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September 4th, 2014

Event Apps

In this series, we’ll lead you through the complicated event app decision-making process. Apps are changing the face of event management. Yet, while 60% of Meeting and Event Planners intend to use an event app in the future, a full 40% have not used a meeting app in the past and do not plan to use one anytime soon. Whether you’re a total beginner or just beginning anew, here are some tips to get started with app development.

 

What do Event Planners want from an event app?

The event app industry is quickly becoming saturated with companies offering everything from customized, full-service development options, down to easy drag-and-click do-it-yourself choices. When you’re navigating through the potential providers, ask yourself how well the app developer is able to handle these top five issues.

1. Control of development—Event Planners are highly organized people and they know the needs and wants of their clients and attendees. On average, Event Planners feel more comfortable when they know that they are a part of the event app creation process, every step of the way. Playing a large role in the development process provides two main benefits. First, it helps Event Planners do what they do best—look for potential issues and solve problems. Second, it ensures that the Event Planners themselves are thoroughly knowledgeable about how the app is designed and the features that it offers—since they were fully participating in development.

2. Customized look—Event Planners know that logos and branding are extremely important to their clients. If an event app is customized in its function but it fails to incorporate the unique branding of the event or the corporate sponsor, then it has only completed half of its purpose. Corporate events exist to extend the reach and increase the visibility of a business. An event app must clearly reflect the contribution of the business responsible for its development.

3. Easily updated content—Event Planners are not software engineers. They need assistance setting the framework and foundation of an expert app, but they must be able to take control of the content. One of the main benefits of an event app is the possibility of effortless adjustments to schedules, agendas and more. This benefit is lost if the content management portion of the app is not intuitive.

4. Templates—Event Planners love to have their events continue annually and to grow, year after year. For this ideal situation, the ideal event app offers templates, so that the look and feel of the app remains consistent for subsequent events. Once a customized app is created to suit the particular needs of an event, it is an enormous benefit to have that information available for reuse later on.

5. Adaptability—Event Planners know . . . things change. More than just editing and content updating, how easy is it to add or remove the app’s tools and features, if necessary? Can a fresh, new social media content stream be added? Can a gaming or geolocation feature be included? Ensure that the foundation is in place, but also be certain that there is room for adaptation. Each year that the event continues, it’s vital that new tools and technologies can be included

Stay tuned for our next post, “How to Succeed with Event Apps—Part Two: Tech options to Consider.”

August 28th, 2014

evernote1Finishing our six-part series on Evernote, we discuss some of the fascinating tools that have been developed specifically for this amazing organizational program. Although Evernote is designed to keep digital and electronic versions of our notes, its designers understood that some people naturally gravitate towards handwritten note-taking—they may even learn, process, and remember items better when they write in their own script. For these “hands-on” individuals, Evernote has the following magical options.

  1. Evernote Business Notebook by Moleskine – THE traditional notebook, now digitally supported for technological convenience. mobile-and-moleskineFor creative types and those who LOVE handwritten notes, this notebook allows you to JOT, sketch, or create whatever you like, your way, and then use Evernote’s Document Camera to save the images—even easily share your notes with your team. Your handwritten notes are still searchable—Evernote’s powerful search will recognize the text within your handwriting.
  2. 7notes – this app for iPad or iPhone allows you to quickly and accurately take notes in your own handwriting and to have those notes recognized, the text captured and synced into your Evernote account using the app’s state-of-the-art handwriting recognition engine. Anyone who, for business or personal reasons, prefers their own handwriting over fonts, texting or typing, will enjoy having the ability to merge the unique personality of their own script with the convenience of Evernote. This is a particularly useful app for classroom note-taking and business meetings, or for times when a keyboard simply isn’t practical.
  3. Jot Script Evernote Edition – if indeed handwritten notes are your tried-and-true method, then certainly the stylus at hand (so to speak) is an important part of the experience. Jot Script is a company that understands what you’re looking for. If you’ve used previous styluses and found them flimsy, clunky, or imprecise, then give this implement a try. It’s designed to allow your handwriting to flow freely, as well as to let your notes flow directly into Evernote.
  4. WritePad – this iPad/iPhone app allows you to write directly on the screen of your device, and it instantly converts your handwritten notes into computer text. Your notes can be synced to Evernote, and also Tweeted, posted to Facebook, emailed, integrated into maps, contacts, printed, exported as PDFs, translated into other languages, and MORE!
  5. Pebble Smartwatch – as our final suggestion, we include a wearable designed to work with Evernote. If hands-on is your style, this offering may be for you. May your thoughts never be further from you . . . than your own wrist.

 

In conclusion, Apps will continue to develop and be developed—making each step in our lives, each glitch that we experience, easier to overcome. As we move into the future, we hope that technology will continue to streamline our effectiveness, allowing us to have more time for the things that really matter.

July 31st, 2014

Continuing our six-part series, we attack the clutter of our data using the brilliant simplicity of Evernote! In our first post, we discussed evernote10 easy methods for getting started. Hopefully, at this point you have at least a few notes entered into the system. Pull up your notebooks, because we’re about to start organizing!

Tagging

If you took our advice to heart, at this point you have at least two notebooks—one “Personal” and one “Work.” While you still have relatively few notes entered . . . let’s begin tagging. Simply put, tags work like hashtags—helping to fine-tune categorization and allowing you to cross-reference your notes based on multiple categories. In exactly the same way that hashtags pull content from any source into a single stream unified by topic, Evernote tags make virtual folders based on any content you need. For example, if you’re an Event Planner, tag notes with the client’s name—that way you can immediately pull up all of the information relating to their projects. How do you tag? Simply click on the phrase “Click to add tag…”—it’s found at the top of every new note.

Here are some useful shortcuts:

  • New Note:  Ctrl + N
  • New Notebook:  Ctrl + Shift + N
  • New Tag:  Ctrl + Shift + T
  • Jump to Tag:  Shift + Alt + T
  • Jump to Notebooks:  Shift + Alt + N
  • Find in Evernote: Win + Shift + F

TipTip: in the “View” section of your navigation bar, check on the box beside “Show Related Notes.” Evernote will naturally bring up similar and relevant notes—making it easier for you to coordinate ALL the pieces of your project. This feature offers another excellent way to cross-reference your data without any extra work or forethought. It’s also a great way to keep track of overlapping notes and make it easy to remove redundant information!

Synchronization

Synchronization is one of the main reasons that Evernote succeeds in organization where other systems fail. If you’ve previously used multiple systems for keeping track of business contacts, calendars and schedules, folders for work information, personal information, and documents, then you’ve already experienced the difficulty of coordinating separate programs. Evernote’s synchronization connects your email to Evernote, to your tablet, to your computer, to your laptop, to your phone and back—you can even let other people into your loop! All of the information that you store is available on the device at hand—whichever device that happens to be. Better still, you can access all notes offline once they’re synced. How do you sync? When you download Evernote, the setup will guide you through the steps that magically connect your device . . . to your data!

Stay tuned for the next post in the series: “Evernote Illuminated—Part Three: Importing and Collaborating”, as we dive into the amazing and innovative ways you can collect and share your data!

 

 

 

 

July 24th, 2014

In this six-part series, we delve deeper into detail with a master app that is the ideal marriage of simplicity and genius—Evernote. Just logoevernoteas a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, so does a project of a thousand stages, a novel of a thousand words, or plans for an event of a thousand guests begin with a single note! Evernote is like a MAGNET that gathers ideas, and those collected ideas have the power to develop into ANYTHING.

The beauty of Evernote is that it provides a unique opportunity to (FINALLY!) keep track of all aspects of your life—both your personal and professional lives—in a SINGLE program. Project schedules, emails, documents, business contacts, social engagements, reminders, anecdotes, ideas, journals, lists, vacation info . . . Evernote’s structure adapts perfectly to anyone’s needs.

Evernote_Iphone.jpgWhat separates Evernote from most, if not all, other organizational tools or systems is that you don’t need any planning in order to have all of your information at your fingertips—WITHOUT  searching or indexing. Most people find themselves with multiple organizing and filing systems—a program for email, files for documents, a system for business contacts, a binder for paperwork, a folder for reminders—all of them take planning, follow-ups and follow through to make sense of your data. How many of us have spent HOURS sorting and labeling and filing, only to run out of energy and start “piling” instead of filing? Evernote effortlessly handles all the data in our rapidly evolving lives.

Starting with the basics, individual notes are collected into notebooks, naturally. Notebooks can be dedicated to ANY topic under the sun.

How to begin converting to Evernote:

  1. Look around your desk. Do you currently keep physical, hardcopy notes using sticky notes, notepads, or even scraps of paper? Begin with these. Take the relevant information off of these and put them into your first notes. (Recycle the paper notes, and notice how good you feel about watching them go.)
  2. You have the option to add a Notebook category to your first notes. Feel free to start simple; make yourself a “Personal” notebook and a “Work” notebook. Again, Evernote is one of the few programs that will easily adapt as your needs change—there’s ALWAYS time later to fine-tune the labeling of your information. Even with a system categorized as basically as “work” and “personal,” you’ll notice that you feel more organized.
  3. Next—if you have piles of incoming papers or memos, start with the pile nearest to you. Oftentimes, we’re holding onto a physical sheet of paper because of a tiny amount of relevant information that we might need later, and when we DO need that information it’s nowhere to be found. Rest assured that after a few keystrokes, your desk is cleaner and necessary information is available instantly when you need it.
  4. Let go of outdated filing systems and begin to see Evernote as your own personal secretary. Start sending your data its way and watch as organizational magic develops!

Stay tuned for next week’s post: Evernote Illuminated—Part Two: Tagging and Syncing!

June 26th, 2014

AFTER THE EVENT – THE BEAT GOES ON!

Although the last attendee has checked-out, all the technology rentals are returned, and the signage is taken down, your event still has momentum, and there’s a tremendous amount of potential that needs to be utilized! The weeks immediately following your event are the ideal time to roll energy into planning the NEXT corporate gathering, as well as the perfect opportunity to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of what just occurred.

The following Apps provide polling and analytics that are necessary for answering questions like:

  • Which speakers were considered the most informative?
  • What adjectives did attendees use most often regarding the event?
  • What sessions generated the highest levels of engagement?
  • Which elements of the event caused the most tweets?

Bizzabo – saving time by reusing an App that you’ve already applied, Bizzabo returns to center stage as it helps you identify the relevant information that will fine-tune future corporate gatherings! The Bizzabo event App provides direct methods of gathering feedback from your attendees. The App also helps you use the analytics from social media to get a true picture of your event’s successes and failures in the minds of your guests.

Pathable – this App can help Event Planners from start to finish. In the finishing stages, it facilitates and simplifies post-event polling and surveys—allowing attendees to respond from a desktop web or a mobile App. Better still, Pathable provides customized data reporting that is easy to understand, letting you quickly analyze the ROI of a corporate event—essential information for your clients’ reporting, planning, and budget meetings.

Hootsuite – Hootsuite can be used to get information out, but it can also keep an “ear” out for tweets, posts, and mentions about your brand or your event. Simply set up a stream that searches for mentions and you’ll have insider knowledge of what people are saying, giving you a chance to utilize this valuable, candid feedback as a way to improve future conferences.

Zerista – with its customized event specific social media platform, this App gives you access to a concentrated stream of comments regarding your meetings. Zerista aims to make networking and discussion between attendees simple and convenient, making it easier for you to gather the information you need.

DoubleDutch – this App is designed to increase networking and interactions. After the event, it converts all the data of the digital connections into precise reports that will help improve your conferences and corporate events. DoubleDutch can even provide a post-event App engagement infographic!

CRE has the hardware needed to run the latest software! Whether you need Computer Rentals, iPad Rentals, Interactive Kiosks, or the best Trade Show Speakers, give us a call today! 877-266-7725

 

 

June 12th, 2014

DURING THE EVENT – PERSONAL CONNECTIONS

Business and corporate events are designed with ONE objective in mind—to make connections with other people. Certainly, technology is quickly becoming King of events, but all the banners and lights—bells and whistles—are designed to draw the attention of individual humans that represent opportunities for you and your business. With this simple, obvious goal in mind, Part 6 of “There’s an App for It” focuses on the Apps that can keep you connected with the people that are most important to your business goals.

As an Event Planner, you’re used to burning both ends of the connection candle—you’re always helping to facilitate connections between your attendees, while you’re simultaneously (and—hopefully—invisibly) working the connections between your staff members and volunteers.

Connecting with Staff and Volunteers during an Event

Hey Tell – this free, fun, convenient App converts your smartphone into a combination walkie-talkie/instant voice messaging service with geo-location benefits! There’s no contract needed for this service. Since Hey Tell sends instant voice messages, it allows busy Event Planners to skip the work of texting. Furthermore, it allows messages to be sent to specific individuals—an advantage over traditional walkie-talkies!

Connecting Business Cards at First Sight

We return to Evernote for their organizational superpowers. Evernote works with your smartphone to instantly capture business cards using the Business Card Camera. After the App is downloaded, capturing a business card is as easy as “tap and slide.” The camera itself will hunt for the card, pull off the information and store it instantly in your contacts. With one additional click it can send a follow-up email to your new contact. It will even connect that information to a LinkedIn profile, giving you access to additional background information that can really solidify a personal connection!

As an Event Planner, Evernote’s Business Card Camera can help you help either yourself OR your guests. Certainly, this is an enormous advantage for business representatives, buyers, headhunters and more. However, as an Event Coordinator, the Business Card Camera is another quick and easy way for you to store the vital information you need on the vendors that are supplying your needs on the floor. Let Evernote keep track of your caterers, AV rental specialists, hotel managers, florists, animal-wranglers, and the seamstress for the band.

Say “Hello!”

Just in case you thought we were done with singing the praises of Evernote, we’d like to SURPRISE you with Evernote Hello. This App is so simple and yet so revolutionary—most especially for insiders in the Event Industry. Evernote Hello is nothing more . . . and nothing less . . . than a way of keeping track of all the personal anecdotes and relevant information about the fascinating people that you meet in this amazing line of business!

 

 

May 22nd, 2014

 

BEFORE THE EVENT – IDEA APP

You thought the next article would be on Technology Apps Before your event…but I need to call out one program that encompasses Planning, Technology and Promoting on the Pre-planning side.  I’m calling it the IDEA Organization app.

That program is Evernote and the program is free and the App is available for iPhones, Androids etc.

Evernote has become a go to program for filing and organizing all info you find (or put online).  It would be a Series of 10 articles to just discuss Evernote and all of its capabilities,  especially for Event Planning…but let’s start with some simple uses of this program/App.

Wandering through an event (I’m sure everything seems like an event to you at this point) you notice something brilliant or something not working…you take a note, you take a picture, you send a text…what happens with all that info now?

You upload it to Evernote where you file, tag, capture and store that tidbit so it’s easily found and referenced for another event or two.

I start by creating “Notebooks” for specific events or clients.  I also have Notebooks for random ideas, mistakes I want to avoid and active To-Dos.

So I am walking through someone else’s event and I come across a logo of a sponsor that would be a perfect match for Event XYZ … take a picture of that logo, tag it with sponsor, and name of company (and contact if I get that lucky).  It goes into my XYZ Event Notebook and tag it as a To Do.

From the App you can take a picture (a receipt, an agenda, a brochure, an itinerary,  etc.), attach an existing photo or document, write a note, set a reminder, create a checklist…and File, File, File…all from your phone.  This is especially great for all of us who aren’t really sitting at our desk very often.

And for those times when you are at your desk researching, trolling the web, reading blog articles (such as this one) you can use the Evernote Web clipper to clip any Webpage…no longer do you have to bookmark on your browser and later try to find what you book marked with no help of tags and notes.  Put it directly in an Event Notebook or a “To Read” Notebook.

Emails that are critical to an Event can be forwarded to your Evernote account and put in that Event notebook.  And use Evernote program Skitch to draw on your Evernote docs…great for communicating Tradeshow Floor changes.

In this article I’ve only scratched the surface of the robustness of Evernote.  So whether you are a one-person show or part of a large event planning team…Evernote can make things easier.   So Like us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter or Join our Circle on Google Plus for this 10 week series on what is out there in App land to make your next event less stressful and more spectacular.  And if you can’t do that immediately…then Evernote can remind you!

Go ahead and put “Call CRE Rentals” as an Evernote To-Do for your next event.   Whether you’re looking for iPads, WiFi Array systems or AudioVisual equipment, CRE Rentals has the technology you need to make your event stand out.

May 15th, 2014

BEFORE THE EVENT – PLANNING APPS

Ever wonder what all those little icons on your iPhone are used for…ever watch those Apple iPhone commercials and wonder…does my iPhone really do that?

I’ll tell you about a few apps that can change the way you plan for you next big corporate event, fundraiser or other event…and even if you don’t have an iPhone or newer iPad the apps mentioned,  or their equivilant, are available  for androids and desktops.

The first app is already on your iPhone,  as long as you have IOS 7 then all the functionality of this Reminder/Scheduler will be at your fingertips.

It’s your Reminders Icon that’s part of all IOS 7…this little scheduler packs a powerful punch in organization.  But it also allows you to set reminders based on when and where you want to be reminded.

Let’s take a common scenerio with Event Planners…the To Do List has the following 3 items on it.

Corporate Event 1 – Need to order Kiosks

New Product launch 3 – order iPads

Corporate Event 5 – order LCDs

Now if you created lists for all of the events (in Bold) and set up tasks under each event then you can either set up a reminder that pops up when you enter the doors of your favorite AV rental location or,  if you are virtual,  then set up a scheduled call where all of the tasks will pop up.

There are lots of step by step guides on how to use Reminders on your iPhone…here’s one:

http://www.macworld.com/article/2048985/get-to-know-ios-7-notes-and-reminders.html

Also,  once a list/Event is set up you can have Siri add to that list for when you are on the go and don’t want to type it out…Tell Siri to “Add Rent Monitors to your Corporate 1 List” or “Read my Scheduled Task List” or “Remind me to call CRE tomorrow at 9 am.”

One drawback…sharing your To-Do’s is a bit cumbersome with the Reminder App.  If you have a team and loads of people to assign things to…then Asana  (downloadable for Androids, IOs and Computer interface) is the App for you!

This fantastic free app allows you to create, assign and then track tasks.

Create a project (or event) create (or  copy over)  your To Do list…then assign duties.  All conversations, updates and changes are made in a single place…you don’t have to schedule status updates, read status emails or write updates.

It’s across platforms and not email specific (meaning you all don’t have to have a @companyname.com address) so it works for your contractors and vendors as well.

It’s a free App and easy to set up and maintain.  Don’t leave your office without it loaded and ready to check.

Now try these two apps out and see which one makes your world just a bit smoother this week.

CRE Rentals provides the technology needed for your event to be a success.   Whether you’re looking for WiFi Solutions,  iPads or Audience Response Systems we’re ready to help make your next event a success.  Give us a call today…877-266-7725

 

 

April 10th, 2014

Oculus RiftFacebook is buying Oculus VR, the maker of the Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) headset, for around $2 billion. This is a fact—as opposed to much of the hype about the purchase,  and the product itself. Recently, Sony announced its own headset, dramatically named Project Morpheus, so the momentum is building for “the breakthrough” that has been decades in the making. It’s time for a reality check on virtual reality.

The challenges now are legion. The public sees VR headsets as “gamer gear,” so Facebook will need to merge the technology into its huge (and still growing) social space. In an investor call after the purchase announcement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke of “sharing not just moments [but] entire experiences and adventures. Oculus,” he opined, “has the potential to be the most social platform ever.”

A Call for Clarity

In a statement reminiscent of Apple’s reactions to rumors about our original iPad rental, one PCWorld.com columnist went so far as to say, “Everything you’ve heard about the Oculus Rift is wrong.” Brad Chacos thinks the Oculus Rift is “a groundbreaking, affordable virtual reality headset,” but the public has “a skewed picture.” He lists five top “inaccuracies,” but two deal with Kickstarter funding and the Oculus SDK (Software Developers Kit). The other three points, however, are crucial to clarity here.

Not Just For Games: The “early software” for the Rift, or any other VR headset, will focus primarily on games and other diversions. But Zuckerberg did not buy Oculus to make shoot-’em-ups more realistic. Like Steve Jobs with the iMac, he “sees the future” and aims for it. What might he see? One simple example: Bossa Studios’ Surgeon Simulator is a game today, but delete the horror-movie elements and tomorrow it could be part of a medical school curriculum.

Not Ready for Primetime: The Oculus Rift can be purchased at the company’s website. The firm has sold some 75,000 of them since March 2013, but the “product” is not a finished consumer product, but a developer’s kit to help you create VR software. There is no date set for a consumer-ready device, and when one debuts, it will require the horsepower of a CRE computer rental. Until power requirements are reduced to work with tablets and smartphones, the VR social “dimension” will remain constricted.

Not the Only Game in Town: With Facebook’s clout (and cash), Oculus—which will operate “semi-autonomously” like recent acquisition WhatsApp—often appears to be the only VR company around. CRE agrees with PCWorld.com’s Chacos that you should keep an eye on a “wide range of companies [that] are developing virtual and augmented reality headsets…including game-industry heavyweights like Sony (of PlayStation fame) and Valve (creators of the Steam PC gaming platform).” We know you’re busy, so we’ll keep an eye out for you—and so, as we like to conclude, we will keep you posted!

CRE Rentals  keeps you informed on future technologies while continuing to provide the technology that  you need to get your projects finished today.  If you’re looking for the new Mac Pro…we’ve got it!  Give us a call today to find out about all of products and services. 877-266-7725

April 3rd, 2014

Classic Arcade Watch

Arcade WristwatchSince the Apple iWatch is an “official rumor” awaiting the mere technicality of the Cupertino firm’s own announcement, industry observers have already moved on to wondering about the competition (and it’s not just Samsung). There will be doubtless  scores of lookalike iCounterfeits, as well as watches running on Android and other mobile OS flavors. But something tells us that the Classic Arcade Wristwatch is going to have a corner on the 1980s arcade game look.

For telling time, the bitmap display (good ol’ pixelated B&W) shows a large comet (hour hand), a small comet (minutes), and a rocket ship (seconds). The small joystick is nonfunctional, but the “Fire” button results in screen flashes and appropriate sound effects. The detail work is very good, and it’s definitely more of a conversation-starter than, say, our iPad rental. Still, this is a true niche product: not just for geeks, but retro ones.

Nothing Succeeds Like Excess

American pen maker Cross once had a pretty tight grip on the premium pen market in the U.S. Graduations, promotions, and other commemorative events would spike their sales year after year. Today there’s a huge supply of pens that can cost as much as our MacBook Pro rental. As one example, the Monteverde One Touch Engage Retractable Ink Ball Pen, a premium pen at a premium price, does offer some usefully simple features, like doubling as a stylus for touchscreens.

Like a Mont Blanc pen, this model from Monteverde fairly oozes class. Built of carbon fiber and other primo components, the One Touch has Monteverde’s ultra-cool retractable rollerball (unscrew the tip and behold!), as well as a fountain pen’s ability to suck up any ink and make it work. Substantial without being heavy, with a reportedly “sublime” on-paper feel, the One Touch is as futuristic as our new Mac Pro rental, as well built as a Swiss watch, and as classy as a pen can be.

Plugged… or Mugged?

Girl Plugged InThe Sensory Fiction project at MIT, with no trace of irony, is using The Girl Who Was Plugged In by James Tiptree Jr. as its initial foray into “multimedia reading.” To experience Sensory Fiction, you wear a high-tech harness equipped with a scanner that reads encoded directions to dial up coldness or warmth and adjusts built-in LEDs to establish time or mood. Vibrating mechanisms affect the heart rate while an airbag compression system loosens and tightens around the torso. And it all follows the story’s plot.

“Traditionally,” the Sensory Fiction project objective states, ”fiction creates and induces emotions and empathy through words and images… Sensory Fiction [conveys] plot, mood, and emotion while still allowing space for the reader’s imagination.” Leave space, too, for those words and images that, when wielded by the sort of skilled creatives who use CRE render farms, bring you that “emotions and empathy” stuff.

Not sure about a high-tech harness that tightens around your torso?…we’re with you on that one.  For today’s technology rental needs your best source is CRE Rentals.  Interested to know about our products and services?  Give us a call today 877-266-7725

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