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Utilize New Technology to Ensure a Successful Event, says Schiels

Mark Travers

SmartSource® Computer & Audio Visual Rentals provides a wide range of services to trade shows and conferences large and small. In the last few years, the Company has grown in size and greatly expanded the products it offers. What’s their secret to success and how can you profit from their knowledge? (EIA) met with Brian Schiels, SmartSource’s Senior Director of Sales, Event Solutions, at the IAEE Expo! Expo! in Anaheim. He offered these thoughts on the company – along with tips for owners and planners:


EIA: Tell us about your company and what you do.

Schiels: SmartSource is the trusted expert in technology solutions for businesses and events. We maintain the largest national footprint in the computer and audio visual rental space. We’re widely recognized for our breadth and depth of offerings, and seamless systems integration for even the most complex temporary installations.


How do you help marketers?

By leveraging high performance IT, AV, and the latest interactive technologies, we can help marketers effectively convey and display their brand messages with optimum, impactful impressions.


Operationally, then, you must be very broad based.

Yes, we have fully-staffed and equipped branch offices in 21 major metropolitan markets. We offer a national presence with a local touch. And we service our customers with one point of contact to see a project from beginning to end – so our staff serves more as technology consultants than just very good technicians.


Who are some of the types of customers you serve?

We specialize in projects of a limited duration where renting makes smart economic sense, due to capital expense savings. We serve customers in several Channels: Event Solutions (trade shows and corporate events) and Business Solutions (legal, entertainment, IT staffing and Government).


So, in the events space specifically….

Right, our customers include meeting planners, exhibit builders and associations, experiential marketing firms and others. And we do corporate events, film festivals and outdoor events, too.


It sounds as if you service some big brands.

Yes, we do. A wide variety, really. Customers include McDonalds, Rockwell International, The American Medical Association, Tableau and many others. Most recently we served both the Democratic and Republican National conventions. We also handle fun seasonal events like the American Express tree lighting event in Rockefeller Center (


There are a number of providers of services similar to yours. Why would a prospect choose SmartSource? What’s your differentiator?

We offer a high value on all fronts – product, technical and integration capabilities, logistics and cost. And we continuously exceed customer expectations. We have an extensive line of leading-edge solutions that can be expertly set up and integrated by our highly-skilled local technicians. This provides a real advantage to our customers.


What are one or two trends you see developing in the trade show industry?

Well, two of the more significant trends are: 1) customers’ desire to communicate big picture messaging; and 2) to engage attendees through interactive technology. The end result for both of these trends is to hold the audience’s attention for longer periods of time and to educate them on key features and benefits.


And you have a product solution for that.

Yes, SmartSource LED tiles allow us to create large scale messaging for video walls that are flying 20’ in the air or at eye level. We also offer touch screen technology in sizes from 24” to 80” to satisfy interactive content needs. It’s about having the right solution and being able to integrate the technology seamlessly into the customer’s environment.


You go to lots of conferences. You see what’s working – and what’s not. What one or two tips can you offer an event planner, event owner or exhibitor to ensure they have a successful event?

Here are two we see:


1. Leverage leading edge technology to engage millennials, who are seeking green technologies and easy access to information. Planners can do this through:

  • New sophisticated registration and check-in software. This speaks directly to millennials’ digital habits.

  • Dynamic digital signage. This creates a wow factor and engages people in strategically placed locations.

  • Charging stations. Millennials want to stay connected.

  • ARS (Audience Response Systems). These tools are a great way to help attendees share their voices.

  • E-literature solutions. These give meeting planners the ability to deliver information in an engaging, interactive way and help them manage content and capture real-time data.

2. Leverage technology to shrink your event’s footprint. Everyone wants to go green and solutions like these speak to the greater cause.


What’s the best new idea you’ve seen in the trade show industry?

Event Beacon Technology. It provides seamless check-in and registration, attendee engagement, enhanced sponsorships and marketing opportunities facilitated by intuitive, web-based dashboards, real-time alerts, and aisle and booth traffic data. It’s an advanced technology that supports sustainability and serves as an effective logistical support and marketing tool.


What’s the thing you like most about IAEE Expo Expo?

Connecting with customers and prospects while learning what’s new in the industry. It’s a great opportunity to be with peers and play an important part in the community.


What’s the outlook for 2017? Do you have any new products or services you intend to launch?

2016 was a year of strong double-digit organic growth for SmartSource. With many of the new products launched this year, such as Beacon Technology, Registration Software, Badge Printing and Event Applications, to name a few, we believe 2017 will be another good year for the company.


Is there anything we haven’t discussed that you think our audience should know about?

SmartSource is here to brainstorm and collaborate with meeting and event planners. We’re a solutions company and we’re willing to share our knowledge with the industry. We’re relationship focused and trusted partners. Our clients retain us year after year.



You can reach Brian Schiels at 718.361.4543 or For company information, visit SmartSource.

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