Event Staging

IMS in September-October 2017 Issue of Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine

Posted on: September 13th, 2017

Jason Cataldi, CTS was interviewed for the “Technology Update” article that appears in the September/October 2017 edition of Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine.

Jason Cataldi, VP of sales and marketing for IMS Technology Services, Inc., says that technology isn’t the only field that is influenced by rapid development and near continuous transformation. He observes that the meeting and event landscape is ever evolving, adapting, changing in the current business climate as well, and there is an ever increasing need to communicate one’s message clearly in a way that will resonate with an audience.

“The technology we utilize can enhance the message or conversely distract from what was the best of intentions,” cautions Cataldi. “A recent study suggests that only 20 percent of what was learned at a conference is retained. In fact, a person is only actively listening for about 20 minutes of sustained time. If these studies tell us anything, it is that we need to captivate our audience – or as some would say – entertain them.”

“Our goal is the manage the emotions of the event,” he adds. “From the initial concept to measuring ‘calls to action’ post-event, a consistent focus on attendee engagement and creating an immersive experiential environment are our key indicators for determining success.”

Cataldi says that of the technologies IMS’ clients utilize at most of their meetings, many involve social and virtual interaction, gamification, live tracking/real time analytics, and mobile-friendly responsive meeting materials.

“IMS recently hosted Event Trends 2017 at Lincoln Financial Field (in Philadelphia, PA),” Cataldi explains. “Many of the aforementioned technologies and strategies were demonstrated throughout the day. Take, for instance, digital signage. Not so long ago, we would be placing easels throughout the event space in high traffic areas in hopes that our guests would see them. Now, we have the ability to create ‘heads up’ messaging and advertising – real time alerts for flight delays, traffic, weather conditions, enhancement of brand recognition, attracting attention to key sessions with infographics, and, through the use of hashtags, developing a social interaction channel.”

He notes that this specific technology aids the attendee and helps to keep them informed while also driving valuable sponsorship and advertising dollars. “Our clients have recognized that the positive returns are far greater than the initial investment.”

Sometimes the choice of venue can have an impact on the technology options available for producing a meeting or event. Cataldi notes that often overlooked features of a venue like ceiling height, soffits and seating capacity change how technology needs to be set up. For example, whether ground supporting or rigging is needed for audio, video, lighting or scenic decor.

“Our team of production managers and creative design engineers work closely with planners to determine the best room orientation that will support their stakeholders’ message. Having the ability to show a planner 3D and cinema motion renderings from the perspective of the last row, three seats from the aisle as well as from the point-of-view of a presenter really allows our clients to make the best decisions,” he explains.

To design a meeting environment with a “wow factor,” Cataldi suggests that everything from video mapping with custom content messaging, true surround sound, the latest in lighting design, and understanding the challenges of the space all play heavily into what the planner can and cannot do.

“Drafting a visual plan will aid you with the information needed to anticipate venue charges for rigging points, power requirements, and liaison fees,” he adds. Given the importance of the Internet and how much everyone relies on it these days, IMS recommends establishing bandwidth needs along with the associated fee structures in the very early phases of the planning process. For those whose vision includes the use of social media or event apps, this will need to be taken into consideration too, so as to avoid potential connectivity issues among guests during the event. It is important, too, to be observant of the physical space when performing site visits. “Steel and concrete spaces traditionally will impede connectivity and leave you with spotty coverage and responsiveness,” says Cataldi.

When it comes to real time feedback, he advises that clients seek both direct and indirect interaction with attendees. For this reason, planning ahead for professional and social dialogue is really important.

“Instead of a traditional Q&A panel discussion, maybe try a Think Tank-style meeting,” suggest Cataldi. “Ask for questions pre-event, and then seat your audience in pods or small groups while a keynote moderator drives the conversation.”

IMS recently held a Think Tank with over 100 meeting professionals, and Jim Cohn, publisher/editor of Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine served as the moderator. “Questions were submitted via our event app and by qualified guests for additional points in our gamification challenge. As each question was presented, the groups dove into open dialogue, shared ideas and experiences and ultimately conveyed their thoughts to the entire room,” explains Cataldi.

Another way to create this type of information sharing is through non-traditional team building. “At Event Trends 2017, the special events department of the Philadelphia Eagles partnered with Aramark to come up with a team building challenge,” he continues. “Groups were asked questions and presented with challenges. With each correct answer or completed task, they earned the ability to win ingredients to create a one-of-a-kind salsa that was prepared by the chef, placed into a competition at the end of the event, and served during the networking hour! This unconventional session provided an opportunity for guests to meet, laugh, and learn from each other while also creating a little healthy competition.”

Read the full article in the current issue of Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine.

4 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was a New Event Planner

Posted on: September 13th, 2017

Before working for IMS Technology Services, I was a freelance event planner. I started off planning for friends and family, which led to further connections and snowballed into a side job. It is an accomplishment I am very proud of because I learned from research, networking, hard work, and my own mistakes. It was through my love for the corporate event planning industry and my full-time job in sales that lead me to IMS Technology Services. The experience I have gained working for an audio visual company has given me a new perspective on the way a meeting should be planned. This knowledge would have saved me a lot of trouble during my first few years in events, so I have decided to share my 4 Tips planning your AV.

First, and possibly the most important, bring your AV provider in early!

This can save you a lot of work in advance. When you bring an AV provider in early in the planning process, they can not only help in choosing a venue that is easy to work with, but they can also help with negotiating against fees from the venue. It is so important to start these negotiations before any documents have been signed. This will also give your AV team the capability of drawing a room layout with their equipment in place. An important part of having them involved in the layout drawing is that the room should work with all of the technology and equipment they are planning. It is important there is enough room for all of the equipment, and once you have decided on the seating arrangements, they can include all of this in the drawing for you and the other vendors to use.

Second, know your video connections, microphones, and screens.

These could be considered three separate important tips, but I combine them because they all matter for the same reason; it leads to a smooth and effortless event. I won’t go into too much detail, because there are plenty of articles online about each piece of equipment and what they’re best used for.

Knowing what connections you need is important because your AV team needs to know what kind of adapters to bring and what kind of laptops your presenters can use. A few types of adapters you should familiarize yourself with are HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort, and VGA. Not having the right connection can lead to a failed presentation.

Not only should you know the different types of microphones, but what each type is best used for in an event. My suggestion would be to know your presenter: do they talk with their hands, do they pace, are they loud speakers? How they present will dictate which microphone is the best option. The type of event can also determine the right style of microphones. If you aren’t sure what the best option is, ask your AV partner what they would recommend. Types of microphones to consider: Handhelds, Wireless, Lav Mics, Podium Mics, and Pyle Pro Mics.

Make sure you know the aspect ratio of your presentation. If you have a widescreen presentation, make sure you have 16 x 9 screens. If you have a standard presentation, you need 4 x 3 screens. Check out the detailed explanation of the important differences in our AV 101: Industry Terms Explained article.

Third, always share your vision with your AV team.

They care about the success of the event as much as you do and they will dedicate everything they have to make that happen. The more information you can give your AV company about your event, the better the outcome. When you spend time discussing what is important to you, your team will be able to proactively work toward that goal.

Last, always make sure you are comparing apples to apples.

This may seem like an obvious statement, but often times two quotes can be so different that there is no way to actually compare the two. If you take the time to explain the event thoroughly to each AV provider you are considering, and make sure they are giving you comparable quotes, it gives you a better opportunity to choose the best option for your event. The cheapest option is not always the best option for your event.

Article written by Sarah Jacobs, IMS National Account Manager.

A Marketer’s Perspective on the Event Industry: Your Event Should be an Extension of your Brand

Posted on: September 13th, 2017

I am a big advocate of brand, and brand image. I believe brand and brand image are two of the most important parts of your company – possibly even THE most important. I look at brand and brand image, because, often they point to the same thing – how you are perceived by others. Perception is reality, and a good product (or company of good people) can be defeated by a bad perception of the company. Conversely, a flop of a product can be forgotten if a company has a favorable brand image. Today, brand is often one of the most ignored pieces of marketing. And, as a marketer, and event personnel, our brand is fundamental to our company’s overall success. We need to be conscious of the fact that our brand stands for something. However, in a race to find the newest KPI, ROI, or whatever the metric of the month is to measure our success, we have the tendency to ignore our overall brand.

In today’s digital age, we have actually become complacent by hyper-focusing on segments and minor levers, chasing the shiny new object in the name of metrics, while we ignore the overall health of our brand. Our complacency towards our brand often stems from the ease of appeasement for whatever small segment we are chasing for the sake of being first, or just different. As such, we consistently out think ourselves, and by proxy, we out think our brand. Our brand is the sum of all the parts of our company. So why would we ignore it? Why would we host an event that’s theme may be in direct conflict with an image our brand is trying to promote? Why would we solely hyper-focus on a segment so small it doesn’t adequately lend to the overall success of the brand? Internal growth meetings (something like a planned disruptor meeting to stimulate ideas, changes, etc) aside, any outward facing event we do should (with few exceptions) reflect what our brand image is. If we are known as an innovator, our event needs to be innovative.

Think of any of the big brands with a quality brand image. Apple, Mercedes Benz, Salesforce, Disney come to mind for me. What do they all have in common? Aside from being multi-billion-dollar companies, they consistently put brand and brand image at the forefront of their marketing goals. At each Apple product launch, and any Apple event, you can see the layers of their marketing and event arms. First and foremost, to a general consumer they come off as a product launch and sales kickoff. But when you dig deeper into their events, you see how they always brand Apple first and product second. The events are always themed around Apple and its image. Why? In the end, no matter the short term growth goal, it is the Apple brand that will resonate. Apple knows that even though it may be a sales related event, events are ultimately an extension of their marketing arm. Branding Apple brings their current products to the forefront, builds internal and external excitement, and reinforces the brand as well as the event goal. They increase the value of the individual event by bringing the greater brand to light. We, as event personnel and marketers, can learn a lot from that example alone.

You are probably curious as to why I am bringing my marketing hat out in this article and pushing brand and image so heavily? Not everyone is Apple, has their budgets, and their established brand recognition. Not every organization can afford to have a single pipeline of their business fail without harming the overall brand. There is 100% a method to my madness, and it all comes down to what I said earlier with Apple. It’s value. We all want bigger, better, more impressive. But we also want cost savings, and more for our dollar. What it really comes down to is we want, we need, greater value for our events. We can increase the value of our events to our stakeholders (those who sign the checks) AND to our attendees by ensuring we have a concerted effort on brand and image when planning our events. Sometimes it’s the little details of the event that fit into our greater message, sometimes it’s plastering the brand everywhere so people remember who they are there for, sometimes it’s a subtle subliminal logo drop; your individual event and its immediate goal will dictate how we embed the brand into theming. Often, incorporating your brand, styling the event in your brand’s image, takes very little investment and it builds greater overall value for your company. Your company gets more value out of their event investment – and that keeps the bean counters happy.

We’ve all seen, or been a part of, many types of events. From major concerts, to grand openings, seminars, to company town halls- we’ve witnessed successful and unsuccessful events. One thing we want to always be conscious of is our audience. We want to know to whom we are speaking, and how we can tie brand into the overall event success. We can utilize positive branding- reinforcing positive attributes of our brand at our event. We can co-brand – utilizing another brand to increase our brand. We can rebrand – utilize the event to create a new image for ourselves. These are all great ways to theme our event, include our brand, and increase value for our stakeholders. We definitely don’t want to miss a homerun opportunity to increase our brand value at an event – like the time a cohort told me about an Earth Day event they attended, where trash piled up, and they used eco-unfriendly items that could have easily (and affordably) been replaced by recycled logoed items. A bombed branding opportunity.

There are definite ebbs and flows of an event you need to be cognizant of, and I am not advocating we hijack our events to simply plaster our brand. Rather, I am advocating we look at our event through a marketing lens and find opportunity to increase value by pushing our event’s vision in conjunction with our brand image. I even caution we do not hurt our brand by including it in your events is if there is going to be any negative, or completely disruptive, messaging during your event. We’ve all heard of an event where a company was rolling out what was supposed to be a game-changing product for an industry leading business – after they told their employee base they were facing position cuts and salary slashes, internally deflating the new brand before it could even be launched. We also do not want to go so far as to come off as completely self-serving and cheesy incorporating our brand either.

Ultimately, building greater value for our events will increase return on investment for the company, increase company faith in us, and hopefully allow us greater budget to build even more value for them in the future. We want to execute our events in a way that our company will benefit across a variety of avenues, supporting the overall brand health at our events will ultimately do just that – increase value, and benefit our company.

Article written by James Coughlin, IMS National Account Manager.

5 AV Facts You Need to Know for the CMP Exam

Posted on: September 13th, 2017

I recently received my CMP certification, and one thing I did to prepare was take a prep course offered by MPI PHL. While I was worried about how many gallons of coffee to order for a hypothetical meeting, my fellow course takers were understandably anxious about the subject of “Technical Production” since they didn’t have a background in audio visual. If you’re in the same boat, here’s a refresher on key points to remember about event video/projection.

Keep in mind these are guidelines. There will be specific situations that call for other arrangements, and it makes sense to discuss with an AV partner. That said, as far as the CMP exam is concerned, these are the “correct” answers.

  • The most distant audience seating should be no more than eight times the height of the screen. So for example, if the screen is 9’ tall by 16’ wide, you multiply 9 by 8 to get a distance of 72 feet. If that doesn’t cover all your attendees, sometimes it’s not practical to get a larger screen – perhaps the ceiling is too low or cost is prohibitive. You might consider using delay screens which are placed further back in the audience and showing the same content as the primary screens. (You may also see these referred to as “repeater” or “satellite” screens)
  • The closest audience seating should be no less than two times the height of the screen. In other words, for a 9′ tall x 16′ wide screen, the audience should be at least 18 feet away (2 x 9′ height). This is related to viewer comfort – otherwise attendees may have to crane their necks or pan their head / scan their eyes over a wide area.
  • The bottom of the screen should be at least 5 feet high, measuring from the floor. If the screen is too low, attendees in the closer rows will obstruct the view for those further back.
  • Allow for at least 1.5 times the width of the screen as space between the projector and screen. This is truly a rule of thumb, and a case where it’s helpful to have a trusted AV partner: The “throw distance” actually comes from multiplying the projector lens being used (.8, 1.2, 2) by the screen width. That’s why you’ll see some projectors set up on the opposite side of the room from the screen, or sometimes with an extremely small amount of distance to the screen. But 1.5 times is a good starting point, and better to have too much room than to find out during set up that everything needs to be re-arranged.
  • The projection platform needs to be situated at a 90-degree angle to the screen, and elevated to be at least level with the bottom of the screen. You’ve likely seen a set up where the projected image is uneven and doesn’t use all the available screen space. Having the projector correctly positioned helps. It’s possible to “keystone” an image to correct for an undesirable projector placement, but there’s a limit to how much adjustment is possible. While in many cases it may not be noticed by the audience, keystone adjustment does affect image quality to some degree whenever used.

For more info, see the Events Industry Council (née Convention Industry Council) Manual, 9th Edition. The specific section is Domain G: Meeting or Event Design, Skill 18: Manage Technical Production. Likewise, I and the IMS team are always happy to share our expertise!

Article written by Greg Kamprath, IMS National Account Manager.

8 Cost Savings Ideas for AV

Posted on: September 12th, 2017

“Why is the WiFi so expensive?”

“How is your quote so different from the in-house?”

“How can we work with you if we are contractually obligated to use the hotel AV?”

“What can we do to bring this quote down?”

These are just some of the questions our clients present us with on a daily basis as they run into roadblocks and cost concerns through their planning process. But you don’t have to break the budget to have a great AV experience. By contracting early and working with your AV partner in pre-planning, you may be able to uncover some great cost savings.

Here are a few tips to help find those opportunities:

1. Contract Early!

If you are considering bringing in any 3rd party vendors for AV, party supplies, furniture, technology, etc., make sure that you notify the venue during your RFP process and in advance of negotiations. Many times these items are left out of the negotiation phase and can be costly to you later if not discussed upfront. The reason for this is that the in-house AV provider and hotel both have a monetary incentive to make sure you utilize their services. If you decide closer to your event date to look at 3rd party options, they may separate the internet from their initial AV proposal and raise these costs. The hotel or in-house provider may additionally impose “Liaison” or “Security” fees for using a 3rd party vendor. Be sure to have a 3rd party addendum, or freedom of choice language included in your initial contract to help avoid these fees.

2. Negotiate Internet Early

As mentioned above, be sure to let both the hotel and the in-house AV provider that you may be looking at 3rd party vendors. There should be integrity in pricing for their services, no matter who you choose as an AV partner.

3. Red-line Hotel and AV Liaison Fees, Security Fees

Typically, these items are put into contracts by the hotel or in-house AV provider to ensure that their facilities and equipment are safe and secure from damage / theft. While this is a reasonable request, a standard Certificate of Insurance (COI) provided by your AV partner should cover potential damages. In other cases, the in-house AV provider may require that a “liaison” be present to oversee load in of a 3rd party’s AV equipment if they have installed equipment in the venue. If you will be utilizing any of the installed equipment, this is certainly a reasonable request, otherwise if this equipment is outside of the scope of work your event would require, be sure to have this red-lined in negotiations.

4. Work With Your Contract Negotiation Company, Hotel CSM and AV Account Manager to Best Leverage Your Negotiations

Lean on your resources for assistance with negotiating liaison / security fees, internet, vendors, etc. In most cases, hotels would rather have “heads in beds” and keep your return business than lose you after one event to make a few extra bucks on AV / internet commissions.

5. Who Needs to Travel?

Do you need the entire production team on-site every year, or can you utilize your AV partner’s local resources to supplement your lead team? Or, can you utilize these resources to have an entirely local crew and cut out travel costs? Discuss this with your AV partner to make sure you have the most appropriate and efficient labor plan for the event.

6. Do You Own Any Equipment?

Bring some of your own equipment to reduce rental costs. Some items that may make sense:

  • Small Breakout Projectors
  • Laptops
  • Wireless Mouse
  • Laser Pointers

7. Where is the Equipment Going?

Planning for a storage room during your site selection can save both costs and headaches down the road. The more central of a location this is to your contracted rooms, the better.

8. Did You do an Apples-to-Apples AV Proposal Comparison?

Although you sent out the same RFP to 3 outside AV vendors, as well as the in-house, you received four different proposals with four drastically different price points back. How did this happen?

  • Each AV company has it’s own pricing structure, discount structure and support structure.
  • Some may have included travel, some not
  • Some may have all labor included on the proposal, others only include a “service charge” or percentage that will be applied post event
  • Some may have rack rate pricing per day, others could have multi-day discounts, or discounts for events that run longer than one day
  • Some may include equipment discounts based on percentages of equipment spend, other may have bottom line discounts, volume discounts, multi-event discounts, in-kind items, or a combination of these options

Other considerations to consider as you compare proposals:

  • Have you provided a final agenda to correspond with the equipment needs for each meeting room? Improper timelines can cause labor costs to vary greatly, and your initial proposals to not be accurate.
  • Is union labor included in your proposal (if necessary)?
  • When is setup scheduled for? Day prior, or day of first scheduled events? Are rehearsals scheduled in this time frame (if necessary)?
  • Will you be providing rooms, or is lodging included on the proposal?
  • Are travel costs included?

Taking a close look at all of these variables and how your AV partners have interpreted the provided RFP can help to answer many questions and potentially save your event a great deal of costs.

Article written by Jonathan Little, IMS National Account Manager.


Free Download: Know Your Rights

Feeling pressured to use the “in-house” AV company at a hotel? Ever been hit with fees for using an outside partner after you have signed a contract?

While there are many in-house organizations throughout the country that have a very good reputation for being fair in contract negotiations with their clients, we often hear questions regarding charges and fees to use outside vendors, or have supervising staff in place to oversee any outside production, load-in, etc. Many times, these stipulations and fees are being disclosed to meeting planners after a contract has been signed.

The reality is that YOU as the CUSTOMER have rights during contract negotiations that allow you to CHOOSE who you want to partner with and avoid excessive charges.

Our “Know Your Rights: Contracting for AV Services” ebook will provide the tools you need to negotiate contracts that allow you flexibility and choice of event providers, including:

  • Understanding why venues have these policies
  • The key terms to look for in your contract, including rigging and storage
  • A sample buyer’s rights clause for your contracts

5 Ways to Help Attendees Retain Event Learning – Solutions & Science

Posted on: August 9th, 2017

The learning curve is steep, not only on the way up, but on the back-end as well – learning experts call this “The Forgetting Curve”. As event and learning professionals, it may make you uncomfortable to hear that only 20% of the knowledge presented at events will be retained.

Solution: There are strategies that nearly any organization hosting events can implement immediately and cost-effectively to promote continuous learning. Recommended tools: Any Event App and a content partner.

Ways to avoid this…

1. Priming Exams are tests given to a learner prior to a learning event. This calls the learner to access their subconscious, working or long term memory on a topic. It gets learners examining what they know and don’t know and they increase interest level pre-event. Research shows that a graded exam or giving feedback is no more effective than just asking the learner to take the Priming Exam. These can be pushed via email or through your event app. Maybe even incentivize attendees to take the priming exam by offering a prize. Test throughout your event and use additional continuous learning principles… now you can demonstrate learning and ROI to your attendee.

2. Another study shows that Test Enhanced Learning drastically increases long-term learning when compared to rereading or other studying methods. So this means testing or polling your audience throughout your event will make them retain information. If you don’t have an event app to push these tests to, try an in-event solution like Poll Everywhere.

3. Information overload is a real thing. Think about it … often learners are trained on a topic and then they won’t need to use that learned skill for months after the training. Most organizations know this, but don’t have the resources to provide just-in-time learning on every topic. One solution is Spacing. We recommend introducing a topic at a high level, allow time to pass and then present the same material or elaborate on material over time. We recommend video-reminders in a compressed format small enough to be emailed, pushed to social media, or even push it to your event app. Video, and especially storytelling, are very effective for retention.

4. Gamification of learning at events creates a FUN, competitive and engaging environment. This can be done at your event through in-event app challenges, Augmented Reality or post-event through your event app.

5. Social Learning, Coaching and Mentoring are all great ways to promote continuous learning and can be done very cost effectively or free. Group learners together to promote social learning. Have them participate in certain activities together, compete in event gamification together and recommend they touch base with each other post-event. Alternatively, assign a coach or mentor to all or even just specific target attendees. According to Successful Meetings & MPI, the top two attendance drivers for conferences are education (92%) and networking/social interaction (76%), so attendees want to learn, and do it socially. Now just be the agent to help them make it happen!

If you found this article useful, please also check out PA/DE/NJ Distance Learning Association. This association hosts events in the aforementioned geographic area focused exclusively on the science behind learning and technologies that promote distance learning & collaboration.

To discuss these or other ways to enhance your organization’s education and learning initiatives please contact Julie Renninger.

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

Tips to Keep the Momentum Going Long After the Meeting

Posted on: August 9th, 2017

Today’s meeting planners are challenged by their internal and external clients to keep the momentum of a meeting going well after it concludes. Here are some ideas that may help keep your event front of mind with the attendees after they have departed.

Follow up with event attendees: Though it sounds so simple, not all organizations follow up. Thanking your guests, sponsors, and supporters is a great way to wrap up your event, but contacting the attendees after the event to thank them for attending is a great way to keep the event fresh. Email is easy and fast but a thank you note by mail is a great personal touch. Eventbrite provides an easy tool to sync your data with popular services like MailChimp and Aweber for larger event lists. For smaller events, you can send a thank-you email directly from your attendee list by integrating into Word.

Social Media: Social networks such as Twitter or LinkedIn help you reconnect with everyone who retweeted your messages, shared your posts, or engaged with your #hashtag. As a bonus, this shows other followers that you’re actively engaging and open to dialogue. Unless you choose to connect privately through a Direct Messenge, your social media thank-yous are visible to all, so be sure not to copy/paste the same message. Vary your text slightly to deliver that personal touch. “Thanks for coming, looking forward to the next one!” “Thank you for attending.” “Great seeing you there.” If you have any Tweets that you assigned to yourself to follow up on later, now’s a good time to reach out, engage, and answer.

Get feedback: Depending on the type of event you had, you might also find it useful to learn what your guests thought by asking them to fill out a survey. Use Survey Monkey or the 123 FormBuilder app from Hootsuite to create your survey and then share it with your social networks. You can also keep track of how many answers you have, the types of answers, and your results right from your survey service dashboard.

Provide a specific offer: Offer a discount on a product or service or a free trial that is exclusive to the attendees. Ideally, link it to the experience they had at the event, so it feels like a custom offer tailored to their interests. With your attendees high on good feelings after the event, this is the perfect time to present your product or service.

Give your followers something to share; relive the moment! As a result of the work you put into promoting your event, you now have an engaged audience. Share slide decks, facts, event photos, highlight reels from video captured, or even animated GIFs. This is easy to do through a meeting app like SpotMe. Find and share user-generated content from your event by searching for your brand name and #hashtag and use the functions of your meeting app to capture and share your story by pulling together social content into a visual timeline that you can enrich with your own commentary. Event attendees will enjoy having a look back at your event, and anyone who couldn’t make it might take away helpful information—and possibly make it a priority to attend your next event.

Announce the next event: Strike while the iron is hot. The best time to announce a follow-up event is either on the day of or the day immediately after your current event. Sometimes a one-time interaction isn’t enough to close the deal with prospective customers, so line up a second, third or repeating series of events to keep them coming back, engaging with your brand, and building up enough trust before they convert to becoming a customer. Again, use the media collected from your event to promote your next event.

Host a follow-up Q&A: If your event featured educational sessions, chances are some of your attendees may have left with questions. Sure, your speakers may have asked if anyone had questions, but we all know how intimidating asking questions in front of people can be. And not only that, but sometimes it takes a while for concepts to sink in, and thus, questions don’t arise until later.

That said, if you want to keep the momentum going after your meeting or event, consider hosting a follow-up Q&A. If your event was on the smaller side (3 – 4 speakers), consider having those speakers hop onto a webinar to answer post-event questions. Or, if your event was larger, consider having your attendees submit their questions, stating which session(s) their questions came from. Then, reach out to those speakers, have them provide the answers, and then put together a formal Q&A document for your attendees. This is valuable for two reasons: 1) It keeps the conversation from your event going, and 2) It shows your members you genuinely WANT them to get value from your events – and you’re willing to go that extra mile to make sure any lingering questions are answered.

Post key takeaways (on your blog, meeting website and/or in your newsletter): This all depends on the type of event you had, but if it was educational in nature, consider posting key points, title of presentations, and feedback received from your survey.

Help your members apply what they learned: It’s easy for your members to go home and get wrapped up in their day-to-day tasks, forgetting not necessarily what they learned at your event, but how and why they should implement it. Provide your attendees with a key contact from your organization that could check in with them and help them apply what they learned onsite.

Post-event think tanks: Hosting a think tank at your event is a great way to get people talking about specific topics. During the registration process of your event, provide a section for attendees to post questions they would like answered at your event. If a particular question gets traction during your session, it could consume most of the time slotted and not allow for additional questions to be discussed. This provides you with great topic material to keep the conversation going post-event. Kick off your post-event think tank by using a blog, webcast or social media. If possible, use some the of the feedback you received during your live think tank to spark conversations on your post-event think tanks. Depending on the number of questions you received during registration, you may have enough topics to post throughout the year or until your next event.

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

What is DiSC?

Posted on: August 9th, 2017

William Moulton Marston, a physiological psychologist with a Ph.D. from Harvard, introduced the DiSC Behavior Model in his 1928, Emotions of Normal People. In the book, he introduced his theory on the impact that human emotions have on behavior and how behavior may change over time. His goal was to identify practical explanations that would help people understand behavior and how to better relate with others.

He identified four primary types of behavioral express of emotion: Dominance, Inducement, Submission and Compliance.

Over time, others used Marston’s work to further develop his theory and build assessment tools (or personality profiles tests). The first tool, developed by Walter V. Clarke in 1948, was intended to help businesses with personnel selection. Clarke’s model was used John Geier, Ph.D. to create a new assessment tool, and he formed a new company (Performax) that would eventually become Inscape Publishing, which launched new assessments and tools, including The Everything DiSC product family.

DiSC assessments are a trusted learning instrument being used worldwide in numerous training and coaching applications, including business development and performance improvement. These assessments help people understand behavioral differences and how to adapt their own behavior to work better with others.

One provider of DiSC assessments defines the letters of DiSC as follows:

  • Dominance: Person places emphasis on accomplishing results, the bottom line, confidence. Common behaviors include: sees the big picture, can be blunt, accepts challenges, gets straight to the point.
  • Influence: Person places emphasis on influencing or persuading others, openness, relationships. Common behaviors include shows enthusiasm, is optimistic, likes to collaborate, dislikes being ignored.
  • Steadiness: Person places emphasis on cooperation, sincerity, dependability. Common behaviors include doesn’t like to be rushed, calm manner, calm approach, supportive actions.
  • Conscientiousness: Person places emphasis on quality and accuracy, expertise, competency. Common behaviors include enjoys independence, objective reasoning, wants the details, fears being wrong.

DiSC Assessments are learning tools that help people assess to what degree they utilize each dimension of behavior in a situation. The tools then provide personalized feedback designed to assist your organization:

  • Build productive teams
  • Increase employee engagement
  • Develop effective managers
  • Train a powerful sales force
  • Improve customer service
  • Ease frustration and conflict
  • Develop leaders at all levels in the organization

Many organizations use DiSC to establish a common language, illuminating the way for successful training and coaching applications. Detailed, personalized information helps people apply DiSC learning to specific business situations, including sales, leadership development, customer service, and conflict resolution. More information and other resources can be found here:

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

Day in the Life of Director of Audio

Posted on: June 5th, 2017

This is the fourth installment of a new series of “Day in the Life” articles featuring IMS team members and how they spend their day in the office or on the road supporting our clients.  This is the recent “day in the life” of Chris Leonard, Director of Audio.

My day can be drastically different from one day to the next as I split my time between office duties and onsite roles.

Regardless of where I start my morning, it typically involves getting a Monster drink as I don’t drink coffee but want that caffeine kick. My commute is not very long to the office but I like to jumpstart my day with music, and currently The Classic Crime is a band that I listen to daily. My average day in the office starts around 7:15am, as I like to get my head ready for the day before everyone shows up at 8:00am.

During this period of prep time, I continue with music (maybe some Emery or Willet this time) as it helps me focus. I prep a to do list with a program called Wunderlist as I peruse the numerous flagged emails from the day or days prior. This 30-45 minute window can often be more productive than a typical 2 hours of regular office time, due to chaos that can ensue during busy seasons.

9:00am rolls around and it’s time to go into one-on-ones with my audio team. I do this bi-weekly and they are some of the most important meetings I have. We spend some time just catching up on life, as we all have adventures and families outside of work, and I highly value them. We then spend some time looking back a week or so on the good, the bad, and the ugly in order to discuss ways of improvement for them and for the company. We wrap up with looking forward to the upcoming shows and their development as well.

Just as I finish one of those meetings I receive a video conference call from our director of lighting, Scott, who needs an ASAP change to a rigging plot, as we just found out that the venue-supplied drawings were not accurate. We look into Vectorworks together to see what solution we can identify. In the meantime, I open my Line Array Calculator and make sure the new location doesn’t require a change in the original quantity of boxes needed. Once a solution has been made, it is time to update the quote and the production manager.

As I am about to move onto my next project, I receive a call from a tech who is on-show site. He needs some help with a piece of gear that appears to not be working correctly. We talk it though and work out a solution to resolve it. Now that the phone and video calls are done, it’s back to the background music to keep my afternoon going. I’m sure you are sensing a theme here, music means a lot to me and it is therapy just as much as it is motivation and inspiration. I pound through a few emails, booking freelance A1’s, and review some shows quoted by our PM’s.

The next Outlook meeting notification lets me know it’s time to head to the airport. So, I jump into my car and get on my way. While traveling, I love listening to podcasts. I love learning new things and deep discussions that stretch and intrigue my mind. Podcast like The Break it Down Podcast, Bad Christian, Manager Tools, and Don’t Feed the Trolls. This trip is for training as I head to San Francisco to attend a 3-day Rational Acoustics Smaart course. Smaart is the software we use to help us analyze and tune sound systems. I can’t say enough about how much continuing the education in my job means to me. Partly because of my drive to be the best I can, but mostly because what I do is so much more than just a career, it’s a passion I’ve had ever since I was a little kid doing shows every weekend with my Dad.

That was a long day and probably only covers half of what a possible day looks like for me. But, now you know a little more about the Day in the life of The Director of Audio at IMS Technology Services.

Hospitality in the Trump Era

Posted on: June 2nd, 2017

The following are excerpts from an original article from Meetings & Conventions Magazine

Hotel executives weigh in on what lies ahead this year and beyond

Hoteliers have been riding high in recent years, basking in the glow of record increases in vital categories such as occupancy and revenue per available room, and with demand growth outpacing supply growth since 2010. But with a new U.S. president in office and a world in flux for myriad reasons, will the good times continue to roll?

M&C recently reached out to several luminaries in the hospitality realm to discuss their outlook for the coming year, particularly when it comes to group business and whether geopolitical and/or economic factors will bring major changes to the industry.

Sources project that supply will outpace demand in 2017 for the first time in eight years. Will this affect the meetings market?

Chris Cahill: The supply side in the luxury and upper upscale in the U.S. and Canada is not really robust. Even if you look at New York City, with the amount of growth there, not that much is at the luxury tier, or even the upper-upscale tier; it’s mostly limited-service or boutique product.

Michael Dominguez: Yeah, there is more supply, which is going to help in certain markets, but for meeting planners looking for space? There’s just no space available in the U.S., because we haven’t built anything significant on an average year-over-year basis since we were back in the peak of 2007. So it’s great that we have some extra guest rooms, but that’s not going to help if we can’t have a meeting.

Frank Passanante: Meeting space actually has seen a continual decline over the last several years. Based on data we have from 2000 to 2009, the hotels that are being built now have 24 percent less meeting space per room. While room supply is catching up with the demand, we’re building hotels with less meeting space. As we talk to customers, a common concern that they share is the lack of ability. So we’re working to find solutions with our customers, taking a broader look at bundling their meetings business over the next 12 to 18 months or more.

Michael Massari: We’ve enjoyed somewhere between three and five years of an expansion market, depending on your segment. And it appears that 2017 will add a year to that, and 2018-’19 might add two more. So that would be six to eight years — one of the longest, if not the longest, expansionary markets seen in the hospitality business. I’ve been doing this long enough to know that it’s not normal. But the indications we have today are that the next three years are going to be quite good.

Peter Strebel: Group business is strong, but we’re seeing some challenges in some markets — it’s really specific to the new supply. For example, in Texas, growth is happening in Austin, Houston and Dallas, so we’re seeing some more competition in those markets. The same thing goes for a market like Nashville; we’ve been open there for three years, and it seems like every day there’s a new hotel opening there, so that market is under a little pressure now as well. Where we see some pressure on group demand, though, we’re able to replace that with surging leisure business. The outlook is still very strong.

Are Trump-administration actions affecting your business?

Strebel: We haven’t seen anything positive or negative yet. I think what could be affected is the relationship we have with key inbound countries. I think the rhetoric has a psychological impact on people wanting to travel here. People in many places around the world have in some ways been fascinated with the U.S., and I hope that still remains true.

Massari: International travel is down, so we need to figure out why it’s down and how we’re going to get it back up, because it was a run of 12 to 15 straight years’ worth of increases. We need to continue on our path of 100 million visitors to this country.

With respect to President Trump’s executive orders on travel and immigration, we’re concerned that the conversation doesn’t have enough balance to it. You have to think about what people are hearing. We need to figure out a way to add balance, to be both secure and welcoming.

One thing that gives me promise is that we’ve got a president who’s still doing rallies — he clearly understands the value of face-to-face meetings. Another thing is that without international travel, our trade deficit would be 20 percent larger; I think a president who is borderline obsessed with exports is going to come around.

I’d be shocked if the president didn’t also want there to be 100 million international travelers to the United States. That’s good for employment, businesses, tax income and the U.S. trade balance. It’s good for everybody. And if you can do it in a safe and secure manner, it’s nearly perfect.

Dominguez: There’s a lot of confusion out there about the executive orders, and the government has been doing a poor job of communicating them effectively around the world. But international travel started to dip last year, long before the executive orders were issued. I personally think that eventually this will be a small blip in terms of the overall effect on travel, but there’s a lot of uncertainty around the world, and uncertainty is never good for travel.

The industry is going to make sure the administration is well-educated about travel, just as we did many times during the Obama administration. But there’s a lot of noise in Washington right now, and we want to make sure we’re approaching the administration while they don’t have several different fires going on.

Passanante: I’m based in Washington, D.C., and I’ve been around Washington for 25 years. The reality is that with every new administration comes a level of change, and we’re obligated to look at all the potential effects of the legislative agendas, and we watch it just like everybody else. Do we expect some things to change as a result of that new agenda? Yeah, probably. Have we seen any impact thus far? No, not really — not more or less than we would expect to have seen with any other change of administration in the past.

Cahill: People keep thinking this volatility — on a global basis — is going to stabilize somehow. But there’s a fundamental paradigm shift. I believe there will be increasingly dramatic swings in that volatility, whether because of geopolitical or financial issues, or the threat of terrorism. I don’t think our abilities to predict will be as reliable as they were before. People need to be agile, to be able to shift with the changing issues.

Click here to read more responses from the panel, including their thoughts on booking room blocks for large events, commissions, industry trends, and more.

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