance or expand on existing WiFi infrastructure or to distribute a fresh source of Internet bandwidth, like Microwave, as a job requires.

Backup.  Many hotels have only one source of Internet service from outside the building. If that source becomes suddenly unavailable or congested, the event can suffer. Third-party WiFi architect teams typically have multiple sources for Internet bandwidth at their disposal, so that if one external network goes down, they can switch to a backup provider seamlessly and instantly, without interruption of service.

Advanced technology.  Wireless technology moves fast. Convention centers—even those that partner with large companies to provide fixed infrastructure in exchange for a profit share of revenue—find it difficult to keep pace with advances in wireless technology. Third-party WiFi architects, however, upgrade equipment often and stay at the forefront of WiFi best practices to stay competitive in the marketplace. For meeting planners,  this can bring peace of mind, when stable and secure WiFi is mission critical to an event.

GOING ONE BETTER

There is another aspect to this growing freedom of choice. Event organizers with a regular portfolio of events, even if the events move to different cities, can rely on a single third-party wireless architect to support all of their events year round. That capability comes with its own set of perks:

Institutional knowledge. Having to reinvent the wheel every time an event locates in a new venue is burdensome for the planner. Working with one company who knows the requirements, participant profile, and Internet usage habits of a group’s exhibitors and attendees reduces the workload and can lead to better service for the event participants.

Analytics. Most venues can provide usage analytics to event planner customers. Many outsourced companies though can take analytics a step further and benchmark usage metrics against other clients or even against the group’s other events. They can also customize reports based on a client’s preferences.

Advocacy. In-house providers, while accountable indirectly to exhibitors, attendees, and event organizers, work primarily on behalf of the venue. Third-party wireless engineering companies are retained directly by the event organizer and are accountable directly to him or her. When organizers work consistently with one partner company, it deepens the relationship, as does the service provider’s ability to anticipate the needs of the planner.

Economies of scale. Another benefit of working with a single partner is package pricing. Even though every event is configured differently, multiple events often qualify for pricing and/or service concessions so that overall costs are reduced.

What started out as the necessary need for exhibitors and hotel guests to take Internet access into their own hands has paved the way for free market competition and elevated service capabilities. The FCC filing confirmed what many third-party WiFi engineering companies already knew. Convention centers and hotels may not override an individual’s or an organization’s ability to choose its own mode of Internet access. In a seller’s market, it’s nice to finally see planners getting a break.

To learn more about how WiFi can be used to optimize your next indoor or outdoor event, please click on the link to our podcast featuring myself and April Moore, a former planner and leading special event account manager here at SmartSource Rentals.

PodCast


About the Author

Milko

With more than 20 years of event technology experience under his belt, Milko Figueroa is more than a tech geek. He’s a tech geek with personality. He also has a deep understanding of customer needs and a library worth of real-life knowledge of how to execute technology in complex and sometimes unorthodox situations. Milko is the expert on WiFi technology at SmartSource Rentals and leads a team of seasoned WiFi engineers who have produced events at indoor and outdoor venues across the country for Fortune 100 companies.  He can be reached at mfigueroa@smartsourcerentals.com

The Sharing Economy: Leveraging Short-Term Technology Solutions to Drive Business
March-SharingEconomy
Mar , 2016 by B. Maitland

There has been a time-tested recipe for business growth.  By making cash-intensive investments, businesses have sought a defensible market position by leveraging anything proprietary they can develop or buy.

It has worked this way:

  1. Identify a market need
  2. Innovate or acquire
  3. Invest in the technology and capacity to produce the product
  4. Serve the market profitably, as only you or few others can

It was an approach that worked for a few decades, until the recession that began in 2007.  That period spurred an innovation in the way we do business, in our personal and professional lives, that is now commonly known as the sharing economy, or collaborative consumption.

It has changed the way we use transportation (see Uber). It has changed the way we live and vacation (see AirBNB). And now it has changed our approach to conducting business.

The sharing economy was first introduced to the business world through what is now known as cloud computing. Cloud computing is a new software model where software is available as a service (SAAS). It has been instrumental in allowing businesses to innovative rapidly with significantly lower upfront costs, compared to proprietary software solutions.

While computer software drove the first wave of this paradigm shift to collaborative consumption in business, a trend toward the same for computer hardware and office equipment is rapidly emerging.

It makes sense. Computer technologies are the perfect assets to rent versus buy. They depreciate quickly, there is a high upfront cost, and they require specialized labor to perform and maintain.

Renting hardware also enables entirely new business model opportunities – in the same way renting software does.

Just as the sharing economy reset the way people work and play, collaborative consumption enables organizations to innovate. Workforces that under traditional business models have been stuck in fixed office space are rapidly being replaced by remote deployment models of staffing, especially in the instances of product training or short-term project work.

Additionally, more and more we are seeing businesses deploy staff to remote locations for execution of services or assessment of market opportunities.

In instances like these, having consistency of equipment performance and equipment configuration, not to mention security, is essential. A professional temporary technology solutions company can fulfill this need by making access to the latest technology and software easy, consistent, and affordable.

Renting depreciating assets is simply too effective a strategy to ignore, and the applications are diverse.

Post-recession history is proof that once a market becomes sharable, it is unlikely to revert to the old paradigm. We can only anticipate the same will be true when it comes to computer and office technology as more companies move to leverage the advantages of the sharing economy by renting, and not buying, computer hardware and services, leaving only one question:

With scalable computer and office technology, accessible on demand anywhere, anyplace, without the typical up-front investment, what exciting new business opportunities will your company explore?

Top Event Business-Friendly Products from CES 2016
Jan 26, 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.

LenovoCombo

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
Mobile-App
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.

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