The Allure of Free Wi-Fi and Why it can be Very Costly

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!  

5 Tried and True Ways to Promote Your Event via Social

social

Without a doubt, social media is the fastest growing way to promote your meeting or event with attendees and potential attendees. The key is to keep the fire going once the invitations are sent out and use a little social savvy to make the search engines work in your favor. 

Jay Baer, Social Media Guru and Author, has identified several steps to promote your meeting via this channel. Below are some of his suggestions along with a few of my own insights about ways create buzz.

5 Ways to Broadcast and Engage

  1. Create an Events Page and Make Multiple People Administrators of it.

    If you look at social, there are three free sights that can help your event rank:

    Facebook: With this platform you can make multiple people administrators, of which I would highly recommend. This allows your event to gain virality and since Facebook is still the largest social channel, never discount its applicability to promote your function.  

    Google+: This site has a limited number of invitations you can send, but again because it is Google, I would recommend you use it. Invitees can share the invite to their community and 1+ it which helps send a good social signal. 

    EventBrite: Allows you to create an event for free and promote it on your social channels. However, if you are charging for your event, they will take a 7.15% handling fee on each ticket sold. 
     

  2. Integrate Hashtags into all your Promotions. 

    Whether you understand them or not, hashtags are becoming the new search tool for all things social. When event planning, you want two hashtags: one for your organization and one for the event. I would recommend that you put them side-by-side and use them on every post. 
     

  3. Engage your Potential Attendees Early and Often. 

    Whether it is before, during or after your event, post something every business day about your function. This training of your attendees to look at social every day, can help make your interactive presentations come to life on iPad or laptop rentals at the meeting. Here are a few ideas to get you started: 

    Crowdsource content
    Ask questions
    Take polls before and during the event
    Post photos and videos
    Post blog posts and ask for guest blogging (ideal for speakers and sponsors)
    Promote press releases 
    Show a list of attendees
     

  4. Live Stream Video on Second Screens and Video Walls. 

    If you have remote attendees, a large event or meeting participants that need to step out of the meeting often, live streaming makes a whole lot of sense. Streaming the event to their mobile device and a large video wall rental unit can keep attendees engaged in the content. Just remember to check your event WiFi solutions which may need some tweaking before your meeting. 
     

  5. Extend the Life of Your Conference through Technology. 

    Push videos, photos and presentations to your website, SlideShare or other social channels. Put the event and organization hashtags on the footer of each presentation. 

Call SmartSource Rentals at 800.888.8686! They have the experience and knowledge to manage your total technology needs!

How Event Planners Can Relate to Disney’s New Wearable Device

SmartSource RentalsWalt Disney World has just launched a new wearable device that combines Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) with a mobile app to improve the guest experience. It is called MyMagic+. This blog post will focus on what RFID is, how guests can use MyMagic+ and how you might use this methodology when event planning, 

What is RFID? 

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology uses radio waves to identify people. There is a wireless unit that reads the information contained in a wearable device without having to make physical contact or require a line of sight with the unit.

How Does MyMagic+ Work? 

MyMagic+ allows the guest to make their vacation uniquely their own and works with three major components: FastPass+, MagicBands and the Disney mobile app. 

FastPass+ allows a person to: 

  • Reserve their must-do attractions and entertainment up to 30 days in advance of their visit
  • If their plans change, they can update their FastPass+ selections in a real-time basis.
  • The guest has twice as many choices as FastPass and now includes shows, parades and fireworks. 
  • If they stay at a Disney Resort hotel, selections can be made up to 60 days prior to check-in 

MagicBands are wearable devices that you can use to:

  • Enter Disney theme parks
  • Use the FastPass+ 
  • Unlock your Disney Resort hotel room and
  • Charge purchases to your room

These colorful wristbands can even be personalized for every member of your family—you can select your favorite color and Disney Resort hotel guests and Annual Passholders can add a printed name on the inside.

The bands contain no personal information and do not employ GPS technology. 

My Disney Experience Mobile App allow a user to: 

  • Explore Walt Disney World Resort on the interactive, GPS-enabled map
  • Get wait times for attractions and showtimes for fireworks and parades.
  • Find Character greeting locations and times
  • Browse restaurant menus and make dining reservations and
  • Manage their Disney Resort reservations, tickets, MagicBands and cards

This app is free and runs on an iPhone, iPad or Android system. 

Event Planner Takeaways

Let's face facts: Wearable technology is coming to meetings whether you like it or not. It is already here in Samsung's SmartWatch, Nike's FuelBand, Google Glass or something in between. Read up on it and be prepared when it seeps into your meeting environment. Be proactive in your approach and embrace it. 

How can you present your own FastPass+, MagicBands and Mobile App into the attendees' event experience? Here are my thoughts on ways this can happen today: 

  1. Make sure your conference details are complete and open up registration to all your sessions up to 30 days before your event. In addition, the registration platform needs to be web responsive and flexible so attendees can change their plans on the fly – whether they are viewing the details on their desktop or a mobile device. 
     
  2. Make registration greater than the conference itself. Include networking events, TweetUps and anything else you can think of that will make your attendee's experience a great success. 
     
  3. Give them an incentive to stay within the room block. Disney gives their hotel guests better perks. They allow them to book their attractions 30 days earlier, access the park an hour earlier, open their hotel rooms and charge the room from the wristband, even if they are in the park.

    How can you work with your hotel to encourage attendees to stay within the block and make it a more cohesive experience? 
     

  4. Give the attendee a mobile experience. Whether they are using iPad rentals or BYOD, allow attendees to explore the trade show floor through GPS, understand wait times for hosted buyer programs or browse social chatter about the event. In addition to hand held devices, video wall rentals are a great way to bring collective mobile information onto the big screen. 

Looking for audiovisual rentals? Look no further than SmartSource Rentals can provide your organization with state-of-the-art audio visual rental equipment!

4 Trade Show Trends that are Worth Noting

tradeshow

Without a doubt, trade shows are becoming more innovative and engaging. And let's face it, they need to be in order to keep attendees coming back. PCMA Convene Magazine recently highlighted four shows they believe are on the cutting edge. Here is a high level overview of what trade show organizers are doing and how trade show technology can impact the attendee experience. 

Trade Show Trend #1: Sustainability

At The Agenda Show they repurpose materials from one show to the next. Lauren Radie, Account Manager at Global Experience Specialists, who puts on the show shared, "They were able to have the consistent look but still use the pieces in different ways and maximize their investment and be cost efficient all around."

Additional ways to be sustainable are to cut down on paper and utilize trade show technology rentals, such as iPads and lead generation devices to replace paper. Anyway you can reduce, reuse and recycle products is a great way to show off your corporate sustainability. 

Trade Show Trend #2: Engagement

At the Sony Zone they offered attendees a two-story experience at the Sony Open Tennis Tournament in Miami. . 

On the first floor, which was called a fan engagement zone, they had: 

  • Displays of Sony smartphones, tablets and televisions
  • A PlayStation 4 gaming area
  • Autograph area for pro tennis player signings and 
  • Charging kiosks for mobile devices

Upstairs there was a hospitality suite with an enclosed air-conditioned area and a patio looking over the tennis courts. 

Jay Batavia, Director of Sponsorship Marketing at Momentum Worldwide, who produced the Sony Zone stated, "This year we followed a bigger, bolder and better mantra. We wanted not only to create a visually prominent experience to engage fans, but also business guests by integrating our hospitality lounge on top." The results were fabulous – booth attendance was up 40% from the prior year. 

Trade Show Trend #3: Flexibility

When the US Army in Europe was looking to participate in European trade shows last year, they wanted a booth that was open and uncluttered. In addition, they wanted it to be cozy and private. In the end, they were able to accomplish both initiatives. 

In the center of the booth they had a private meeting area and in the outer areas they had tradeshow displays where attendees could read the screens, look at imagery and step away and come back. 

In addition, the US Army in Europe's booth was flexible and adaptable based on the size of trade show attendance; not to over or underwhelm their audience. 

Trade Show Trend #4: Customization

At the AudiologyNOW! trade show, Siemens customized the user experience based on their needs. In order to accomplish this, they offered a variety of ways for attendees to learn more about their offerings. They could listen to the sound quality of Siemens' devices, watch a video on a high quality Plasma display, hear a staffer present the attributes of the devices or go into a small room and learn more. 

All of these offerings created an environment of exploring and discovering for the attendee, which allowed Siemens a deeper connection with them. 

About SmartSource Rentals

For over 30 years, SmartSource Rentals has provided a unique range of rental products and services. They service trade show, professional conferences, and general technology markets. Contact Smart Source to obtain a quote today!

Why PowerPoint is Still Relevant for Meetings after All These Years

pp

Believe it or not, PowerPoint has been around for 24 years. When you think about it, that is pretty amazing considering how many technology innovations have occurred since then. Think about Palm, Blackberry and the sundry of other hardware and software apps that are now landfill driven. Yet PowerPoint presentations still hang on. Why? 

I believe PowerPoint still has presence because it is bundled with Office, it is easy to use and navigational friendly. However, out of the estimated 30 million presentations that are created each year, many of them are downright boring and mediocre. 

The overarching problem with PowerPoint is: "People make the mistake of saying the slides are the presentation when you are the presentation," stated Rick Altman, Author of Why Most PowerPoint Presentations Suck and How You Can Make Them Better

Survey Says

According to a survey of ~700 respondents conducted by ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com, they identified the following audience annoyances: 

  • 72% identified it as problematic when the speaker reads from the slide
  • 50% said unreadable, small text is a pet peeve and 
  • 48% stated slides with full sentences instead of bullet points is not good

Banned PowerPoint Practices

Meetings & Events Australia doesn't allow the following in their meetings: 

  • Bullet Points
  • Flowcharts
  • Clip Art and 
  • Speakers that Read Directly from the Screens

In fact, they take it one step further and give speakers a tutorial on what is acceptable at their conference. 

Blame Game

Without a doubt, PowerPoint takes a greater hit that it needs to. This app is just like anything else out there; it can be abused. PowerPoint isn't boring or confusing, its the person who wrote the slides that should take the fall and that is usually the presenter. 

Dave Paradi, Owner of ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com stated, "Many articles on this topic are blaming the tool – PowerPoint for the way people use it. We have seen people use this tool poorly for so long, there's this groupthink that it must be the tool's fault." 

Effective PowerPoint Solutions

Here are three effective solutions that were laid out in the July 2014 edition of PCMA Convene. In addition, I have added commentary on on some of the solutions outlined below. 

  1. 10/20/30: 10 Slides in 20 Minutes with 30 Point Font 

    This is the rule by Guy Kawasaki, Chief Evangelist at Canva, who speaks about effective interactive presentations on an international level. 
     

  2. Train your presenters on how you want them to present. 

    I know I have been guilty of this – I assume that all presenters are worth their weight in gold. Even if they are nationally known, doesn't mean they know what is best for your attendees'. Take the time to review every slide and understand in great detail how they deliver their message and how it will be tailored for your conference. 

    Just like MEA, give them the dos and don'ts, review their presentation ahead of time and coach them on what you want. 
     

  3. When renting audio visual equipment, tie your supplier and speaker together. 

    It is really important that you obtain the right PowerPoint presentation equipment for the room. Without a doubt, many times these presentations go flat because people cannot see or hear the presentation. The speaker needs to arrive at least two hours in advance to test and rehearse their talk. 

SmartSource Rentals has all the AV, computer and IT equipment to make your presentations pop! Give them a call at 800.888.8686. They are here to help! 

5 Stellar Ways to Take Event Risks that Pay Off

risks

Can you believe it? The Risk Management Society (RIMS), an organization of more than 11,000 risk management professionals, took some…(gulp)….risks at their annual conference last April. Christopher Durso from PCMA caught up with Stuart Ruff, RIMS Director of Meetings & Events to discuss the five choices they made and the impact it had on their attendees. Here are the highlights, along with a few of my own observations of how interactive technology can help. 

5 Risk Factors

Hire a Controversial Keynote Speaker

Jordan Belfort, a former stockbroker who was convicted of fraud crimes related to stock market manipulation and author of The Wolf of Wall Street turned out to be a real winner at the conference; but many attendees did not want him to speak because he is a convicted felon. 

However, the curiosity factor actually worked to RIMS benefit and Belfort ended up being the being the largest general session speaker ever. Attendees actually liked listening to him. 

Livestream Your General Session

While Belfort was speaking, 1800 remote attendees from 14 different countries logged in to hear his talk. This was risky because if Belfort bombed, the virtual audience could say "Glad I didn't attend that conference!" 

One thought: You need to make certain you have the right WiFi event solutions in place in order to offer a hybrid solution to your attendees. If the video feed is slow and a lot of buffering occurs, your remote attendees will close out your session quickly. Check out WiFi router rentals as a real solution to any bandwidth bottlenecks you think you make experience. 

Offer a Mobile App and Train Attendees How to Use it

The RIMS'14 Mobile App could be used on a variety of platforms, including iPad rentals and BYODs. The event planning staff offered training to mitigate any risk that attendees would not use the app and provided access to it in their hotel rooms and in the hotel lobbies. 

Another thought:  Make sure you have enough WiFi for this app and understand from the get go how many devices attendees, speakers and exhibitors are bringing to the conference. Discourage MiFi networks as they can ultimately interfere and slow down the user's bandwidth. Consider renting charging stations where attendees can charge up their mobile devices and network with others during this process. 

Overhaul Your Sponsorship Offerings

Sponsors were offered short commercial video clips within the mobile app or during the live session. In addition, if you rent charging kiosks, sponsors can run presentations, videos and photos about their products and services on the display above the unit. 

Get Students Involved

10 Universities with risk management programs competed to win a Risk Management Challenge which ended up being a "win-win" all around. Students learned more about RIMS and attendees became familiar with the upcoming graduating population. 

"It was an incredibly thought out decision and process because we're an association, and like most places, we're trying to think about a newer demographic. We really wanted to give a balanced, energized experience to the meeting for all attendees," stated Ruff. I think they did just that. 

About SmartSource Rentals

SmartSource Rentals is a Total Technology provider with 21 locations to serve you! Give them a call at 800.888.8686 to learn more about their innovative technology offerings. 

The Overarching Benefits of Mobile Event Technology

ipad

While more and more attendees, exhibitors and speakers are moving to mobile apps, there still seems to be some hesitancy on the part of those responsible for event planning to do so. If you are not sold on moving to iPad rentals or the use of BYOD, here are 9 benefits of this technology and great testimonials about it. 

Easy Peasy Mobile Benefits

  1. No more paper! All the information is in one or more app. This makes it really easy on the attendee to find the information, especially if the app has a search component to it. 
  2. Everything is a tap of an icon. Just like social channels, the attendee just taps on the screen to move into the information. 
  3. Networking is easy. Attendees can find each other through profile searches and even integrate the app to LinkedIn. 
  4. You and your sponsors can build their brands through 10 to 30-second video commercials before or during app use. 
  5. Attendees will be more engaged. They can send social messages or emails right from the device. No need to hunt down the event planning staff if they have a question, concern or complaint. 
  6. If your conference is very large, attendees can use second screens to make all the sessions interactive presentations. 
  7. You will have real-time analytics to determine who is using the app and how they are using it.
  8. You can have an interactive social activity feed, event announcements and upcoming sessions displayed on a Video Wall for all to see.  
  9. You can integrate a gamification app into the mix and watch attendees show their competitive side! 

Mobile Technology Testimonials

"Planners want all their conference information and interactive functionality in one app for their specific event. Today's attendees are much more comfortable using event apps than ever before," stated Patrick Payne, CEO of QuickMobile

"Once they realize how much easier it is to access information as opposed to leafing through pages, they're hooked. The adaption rate at the smallest conference of 300 is 67% of attendees, while the largest conference of 1,500, which tends to attract older members, is about 33% of attendees," said LeAnne Nienhuis, Education and Customer Programs Manager for the American Public Power Association

Suggestion: If you want a greater rate of acceptance at your next conference, engage Millennials to be your "tech advisors". They can set up training sessions, greet attendees as they complete their electronic registration or check-in onsite, or be a general tech mentor. 

"Attendees have increased interaction with event apps and have a feeling of involvement. More networking possibilities and ease of scheduling appointments with others at the meeting are possible," said Jordan Schwartz, President of Pathable

"More people in the industry have stopped thinking about apps as a simple event navigation tool, but rather as an extremely valuable way to engage people and improve their meeting," revealed Eric Olson, CEO & President at Zerista

Original Source: June 2014 Meetings Focus

About SmartSource Rentals

Get the technology you need and the service you deserve for a hassle-free rental experience. Contact SmartSource Rentals today to learn more about the breadth and depth of their rental offerings. 

Hybrid and Virtual Events are on the Rise: What about Face-to-Face?

virtual

According to the May 2014 Virtual Edge Institute Digital Event Benchmark Report, hybrid and virtual events are trending upwards. This conclusion was reached by surveying 200+ event planning professionals. Below is a capsulation of that report, along with my own observations about the importance of keeping face-to-face meetings alive. 

Survey Results

  • 65% of meeting producers said their goal in producing online events was to provide education to those attendees who cannot physically attend the conference. 
     
  • 57% said they want to monetize their events. 
     
  • 35% of the survey participants charge half of the face-to-face registration fee for hybrid events. 
     
  • 61% of virtual producers and 55% of hybrid producers felt that virtual attendance is on the rise. 
     
  • 47% of digital attendees spend 1-2 hours in the event while 31% spend more than 5 hours in the event. 

What does this all mean? 

First, meeting planners are recognizing that hybrid and virtual meetings are here to stay. Your potential attendees are busier than ever. And when they go to your conference, the work back at the office still remains. In order to allow them to participate without the expense of travel, a hybrid offering probably makes sense to a percentage of your potential audience. But remember: this still requires ample planning on your side and you may need to explore alternative event WiFi solutions

Second, it appears the days of free virtual attendance are over. This makes sense because it does cost money to bring this alternative to the online marketplace. Don't be afraid to charge attendees and if you are concerned about cost, work toward obtaining a sponsor for that portion of the event. 

Third, while virtual and hybrid events can be part of your meeting offerings, they will never replace face-to-face events that offer networking, visual cuing and spontaneous interactions.If you need ammunition as to why you need to hold a live event, look to MPI's Meetings Move Us Forward and CIC's Economic Significance Study

Fourth, with almost half of virtual attendees only viewing an hour or two of the conference, it looks like your general sessions are the ones that make sense to offer online. Beyond that, unless your conference is extremely technical and/or attendees need to receive the information for certification requirements, look at the hybrid experience as an opportunity to sell your live conference. They need to be there! 

 

Contact SmartSource Rentals for great technology solutions for your next face-to-face or hybrid event! 

3 CSR Apps that will Get Attendees Engaged at Your Event

happyWhether you are managing a nonprofit, association or corporate event planning staff, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is all the rage with attendees. They want to do good and give back. But the truth of the matter is they have very little time to serve on boards or do manual labor. 

Given that criteria, here are three apps that can run on iPad or laptop rentals. They can give attendees flexibility in their giving or you can set a goal as to how much you want to raise by the end of your conference. You can even show your percentage to goal on a video wall. All of this encourages attendees to give, creates a level of competition and in the end, provides hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to a great cause. 

OMAZE

It starts out with a fundraising goal. 

With Omaze there are a list of several diverse charities already. When an attendee donates, they are automatically entered for the opportunity to win a prize. The more they donate, the better chances they have of winning. If the attendee invites their social media friends, they earn extra credit by helping raise awareness of the cause. 

The process works just like a charity raffle. Once the deadline to enter for the experience passes, say just before the start of the last session, Omaze collects all the entries and select the winners through a computer generated random selection process.

The goal of the campaign is tracked over time so you can see how your conference supporters impacted lives.

CROWDRISE

In 2012, the NYC Marathon raised $8,730,555 through Crowdrise.  

The New York Road Runners partnered with CrowdRise to encourage every single runner to fundraise. There were no minimums and all of the money raised via the teams was rolled up into the total amount raised. 

The way this works is you have a team that selects a nonprofit they are passionate about. Each individual on the team sets their own fundraising goal. They use social channels to encourage their friends and family to support their cause and meet their individual and team goals. 

This is a great application for a large event where teams can be formed. Event organizers can use video walls, charging kiosks or  trade show kiosks to show the status of each team throughout the day. This creates buzz and engagement. It also helps to spread the word about your event. 

BIDPAL

BidPal’s event planning solution is a more inclusive nonprofit online event management site. 

At the Boys and Girls Club of Chicago, they went from paper bid sheets to handheld devices. 

Event organizer, Kathy Carbonari investigated automated auctions and discovered that BidPal has been wirelessly automating charitable auctions since 2008. By allowing guests to bid from anywhere at any time during the event, and notifying them when they've been outbid, charitable organizations receive, on average, three times more bids per item.

With the help of BidPal, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago increased silent auction proceeds by 200 percent! This item can easily run an iPad rental. 

SmartSource Rentals, a national meeting equipment supplier, has state-of-the-art equipment to fit any budget! Give them a call today to learn more about their innovative offerings! 

Just another WordPress site