Thursday, August 24, 2017

Will Wearable Technology Wear Out Attendees?

Google Glass.  Apple Watch. Fitbit.
What are they? Wearable technologies! And in some demographic circles they are all the rage. While they are fun and sexy, do they have the juice to run your event?

Let’s take a harder look into wearables, how they are positioned and the truth about their applicability for attendees in 2015 and beyond.

What Wearables Have to Offer

  • Their main strength is the ability to track and measure activity and record such activity with video (in the case of Google Glass).
  • Sleek designs are meant to appeal to different individuals. Depending on the manufacturer and product, they have a variety of color schemes as well.
  • Many offer phone support through Bluetooth and are compatible with certain versions of the manufacturer’s smartphone line.
  • Depending on the system, they are waterproof.
  • The battery life lasts multiple days.
  • Some have voice recognition and can use the speakerphone option.


What Wearables Are Lacking

The major thing wearables are lacking is the variety and depth of applications any attendee would want while at a conference. In addition, most apps are not hardware agnostic – meaning the ability to be used on multiple vendor platforms – which is a problem developers need to address pronto if wearables of any kind are going to be accepted in the event industry.

Bridget Carey, a senior editor at CNET stated, “Fitness bands track steps, smartwatches buzz with missed tweets, and wearable cameras capture every waking moment. But none of this fits together.”

In fact, most testers of this technology agree that right now, unless you are interested in one or two specific apps for the wearable, this device is just a distraction.

Ben Bajarin, a principal analyst at Creative Strategies stated, “The wearable market has been challenged. Consumers buy them, the experience is novel, but after time the devices fail to add any real value.”


Wearables Will Eventually Get There


According to a report from Transparency Market Research sales from wearable devices are expected to reach $5.8 billion in 2018. Last September, MarketsandMarkets published a report predicting this market will have sales of $11.6 billion by 2020.

What Should You Do For Your Attendees in the Meantime?

If you are interested in giving your attendees a full breadth of applications with mobile flexibility, consider a line of Apple rentals and tablet rentals offered from Hartford Technology Rental.

While HTR will be keeping their eye on wearables in the future, I believe wearables have a long way to go before they will be totally accepted in the event industry. Google Glass has the most applicability for training, but even this product struggles for acceptance due to privacy issues.

Give us a call at 888.520.5667 to learn more about our product offerings. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Indecisive about Your Event’s Wi-Fi Needs? Why it’s Keeping You up at Night

Most of my event planning colleagues have limited knowledge about Wi-Fi, bandwidth and access points. If you are like them, you are struggling with how much bandwidth your event really needs and is free Wi-Fi all it is cracked up to be.

It really boils down to connections, applications and expectations. Let me explain by helping you sift through what the attendee wants and the venue has to offer.  


The Attendee

At a basic level, attendees expect the same Wi-Fi experience with you that they can get at home and the office. They are not encumbered with only having access in certain rooms at certain times and they can upload and download most apps without restriction.
However, they pay for this freedom and most office networks have a finite number of devices attached to it.

So why is it, when thousands of attendees gather for a conference, they expect lighting fast Internet without a fee? I will tell you why; they have been conditioned to expect it because free Wi-Fi is everywhere – from the coffee shop to the hotel room.

But it isn’t free and you need to level set them with the expectation that great Wi-Fi carries a cost.

In addition, I highly recommend you avoid a plan to limit Wi-Fi to a certain area. All you will do is frustrate your attendees. I was at a conference last year where the only Wi-Fi access was in the hotel room. Guess what happened? Attendees showed up late, left early and missed out on a lot of great conference content.

The Venue

You need to know how the facility is going to provide Wi-Fi to your attendees. Here are a few great questions to ask:

1.      How old is your wireless infrastructure? Most hotels and conference centers should be upgrading their broadband every 5-10 years. So if you have a center that hasn’t touched their Wi-Fi configuration since 2004, which may have a problem.

2.      Are you using Dual Band? 2.4 Ghz is the old standard Wi-Fi frequency while 5 Ghz is the new. Most progressive venues use a combination of frequencies at the same time thus allowing attendees and presenters to use the higher band for areas that need a stronger radio signal.

3.      Will the conference IT staff be constantly monitoring Internet activity? It is important to have someone monitoring overall Internet capacity and the amount of uploads and downloads that is going on within the conference. If an attendee decided to back up their entire laptop to the cloud at your conference, you want the IT staff to be able to identify the IP address that is doing the backup and put a hold to its ability to suck the life out of your bandwidth.

4.      If you are reaching your peak usage, can the venue add more bandwidth? This is probably the greatest insurance you can have. They will see the peak building and quickly work toward a solution to add more dedicated bandwidth to your conference. It won’t happen instantly, but an experienced person knows when to bring on more resources.

5.      Will your bandwidth be shared or dedicated? You really want dedicated bandwidth for a number of reasons, but it will be the more expensive option. However, it will be the more secure and fastest option for your users.

6.      Understand all your connectivity options when you are at the negotiating table. Once you understand what your attendees need, the apps that will be utilized and what your estimated bandwidth capacity requirements are, work with your venue to come up with the fastest, most efficient solution. Try and move toward a reasonable fee, but understand that free is probably not an option. Work on a service level guarantee of a certain up-time and what your recourse is if that guarantee is not met.

How Kalahari Resorts & Conventions Can Help

Kalahari Resorts & Conventions, located in Wisconsin, Ohio and soon to be Pennsylvania, has excellent IT staff just waiting to speak with you!

7 Solutions to Sell New Exhibitors on Your Next Trade Show

For a new potential exhibitor, trade show pricing can be intimidating. Most trade show booths are in the thousands of dollars and if you multiply that by the number of shows exhibitors plan per year, you can see why they might be sweating the details.

In addition, according to International Meetings Review, the majority of growth for booth sales is going to be with small to medium sized companies, who are already stretched with finite talent and resources.

But it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. If you are willing to be creative and flexible, there are ways to get the new exhibitor at your show.

Seven Show Solutions

Provide a Justification Tool Kit

Organizations such as
Construction Financial Management Association, CMAA and Power Nigeria already have developed such kits; all you need to do is tailor and tweak it to your conference. Exhibitors need resources to help them justify the expenses and lay out the benefits to their management, especially since your trade show exhibitor has never pitched this type of expense to their boss before.

Create a Booth in a Box Option

Rather than inundating new exhibitors with complicated contracts and the need to work with 10-12 separate suppliers, create a turnkey solution that has one fixed for everything they will need.

Offer a New Exhibitor Discount

You can offer a one-time discount to entice them to your show. My recommendation is that you not be too aggressive, because if you are, they will be “one and done” when it comes to your trade show. 10-15% is reasonable and not so low they can’t come back and justify an increase to their boss next year.

Discount One Item

Discount drayage, electricity or carpet rather than discounting the entire exhibitor fee.  

Let Them Bring in Their Own Vendors

Whether it is an
audio visual rental company or computer rental organization, most potential exhibitors have relationships with companies that may or may not be on the show manager’s list. When new exhibitors are “forced” to work with unknown vendors, it creates more stress for them. Make it easy for them to say yes to your show by eliminating this obstacle.

Create a “Non-Booth” Experience

This is where you will need to become creative with options and space. Perhaps you let them come into the trade show for a day with their iPad rentals and park in an open space. Or you invite them to a “meet and greet” event with other exhibitors.

This option is a bit touchy because of the recent trade show piracy that has been going on where non-exhibitors are showing up at trade shows and poaching on potential customers. The key here is to have rules and a way to clearly identify who is part of your show and who is not.

Show Them Around

New exhibitors need to be mentored and feel welcomed. Have the show manager introduce them to potential new clients, seasoned exhibitors and give them a tour of the show. Have them come in earlier than the rest of the exhibitors in order to spend more one-on-one time with them.

In summary, try one or more of these options to grow your show. Once you get potential exhibitors on the trade show floor, it is should be easy to bring them back year-after-year.

About Hartford Technology Rental

We at Hartford Technology Rental would love to work with you on your next trade show and brainstorm about great solutions. Give one of our technical sales representatives a call at 888-520-5667 or contact us online to learn more about how we can help you! 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Free Wi-Fi at Your Event? 5 Reasons This is a Bad Idea

Wireless Internet connections at meetings have gone from a "nice to have" to a "must have" for participants because they wish to remain connected to their office and family, even when they are hundreds of miles away from them. With the increased amount of open WiFi "hotspots" in hotels and conference centers, attendees may connect to them without realizing the possible risks of doing so.

This blog will explain some of the potential risks of connecting to an open WiFi network from the participants and event meeting services organization point of view and explain what to do to minimize those risks.

What is the Risk?

A Wi-Fi network is, simply put, a data transmission system. Free WiFi is accessible to anyone. Many hotels and conference centers require a passcode or your hotel room number. However, because the network is open to all hotel guests, data transmitted through WiFi network can possibly be intercepted by any computer user connected to the network. Don't ever equate FREE, for SECURE. They are not one and the same.

What about Privacy?

Again, the data you transmit through an open WiFi network may be accessed by others. It’s not secure! User ids and passwords are at potential risk in this environment and anything that is on those systems.

How Does This Happen? 

Data is sent over the Internet in packets (think bundled file folders). For example, e-mail messages or login information, is constructed from several packets, pushed through the bandwidth, together. If you want to log in at your e-mail account over a non-secured connection, the data is not encrypted, so attendees could potentially possess your login information.

What Should Attendees Do To Prevent This?

  1. When you see a free hotspot, check the source. You can see if the source is a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Those can be suspicious, especially when they’re called “Free Wi-Fi” or “Free hotspot”.
  2. Certify that you are on the right WiFi network for the conference. Currently, “Twin” networks are becoming increasingly popular at large events or venues for phishing attacks. Their address will be very close to the right connection. Be aware, and if you have any doubt, flag down your event organizer. 
  3. Put in a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This avoids sending files with sensitive information over an open network. 
  4. Password protect all login information, or better yet use encryption.
  5. Use SSL for both incoming and outgoing e-mail messages.
  6. Always keep your firewall and security software up-to-date, and turn off file and printer sharing.
  7. Password protect your laptop and mobile devices. 

What Should Event Organizers Do?

  1. Obtain a secure and robust WiFi network. Having experts available to assess your security risk and help determine the best network configuration is the best course of action. Renting a WiFi network array should help in both areas, especially with a large number of attendees at your conference. 
  2. Communicate the right network name and credentials to your attendees. Do it before the conference and several times during the event.
  3. Have your AV and IT partners, monitor suspicious WiFi network activity and act to stop it. Ask them to communicate any breeches to you and your team. 

Providing a properly secured and fast WiFi network to your attendees is as important as a great speaker or fantastic educational content. Don't let a slow or unsecured network bring your conference to a halt!