It’s here! 2023 has finally arrived along with our pent-up demand to get together for much needed face-to-face time in live events. CES is already off to the races and is anticipated to be back to pre-pandemic levels. You have been planning and now is the time to execute. This is why we wanted to share a few insider tips on strategy and technology considerations for your ballroom sessions.
In American Express’s 2023 global meeting and events forecast, a key finding was how important internal meetings will be in the coming year. Internal meetings are on the rise everywhere globally, particularly in North America. “Meeting in-person allows for more trust, accountability, and collaboration, and gathering in off-site conference rooms helps eliminate office distractions.” Internal offsite meetings like sales kick off’s, summits, and symposiums stand to be a significant driver of activity and purpose.
Digitalization has given meeting planners tools and methods to make the process of organizing events more streamlined and effective. But few tools can address the complexities associated with procuring and deploying the right technology for that staged event, workshop, or break-out session. The reliance on your venue’s audio-video teams, or on live event partners, remains steeped in many of the same approaches. Either you trust your audio-video and live event company, or you may be hunting every time looking for the right partner.
We’ve been in business for nearly 20 years. During that time, we supported a lot of meetings and deployed a lot of technology. Our customers have shared horror stories and the reasons they choose us to support their most important events. Here’s a sampling of what we hear:
- How much of “X” do I need?
- How do I make sure I’ve not under-done the effect I’m looking for?
- Why do I feel so unsure about this quote?
- How do I validate this quote?
- Do you have references or others like me?
On the flip side, we have a number of customers that have no issues with quotes. They want “big effects” and “never been done before.” Here, the requirement tends to be a sounding board and a dose of reality. In any event, what event planners need are a few suggestions of items to consider as they prepare for the year ahead.
Invest in Sound Design
One of the biggest buzzkills at events in different venues is botched audio. Not all ballrooms are created equal and are subject to a wide range of factors including ceiling height, construction materials, audience seating, and staging elements. You might be thinking of only a few speakers when the reality is that you need sound-shaping speakers and technology that is tuned to the venue.
Ensure your AV tech partner has a qualified audio designer involved in planning the venue. Request, or even demand, that a competent audio engineer is on-site not only for the setup but for the load-in. Too often, too many AV companies cut the corner and send under-experienced techs to do setup and don’t leave enough time for the pros to dial it in. Check your quote, and ask questions. Get names. You will sleep better knowing that audio will NOT be your event trouble.
Projection? LED? Yes.
Engaging visuals make and break a general session. Skinny up the visuals and you are sure to suck the air out of the room when your keynote takes the stage. Visual display technology has come a long way in the last 5 years. LED is far more affordable than it once was for daily and weekly event rentals. Projection is still a dominant ballroom tech in plentiful supply from most of your AV companies. What we are suggesting is that your awareness of these mediums should be a part of your planning considerations.
Ask your AV partner to quote you the LED upgrade price. You might not get the same lineal sq feet of coverage, but you will love, in some cases, the airier feeling above not requiring all the truss and rigging for projection. By the same token, projection just may be the best option for the job. You need to start asking for both pricing as you consider displays. Further, don’t count out the fact that you may choose some variant in the middle involving both. There are specialists involved with each technology, but they are moving more and more mainstream and the flexibility that LED offers you in terms of real estate in your space is worth considering.
On-Site Techs and Your Event Producer
Nothing bites harder on the days of your event than the lack of a buttoned-up crew. Further, internal squabbles and disagreements sometimes come to a boil in the heat of the show’s run-up. The live event industry has its share of hotheads and impatient people. They fear every aspect of the tech falling apart and sometimes take great care in ensuring disasters are avoided. Flawless execution is the expectation that nobody in the events business wants to claim. But as an event planner, it’s exactly what you need to demand. Your AV team and the team’s lead producer are your lifelines. Think of them as your happy and highly functional family.
Recommendations for Meeting Planners
Ask for the names of your tech team and lead producers to be included in your show’s contract. Take the time to meet them and interview them before your event. Good AV teams will gladly introduce you to their best people because they know that those people are the ones getting it done day in and day out. Struggling companies won’t be able to make commitments which should be a warning flare that all is not right in River City. Bad culture bleeds into the job environment. We want Disney! The last thing you need to worry about is a shifty and disconnected AV team bringing your event down.
Get on with Your Show!
Hopefully, these tips get you started down the path toward your big events this year. We know they will be awesome if you take the time to pick great partners and do a little homework. Be wary of the “they do it every year” partner. Keep them honest and have them earn your support. And better yet, give your audiences awesome!
For more event planner resources, check out this great article on Bizzabo – https://www.bizzabo.com/blog/event-technology-guide/
To schedule some time with us to talk about your next event, visit us at https://www.mercurysl.com/contact-us/