Thursday, May 8, 2014

Behind the Scenes: Audio-Video Technology for NeoCon

Unless you’re new to trade shows or the design industry, you already know NeoCon is one of the largest expos in the industry. It takes place at the Merchandise Mart-- a landmark building in Chicago so big that it once had its own zip code. The annual conference takes up over 1 million square feet of showroom, exhibit and meeting space-- that’s a lot of room.


That much room with that many exhibitors means that the nearly 40,000 attendees are bombarded by marketing clutter and distractions. As the official technology provider for the show, it’s Rentfusion’s job to help exhibitors fight for attention by outfitting their booth spaces with electronic equipment like tablets, touchscreens, video walls and projectors.


Radha Singh, the co-founder of Rentfusion, and I answered questions about what it takes behind the scenes to provide AV equipment for an event this large as well as our thoughts on the show itself.


Just how many iPads and tablets would you guess are used by exhibitors at an event as large as NeoCon?
With technology changing every day, it could be every exhibitor using them for lead retrieval, product demos and more. iPads have become a staple in the trade show and event industry and are so in-demand that we stock 2,000 of them for rental!
How do you keep up with demand and trends?
We closely monitor the industry and then purchase equipment based on customer trends and foreseen demand. We anticipated that video walls would be popular in 2012 and made sure we had enough in supply to accommodate clients’ needs.
How early was the first order for this year’s NeoCon?
We have clients order equipment for multiple years or as early as the year before. NeoCon is year-round for us!
Are last-minute orders typical for events like this? What timeframe do you consider last-minute?
Last minute? Our industry is last minute. Orders come in up to and even after the event starts. Yes, even for seasoned trade show professionals.
Who do you think used technology well at last year’s NeoCon?
Mohawk Group, a commercial flooring vendor, had an impressive video wall that displayed the company’s brand and products in an eye-catching way.


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Any speakers you’re looking forward to seeing this year?
Any of the presentations about keeping it green! We particularly hope to see Allison McKenzie from SHP Leading Design's session “Acoustics: The Sound of Sustainable Business.”
What is the optimal height for TV and projector screens?
Height of the screen always depends on the booth layout, location, usage of screen. Typically our techs will install the screen 6” above average male eye level. This allows people down the aisle or in the back to be able to see.
What piece of technology should no trade show exhibit go without?
No trade show exhibit should go without any kind of technology. Period. There is no excuse for not making use of even the most basic products because there are options for any exhibiting budget and attendees expect it.


What is the least effective tech product or app for exhibitors?
There is no such thing as an ineffective technology product. There are, however, ineffective or incorrect uses. If you’re not getting what you want out of your tech at trade shows, rethink your strategy and research the best ways to use them.


NeoCon 2014 is coming up soon! Make sure you’re ready to make an impact on attendees with technology. Still need inspiration? Check out how other vendors used tech at NeoCon 2013 and these ideas for using iPads.

Ready to crunch numbers and place an order? Here are our NeoCon 2014 products with special pricing.