Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

ProShow Apps Team debuts at American Academy of Periodontology 2014

September 23, 2014

AAP introduced their annual meeting app to attendees last year, but attendees struggled with applications and access.  The ProShow Apps team of especially tech savvy staffers came to the rescue at the Centennial meeting in San Francisco this year—on site interacting with attendees with the goal of educating them and encouraging attendees to create their session schedules, upload photos,, exchange info and more.

It’s not always the download; that is fairly easy but it’s the question of “now what?”  The attendee often wonders what more can the show app do and why is it better than a printed exhibit floor listing and sessions schedule?

The ProShow Apps team was active on site at AAP showing attendees how to fully utilize the meeting app, and explain its value as well as direct attendees to various locations using the app.

PS AAPerio 09_14 008

So whether your show or meeting app has been introduced several years ago or more recently, there are always additional functions that can and should be added year to year to keep your app up to date and user friendly; the ProShow Apps team stands ready to help you implement your app on site.

Is everyone talking about your show?

August 21, 2014

It’s all about the customer experience. It’s not a new concept, but is a very important one; a concept that should drive our decisions when planning meetings and events. If the customer experience is not what it should be, the show or meeting will likely be losing attendance or not able to gain the attendance it could have. Here at ProShow we are all about the customer experience. One way to improve the customer experience is to introduce new programs that cater to the customer experience and one such program is the ProShow App Team.

Most of our clients have show or meeting apps for smart phones and tablets. Some of our clients are much farther along this track than others. Our clients also have diverse attendees and users, with the full spectrum of some being very tech savvy, like CES attendees while others may have just purchased their first smart phone or not really know how to use it. So with such differing levels of skill and comfort with Apps, why are so many shows and meeting using Apps? In short, Apps are the future. Here is a quick look back at list of pros and cons from our June blog:

Pros:
•    Can replace directories and quick guides
•    Sustainable
•    Extremely convenient
•    Info at your fingertips
•    Manage CE credits
•    Daily Planner
•    Networking
•    Updated automatically

Cons:
•    Needs good Wi-Fi signal strength and bandwidth
•    Need charging stations to keep mobile devices up and running
•    Not always available on all platforms

Many of the “Cons” are quickly disappearing with convention centers upgrading their Wi-Fi infrastructure and charging stations becoming the norm.

With show apps being the wave of the future, how do we ensure the best experience for the attendees that are not power users? Enter the ProShow App Team, an attendee experience equalizer that ensures the app is utilized to its fullest potential. The ProShow App Team is comprised of a highly experienced team of staffers that can help attendees with all aspects of the show app. They assist in downloading the app on the attendees’ phones. Sometimes attendees just need help getting on the Wi-Fi and finding the app.  The ProShow App Team  gives tutorials on the app for those who need more assistance. They will provide an overview of features, explaining how to search for items and plan an on site daily schedule. When the ProShow App Team is not assisting attendees with the show app, they function as a walking/talking mobile INFO booth.

A new program can enhance the customer experience and it’s all about the customer experience. ProShow’s App Team is an example of a customer experience equalizer that can have your attendees raving about what a great show or meeting they just got back from. Make your show or meeting the one everyone is talking about.

Twenty-five years—where did the time go?

July 7, 2014

Celebrating ProShow’s twenty-five years of history and development brings back many memories but none so fundamental as the lessons learned on our very first convention staffing project, Ben Franklin Stores, 1989, San Francisco.

While we opened our doors with a solid foundation in office staffing, we had much to learn and quickly about the different standards of event staffing, the “show biz” aspects of it: that when the show opens, each staffer has to be in place, in dress code, ready to help the first guest, and that you have only one opportunity to make that great first impression!

Developing the tools and systems to find the best matches in event staffers took a lot of trial and error, but we learned quickly, developing our standards and focusing on the smiley faces that must be the first impression to every guest entering into an event.

Laying the foundation of providing high quality staff matched to our clients’ needs was relatively easy but fulfilling our promise of on time delivery created more of a challenge than anticipated.

On the final night of the Ben Franklin Stores data entry project, it appeared our staff was overwhelmed by the rush of last minute orders that had to be entered online by the deadline.  We owners and our families relaxed at home for the evening, and when the distress call came in, we pulled ourselves together and converged on the Moscone Center, fingers ready to jump onto the last of the data entry to meet the deadline.  We made it!

A telling moment of truth: to exceed our clients’ expectations, we had to rise to the occasion and do whatever needed to be done in the moment.  We have carried these lessons with us on every project.

Building trust with our clients is a process not unlike any relationship; promises are promises, but the “truth” is in our performance.

Trust is established by some basics we established early: working collaboratively with our clients and within our internal work teams.  We plan with our clients, getting a full understanding of the event above and beyond the staffing element so we can see how our piece fits into the whole.  We build our support team to meet each client’s needs, and our teams work repeatedly with our clients, year to year to establish continuity and deepen trust.

We close each project with a wrap up so we can learn what worked and didn’t work from our client’s perspective.  Then, we take these lessons forward to build on the next year and the next project.

Looking back, it seems easy now, but after twenty-five years of diligent implementation, our way of working sustains us and fills us with the joy of each accomplishment.

Looking back, it seems easy now, but after twenty-five years of diligent implementation, our way of working sustains us and fills us with the joy of each accomplishment.

25yearcard

June 4, 2014

21st century Innovations: Mobile App at Center

A quick web search reveals top ten lists and discussions about 21st century innovations. It is still early in this century, so it is hard to tell what is going to remain a top influence let alone see any consensus.  We are in the same boat with conventions and meetings innovations but we do have front runners.  One of these that has the legs to become a part of every meeting and influence our onsite interactions is the mobile app.

Pros:
•    Can replace directories and quick guides
•    Green
•    Extremely convenient
•    Info at your fingertips
•    Updated automatically

Cons:
•    Needs good wifi signal and bandwidth
•    Need charging stations to keep mobile devices up and running
•    Not always available on all platforms
•    Some are lacking key info and hard to use
•    Often specialized staff is helpful to orient attendees

McDonalds Digital Concierge

Mobile apps are definitely new with the largest providers being established in 2008-2009. Over the past 5 years the mobile app has become more common at larger shows and meetings.

Are mobile apps living up to their full potential? Not yet. Many convention centers are still working on expanding their cell and wifi coverage. Others that have done so, still may not have enough bandwidth for larger events that are the early adopters of mobile apps. And another factor is that some apps are easier to use than others.

Even if we are not experiencing the best the conventions and meetings mobile app has to offer, it has a strong future. Many of the early adopters have done away with or drastically reduced the number of directories and quick guides they provide onsite. There is a very real sustainability benefit as well as a possible cost reduction. Let’s say that the mobile app being a new technology cost more than the publications. Is it still better? Yes! Because as soon as the publications are printed things change in our dynamic event world and we need to get addendums distributed. The mobile app updates itself regularly.

While the conventions and meetings mobile app will have more refinements to come; it is a convenient tool with show info at your fingertips. We can all look forward to more 21st century innovations.

Could Gutenberg Have Embraced a Digital World?

May 7, 2014

Could Gutenberg Have Embraced a Digital World?

Prior to the rise of the Internet, no innovation did more for the spread of knowledge and information than Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press. Developed around 1440 in Mainz, Germany, Gutenberg’s machine improved on already existing presses through the use of a mold that allowed for the rapid production of lead alloy type pieces. This assembly line method of copying books enabled a single printing press to create as many as 3,600 pages per day. By 1500 over 1,000 Gutenberg presses were operating in Europe, and by 1600 they had created over 200 million new books. The printing press not only made books affordable for the lower classes, but it helped spark the Age of Enlightenment and facilitated the spread of new and often controversial ideas. The printing press proved so influential in prompting revolutions, religious upheaval and scientific thought that Mark Twain would later write, “What the world is today, good and bad, it owes to Gutenberg.”-The History Channel

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ProShow’s Digital Information Staff at our recent event in Orlando

Flash forward to a digital communications world where there are multiple platforms available for the delivery of information all around us also proving to be influential in prompting revolutions, religious upheaval, scientific thought, and even more than maybe even Mark Twain could imagine. Some believe print will eventually become a thing of the past and probably sooner than we think. Many companies and industries are becoming more passionate about our environment, seeking out ways to be more “green” and finding out how being environmentally conscious can also reduce operating costs. While our great innovator of the past, Gutenberg, may not be a fan of less print in this world, the conventions, meetings, and event industry is discovering the benefits of just such an approach.

 

Many of ProShow’s clients are moving away from printed onsite guides and providing attendees a “greener” way to access event information at the touch of a fingertip through the use of an App on their smartphone or tablet. In order to help attendees transition to this approach, ProShow provides and trains digital information staff with a combination of technological expertise, vital show knowledge, and a friendly, outgoing personality to deliver it. So if your organization is looking to make a digital transition like this at one of your future events, talk to ProShow about how we can help your attendees embrace this new innovative way to deliver the information they want. Perhaps, our digital information staff may have even been able to convince Gutenberg to pick up a smartphone.

Innovators: Agents of Change Focus on Peter Alexan, RA Consulting

April 7, 2014

ProShow’s Innovators series has shown meeting planners how to bring innovation into their teams, how to innovate with themselves, and this month we are exploring how the innovative spark ignited the successful Consulting management company, RA Consulting.

A company’s core values often serve as the origin of innovation.  As such during a recent conversation, Peter shared the following with us:

        Be 100% proactive for your clients
        Be flexible tailoring your procedures to the clients’ needs.
        Be consistent in all you do
        Be budget conscious

These core values have driving RA Consulting’s activities with every project, and have often caused needed change within the company.  For example, for American Dental Association ProShow and RA Consulting team up to meet client needs proactively in general session room loading, session room overflow, registration area crowd maintenance.

RA Consulting approached ProShow some years ago at ADA Las Vegas and offered to work together to anticipate needs, and actively keep issues under wraps.

The RA “Response Team” was created.  This innovative approach to anticipating potential bottlenecks, hot spots, and venue based challenges arose from the recognition of better service is possible to clients if we work together and not only act quickly in the moment, but plan for contingencies.

That is innovation in an industry in which supplier partners don’t always chose to partner!  The impact of any innovation is deepened when broader resources are brought to bear.

What does all this innovation do for RA Consulting’s clients?  Focus resources, advance teamwork, and on tangible basis, save money otherwise wasted on 4 hour staffing minimums when only short term needs arise, unnecessary overtime, or potential liability issues surface.

“I look at the sensitive aspects of every client’s show or meeting and ask myself, how could RA improve on this or that; what can we offer to do that will fill the gap/strengthen the impact for the client’s guests?” Peter shared.

At the end of the day, “it’s about having a proactive mind set so that when surprises arise, we can out ahead of them.”

That’s just what Peter is doing for his own company–transferring all their internal forms, work products, etc. to be cloud so he can improve response time and ease of access for his team–caught innovating again!

Lead through Innovation

March 12, 2014

“The only thing constant in life is change”  François de La Rochefoucauld

Some fear change while others embrace it. Given that change is constant, it is important to be on the forefront of change instead of swept up in the wake of change, unprepared for what is coming. History is full of companies flourishing and perishing depending on where they fit in on the change scale. This also occurs in the meetings industry. So how do we ensure that we come out on top? One solution is to lead through Innovation.

For most, Innovation brings up images of high tech companies and players like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, but there are other more common examples as well like White out and Post-it notes.  Both are very simple solutions to common problems, yet very innovative. Many Innovations come to life as solutions to problems. With this in mind we can look to our limitations so we can turn them to our advantage.

ProShow had this opportunity with a client in 2009.  The client came to us with a complaint about their registration database accuracy from a show. The client found numerous mistakes in the attendee files.  The show is based on business to business transactions relying on their attendees being able to correspond and place orders with each other. Now we had our problem staring us in the face, it was time to turn this around.

Digging deeper we found that our staffing partners had very different practices with testing and screening candidates. Some staffers had not been tested in over 5yrs. As is normal in the event staffer world, we regularly get new faces. This meant that we had a mix of staffers who were knowledgeable on the registration database and others who are seeing it for the first time on day one. With the root of our issues defined, we were now looking for ways to turn this around.

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The first solution was to ensure that the staffers met a minimum requirement for typing and data entry.  Recognizing that over time a staffer could get better or worse at registration input, we also set a requirement of testing within 6 months of the start of the event. We worked closely with our client’s registration vendors to get screenshots and keying instructions and then ensured that the staffers reviewed and had a basic understanding of the system in advance of on site training. Implementing these steps into our placement and screening process resulted in a 70% improvement in our client’s database accuracy.

With an innovative solution to our problem, we recognized that all of our clients would benefit from our new process. This was the birth of our “Gold Team Certified Typist Program” which has been delivering great results for years. Turning your problem into your strength is a great way to lead through innovation

CES, 2014 Client Loyalty Clear

February 17, 2014

After our 11th year, we were thrilled to see that our client appreciated all the work we did above and beyond our normal build up to CES: to revise job descriptions, work with new partner vendors closely, etc. to achieve a success again in 2014.  While we know we always have to do whatever it takes to pull off a  project, it’s so rewarding when a client contact acknowledges our  hard work, and recognizes all we did to approach the project with fresh eyes.

Just click on the letter to enlarge it for easy reading.

 

 

PS CES letter 04_14

Top 4 ways to spark innovation in ourselves and others

February 3, 2014

Innovate, innovate!  Well sure, but exactly what is it, and how do we get that spark going in our every day world of meetings and events?  Innovation is the introduction of “something new or different: new things, devices or methods.”

We probably innovate more than we realize but let’s break it down so it’s more marked in our consciousness.

Initiate and Role Model

  • Look around for what needs fixing—what are the top 3 issues in which your attendees want improvement?
  • Get the team together—innovation arises from group think.
  • Show your team how they have innovated in the past with good results.
  • Throw out your top 3 and stand back to guide the brainstorming conversation.

Put a Stake in the Ground

  • Focus the team on the clearest quickest victory and set your sights on that one thing.
  • Identify how and when you will launch your innovative idea, technique, process, etc.
  • Ask for “owners” of various activities.
  • Set up a timetable for the various activities and check in points along the way.

Offer the opportunity

  • Suggest ways each team member can develop subsets of creative solutions and interact with other team members.
  • Recognize team members who contribute within the process.  Shine a light on what they are doing well!

Outline a path forward

  • Diagram a plan for each team member to report back on their solutions and agree on the keys innovations you can all be proud to present to the larger group.
  • After a period of time, check in to see how your innovation is working, refine and innovate new things, devices, methods…

Actually, these approaches are a fit for many team activities we undertake, but often we fail to use them when it’s time to innovate.  Put flame to the fire and see where it goes.

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ASLA: Forerunner in Sustainability

December 10, 2013

Wrapping up this season is the gift of the future.  Sustainability is a future driven practice, and American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has the history to provide their insight in best practices.  In an interview with Joyce DePass, Director of Meeting and Special programs, I learned about their green practices at the office and onsite at the ASLA convention.

The first thing Joyce made clear is the fact that her members are not your typical convention attendees when it comes to sustainability. Landscape Architects by their nature are a very “green” and environmentally friendly group. Sustainability is part of their career and lifestyle. Therefore the ASLA Annual Meeting & Expo has always focused on sustainability and has been an early adopter of many of the standard practices for sustainable meetings we see today.

2013 ASLA

In the office they have invested in a “green” roof…which for the uninitiated is a roof partially or fully covered in vegetation resulting in lower energy costs as well as being a great environment to visit.  Investing in your staff and office is another form of sustaining  in your business.  In addition to recycling, like separate recycling for k-cups, batteries and all the typical recycling, they also use mugs, glasses, plates and silverware in their office kitchen instead of disposable products that are typical.

ASLA was named one of the 50 Healthiest Employers in D.C., by the Washington Business Journal. Their Director just purchased a treadmill desk for the office.  Staff can sign up to work at the fully equipped treadmill desk. ASLA also has exercise classes every Wed with options like Yoga and Pilates.  These actions are intended to reduce stress, and keep the staff rejuvenated.

Sustainability is a factor when choosing hotels and vendors.  ASLA chooses to make recycling very visible in their meetings’ convention centers, and hotels even when many other meetings consider them unsightly.  They choose vendors who provide menus that are farm-to-table.  The first LEED certified museum in Boston, the Boston Children’s Museum, was selected as a 2013 venue for the most recent convention.

Because the path of sustainability is still relatively new, ASLA experienced challenges which we can all learn from.  In the beginning cost was a huge factor. It was hard to find and more expensive to get recyclable cups, biodegradable knives and forks.  Supply and demand has made these options available and more affordable now thanks to trend leaders like ASLA.

Also, transportation has been a challenge for this group because the attendees would prefer to walk instead of using transportation, and transportation has high costs associated with it.  There are some venues where buses are necessary and in those cases alternative energy fueled buses are sourced.  This year in Boston,  Joyce and her team decided to start shuttles at 6:30AM, ending them at 9:30AM because of the large number of early seminars.  They encouraged the attendees to take public transportation for all other needs.  This is much easier to do with ASLA attendees since many of them design public transportation systems and prefer to ride them.

Another strategy the organization embraces is working with partners to ensure sustainability in the supply chain.  ASLA uses multi-year contracts to take advantage of the efficiencies in a long term relationship with vendors and clients.

We can all learn from ASLA to consider the future with our practices and choose a path that will allow for the most sustainable future. Wishing you all a very happy and sustainable holiday season.