Thursday, April 30, 2015

Guide to Connectivity: Creative Ways to Pay for Wi-Fi


Now that you have read through the first four parts of this series and have a good grasp on what your Wi-Fi needs are, you and your team are probably discussing two items regarding your next conference:

1.      Is your Wi-Fi access going to be free and
2.      If it isn’t free, how are you going to pay for it?

While the debate about "free vs. fee" Wi-Fi will continue this year, it is with all certainty that you are going to require fast, secure and robust Internet service. If your meeting is tech driven and it is large, your Wi-Fi access will not be free.

Here are 8 ideas to keep Wi-Fi costs under control and potentially appear "free" to the attendee. I would recommend that you implement as many of these ideas as possible to keep your budget within reasonable control.  

Sign a multi-year and/or multi-meeting deal with your supplier.
If your Wi-Fi provider can forecast revenue into multiple meetings or years, they can forge a long-term relationship with you, know more about your events and put together competitive pricing based on the total revenue they will receive over the course of the contract.

Look at an outside vendor to provide Wi-Fi network arrays and technical support.
In order to keep your budget intact, understand all your Internet conference needs and make sure the venue doesn't mandate in-house exclusivity for Wi-Fi.

Have the presenters go to the Wi-Fi Rooms.
Rather than having several Wi-Fi configurations in different rooms throughout the day, put the speakers in the rooms that meets their Wi-Fi needs. You will save a lot of money on labor and monitoring peak usage if you know ahead of time some presenters use a lot of bandwidth and some use none.

Build the Wi-Fi Cost into the Room Block Rate.
While this sounds good on paper, Wi-Fi needs are going to vary depending on how many devices your attendees bring to the meeting and what apps are running on them. Building a fair and reasonable Wi-Fi cost can be built into the room rate if you know the total consumption of Wi-Fi for your conference.  

 Build Wi-Fi Costs into the Registration and Exhibitor Fees.
 While this too sounds great, it is something that could also backfire. Attendees may see right through what you are doing. For example, if your reg fee is $50 more per attendee over last year's event, attendees may ask why the increase. Exhibitors may want a reduced fee if they bring in their own private network. The trouble with this solution for exhibitors is it may interfere with the overall network signal on the trade show floor (which will be discussed in Part 6). Most of all, if this solution doesn't provide pricing transparency; it could be a real problem for attendees and exhibitors. 

 Customize Your Wi-Fi Solution Based on Need and Charge Accordingly.
Separate Wi-Fi needs into 6 categories -- organizer, attendee, exhibitor, speaker, sponsor and media. Have an understanding of what each segment needs from the Internet. The key to this solutions is having clear communications -- understand what they are bringing, using and where each niche will be positioned in your meeting space.

Sell Sponsor-Branded Wi-Fi Splash Pages.
In case you are wondering what a splash page is, it is the page attendees’ will first see when they log onto the Wi-Fi system. By selling a series of sponsor-driven pages, your organization can gain monetary contributions to offset the cost of your Wi-Fi solution.

Look for Local Sponsors.
With Internet-based applications such as Yelp and Foursquare, you can tap restaurants, attractions, and night-life for potential sponsor opportunities, like never before.
For example, your organization can host a Tweet-Up at a local attraction and ask everyone to check-in once they are onsite. You can work with the venue ahead of time to extend a special discount to attendees who write a review about their experience. And you can charge a sponsorship fee to that establishment that will help you pay for your Wi-Fi.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Are You Organizing Small to Medium Sized Meetings? Then ACTIVE RegOnline is for You!



Whether you are an event planner for 20 or 2,000 attendees, the logistics and effort to plan any meeting require the same amount of time. One of the things that can be a real time burner is the search for the perfect venue, marketing your program, registering attendees and tracking results.

But what if there is an easier way – an event management solution that allows event organizers to see everything in one location? Now that dream is a reality…with RegOnline! This easy-to-use system allows planners to see everything on one dashboard allowing for maximum efficiency and reduced stress.

Here is a snapshot of what this meeting registration software has to offer:   

Site Search and eRFP

  • Search, compare and contrast thousands of hotels and venues within a city, state or by particular brand
  • With a click of your mouse, create and submit one eRFP for up to 12 properties
  • Free telephone and email support is available to you from Active if you need assistance to complete the RFP process
  • Select from a variety of easy-to-use, professionally designed event websites. No prior HTML or web design knowledge required.
  • Create and send professional looking emails at every event marketing stage.
  • Upload, manage and segment your email lists.
  • Track open, click-thru rates and produce detailed email reports. You will know on a real-time basis which emails are effective and which ones are not.
  • Add your event to Facebook and increase your event’s social graph by displaying which friends have shared the event.
  • After attendees register for your event, they can click on a link to Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter to share the event with others in their social networks.
  • Listing your event on sites such as ACTIVE and eventful is easy to do. From RegOnline, simply enter your information, upload an image, and get your event listed for free.
  • A plethora of flexible, customizable online registration forms are available – all with very secure payment processing.
  • Manage your event data and measure results with real-time reporting available to you 24/7.
  • Run everything from one easy-to-use system.


Marketing

Registration and Management
Easily manage your event with online registration and attendee management tools.

A simple pricing structure is integrated into your registration fee, with no hidden or add-on costs to your organization.  


ACTIVE RegOnline™ is a quick, easy and affordable event registration system for any type of small to medium sized event. This web-based app has no set up costs, no software to install, and no contracts to sign. RegOnline will get your event up and running in no-time! 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

El Greco and Toledo Spain Have A Lot To Offer Travelers

When most Americans think of Spain, they immediately turn their thoughts toward Madrid or Barcelona. But there is another city of distinction in Spain, called Toledo that was made famous by Spanish Artist, El Greco

This blog will highlight information about El Greco, the region of Toledo and the Spanish celebration that spans from February 18 through December 9, called El Greco 2014

WHO WAS EL GRECO? 
Domenikos Theotokopoulos or "El Greco" as the Spanish called him  (1541-1614) was probably one of the most well-known artists of his time. He was considered a painter of the spirit and because of that he was very influential and set the groundwork for many to follow. He lived during the time of the Spanish Renaissance. 
However only in Toledo, where he received two major commissions, did El Greco meet with the success an artist of his caliber might have expected. It was here where El Greco immortalized one of the most celebrated landscapes in Western art, found a sympathetic circle of intellectual friends and forged a highly profitable career. 
In total, El Greco produced over 600 pieces of art, primarily oil paintings and abstract paintings, in his lifetime and became the icon of the city's identity.  

WHY SHOULD YOU VISIT TOLEDO? 
Toledo is a 90-square mile region in central Spain that sits about 1,800 feet above the Tagus River. Approximately 70 km south of Madrid it is only 30 minutes away via a high-speed train. It is home to approximately 90,000 persons. 

Toledo has several attractions including historic synagogues, mosques and churches -- a testament to the Spanish city's diverse history. The four towers of The Alcazar, a fortress built in 1085, dominate the skyline. 
Toledo and its surrounding countryside inspired El Greco, and his paintings are on display in many places around the city, including the Museo Del Greco

WHAT'S SO SPECIAL ABOUT EL GRECO 2014? 
Because this is the 400-year anniversary of El Greco's death, this city-wide project will be a most special year to celebrate his works. In addition to Toledo, his works will be displayed in over 30 different places in Spain. 

There will be six major exhibitions showing his work starting February 18th and ending December 9th of this year. All will be in Toledo unless otherwise indicated:

Plan your trip to Toledo in 2014 and come and learn more about the legendary El Greco! 

i-Meet.com is the worldwide business community for people who plan meetings and events. With over 111,000 members in 175 countries, i-Meet brings professional networking, online marketing and social tools to create awareness and a voice for the industry. 

I've Been There is a travel history and sharing application for planners and enthusiasts. 


Sunday, April 26, 2015

6 Risk Averse Keys to Choosing a New Audio Visual Partner


Today's meeting budgets often contain audio visual equipment as one of the top expense items. Yet, it is probably the least understood budget item. If you are questioning the long-term arrangement with your current provider, now is the time to spring into action.

Perhaps you are not ready to cut the ties with your existing supplier, but you would like to know if there are better choices available to your organization -- without issuing a formal RFP.
Below are six relatively low-risk ways to determine if moving to another audio visual rental company makes sense for your organization.


Give Them a Small Project.
Ask the company to provide you with the most creative and innovative audio visual solution for a specific event. See what sort of ideas they come up with and how they respond to your requests. You may even want to let them know this is a test as you are looking to eventually move your business to a new AV company.


Ask for In-Kind Services for a Non-Profit Event.
Most event planners are associated with MPI, PCMA, and/or ISES. These organizations conduct monthly meetings and are always looking for innovative ways to show off new technology. Event audio visual rental companies can display and speak about their latest and greatest technology and how it can be used in a meeting. This is a free, no hassle way to become knowledgeable about the company and their equipment.


Ask for the Basics and see how they respond.
Send an email to the company and ask for at least 3 referrals, proof of insurance, certification of their technicians, and anything else you think is pertinent to your business or events. Their response and the completeness of it, will speak volumes to how they will handle your organization's needs, if you decide to move. Nothing is more irritating to a planner than to take the time to inquire about a supplier and have them ignore the request or respond to it weeks later.


Look at their Creative Options.
Sometimes you don't know what you don't know. It is virtually impossible for most meeting planners to keep on top of the latest technology offerings. By explaining your vision through words and drawings, you start to paint a picture of what you want. If you let the AV provider run with it, you may be surprised what they can come up with that still meets your budget criteria.

Often times, events and meetings are stale because they are conducted the same way, year after year, event after event. Having a new vendor that can offer creative approaches is a good way to start. It is always a good sign if the AV Company asks a lot of questions, listens, and responds appropriately. However, be careful from an ethical standpoint. You are not entitled to give their ideas to another vendor. If you like what they are offering, switch vendors or give them a small project to prove their worth.


Choose an Organization that is Internet Savvy.
Providing iPads, laptops, touch screens and computer kiosks is one thing, but making sure they all work well together on the Internet is quite another. An AV provider that understands bandwidth and can boost your event's Wi-Fi network through fast, secure and robust Internet connections is even better. Someone who can speak the language of IT and provide the tech support should quell any concerns you have before and during the conference.


Look at Service Levels: Choose a Provider that has a Stake in Your Success.
What kind of service does the company give you? Are they courteous? Do they go the extra mile? Do they respond quickly to your emails and phone calls? Are they flexible? What about staff turnover?



SmartSource Rentals, is your Total Technology solution provider and has state-of-the-art equipment! Give them a call at 800.888.8686 to start a long term relationship with an AV provider who has been around for more than 30 years!


SmartSource Rentals’ mission is to meet and exceed the expectations of the corporate and professional communities with premium quality, cost-effective, short-term computer and audio visual rental solutions. We serve a wide range of industries and customers from small to large including Fortune 500 companies; financial institutions; leading accounting, legal, and consulting firms; hotels; high tech companies and government agencies. Our customers rely on us for training programs, trade shows, corporate events, temporary project needs, peak-season use for businesses and more.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Why a Digital Doc Library Makes Perfect Sense for Your Next Event

Do you have a hard time getting attendees to stop by your trade show booth? Or give you their card? Or take your marketing collateral?

If the answer is yes to one or more of the above questions, you are not alone.
Long gone are the days where attendees want your materials or tchotchkes. With airline baggage prices being what they are, most attendees desire to arrive with and take home the same amount of luggage. If they want to know more about your offerings, they will check you out on the Internet when they get home.
And what is wrong with this? The reality is by the time they get home, unpack, and go to the office after three to five days out of it; your organization is just a distant, foggy memory to them. Chances are they will have forgotten your name and what you do. You have lost a great opportunity for Top-of-Mind Awareness (TOMA).

What is TOMA and how can your organization obtain it?
Top-of-Mind Awareness (TOMA) is the ability of a brand or specific product to come first in an attendees' mind. In a survey of nearly 200 senior marketing managers, 50% responded that they found the "top of mind" metric very useful when marketing their brand.
How can TOMA be accomplished on the trade show floor? Through an attendee engagement solution called SmartDocs Digital Document Library!
SmartDocs is a document management platform that revolutionizes the way you can capture, manage and share knowledge. Leveraging cloud computing, SmartDocs is a fully integrated solution that helps exhibitors to organize their documents with no fear of data theft because there are multiple security levels.

A Digital Document Library Offers:
·         A central repository for ALL your marketing and sales materials.

·         A turnkey solution available when you arrive on the trade show floor.

·         Real time data updates offered on a secure server.

·         Advanced security features that help in creating a secure, shared online space for employees and attendees.
·         Automatic handling of all document backups.
Documents can be restored from any Wi-Fi connected device in the event of a hardware failure.

·         Data security is available through encryption and decryption of files during transmission and while in storage.
Files are categorized as private or public, read-only or editable and/or downloadable. 

·         A thumbnail preview of the first 4 pages of any document allows exhibitor staff to view the document contents before opening it.

Benefits
·         Significant savings because there is no more printing, shipping and storage of marketing collateral.
Drayage rates alone have increased 488% from 1982 to 2010 according to CEIR, not to mention paper and shipping costs. 

·         Multiple users can access the data from anywhere and at any time, as long as they have clearance and an Internet connection.
If you are at the trade show and have a hot lead, sales personnel back home can be communicating with the prospect even before they leave the conference.

·         Attendees can browse content at their own pace from a touch screen display.
If sales personnel are busy, the attendee can take a self-guided tour of your materials.

·         Email customized marketing collateral to attendee and/or home office.
 Attendee and their team will receive only pertinent documentation that will aid in their decision-making process. 

·         A tracking system for activity and trends.
Sales personnel can see which documents, videos, and presentations were viewed the most, allowing them to tailor their pitch to the next group of attendees.

·         Support of all major lead retrieval systems.
Can most likely utilize whatever system you are familiar with and invested in so there is no learning curve.

·         Deliver content quickly and efficiently by finding documents in seconds versus hours.
Full text indexing allows for instant search of all documents thus saving you time that would have been lost getting back to the attendee after the show.


SmartSource Rentals is the largest Total Technology rental company in the United States with 21 full-service locations. Our company offers a complete range of cost-effective solutions including Digital Document Libraries, Charging Stations, iPad solutions, Video Walls, and much, much more!    


For more information about this offering and others, please contact SmartSource at 800.888.8686 --- we rent technology solutions! 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Technology Trend: Li-Fi Networks

Here is a truism: The more Wi-Fi networks are used, the slower they become.

Why is this true? As you may or may not know, Wi-Fi signals are transmitted via radio waves and often times three things are happening simultaneously:

1)     Complex data (such as video) is clogging up the pipeline

2)     Radio signals are colliding with one another, creating noise and slowing down the signal even further and

3)     If you rent iPads or other mobile devices, these units have weak antennas which mean you need additional access points to make the Wi-Fi system all it can be -- fast, robust and secure. 

Knowing that these problems exist and anticipating more use of Wi-Fi throughout the years, researchers at Fudan University in Shanghai, China may have found a solution that is ten times faster than traditional Wi-Fi. 

Enter Li-Fi.

Here is an overview of how it works: Data is transmitted through LED light equipment rentals. The light bulbs flicker on and off up to billions of times per second to a receiver on an iPad or laptop equipped with a camera that can see the light and decode the flicker into data. 

However, the practical limitation of Li-Fi is your device needs to be within physical sight of the LED lighting. Think of it like a solar calculator, once the lighting is gone so is use of the calculator. If you are transmitting or receiving data and need to walk out of the room, your data transmission stops.  

As Wi-Fi devices become ultra-fast and start using a higher range of radio signals, it is quite possible that the problems of today will be buried in the past. 

According to Christopher Mims, a LinkedIn Influencer and the researchers at Fudan, Li-Fi will probably never replace Wi-Fi. They see it as a supplement to congested Wi-Fi networks. 

In the meantime, your conference or meeting needs fast, reliable and robust Wi-Fi access. SmartSource Rentals have what you need through their offering of a Wi-Fi network array that can boost your bandwidth and keep your data secure. 


SmartSource Rentals’ mission is to meet and exceed the expectations of the corporate and professional communities with premium quality, cost-effective, short-term computer and audio visual rental solutions. We serve a wide range of industries and customers from small to large including Fortune 500 companies; financial institutions; leading accounting, legal, and consulting firms; hotels; high tech companies and government agencies. Our customers rely on us for training programs, trade shows, corporate events, temporary project needs, peak-season use for businesses and more.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Technology Trend: Sound Shower

One of the newest innovations in sound technology is a mono loudspeaker with an amplifier and audio element that delivers high-quality sound in a designated area. The Sound Shower from PanPhonics can be connected directly to a program source (such as a DVD, MP3 player or computer), preamplifier or mixing system.

This Sound Shower rental is ideal when you want to create an “audio footprint” with clearly focused sound. These audio spaces are great in areas where acoustics are difficult to begin with; such as a crowded trade show floor, reception hall or networking function space at a conference or convention. In addition, there is minimal disturbance to the surrounding area because once you leave the footprint, the sound no longer exists.

One of the great benefits of this directional audio system is the volume level will automatically adjust to compensate for ambient noise levels. In other words, when the trade show floor is quiet, the sound level will go down and when it is loud with a lot of background noise, it will go up.

This system is equipped with a USB connection for PowerPoint presentation equipment, a MP3 player, computer kiosk or Plasma display.

The Sound Shower can be hung from the ceiling or on the wall. It is ultra-thin, very lightweight and durable. It does need to be installed by a certified AV Technician for testing and setup purposes.

This system has great applicability in the meetings and events industry. Here are a few of the ways it can be used:

·         At a self-service computer kiosk for registrant check-ins
·         At a charging station where attendees can learn more about your products and services
·         Inside the trade show booth where multiple company representatives may be talking to prospects at the same time
·         When an attendee is in front of a Plasma display conversing remotely with experts at your home office
·         While attendees are waiting to enter the general session

Please contact SmartSource Rentals at 800.888.8686 to learn more about this innovative sound offering!


SmartSource Rentals’ mission is to meet and exceed the expectations of the corporate and professional communities with premium quality, cost-effective, short-term computer and audio visual rental solutions. We serve a wide range of industries and customers from small to large including Fortune 500 companies; financial institutions; leading accounting, legal, and consulting firms; hotels; high tech companies and government agencies. Our customers rely on us for training programs, trade shows, corporate events, temporary project needs, peak-season use for businesses and more.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Why Renting iPads makes Perfect “Cents” for Schools

When does it make sense for your school district to rent iPads? It makes sense probably more often than you think when you take into consideration Total Cost of Computing.
Here are the six things to consider when making this decision, as well as, what to look for when choosing a technology supplier.

TIME

Does your staff have the time to set-up, maintain and properly store the iPads? 

Chances are if you are like most school districts, you are running “lean and mean”. So consider the time it takes to properly set up, monitor and store these devices. Since the iPad screen is made of glass technology, one drop can shatter the screen and make it unusable.

If you rent, all that time is given back to your staff to focus on your core educational and student needs.

SHORT-TERM USE

Do you need this equipment for a day, week or month?

Short-term use, such as the PARCC testing, is a great reason to rent equipment from a local source. In addition, if you need more iPads than originally estimated, a local company can provide you with last minute equipment.

TOTAL COST OF OWNERSHIP

·         With a purchase arrangement you need to consider the outlay of the investment to purchase the equipment PLUS the storage, supplies and insurance on said equipment.

·         What do you do if your equipment is damaged or stolen?

·         Do you have a location within your company where you can safely secure this equipment? Who is going to monitor this?

·         Who will make certain the devices are fully charged before and during testing?

·         Who and how will the devices be configured?

·         When you retire the iPads, who will resell them?
All of these items listed above PLUS time dedicated by staff need to be considered.

EQUIPMENT FAILURE

What do you do if the equipment fails?

If you own the iPads, you will need to have backup systems, which requires more outlay of funds that are not going toward other educational needs.

KEEPING UP WITH TECHNOLOGICAL DEMANDS

Every 18-36 months a new iPad comes out that is an improvement over the previous generation.

Does your school district have the cash flow to continuously upgrade your equipment if the software demands it?

DEPRECIATION AND TAX BENEFITS

Ownership does lend itself to these benefits, but if you depreciate over 3-5 years the equipment will need to stay within your school district for that period of time.

Here are the Benefits of Renting:

·         MAXIMUM FLEXIBILITY: You will receive the right customized equipment to meet your specifications, including the latest and greatest equipment options.

·         GREATER EFFICIENCY: You don’t have to be an iPad guru. Because technicians set up, monitor and pack up iPads several times a week, they are very well versed in this best process to handle them.

·         LOW BUDGET LOAD: You don’t have to consider the outlay of cash, finance rates or the prospect of reselling old iPads. All you have to do is pick up the phone and place your rental order.

·         GREAT TECHNICAL SUPPORT: 24/7 telephone tech support to diagnose the problem and if all else fails, provide a back-up system within one business day.

·         QUALITY TESTED, MAINTAINED and MONITORED EQUIPMENT

·         CERTIFIED TECHNICIANS DELIVER, INSTALL, MONITOR and TAKE DOWN EQUIPMENT

·         NO NEED TO KEEP UP WITH TECHNOLOGICAL DEMANDS: Since technology rental companies are working with school officials all the time and monitoring the students’ and educators’ needs, it is easy for them to see what school districts need. In addition, the right AV Company will want to remain competitive so they will make the technology investments that make sense.
 

Now that you have decided to rent, how do you go about choosing the right company for PARCC testing?

Do you base the decision on price, value, service, experience, and/or the equipment they carry?

During the last few years, a plethora of new technology rental companies have hit the market, intended to improve the student experience. But with all these choices coupled with the decision criteria above, what company is best equipped to provide you with the right solution when renting iPads?

Here is a 7-point checklist to help you sort out the various rental companies that offer iPads and choose the right one for PARCC testing:

Look at the Stability of the Company.
Ideally, you want to work with a company that has been in business for at least 3 years. Here are some other items to consider:
·         An Expansive Customer List
·         The Number of Employees and their roles and responsibilities
·         The Annual Revenue and
·         The Longevity of the Leadership Team

Vet Them.
Make sure you choose a technology rental company that has a proven track record in providing the type of equipment and services you need. Check out the following:
·         Take a Tour of the Facility
·         Talk to the C-Level Executives
·         Ask for References and call them
·         Look at Testimonials on their Website or other Social Channels

Single Source AV Provider.
Give the business a complete listing of your needs and see if they have the inventory to match them. Find out who they will subcontract with if they cannot meet all your equipment needs and vet the subcontractor too. Regardless of the source of equipment, make certain the company you contract with will manage and be responsible for any questions or issues that arise during the rental period.

Look at the Total Support Package.
·         How fast do they return your calls and emails?
·         Do they resolve client issues quickly and completely?
·         Do they provide project management services?
Their website should contain best practices, blogs, and case studies, as well as, other information about the organization.

On-site Security System Protocol. 
When you rent iPads, it is important that the rental firm have a method to keep track of their equipment and ensure the network is secure for students to access ONLY the applications they are authorized to do so.

SmartSource Rentals will…
·         Help you determine the optimal number of units needed and make certain they conform to PARCC standards

·         Configure each unit with secure Wi-Fi access and software lockdown

·         Provide onsite backup units

·         Guarantee replacement of bad units within one business day

·         Provide charging stations and secure storage (for an additional fee)

SmartSource Rentals is the largest Total Technology Solutions provider in the United States with 21 locations to serve you and have been in business for 29 years! We can meet all 7 criteria and are most interested in earning your school district’s business. Give us a call at 800-888-8686 to learn more about how we can help you be prepared for PARCC testing in 2014!