Thursday, December 29, 2016

8 Great Items to Have on Your Peer Review Checklist



Many times even planners have very short notice to plan a peer review. This is where a lot of details can be lost and budgets can experience cost overruns.

In order to avoid this problem, I have put together a peer review checklist to ensure your event goes off without a hitch while keeping your costs in check.

Peer Review Checklist


How many panelists are there and how much space does each person need?


Is the reviewer going to take all their notes from the computer rental? Do they need space for a notebook or paper? Will they have other devices on the table?

Knowing the total number of people and individual space requirements will help you move to the next step.

Where will the peer review be held?


Due to the nature of subject matter being reviewed, it often times make sense to hold the review at a neutral, low key setting such as a hotel or conference center.

Have you scheduled site visits and invited your key suppliers?


Once you have 2-3 locations selected, schedule a site visit and meet with the general manager, sales associate and banquet captain. Go over the logistics of the day and the room setup.  Invite your technology provider and any other suppliers that make sense to come along. They can ask questions you may not have thought of to pursue with your vendor contacts.

Are you going to be connected to remote reviewers?

Often the peer view discussion is not held just with the individuals around the table; it may involve individuals from other time zones and countries. If you will have remote attendees, you will need to discuss whether they will participate via teleconference or video conferencing. If it is the latter, you will need to work with the venue and IT supplier staff to ensure you have enough bandwidth.

Do you need a dedicated WiFi network or is the venue’s WiFi good enough?


Sometimes, due to the sensitivity of the subject matter being reviewed or the need for dedicated, high speed WiFi, a WiFi hotspot rental makes perfect sense. Know the needs of your attendees and if in doubt, go for the dedicated service.

Do your reviewers have a lot of data to review?


If this is the case, you can load most of the data on a server rental which allows for high speed data access and has built-in redundancies to ensure the data is always available.

What computer equipment and audio visual rentals do you need?


As you look to set up your review, you will need to do an equipment assessment. Will reviewers be bringing their own devices? Do you wish to standardize on
computer rentals? The latter makes the most sense from a simplicity and duplicity standpoint. You won’t have to worry about equipment being incompatible or possibly breaking down.


Have you budgeted for onsite technical support?


Having onsite assistance at your meeting can be critical to its success. Whether it is swapping out a computer rental or troubleshooting device problems, having someone in the room or just a few feet away is added insurance everything will go according to plan.

How Hartford Technology Rental Can Help


If you are planning a peer review and need help determining the best technology rentals, we can help! We have 10+ years’ experience planning and executing peer reviews for organizations including the National Science Foundation, US Department of Education and the US Army.  Give Hartford Technology Rental a call today! 




Tuesday, December 27, 2016

10 Terrific Tips to Plan Better Association Meetings



Unlike corporations where meeting attendance is mandatory, association planners need to entice and pull attendees into their conference. Due to regional limitations, budget constraints and members trying to deal with more work in less time, selling your conference may not be a walk in the park.

In fact, research says, on average, only 33% of members attend their association’s convention or conference.

The good news: Association members want to learn something new and network more with their peers. The challenging news: The conference needs to be great in order to justify their time away from the office.

10 Tips to a Terrific Event


1.      Start with Your Event Goals.

What are you trying to accomplish? How will you measure success? It is best to get your attendees, exhibitors and sponsors involved in this process by making their goals, your goals. Poll them often.

2.      Crowdsource Content.

Find out what your attendees want to learn about and who they want to hear from. Once you have the content framed, ask association members to vote on it.

3.      Leave Open Time.

According to
MPI, association meeting goers want unstructured time at their conferences for two reasons: 1) They want to network more and desire small meeting areas throughout the convention center or hotel to talk and 2) They need a few hours every day to manage the work back at the home office.

4.      Let Them Outside.

The Boston Convention Center is onto something; they are creating large outdoor meeting spaces to conduct learning. I see this as a trend in the industry throughout the next few years. Along this line, give attendees boxed lunches or use food trucks and let them go catch some rays and enjoy the fresh air during the lunch period.

5.      Add an Element of Surprise.

Yes, it is important cover all the content in the agenda guidelines, but add mystery to your event as well. Have a small gift basket placed in attendees’ room upon arrival. Schedule a celebrity at the closing dinner. Take them behind the scenes to a local attraction.
Rent iPads instead of having them carry bulky conference binders.

6.      Mix Up Presentation Styles and Times.

Have panel, lecture, facilitation and audience-run sessions. Mix up the time slots – make presentations 18-minutes (TED), 6 minutes and 20 seconds (Pecha Kucha) or 5 minutes (Ignite). Keep your attendees guessing until they are in the meeting room.

7.      Implement Gamification.

Attendees love to learn through games, and this is one way to cleverly weave your association and sponsor messages into the content. Segmenting teams and creating a fun, competitive environment is the way to create buzz and fun at your event.

8.      Move through Mobile.

Whether you rent iPads,
rent tablets or have attendees use BYODs, communicate with them through social channels, texting and email. Real-time options lead to real-time fixes from “the room being too cold” to “I can’t hear the speaker”.

In addition, if your association meeting is very large, mobile devices act as second screens allowing attendees to see and hear the speaker even if they are located at the furthest point in the room.

9.      Remember the Family.

Many association members could be sold on a conference if they can bring their family with them. Activities can be planned while the attendee is in the conference or the family can join them before or after your event.

10.  Have Fun!

Even though your association may have serious issues and challenges to solve, make it a point to implement laughter into your conference every day through entertaining speakers, impromptu activities and icebreakers.

About Hartford Technology Rental


Not sure what audio visual and computer equipment is right for your next association meeting?  Give Hartford Technology Rental a call at 888-520-5667 to have a conversation with one of our experienced Account Executives. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Many Benefits of Working with a GSA Approved Contractor



Whether you are a government meeting planner or just need to rent a laptop or two, working with an approved vendor will make a big difference in the speed and efficiency you receive your technology.

This blog post will focus on what a GSA Contractor is, the benefits of using one and how Hartford Technology Rental can help.

What is a General Service Administration (GSA) Contract?


The GSA contract approval process was created to provide a streamlined, efficient method for federal agencies to rent the computer and AV equipment they need on a short-term basis.

The purpose is threefold:

1.      Reduce the time, cost and bureaucracy in renting equipment

2.      Ensure the lowest possible price is obtained and

3.      To verify contractors are qualified to rent to the federal government.
This process ensures you, as a federal employee and planner, that the GSA-negotiated prices are from GSA-approved sources.

 

What are typical GSA Rental Scenarios?


Short-term rental needs usually span one day to several weeks. Three examples are:

·       Computer rentals for seasonal and contract workers.
It probably does not make sense to purchase this type of equipment if your workforce needs vary from month-to-month or year-to-year. In addition, as technology improves and changes, renting gives you more flexibility and options.

·       Special events and meetings.
One to four day
event rentals can include audio visual rentals and computers. The burden of ownership and maintenance of this equipment is taken away from you because the equipment is used so infrequently.

·       Your equipment is being serviced or you want to “try before you buy”.
Equipment does go down and you do have to eventually retire old technology. If you wish to rent a laptop or
rent an iPad before you buy one, this is the perfect opportunity to do so.

Benefits of Renting with a GSA Approved Contractor


Besides time and price, there are other benefits of working with an approved contractor. Here are just a few:

·       The ability to provide computer rental and laptop rental services to any federal government agency. Hartford Technology Rental delivers rentals on-time, every time.

·       You are ensured competitive rates and quality services as a way can save money on computers and audio visual rentals.

·       Before the GSA approves a supplier, they must prove they offer a large selection of computer and audio visual rental equipment.

·       Free maintenance and technical support are available for the entire time you are renting the equipment.

Benefits of Renting from Hartford Technology Rental



Hartford Technology Rental is a veteran-owned small business that has GSA contract approval. We offer 24/7 technical support, experienced account executives and a large inventory of computer and AV equipment. Give us a call at 888.520.5667 or look us up on the GSA Advantage website. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

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



Free 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 Businessover one terabyte of data is stolen every dayover 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 (844) 428-6475!  

Friday, November 18, 2016

8 Great Ways Event Planners can Sharpen Their Social Media Skills


Is Social Media a Double-Edged Sword?
The short answer is yes; the long answer is, it doesn’t have to be.

By now, it shouldn’t be any surprise to you that attendees, exhibitors and sponsors are using social media at your conference whether you are involved in the process or not. And while the aspect of monitoring and commenting on a variety of social channels is scary to many planners, it doesn’t have to be. The truth of the matter is, with proper planning and execution, you can use social as a real-time communication tool.

Below are eight ways to stay ahead of the curve.

Before Your Meeting


Set-Up a Social Monitoring Team


These individuals ideally have the following skills:

·       Are very knowledgeable about all social channels
·       Know social media best practices and
·       Have a grasp on the fundamentals of public relations and crisis management.

These folks need to be involved in the planning and execution of your meeting. Ideally, they will be onsite during the actual event.

Before and During Your Meeting

Figure Out Your Response Metric


Whether it is before, during or after your conference, your team needs to determine what your response time will be on questions, concerns or complaints. Most individuals expect some sort of response within an hour of posting.

Whatever your metric, meet or exceed the response time parameters.

Determine who will Post and Have Admin Rights

In addition to your social team, you may wish to grant admin rights to senior management. Once you start posting, it is important to have a mixture of voices on the channels including your management, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors. Encourage them to like, share and comment on content. This starts the ball rolling early and builds buzz about your event.

Establish a Content Calendar

 Once you have your team together, set up a schedule of who will be posting content. I would encourage you to garner guest blog postings from your speakers and executive team. Gain buy-in that the team will share postings on their own networks to increase virality of the post.

Set Up Your Hashtags and Use Them Often

This is one of the great debates in the social world – the over/under utilization of hashtags. My belief is you need them because they affect SEO and help with search. Use three or less on each post with one hashtag always being your event hashtag.

Once you set the stage for use, others will follow.

Engage Your Audience


Before and during your conference, continue to engage your attendees. Here are some ways to do so:

·       Ask attendees questions about your conference, venue or destination.
It could be as simple as “Caption This”, “Who is this person?” or “Why are you coming to the conference?”
·       Share your presenter’s YouTube videos and articles.
·       Ask for feedback about the conference.

Whether attendees are using their own devices or an iPad rental or tablet rental, it is important to continue to ask and monitor your stakeholders’ comments.

After the Meeting

Keep Your Hashtag Alive


Continue to post information utilizing this hashtag about your next event, soliciting feedback about improvements and crowdsource content.

Post Your Event Content Online


Share presenters’ slides and video clips, put your event photos on social and continue to ask questions and keep your channels going.

Source: Managing the Digital Dialog, SuccesfulMeetings.com

How Hartford Technology Rental can help



Hartford Technology Rental is a national supplier of audio visual rentals and computer rentals, including a full line of Apple rentals. Give us a call today at 888.520. 5667 to learn more about the ways we can help you! 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Puerto Rico: Tropical Paradise with Plenty of Meeting Options

The beaches of Puerto Rico



Are you planning a meeting in Puerto Rico? If you have not considered this Caribbean island before, below are some very interesting facts about this US territory, as well as, the highlights you should know about three large meeting spaces in Puerto Rico.

Meeting Planner Highlights


Interesting insights into Puerto Rico:
  • It is an easy flight from all US hubs: 2 hours from Miami and 4 hours from New York
  • No passport is required for travel for US citizens, so meetings can be planned in a shorter cycle
  • Currency is the US Dollar
  • Official languages are both English and Spanish
  • Meetings and conventions comprise of 33% of their tourism revenue
  • Total conference space is more than 1.3 million square feet
  • 14,000+ hotel rooms with approximately 2,200 rooms are located 1 mile from the convention center
  • 272 miles of beaches
  • Weather in Puerto Rico ranges in the high 60’s to the high 80’s all year around
  • Outdoor activities include snorkeling, kayaking, hiking the El Yunque Rainforest and golf
  • 70% of the rum imported into the US is manufactured here

Puerto Rico Hotels with Large Meeting Spaces


Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino


This hotel was built in 2009 and is 8.5 miles from the airport and adjacent to the Puerto Rico Convention Center. It offers approximately 100,000 square feet of meeting space; it hosts 40 rooms with the largest space being about 16,300 square feet in size. In addition, this property has a 57,000 square foot outdoor space that is four stories high, which can be used for receptions and fun activities.
With 503 sleeping rooms and a casino, this AAA 4-Star property has a lot to offer any group!

 

The Condado Plaza Hilton


This hotel was built in 1963 and renovated in 2008. It is 7 miles from the airport and overlooks both the Atlantic Ocean and Condado Lagoon. With 40,000 square feet of meeting space and 571 sleeping rooms, this venue is a great chose for groups that want beach and ocean access. The largest meeting space is 16,350 square feet.
This facility has an AAA 3-Star rating and received Trip Advisors Travelers’ Choice Award in 2012.

 

La Concha A Renaissance Resort


Built in 2007 and 5 miles from the airport, this resort offers stunning views of Condado Beach. With 30,000 square feet of meeting space, 483 sleeping rooms and access to many local activities, this hotel offers a lot of amenities. The largest space is 8,500 square feet.
This venue has an AAA 4-Star Rating and has a casino, fitness center and spa onsite.

 

How Meet Puerto Rico Can Help


When planning a meeting in Puerto Rico, call the friendly staff at Meet Puerto Rico at (787) 725-2110 to help you with all your logistical needs!

 

About the Author

De-de Mulligan is a professional blogger and yearns to travel back to Puerto Rico. Please follow her on Google+ for her portfolio of blog posts about meeting and event trends and technology. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Look to Leasing as a Flexible Alternative for Your Computing Needs

When expanding technology needs, often times an organization will consider one of two options: 1) Rent a laptop or computer or 2) Purchase it.  

However, there is another alternative: leasing.

With computing power doubling every 12-24 months, leasing has many advantages over purchasing and can be less expensive than renting, especially if you fall into that 1-2 year timeline on equipment needs.

Let’s take a deeper look into leasing and five of its advantages.

Leasing Frees Up Organizational Cash Flow
 

Let’s face it; if you are not in the computer business, you have a finite amount of capital monies set aside to improve and allow your business to remain competitive.

If you purchase computers, that cash is gone and the equipment that is key to your business’ future has now been pushed out another year.

In addition, since leasing is a set amount of money each month, there is no big down payment required. You can anticipate your budgetary needs over the time of the lease.

No Worries about Maintenance and Repairs


When your computer goes down, you can count on your vendor to provide you with computer maintenance services along with 24/7 technical support to troubleshoot any problems you may encounter.

Unless you have a large IT service staff, allocating the time and effort to fix and swap out computers at your company can be a real headache and time burner.

Upgrade Options Abound


You might be in the middle of your lease and a better product comes along to replace or enhance the equipment you have. With a purchase, you are stuck unless you decide to sell the equipment yourself. With a lease you can have an “upgrade” clause instituted into your contract that states for x dollars more per month you can swap out your existing option and move to the latest equipment available.

Tax Benefits are Available


While it is true that purchasing equipment gives you a deduction on your taxes for depreciation, leasing also has tax benefits because the lease payments can be treated as a business expense.

Sensitive Data is secured


When you swap out old equipment for new or decide to return the leased equipment, you can be certain of two things: 1) The transfer to the new equipment will be secure and all your data will transfer easily and 2) Once your old equipment is retired, your hard drive is wiped clean of any sensitive or secure data from your organization.


How Hartford Technology Rental can help
 


We can offer you flexible options for upgrades and improved service levels with pre-configurations and 24/7 support! We will work within your needs and budget to find the best computing solution for you. Give us a call at 888.520.5667 to speak with an experienced representative today! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Event Technologies to Keep Your Eye On – Now and in the Future

What will the future hold for event technology? 

For the first time in the history of the world, technology will move faster than we can adapt to it. And the proliferation of devices is going to continue to explode.

So what is available now and how can you position yourself to best serve your organization and your event shareholders?

Let’s take a lot at what is here, what is coming and how to best prepare for the future.


What is Here Today


Mobile Devices


I have been writing about iPad and tablet use for a long time and there are many advantages to renting them for your next event. iPads, in particular, are highly accepted and support a wide range of apps.

However, one of the new uses of mobile technology is second screens.
What impact will this have on a meeting? I believe there will less emphasis on large screen rentals because individuals will be able to view and interact the speaker right from their device.

 

Charging Stations


Right now, you can rent a charging station for you meeting or trade show and attendees will flock to it during breaks, lunch hours and trade show time. 10 minutes of charging can get them back on their digital feet.

Many creative exhibitors are adding comfortable chairs and/or networking icebreakers in order to encourage attendees who may not know each other to get acquainted.

 

Bandwidth Boosters


Venues have a limited amount of access points, dedicated bandwidth and raw bandwidth to support any conference or major convention. Today, there are Wi-Fi boosters available to rent that can allow event managers to move packets of data through the network faster, more reliably and in a secure environment.

Wearable Devices

Disney has MagicBands to allow park visitors a personalized their experience at the Park. This allows visitors to experience less waiting, touch to pay for food and merchandise, and get into their hotel room without a key.

Nike has fitness bands to track you activity levels. Smartwatches have smartphone capabilities. Google Glass can help you record photos, videos and run apps.  

 

4K, 3D Smart TVs


You can rent a “glasses free” 4K, 3D TV that can make your visuals really pop because the resolution is 4 times a standard HDTV. The biggest drawback with Smart TVs today is the lack of robust applications available and the fact they need really fast, direct connect broadband to avoid buffering.

However, this is coming and if this technology can work for you, rent the 4K solution! Attendees will be really impressed with the visuals.

What is Coming Tomorrow


Mobile Devices Will Handle Everything


From the event check-in to room key, to the entire conference and evening activities, planned and booked from your mobile devices, users will no longer need to browse back and forth between apps. You will be able to pay for everything from your phone.

Your mobile device will know who you are, where you are and what needs to happen next based on Big Data trending tools that will become faster and smarter in the future.

 

Faster and Better Wi-Fi Alternatives


Given the estimation that 212 Billion (with a B) will be connected to the Internet by 2020 and the amount of IP traffic is expected to double in the next 2 years, bandwidth will have to become faster.

Google Fiber is in beta test, Singapore scientists are testing Li-Fi which is light emitting Wi-Fi. MiFi will become faster and more secure. Whichever the option, the claim from the researchers is it will be 20-100 times faster than our standard Wi-Fi connections.

Something will pop soon I am sure of it; how this shakes out is yet to be determined.  

 

Better and More Wearable Devices


I think it is possible to see wearable devices go on steroids in the next few years. They could be integrated in your clothing and jewelry – not even to be detected by the human eye. In addition, these devices will continue to collect your data through tracking the movements of your day and suggest options about what to do next.

Mobile charging units for smartphones are being tested right now on a wrist wearable device.
The possibilities are endless!

 

Sharper Resolution Smarter TVs


Without a doubt, we will see 8K or beyond resolution with 3D imaging that will blast multiple video apps streaming at 100+ M/bps second to the trade show floor.

What Should You Do Now?


Here are three things I would recommend you implement today so your organization is in position to take advantage of today’s technology and poised for the future:

1.      Take an inventory of the way you do things now. Can new technology and apps help your organization save time and money? Communicate better with your attendees? Attract a new segment of members? If the answer is yes, adapt it now.

2.      Rent instead of own. With new technology come on board every 12-18 months, owning equipment for a few trade shows and conventions every year doesn’t make a lot of sense.

3.      Keep up with new offerings. Ask for advice and recommendations from your supplier, industry organizations and your peers. See what others are doing and act accordingly.


This post was written exclusively for Social Tables by De-de Mulligan. De-de has been an active blogger since 2009 and writes meeting and event related pieces for a variety of organizations. She has been published in Social Media TodayTech PatioEvvnt, MPI Ohio’s DEFINE magazine, Crain’s Cleveland Business and Crain’s New York Business.