Event Staging

Day in the Life of a National Account Manager

Posted on: April 4th, 2017

This is the third installment of a new series of “Day in the Life” articles featuring IMS team members and how they spend their day on the road supporting our clients.  This is the recent “day in the life” of Greg Kamprath, National Account Manager.

“Suppose for a second I can help you with all of the things we just talked about. Reducing stress on-site, improving the attendee experience and providing consistent pricing/staffing from location to location. I’m sure that will be good for the organization. What will it mean to you personally?”

My day has started with a site visit to a meeting venue. I’ve been talking through the program with a prospective client. Before the meeting I’ve done my research on the organization and this same event from last year. I looked up pictures on Facebook and twitter. All of the specific technical questions we’re covering are important. But in these client interviews, asking open ended “who / what / where / how” type questions uncovers valuable information about their goals and objectives, and what really matters to my contact. It helps us generate suggestions that may not have occurred to an event owner. Based on these conversations it’s actually not unheard of for our team to come up with suggestions that result in a smaller bill, but a happier (and repeat) customer.

In many cases, I have one of our production managers along for the conversation. In this case, I meet up with the team afterwards to convey the vision for the event. With sufficiently large events this might involve the director of audio, director of video, director of lighting and so on to spec gear for their respective disciplines. For today, the production manager and I have a less formal conversation. He will spec the gear. The creative team will generate renderings to show what the set will look like, and how much space AV will take up. We agree on deadlines and any check-in calls.

I’ve blocked some time between meetings to prospect: to find more people who might benefit from our expertise. I start to build a list of people to reach out to. I think of our repeat happy clients – what industries are they in? What sort of events do they have? What services have we provided? Then I build a list of similar organizations. Once I do that, I think of the contacts for our repeat clients. What are their titles? How did we come to connect with them? I start building a list of people with similar titles at the target organizations, using the company website, social media and web searches. In some cases their contact information is on the official website, in others I use my internet detective skills to find email and phone numbers.

When I reach out to potential clients it’s important to be respectful of their time – if I can’t approach someone with a clear and brief message, why would they have reason to think it would be any different when we’re actually working together? So I try to boil it down to an “initial benefit statement”. What are the benefits of working with IMS for our clients? There’s a temptation to talk about features – “We have this piece of gear with this amazing capability” – but ultimately why should the person I’m talking to care? Because it saves them time. Because it makes them look good to their boss. Because it reduces risk, and lets them focus on their responsibilities instead of having to keep an eye on a subpar AV supplier. So I focus on how the benefit to the client.

What’s more, what matters to one person may not be important to another. A meeting planner may find time savings on-site more valuable. A director of sales may care that attendees at the national sales meeting go back home motivated and ready to close deals. When I reach out, I want to have something of real value to suggest as a reason why a client would want to work with us. Once I have that, then I start making calls and sending emails.

Next on the schedule, I need to finalize putting together a proposal. There is the scope of work: a plain English description of what is included in the quote. While a detailed line item quote is important, for the average client they will not recognize (or need to recognize) all the pieces of equipment. The scope provides an overview of the key points and how we plan to achieve their goals. The proposal incorporates renderings of the event, and a ground plan showing how floor space is used. It includes references from similar clients, and answers a variety of questions the client listed in their RFP. It includes an executive price summary tying together costs from multiple quotes for different facets of the event. Due to this being a particularly large even, the summary also shows costs not incurred from IMS, but which the client will want to know about: venue rigging, internet, union labor. Normally a proposal might be a few pages, but the one I worked on today was 89(!) pages.

I head out again to a client’s office and we make a presentation in their boardroom. In terms of prep, before we create a slideshow we find out who is going to be in the meeting, and what their role as a stakeholder is. We try to find out what will be most valuable for them to take away from the presentation – some folks want to see specs, and ask specific detailed questions. Others want to see the big picture or talk vision. Once we have an understanding of what is important to cover, we create a custom presentation covering those points. We also identify who is handling what – often I’m covering a majority with a production manager jumping in on technical details. The planning pays off and our presentation generates some great conversation. The organization’s staff are talking amongst themselves and with our team coming up with ideas to expand on our proposal. We thank them for investing time with us and head out.

Lastly I drive over to a venue where our team has been setting up an event for several hours. I check in with our staff to see how things are going. Then I find the client and check in. “How is everything?” She gives me a hug and says, “Everything is amazing!”

Creative Production Trends for Meetings/Events

Posted on: March 30th, 2017

As everyone knows, talking heads and basic PowerPoint presentations at meetings are almost extinct. EVERYONE (not just Millennials) wants to be entertained and be brought personally into the meeting experience. This has been proven to be most effective with carefully planned video pre-production and on-site live streaming. It is crucial to work with your AV/Video Production team at the very beginning stages so that you get the best possible ROE – Return on Experience – for your meeting attendees. Some video options may include making the once a year meeting live on for the entire year through the use of professional video production, or planning for video conferencing to engage attendees who cannot attend in-person.

Many surveys over the past few years have continued to note increasing trends in technology integration in meetings. Streaming video, web conferencing and on-site video production are typically the most common uses. Some less common but very impactful forms of video production include video projection mapping, augmented reality, and interactive video.

What is Projection Mapping?

Projection Mapping can be as extravagant as you can imagine, but it doesn’t take much budget to transform a room into a unique environment with stock video elements. Perfect for promoting a theme for awards dinners, galas and product launches, you can use a wide variety of video looks to cover walls and ceilings, which is more immersive and engaging than conventional lighting. The next level is 3D objects and set designs for the ultimate in WOW! Factor; projection mapping on 3D objects and set designs is truly a sight to behold.

What is a Show Opener Video?

Typically a fast-paced video piece designed to energize your audience and prepare them for the day’s events. Your video production partner can create dramatic, attention-grabbing videos with graphics, text and live video.

What is a Walk-Up or Sizzle Video?

Very brief snippets of video designed to accompany or introduce a special guest, award winner or presenter as they make their way to the stage. Especially useful for events where a large number of people are presenting and bios would rather be seen than read on-stage.

What is an Interactive Video?

A great way to engage attendees and reveal a special theme or logo beneath a “scatter video” which can be on a floor, a wall or a trade show booth.

What is a 360 Video?

a 360 video is a cutting-edge interactive marketing and informational tool. The ability for users to manipulate their own perspective creates the ultimate user-created, personalized experience that opens up a whole new dimension of bringing the world to life. It has been widely used for tourism and travel promotions, conference and exhibition center marketing and university campus tours. Explore some 360 tour videos

One caution about video production: keep it brief. People are much more likely to view a one-minute video to completion than a two-minute video. With the popularity of Snapchat, Vine and Instagram and with more and more video being consumed on smartphones, this trend has serious staying power and gives longevity to meeting content.

Article written by Donna Baldino, Global Account Manager at IMS.


Free Download: 4 Focus Areas for Creating Effective and Memorable Videos

Effective video content has the ability to deliver substantial and memorable impact on its viewer, but it can also be a double-edged sword, as your audience may remember you for the wrong reasons if your content is not impactful. Thoughtful and deliberate planning and strategy are required elements in creating a relevant, creative and engaging video that your audience remembers for all the right reasons.

This eBook provides you with a four-part structure to help you plan and design an effective and memorable video for your audience.

How Do I Approach Scenic Design For My Events?

Posted on: March 30th, 2017

When incorporating scenic elements into your event for the first time or when expanding upon your strategy, there are a million-and-one things to think about … but here are a few to get you started!

1. Logistics

  • Ceiling height. Basically, a 16’ set will not fit in a room with 11’ ceilings.
  • Obstructions. Soffits, change in ceiling heights throughout the room, pillars, oddly configured rooms, even built-in stages (not always a perk) should all be taken into consideration.
  • Do I have enough room to do what I’m looking to do? Ask your AV partner to draw the room with the appropriate seating, stage size, backstage area if necessary, and any technology… especially if you plan on doing rear projection. Then work on scenic design.
  • Do I have enough time to set this up based on my room contract? Setting up scenic takes time and while light programming can take place during preproduction in your AV partner’s shop, it will need to be fine-tuned on site.
  • Prioritize. How valuable is the scenic to your message? Are you designing an immersive space that integrates the AV or will AV dictate the shape and size of the set?

2. Budget

  • Adding in scenic to an event may require you to book your room for an extra day depending upon the complexity of the event, and maybe even several install days, dependent upon the rigging plot, lighting elements, etc.
  • Many custom sets need to be “retouched” after they are set up, meaning a Carpenter could need additional time before and after meetings to make adjustments (i.e. if air bubbles are forming, seams becoming visible, etc). The venue’s HVAC or environment can easily affect this and are considered unknowns.
  • Additional crew, and specialized crew, will be needed to build the scenic. Additional light will be required to make the set visually appealing and more power may be required too. Also, while some sets and lighting can be ground supported, it is sometimes required to rig your design … and all of these cost money. IMS can help you budget for these expenses.
  • Are any special actions necessary on my part? For example, do I now need a Fire Marshall through load-in? The entirety of the event? Will this require me to get a permit?

The FUN stuff

  • What am I looking to achieve by adding scenic into my event? How will this complement the event theme and event goals?
  • With what emotion are attendees walking into the room, and how do I want them to leave feeling?
  • What type of “look” do I want? Remember, your venue may dictate this slightly. Don’t fight the aesthetic of a room, work with it!
  • Am I looking to do digital scenery, a hard set, soft goods, custom branded materials, modular pieces, or a combinations of mediums?
  • Make sure your partner can provide you with to-scale renderings or conceptual visualizations of digital scenery elements.
  • Where can I go for inspiration? I KNOW, IMS’s Scenic Portal!
  • Who ya gonna call?!?! GHOSTBUSTERS! JK, IMS. Specifically, Julie Renninger. 610-883-6162.

Article written by Julie Renninger, Director of Sales at IMS.

How Does the Global Economy Affect the Meeting Planning Industry?

Posted on: March 30th, 2017

The meetings and events industry is affected by many factors, and the global economy is a big one. Even if your events are held only in the U.S. or even in one region of the country, the global economy has an impact on your budget.

The global GDP (Global Domestic Product), is expected to grow 3.4% in 2017. Not all regions in the world are experiencing growth but some are facing a smaller downturn than previously expected. For example, in the America’s, Brazil’s recession is recovering faster than expected with a potential of positive growth by the end of 2017. However, Canada is feeling the impact of cheap oil prices and this is having a negative impact on its tar sand exports. The APAC region is doing well with Japan and China both experiencing new growth due to policy changes and BREXIT not impacting their growth as previously expected. EU/Middle East/Africa are all experiencing growth, roughly 2.2% for the year with a higher demand for domestic products. The UK is the only country in this region dealing with a large down turn because of their exit from the EU, and Russia continues to stay flat due to sanctions imposed from the Ukraine crisis. Africa and the Middle East as a whole are dealing with cheap oil prices and turmoil in countries like Libya, Somalia, Iraq, and others who are still suffering from crippled or corrupt governments.

Around the globe, hotel room rates are expected to vary greatly based on market-specific supply and economies, major industry consolidation, and investments in renovations and new construction. Major hotel mergers haven been front and center in the marketplace as hotel chains strive to increase their global footprint. This will not impact pricing today but some forecasters are predicting a noticeable increase in 2018.

Meeting technology is not immune to the consolidation theme, witnessed by the purchase and merger of Cvent by Vista Equity Partners, which also owns Lanyon, Cvent’s major competitor. This acquisition has some concerned that innovative technology in the global meeting arena may slow now that Vista has cornered the market. Regardless, the demand for event technology continues to grow globally and the marketplace is still fragmented enough for developers to devise new technology to better connect and integrate attendees with meeting content and activities.

Regarding event spend, a Bellweather report predicts almost a 10% increase in event spend for the remainder of 2017. Marketing budgets have nearly 25% of the spend allocated to events, which are seen as a highly effective marketing strategy.

One area that is having a major impact on meeting and event budgets globally is food and beverage. Price inflation is expected to outpace all other aspects of the industry, and contributing factors are as follows:

  • The increased costs of production due to weather conditions – U.S. wheat exports are increasing due primarily to excessive rain in Europe. In Canada, corn and barley yields are down due to drought-like conditions. Drought conditions have also severely impacted rice production in Asia. Also affected by climate changes, environmental impact, and global demand are coffee, palm oil, sugar, chocolate, and vanilla.
  • Increasing requests for special dietary options – gluten-free, low-carb, low-cholesterol, vegetarian, and vegan dishes all cost more to prepare. Requests for non-GMO and/or organic certified foods have also increased the costs. These requests have hurt some industries, like pasta manufacturers, where the low-carb craze has crushed sales.
  • With an ever-growing global population and an increase in globalization of food production, specialty, more expensive items are in higher demand. Examples include kaniwa, a high-protein/high fiber seed, and soursop, a tropical fruit in South America.
  • Beverages are not immune to these cost increases either, as a skyrocketing demand for craft beers and spirits is having a major impact on costs. No longer are Miller Lite and Coors Light the beers of choice for many. Trillium’s Four Point (a double hopped IPA) or Russian River’s Pliny the Elder are now the types of beer requested by attendees and their costs are typically double (if not triple) the big brewery costs. Driving cost factors for these new, innovative beers are production volume and ingredients. Hops, a main component to beer production, are imported now from around the world. Whistle Pig, Bullit, and Rutherford to name a few are now common requests for spirits, as Maker’s Mark, Jack Daniels and other large distilleries are not the “IN” for this new, more sophisticated palate.

For better or worse, the global economy impacts our industry. The savvy planner will be able to take advantage of all the upswing this economy has to offer while avoiding the areas that could negatively affect their meeting budgets.

Article written by Mark Steinmetz, National Account Manager at IMS.

Tech Day in the Life: Neil Kurtz

Posted on: February 16th, 2017

This is the first installment of a new series of “Day in the Life” articles featuring IMS team members and how they spend their day on the road supporting our clients.  This is the recent “day in the life” of Neil Kurtz, Event Staging Technician.

ims-neil-kurtzI hear a faint beeping in the background. What could it be this time: a truck reversing? A scissor lift navigating the ballroom? A forklift rumbling by on the dock? No, it’s far too early for any of that.

Rolling over, I blink my sleepy eyes open and try to focus on the alarm clock. 3:30. Did I oversleep? Can’t be, the room is far too dark to be mid-afternoon. I swing my legs out from under the comforter and my feet hit the carpet. Time to get this 16+ hour day started.

My crew starts trickling in and the driver is calling to let me know he’s here, but can’t get onto the dock because another vehicle is blocking the way. A call goes out to find someone from hotel security to get the other truck moved.

Finally on the dock, the crew is present and accounted for and gear starts flowing into the room. Once we’re done unloading the equipment, some of the crew peels off and starts working with the lighting director, others with audio. I task two of the utility crew members to start building screens as I focus on my switcher. After consulting my wiring diagram for the 100th time today to make sure I’m not missing something, I start setting up my graphics machines. I get pulled away because lighting can’t find some of their instruments. Were they on the pull sheet? Did we leave them on the dock? The back hall? Never mind, they’re inside the case; someone just misread the tape label on the lid.

Back to the laptops. T-minus 2 hours until the client walks in the door. Laptops placed: check. Cables labeled: check. Inputs patched: check. The screens are up, and my crew members are starting to put projection together. I check on audio and lighting, to see how everyone is progressing and get a status update. All green lights!

Break time. Well, let’s be honest: the crew gets a break. I get a break from the crew in exchange for some precious quiet time to get ahead on things.

Next project: networking. Projectors, recorders, and graphics computers are all wired up, but one of the laptops can’t ping the rest of the network. After checking the connections on the switch, I see where I left off earlier; an air gap. Things usually work better when they’re plugged in. Let’s try that ping again: success! I set up a file transfer to all the laptops and begin configuring my recorders.

My audio engineer starts ringing out the room, making sure the microphones don’t feedback if someone walks in front of a speaker.

Lighting has fixtures in the air and they begin their tedious task of focus. The projectionist is having trouble with a projector lamp, so he swaps out lamps. Unfortunately, that doesn’t solve our problem. After a few phone calls, double checking things, crossing our fingers and an ounce of hope, the lamps finally strike! The projectionist starts his convergence as the drape line starts to go up.

The client walks in the room, introductions are made and status updates are provided. Everything is good for rehearsals, and still on track for a noon start! The client sits down and we start going over changes and additions. There’s a new set of PowerPoints and a change in the order of the videos. For the Q&A, they’d like to have 5 lavaliere microphones for the panel and 3 handheld microphones for the audience. I make a note to tell the audio engineer later. Also, the colors for the drape should be red and blue, but not blue blue. Maybe a nice shade of cool water blue. I make another note for the lighting director to figure out what color cool water blue is.

After a brief lunch, we dive into rehearsals. The first presenter is confused by the downstage monitors and keeps talking to the next slide. We take a brief time-out so I can pull out my handy laminated monitor labels from my tech kit and put them on the appropriate monitors. The presenter thanks me and resumes his rehearsal. Video 1 fires and runs as it should, and we make a graceful transition back into the presentation. He wraps up and practices his toss to the next presenter, taking direction from his colleagues and the production team. The second presenter hasn’t arrived yet, so we have an unscheduled break.

The crew steps away for a few minutes, and I start checking emails. There’s a show next week that needs my attention, so I send the project manager a note, telling him we’ll chat at the end of the day. Since the home office is on the opposite coast, I add 3 hours to the local time and remind myself to not let it get too late before calling. I also check the schedule, looking for my next day off. Thankfully, there’s only a show day and travel standing between now and some R&R. ‘Head down and power through’, I tell myself. Now the client is waving at me from across the room. Our next presenter is here, so the crew rallies to knock the rehearsal out.

It’s now been 12 hours since I left that wonderful cocoon of a bed. Load in, set up and rehearsals are done. Just a few short hours until I can have a cold, adult brewed beverage in my hand. But those short hours are probably the most critical. Doors open in 30 minutes, and there are about to be 400 people in this room that I’ve had all day to construct. Will everyone enjoy the show as much as I enjoyed putting it together? I’ve just had a whirlwind day putting all the pieces where they belong and I couldn’t be happier. Thankfully the show goes off without a hitch, and the client is thrilled. The crew takes care of a few odds and ends before powering down for the day. We’ll be spending all day tomorrow in this ballroom, so no one lingers. My FitBit alerts me that it’s time to start winding down for bed, but I brush it off in exchange for that hard-earned frosty beverage.

How to Create an Event Diagram on a Budget

Posted on: February 1st, 2017

When planning meetings and events, it is useful to have a diagram or floor plan. In some cases, venues or suppliers will provide a diagram, and there are great paid services like Social Tables that have a rich set of features. But if you’re on a budget and would still like the flexibility of creating a room diagram yourself, here is a comparison of some cost effective options.

Meeting Matrix Express

meetingmatrix - cropped

Many people reading this will have heard of Meeting Matrix. At one time, it seemed to be the only software used for floor plans. The software has been acquired a couple times and this program doesn’t seem to be seeing a lot of updates, likely because parent company Amadeus is focusing on a new platform, Amadeus Hospitality Diagramming. (It supports 3D walkthroughs and is integrated into Amadeus’ other hotel software, SalesPro and Delphi.fdc, but since we’re creating a diagram on a budget we will move on.)


  • Meeting Matrix has pre-made room diagrams for a huge number of venues, just search by name.
  • There’s a library of items to use in your setup diagram, including tables, chairs and staging. The software is simple to use with a drag and drop interface that’s not overwhelming. Once you place an object, like a table, you can select the edge and drag to auto-fill the space with that object type.


  • This is an older program. The installation process in particular makes it apparent this is not modern software, and the item library includes things like “slide projector” and “VCR”.
  • The software is limited to a “top down” overhead view.

Because Amadeus is focused on a new software brand, I wouldn’t be surprised if they phase out Meeting Matrix entirely in the future.


allseated - cropped


  • AllSeated also has a searchable database of venues where you can pull up floorplans. The list of available venues is not as extensive as Meeting Matrix yet, but still worth checking out.
  • For certain venues, it supports a 3D walkthrough. (I assume this is based on which venues can supply 3D files to AllSeated).
  • The software automatically transforms a 2D table into a 3D table when you switch viewing modes.
  • There is an item library including furniture from AFR and Cort. Users can request an RFP from Cort directly through AllSeated.
  • Users can create guest lists and assign seating to guests.


  • The interface is not always intuitive; you have to look around to find what you want to do.
  • The method for drawing tables is not as convenient as Meeting Matrix. You can click the “clone” button one by one, or drag and drop one by one.
  • It also does not seem to convert all 2D objects into 3D. For example, the item library included a “food truck” which I decided to go ahead and drop in the middle of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. But it disappeared as soon as I switch to 3D.




  • The “Sketchup Make” version is free.
  • It is a very powerful tool to create 3D models of anything, from small objects to massive buildings.
  • Sketchup pulls from a large online library of user submitted objects, not just tables and chairs but also famous landmarks and consumer products. In addition, Sketchup has the flexibility and power to create complex objects from scratch. With Meeting Matrix or All Seated you’re confined to the library of items provided, or creating basic objects. But in Sketchup there’s no limit.
  • It is easier to learn than some other 3D software, for example, AutoCAD. There are a ton of online tutorials and walk-throughs. There are also extensions such as Kerkythea which allow you to go from 3D drawings to photorealistic renderings.


  • There is a big learning curve with Sketchup. Years ago when I was picking it up, there were times I wanted to quit in frustration. While it’s easier than professional drafting software like AutoCAD, that doesn’t mean it’s Easy.
  • The software is not made specifically for the meetings and events industry so while you’ll find things like tables and chairs in the online item library you will likely need to do some curating.
  • In most cases, you will have to first draw the meeting space which you’ll be using. But it may be worthwhile if you’re looking to create a unique design or present an idea that needs visuals to be conveyed.

Bonus: Magic Plan

magic plan - ipadair_mockup_1-1030x694

If you’d like to create a floor plan but don’t have the dimensions of the room itself, check out Magic Plan. It makes a diagram by taking a series of pictures using your mobile device. There is a charge to export your plan – the low end being $1.99 for one plan or $9.99/month for unlimited plans and going up from there. In my experimenting, it seems likely to work better for a simple empty room, rooms with unusual shapes or items obscuring the walls/corners could require more fine tuning.

Article written by Greg Kamprath, IMS National Account Manager.

What are Beacons and Why Would I Want Them at My Event?

Posted on: February 1st, 2017

Beacons have been around for a few years now, but have started to pick up steam in terms of adoption over the past year. Why is this important? Two big reasons: The Attendee Experience and DATA.

What are beacons?

ims-beacon-toolsBeacons are low powered devices that transmit Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE or Bluetooth 4.0) signals and can be used to deliver proximity-based messages to most smart devices. Typically, beacons interact with an application (such as an event app, or Google Chrome app) and will send information that is then translated into a message, notification, check-in, or other call-to-action. Once a phone receives this information, the beacon is also able to track the phone’s location within the transmission area. Beacons can also be used as a wearable device, such as a name badge, wristband or clip-on, to provide one way tracking info to event planners, or interact with other attendees to encourage networking and matchmaking.

What about GPS and NFC? Why more tech?

What separates beacons from these technologies is that beacons fill the gaps where GPS and NFC can not reach. Whereas devices with GPS need to have a clear signal, unobstructed from most overhead structures to receive a signal and NFC needs to be within a couple of inches of a reader, beacons can send and receive information up to 70 meters away, indoor or outdoor.

How is this useful to the event attendee?

What this means for your event attendees is that they are able to have a much more interactive experience with your sessions, event space, exhibit floor, networking sessions, etc. Here are a few examples of the ways beacons are being used at events:

  • Session reminders when walking by specific rooms
  • Session updates if a room or session has been moved
  • Special offers from sponsors / exhibitors
  • Presentation download links following attendance of specific sessions
  • Profile and interest-based maps / notifications to sessions, exhibitors, or activities that the attendee may like
  • Suggestions to other sessions, exhibitors, activities based on tracked activity and attended sessions
  • Gamification, such as a treasure hunt
  • Promotions based on activity within a space, or progress badges
  • Networking and matchmaking notifications for attendees to sponsors, buyers to sellers, etc.
  • Welcome, thank you for coming, or pre-registration for next year notifications, strategically placed at airports, bus stops, entrance or exits
  • Helping to track VIP’s and speakers who may be lost

How is this useful to event planners?

ims-beacon-technologyFor event planners, the biggest advantage to using this technology is being able to capture data on all of the activities mentioned above to more accurately track your attendee habits and then leverage that information in planning for future events. There is also an incentive to your sponsors and exhibitors to be able to share data based on their habits in specific booths, areas, etc. Along with just tracking the attendance of your event, you can gather data on how long people attended certain sessions. This may help in identifying which sessions were popular, which sessions attendees left early, and other insights that will help you in future planning.

How hard is this technology to adopt?

Technically speaking, the technology is very easy to setup but the implementation of the technology into your event will depend on what features you choose and how you will have your attendees interact with the technology. In other words, you can setup a beacon, or an array of beacons to be as simple or as complex you would like. Some starter questions to consider:

  • Do you want to have this integrated into an existing event app?
  • Will you be building an app for your event?
  • Do you want to have a beacon for every exhibitor or session room?
  • With what features do you want attendees to interact?
  • What data do you want to capture?
  • Do you want to start with a basic setup to see how it works before considering more complex deployments?

So where do I start and how much does it cost?

No matter what level of functionality you may want to implement, it should be noted that most options will need forward planning and programming to get started, so be sure to think about what information is important to you before exploring options. To get started, here are a few companies that specialize in event implementation:

  • Beaconstac – A Chrome browser based option that is very budget conscious.
  • TurnoutNow – Extremely customizable, comprehensive, and robust analytics for all event stakeholders. They use wearable beacon technology that does not require a mobile app so any event can use their tech.
  • Event2Mobile – Another budget conscious option that can be integrated into their customizable event apps.
  • Ligo by Limefy – Uses a wearable beacon, such as a badge, wristband or clipzo-n to track attendees and encourage networking and matchmaking.
  • Loopd – Uses a wearable beacon to track activity, encourage networking and provide useful insight to both planners and attendees.

Pricing will vary depending on what options and features you choose, how many attendees / exhibitors / sponsors beacons you expect to have, whether you want one-way or two-way communication, application implementation or development, and what analytics you want, but the range of services can cost as low as $200 or upwards of $30,000.

Article written by Jonathan Little, IMS National Account Manager.


Seeing Your Meetings Through Virtual Reality

Posted on: January 31st, 2017

Virtual Reality has become “quite the craze” over the past year or so and I don’t expect the interest to decrease in the near future.  It is unlike many other new technologies that have hit the market, such as 3D TV’s, etc.  Technology companies have made Virtual Reality (VR) available to everyone, including those with limited budgets.  This allows everyone to experience this immersive technology and experience the benefits of VR for themselves!

Many different companies are currently manufacturing VR headset.  Listed below are 5 different VR options, along with the benefits and suggested retail prices:google-cardboard

1. Google Cardboard V2:  $11.99 (Amazon.com)

  • Simple design for anyone to use
  • Requires compatible Smartphone



2. Samsung Gear VR (Powered by Oculus):  $59.99 (Amazon.com)

  • samsungMobile VR
  • Step up from Google Cardboard V2
  • Comes with Oculus Store
  • No need to wait for supporting apps
  • Requires compatible Smartphone




3. Sony PlayStation VR:  Starting at $399.99 (Best Buy)

  • sony-playstation-vrDesigned for gamers / entertainment
  • Hundreds of games are planned for this headset
  • Requires PlayStation 4 & PlayStation Camera (additional investment of $359.98)




4. Oculus Rift:  $599.99 (Amazon.com)

  • oculus riftStarted the VR revolution with its hype and acquisition by Facebook
  • Requires high-end PC (Could get more expensive)
  • High-End VR headset with excellent quality



5. HTC Vive:  $799.99 (Amazon.com)

  • htc-viveVR that takes up a whole room
  • Motion sensors & wireless controllers pair with headset to create the most immersive experience
  • Standard of future VR gaming
  • Requires high-end PC (Could get more expensive)



These are currently the most popular rated VR options on the market today.  Other VR options may be found in gas stations, toy stores, and many other retailers.  If you are looking for the best VR experience currently, the ones listed above have the most reviews and highest ratings.  When it comes to VR, the statement “you get what you pay for” may be accurate.

Enhancing Meetings and Events with Virtual Reality

Meetings and events are a large investment for everyone involved.  Most would agree that the last thing a paying customer or event planner wants is to open the doors to their event space, and have it not come out as expected.  I think it is pretty safe to say you would not purchase a home before going to see it first.  Why should this be any different when investing in an event?

Leading audio visual companies like IMS offer different ways to visualize what your event will look like prior to the event.  The most common way to provide these visualizations is  through 2D drawings and 3D renderings.  These drawings and renderings allow anyone involved to make changes prior to the event, and to see “real time” how these changes would affect the overall outcome.  It also helps with accommodating seating space, scenic layout, lighting, A/V, rigging and many other aspects of the event, all of which are not only beneficial to the client or event planner, but also to other partners involved with the setup of the show.

What if we take the 2D drawing and 3D rendering options to the next level?

Imagine putting on a VR headset and being teleported to the center of the room…surrounded by your team’s dream event! 

This is what VR is all about. It takes the guess work out of event planning and provides the ultimate visual experience.  This fully immersive experience makes you feel as though you are there.

IMS Technology Services is your “go-to” for this technology!  Provided below is a video courtesy of the IMS creative team.  This content was developed to provide you with a basic example of how an event would appear in VR.  The most cost-effective way to view this example would be through Google Cardboard V2 with a compatible Smartphone.  Be sure to watch out for future IMS Connections keeping up to date on upcoming technologies and event planning tips!


Article written by Matthew Chase, IMS National Account Manager

How to Plan a Meaningful Experience, Not a Meeting

Posted on: January 27th, 2017

Original Article by Christopher Kelly on SocialTables

More than 220 million meetings are conducted in America each month.

Because I’m an entrepreneur who’s providing the fastest-growing network of meetings and conference venues in the U.S., you would think I’d be doing cartwheels and flips over this opportunity.

While this may be true, problematic meeting trends are still troubling the industry. For one, 63 percent of meetings are conducted without preplanned agendas, giving room for meetings to wander off track and become unproductive. Meanwhile, 73 percent of employees admit they do other work in meetings. That means the meeting either isn’t valuable or it isn’t engaging — and neither option is ideal. The biggest complaint participants make is that meetings are inconclusive. People often come away from meetings without feeling accomplished.

Those trends make one thing apparent: We have a meeting problem.

Defining Meaningful Experiences

At our company, we often challenge ourselves to solve a problem by “starting with the end in mind.” In the case of unproductive meetings, the end is pretty clear: to create an outcome-based experience instead of a meeting.

Our company studies the science of meetings through human-centered design, and what we’ve observed among the 200,000 meeting participants who walk through our doors each year is that there are four fundamental types of meeting outcomes:

  1. Generative, in which all participants should come up with ideas
  2. Informative, in which all participants should have applied their new knowledge or skillsets after the session has ended
  3. Evaluative, in which everyone comes to a decision or at least achieves key milestones toward making a decision
  4. Social, which we usually find integrated with one of first three meeting types, for which the purpose is to dedicate time for all participants to connect with one another outside of a primary outcome

If a meeting doesn’t achieve a primary outcome, I’d argue, it’s not really a meeting — it’s just a gathering!


Achieving Meaningful Experiences

Instead of settling for below-average meetings, planners can do a few things to ensure participants feel their time spent was meaningful beyond reaching an outcome:

1. Recruit a facilitator.

A professional facilitator, or even a meeting participant who is dedicated to ensuring that the group of participants achieves its meeting goals, is critical in streamlining all the tasks that need to happen but don’t because there’s no one assigned — responsibilities such as scribing, time-checking, and parking off-agenda items. We recently had a chance to work with Watershed Partners for facilitation, and they took our meeting experience to a whole new level.

2. Foster an environment of full participation.

Encouraging participation often means preparing ahead of time to understand more about your participants, creating a set of inclusive, open-ended questions they would not be shy answering, leveraging conferencing technologies to ensure that people who aren’t in the room but need to be involved are “there,” allowing for small-group activities to make it less classroom-like, or even bringing participants together through food shared at a proper dining table to stimulate further discussion. The more creative the environment, the more meaningful the experience will be. Partners such as Abel McCallister Designs, a company specializing in holistic meeting planning, work with our clients to create truly memorable moments within their meetings.

3. Create a space that nurtures productivity.

The last but simplest thing I’d advise is to outfit your physical space to be as conducive to achieving the meeting outcome as possible. Simple things such as big windows; green plants; reliable technology; great coffee; and easy access to whiteboards, markers, paper, and post-its go a long way toward getting projects done.

What defines a meeting’s success is its human element. Business meetings were really designed to provide a medium through which humans could work better together. If we want to craft the best experiences possible, we need to create an environment where we love the whole journey we take together, not just to be in one that checks a box.

For more insights from Chris Kelly download his latest report, featuring 12 trends shaping our industry in 2017. 

Christopher Kelly is the president and co-founder of Convene, a company that integrates service, culinary, technology, and human-centered design to transform the workplace experience. Convene was named one of Forbes’ 100 most promising companies in 2014 and one of Inc.’s fastest-growing companies. In his role as president, Chris is responsible for innovation, new growth initiatives, and brand development while jointly developing company values, culture, and strategy. Follow Convene on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Convene.

Outlook for 2017: AV and Technology

Posted on: January 13th, 2017

ims-mid-atlantic-events-2017-01Jason Cataldi, CTS was interviewed for the “Outlook for 2017” article that appears in the January/February 2017 edition of Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine.

For trends in the year ahead relating to technology and the use of audio-visual equipment and services, Jason Cataldi, CTS, the VP of sales and marketing for IMS Technology Services, Inc. offers up a few predictions.

“For 2017, I think we will continue to see the use of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality entering into our meetings and events,” he says. “Audience engagement, while nothing new, is a hot topic that many clients are starting to measure much more closely. Companies are asking IMS how they can maximize their return on investment. Our answer is to provide a different return on experience. Think outside the box. Instead of presenting to an audience, create an atmosphere that actively includes them in the dialogue or encourages genuine participation.”

He continues, “If you had three co-workers to stand before the same group of peers and ask each of them the same question, would you expect that they would all offer the same response? Of course not. Effective communication is 55 percent visual, 38 percent tonality, and seven percent words. Working closely with a technology partner who understands these principles could be the difference in achieving desired results.”

Cataldi also looks ahead to 2017 with genuine excitement about where the hospitality industry is headed as a whole. For the hospitality, meetings and events industry in Philadelphia, I am excited to build upon the successes of 2016. The spotlight was on our community, and we delivered a performance worthy of a standing ovation (with the papal visit and the Democratic National Convention coming to town). With that, Philadelphia is on the rise as a destination city. I see more companies, non-profits and associations looking to hold their conferences and special programs in our backyard. Some for the first time staying closer to home, while others will be traveling across country.”

In terms of goals and expectations for IMS, Cataldi says that, in looking forward, it also is important to look back. “As I started to gather my thoughts about expectations and aspirations for 2017, I paused for a moment to do a quick mental rewind of 2016. Hard to believe that my incredible team supported over 1,400 meetings and events covering 32 states and five countries. We provided production and technical support for traditional business meetings and social gatherings, for Pope Francis’ visit, the Democratic National Convention, and for President-elect Donald Trump.”

“We celebrated another banner year with 135 percent growth, new jobs, and a second brick and mortar location in Orlando, Florida,” he adds.

Read the full article including the outlook for trends in meetings, and linens and decor in the current issue of Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine.

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