Meetings, conferences and events have undergone a major change over the past decade, including the increasing importance of technology rentals. They are transforming the landscape of events and driving new goals, from boosting attendee engagement and elevating environmental consciousness to supporting connectivity, mobility and social media. 
Here are a few ways tech rentals are enhancing meetings and events.

Interactivity increases engagement

Think about all of the leading-edge technologies now available to engage attendees: iPads, digital welcome signs, LCD/LED rentals, kiosks, charging stations and video walls (pictured). Each can play a role in capturing participation, delivering information and creating a “wow” factor. 
Exhibitors offering meeting professionals mobile applications to assist with registration and event navigation, floor plans and program agendas demonstrate a real value. Giving sponsors multiple opportunities to brand in real-time on digital signs, kiosks, charging stations and video walls provides maximum marketing ROI. 
Smart, interactive technologies can leverage social media to create and sustain a dialogue with event attendees. They also can educate regarding products/services in entertaining formats. Video presentations, for example, usually draw the biggest crowds.

Less paper, more green

Repurpose America estimates that trade show/conventions generate approximately 600,000 tons of trash annually, while the estimated 60 million people who attend these events create approximately 20 pounds of waste each, totaling over 
1 billion pounds. Technology rentals are proving a major remedy to this carbon footprint. 
Promoting events electronically through email, social media and mobile marketing significantly reduces paper. Using well-placed digital signage, video walls, plasma displays and kiosks is much more environmentally friendly than creating tons of brochures, flyers and posters. They also offer event planners new venues for capturing sponsors and associated revenues. 
Exhibitors can use technology to message the marketplace, promote offerings and capture prospect data. For example, exhibitors can use digital document libraries to deliver marketing content on-demand to their intended audience that can be downloaded to a USB drive or emailed for reading at a future time. This allows exhibitors to capture critical demographic data of attendees.

Customize with digital signage 

With digital signage, relevant content can be delivered to attendees in real-time. Digital signage is a perfect tool for conveying event agendas, sponsorships and branding messages, and for communicating special promotions. Messages can be customized for optimum target marketing and changed on the fly to drive outcomes such as attendance for certain breakout sessions and post-show networking events. The days of handing out paper invites after a session are over. 
Digital signage also can be used to deliver critical, time-sensitive information, keeping attendees abreast of key developments during an event, weather, travel conditions or even world news. Today’s advanced digital signage solutions encompass social media, live streaming, polling, PowerPoint presentations, websites, QR codes and news feeds.

Charging stations are stars

A great way to be the real star at any event is to provide a place where attendees can recharge mobile devices. With a charging station for cell phones, iPads, iPods and other devices, meeting planners and exhibitors can create their own red carpet, leading attendees to exactly where they want them. 
For meeting planners, strategically placing charging stations can help control event flow throughout a venue. Charging station kiosks can also be used to keep meeting attendees fully informed of scheduled activities and other vital information such as maps, transportation and live data feeds. Additionally, they are another way to promote sponsors who can be given the opportunity to use the top portion of the charging station to broadcast sales presentations, videos, other graphic materials and brand messages. 
Where else do you get seven to 12 minutes of uninterrupted attention of attendees? In addition to using a charging station similarly for marketing purposes, exhibitors placing a charging station in their booth area gain a sure-fire way to attract and retain traffic.

Audience response systems offer reality check 

Nothing says “you matter” more than asking for feedback. Audience-response systems give meeting organizers an effective way to poll attendees to learn what they are thinking about the event and its various elements. 
These systems are much better received than traditional surveys, are easier to implement and enable real-time, interactive feedback. The market intelligence they provide quickly and efficiently helps meeting organizers adjust messaging or presentations in response to audience feedback.
Simply put, audience-response systems help meeting planners better understand their audience. When these systems are in place, planners can enhance their marketing and/or educational presentations to best reflect audience needs and interests. Armed with real-time feedback, meeting professionals are in a much better position to make prudent decisions in a wide range of areas, from brand messaging and value propositions, to product design, service offerings, pricing and customer trainings.
Steven Shatsoff is the senior vice president of SmartSource Computer & Audio Visual Rentals in Hauppauge, New York. SmartSource is a leading provider of computer, audio visual and trade-show technology rentals and services.