Thursday, February 14, 2013

We all go through the same predicament when it comes to gift giving at events. Here are some we don't mind receiving!

Power Banks

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Gifts that Guests will Actually Use

We all go through the same predicament when it comes to gift giving at events. Here are some we don't mind receiving! Power Banks ...

When it comes to event furniture rental, clients usually think of canopies, fans, plastic chairs and round tables with covers. However, it can be much, much more! 

Before you go doubting the importance of exhibit furniture in the overall scheme of things, I’ll impart the old adage about design: “Form follows function.” But to that I’ll add my usual exhibit-industry amendment, “… and function follows goals.” Think about the environment that needs to be established. For example, an event geared toward conducting business meetings might feature furnishings similar to those swanky options found in a corporate boardroom. Conversely, if the goal is to stimulate casual conversation among attendees and staffers, laid-back furnishings such as overstuffed loveseats and plush arm chairs paired with low tables will do the trick. And when a no-frills training environment is on the docket, classroom-style furniture such as long wooden tables and rolling desk chairs fit the bill. If a brief presentation or product demonstration is on the exhibiting agenda, consider using a “bum bar” against which attendees can lean rather than rows of chairs. Less strategic uses include employing furniture to create a certain aesthetic, reinforce a brand’s attributes or image, support a marketing theme — or sometimes just fill up empty space. 

Whatever the reason, exhibit furniture is often a necessity, and it likely needs to exist in some form at your next event. But before you purchase custom pieces, bone up on the types of rentals available and the benefits associated with each. You might find that renting your furnishings makes a lot more fiscal and logistical sense in the long run.

Reasons to Rent

One of the most obvious benefits of renting versus purchasing furniture is that renting doesn’t have any initial upfront costs. That fact could turn furniture into a capital-equipment budget item compared to a per-show expensed item, depending on the amount of furniture needed and your company’s policy on purchasing assets. Rental furniture doesn’t have to be stored in a corporate warehouse or exhibit house, which eliminates warehouse handling and storage fees, and negates the need for expensive custom crates in which to store or ship the items. 

What’s more, renting on event site from the event company or the official furnishings contractor negates the separate transportation and material-handling expenses typically associated with shipping heavy furniture. (Buyer beware, this cost is sometimes buried in the bottom-line rental pricing.) Plus, so-called “special-handling” surcharges that usually occur when blanket-wrapped furniture is mixed in with other crated and palletized exhibit components are non-existent. 

In addition to zero storage and shipping costs, rental furniture is also essentially maintenance free. When you rent furniture at each event, you don’t have to worry about maintaining, refurbishing, or cleaning the items. And on the off chance that rental furnishings arrive at your event damaged, simply report it to the vendor, and it will likely grant a no-cost replacement before the event starts.

When it comes to flexibility, rental is king. Different looks can be easily created to suit your event theme and needs. From modern, sleek metal furnishings to colourful, curvaceous plastics and more conservative wood pieces, the possibilities are endless. Even if the same primary pieces are rented for every event, things can be kept fresh by simply adding a new chair, side table, decorative accessory or lighting.

Standard Rental Furnishings

There are two primary rental-furniture options most commonly found in exhibits: standard and custom. To decide which route to take, answer the following question: Are you simply looking for utility, or are you in search of utility plus eye candy? If you just want a piece of furniture to serve its basic function, standard furnishings are likely going to meet your needs. But if you want a little something extra to establish a theme, step up to custom rental furnishings. 

Standard rental furniture is the most basic exhibit furniture and is generally rented by the event company. These standard furnishing are utilitarian in nature and are known for their ability to be stacked and moved without being damaged. In short, the term “stylish” doesn’t usually come to mind when you see them. This no-frills category of rental furniture typically includes round and square tables on pedestal bases with matching stackable chairs (with or without arms), basic stools, square and round display pedestals, lecterns, computer kiosks, and folding tables. 

If you need to rent the standard draped rectangular tables, they generally come in lengths of 4, 6, and 8 feet, all measuring 2-feet wide, and in standard 30-inch table-height and 42-inch counter-height options. These fold-up tables are typically provided with thin white plastic stapled to the top and a pleated polyester fabric available in a variety of colors stapled to three-and-a-half sides. These tables are multipurpose in that they provide a display area or writing surface on top and storage underneath, which is concealed by the fabric skirt.

Other more unusual items on the standard rental-furnishings order form are product-display cases or showcases with differing amounts of glass and shelving, extra pipe and drape, pegboard and accessories, whiteboards and bulletin boards, plasma screens, various sizes and heights of hanging garment or bag racks, literature racks, coat trees, easels, wastebaskets, and even mini refrigerators. 

Note that if you’re renting furnishings through the event company, there will generally be pricing options listed on the order form or in their quote to you, with discounts available for placing an order in bulk or for long periods of time.

Custom Rental Furnishings

Custom rental furniture is generally more than just functional; it also looks good. Think of the couches, chairs, and tables found in a corporate apartment or airport frequent-flyer club. These types of pieces can be rented from some event companies, or from official subcontractors if the event company doesn’t stock the particular pieces you want ,or from outside vendors. Furnishings that fall into this category include plush sofas and loveseats in faux leather or luxe fabric, easy chairs, benches with concealed storage, upscale wood or glass end tables and coffee tables, wood or metal tables with glass tops, director chairs or stools, table and floor lamps, and office furnishings such as wood desks, rolling desk chairs, credenzas, file cabinets, and even bookshelves. 

Remember that there will usually be ancillary charges for renting “outside the event company box,” which may include delivery charges for transportation and labor, wait time to unload and reload, and separate per-pound material-handling fees. Some rental companies also require that you either provide an insurance policy covering the rental furnishings or place a security deposit that would cover replacement costs should the properties not be returned in the same condition as they were rented. 

Regardless of the type or style of exhibit furnishings you ultimately decide on, there are rental options available to save you from schlepping in a boring card table and flimsy folding chairs. After all, your event — and its furniture — will speak volumes about your company and leave an impression on guests. Make sure the message is a positive one.

-Candy Adams, adapted by Best Events

Event Furniture- Why Rental Makes Sense

When it comes to event furniture rental, clients usually think of canopies, fans, plastic chairs and round tables with covers. Howev...

Sometimes event hosts are so busy making sure that everything runs smoothly that they forget some of the basic questions that their guests might ask their staff or event team. To ensure that guests are given the right information and not led astray or left frustrated, here are some basic questions to prepare for.

1. Where's the bathroom?
We probably don't have to tell you why this one's important. If there are multiple restroom locations, the staff should also be able to provide details on the nearest, or the largest, or which is disabled-accessible, among other details.

2. What's the Wi-Fi code?
It isn't just a matter of convenience; it's also about an event's potential to go viral. Give every staff member the name of the Wi-Fi network and log-in info so that guests can check their email, sure, but also post the photos and tweets that give the event life outside its physical walls. (Here's what you should know when setting up Wi-Fi.)

"I produce events for digital marketers, so there's an expectation that we always have Wi-Fi available at our events, but I think it applies to nearly any event regardless of who your audience is," says BtoB magazine marketing and events director Michele Langer. "People need to stay connected to their daily workflow if they're going to take the time to attend your event. At the same time, giving them a connection also fires up attendee engagement on site if you're offering social media integrations and interaction with other attendees as part of the program."

3. What's the event's hashtag?
See above. If you want your event to go viral, you need to make it easy for people to follow the conversation on social media channels.

4. What's in the food?
People might want the info for their Instagram captions, but more importantly, they might need to know what's in a dish for their allergies (say, to shellfish or gluten) or dietary restrictions (for instance, vegetarian or kosher). Make sure staff members passing the trays and manning the stations know the ingredients in the foods they're serving.

5. What do you do with leftover food?
Similarly, many guests—a number that increases daily—have environmental and philanthropic concerns regarding the food served at events. Make sure staffers know the fate of the leftovers, especially if you've got a great plan to distribute the food to folks in need.

"Laws vary from city to city, but frequently we will make inquiries as to whether or not it may be feasible to donate leftover food to a local food bank or homeless shelter, and we like to try to do that if possible," says HBO vice president of special events Cindy Tenner. "Sadly, most times the food must be discarded due to health and safety codes." If guests understand why food can't be donated, they'll be more understanding—so give the staff that info, too.

6. Is there some place I can charge my phone?
If you're offering charging stations, great. Make sure staff members know where to direct guests to find the outlets. If not, the staff should know that, too, in order to avoid any disruptions to the event's power needs. For instance, the answer should be: "Definitely not at the lighting console," says Kinetic Lighting's Rachel Miller.

7. Who's the host?
If the venue is splashed with logos galore, the answer might be obvious. But it can certainly also be ambiguous as to who is hosting the event, particularly if there are multiple entities or title sponsors that could confuse the matter. Even if someone's chief role is to guard the door, that person should be prepared to tell guests who's shelling out the cash for the event and also the fundamental messaging behind it.

"It's crucial my production staff and vendors all know who the client is," says Alexandra Rembac-Goldberg of Sterling Engagements. "Not only do I make a point for them to know the host but also their team. At any given moment you never know who will be in need or will ask a question."

8. Is there a medic?
Larger events are likely to have a medic stationed on site, and all staff people should know that medical professional's location in order to get help fast. If people don't know how to access the help, what's the point of hiring a medic?

9. What time does X, Y, or Z happen?
Guests have tight schedules, and they may be hoping to get the most out of the event with as little time invested on site as possible. Make it easy for them to grab the important message and dash if necessary by arming all staff members with a basic run of show they can share to answer questions like "What time does the speaker come on?" or "How long does this session run?"

10. What vendor or sponsor did this or that?
It's nice to give a shout-out to your loyal vendors—what comes around goes around, and it's an industry based on relationships, after all. So give staffers the information they need to advise guests if they love the decor, flowers, lighting, food, or something else. And of course, sponsors will feel validated—and likely to return—if guests know exactly the sponsor's role in their comfort or enjoyment at the event.

11. Where can I smoke?
"Occasionally we host events that may include outdoor space, and if the host city's fire marshal allows, we may have a smoking section," says HBO's Tenner. And yes, even in cities like Los Angeles, people still ask where they can light up. So all staffers should be prepared to direct them to the designated outdoor area—or know if there simply isn't one.

-Alesandra Dubin | Posted January 31, 2013, 7:30 AM EST

Answers your Event Team Should Know

Sometimes event hosts are so busy making sure that everything runs smoothly that they forget some of the basic questions that their gue...

Earlier this month, the Ravens beat the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII. And terrifyingly for event professionals watching the game, the New Orleans Superdome lost power for 34 minutes after Beyoncé's halftime show. How do you prevent that nightmare scenario from happening to you? Here are eight tips from lighting and power pros that will give you the best tools possible for avoiding blackouts.

1. Plan for redundancy.
This is the key. Yes, it adds to the budget, but last night's blackout was a major reminder of the importance of building in total redundancy when the stakes are high. Pay for generators, and make sure they're set up and ready to go for any contingency.

"My first preference is using redundant backup generators, two generators that run simultaneously, sharing the load. If one fails, the other takes on its load. This allows for zero dark or downtime," says Images by Lighting's Ray Thompson. "The second scenario is a standard generator with a backup. In order to minimize the downtime, request a transfer switch. Instead of physically moving cables from one generator to the next, it's just a matter of throwing a switch that transfers the load to the backup. This can save minutes, which seem like hours when you are in the dark."

2. Know how much of a venue's total power is usable. 
You may be working in a massive venue that you know has major power on site—like a football stadium. But you might not be able to use all of it, unless you plan ahead. "Some power at those venues can be in a higher voltage," says SMS Generators general manager Daniel Wachs. "Make it usable by renting a transformer to reduce the voltage on site, for instance. That's easily done as long as there's a little bit of planning."

3. Just because you can plug it in doesn't mean you can power it.
If you overload the wall and add a bunch of power strips, you risk tripping the breakers and shutting everything down. "Sometimes planners think that as long as they can get their plugs in the wall, or into the power strip, they'll be OK," Wachs says. "But stuff can take more power than you think."

4. Plan for more power than you need.
Wachs says his team at SMS Generators always plans for 20 percent more power than is actually needed to create "a nice buffer zone" and steer far clear of catastrophe.

5. Defer to an expert.
Especially when the stakes are high, have an expert on site dedicated to understanding the event's power needs and availability. "When doing a site survey, try to include your power vendor in the conversation," Wachs says.

6. Bring a backup lighting board.
As well as for backup power, budget for a backup lighting board. "So many events are controlled by conventional as well as intelligent lighting boards," Thompson says. "If the board fails, the lighting system quite often shuts down."

7. Don't get blinded by the event's more glamorous details.
Sure, the Super Bowl is among the highest-profile events of the year. But like any event, it required attention to decidedly unglamorous details, like power. "Don't go for the fancy platters and plates and forget something important like bathrooms or power," Wachs says. "With a little bit of forethought and budgeting ahead of time, you can avoid some major event disasters."

8. Hedge your bets. 
OK, let's say you do lose some house power, and the majority of the event is running off of one generator. With some little aesthetic tricks, your guests can still be comfortable. "I recommend putting something like the pin spots or some of the area lighting on house power," Thompson says. "In the event the generator failed, your guests would have light to eat or safely exit."

-Alesandra Dubin | Posted February 4, 2013, 4:24 PM EST

How to avoid an Event Black Out

Earlier this month, the Ravens beat the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII. And terrifyingly for event professionals watching the game, the New O...


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