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  • 28 Apr 2016 12:07 PM | Dennis Pugh (Administrator)

    Meeting Tomorrow Origin Story

    However over the past 12 years, Meeting Tomorrow has grown into an industry leader that executes more than 9,000 events annually while also remaining dedicated to its core values of commitment, kindness, and humility.

     Mark Aistrope started out as a traveling software salesman who gave presentations all over the U.S. and Canada. Every time he flew into a new city, he would have to locate a projector locally in order to do his presentations. Although this was very difficult for him, Mark saw an opportunity to provide a nationwide solution. So in 2003, he decided to start his own business out of his basement with just 15 projectors that he bought on eBay--with only the occasional cockroach infestation. He built a website that advertised for nationwide projector rentals and set a goal to simply get at least one order per day. It was then that Meeting Tomorrow was born.

     Mark started the business in Columbus, Ohio while his wife, Marla, was attending business school. Marla laughs and shakes her head remembering how Mark would often drive around chasing down the last FedEx truck of the day because he would never turn down an order. Soon after Marla had graduated, Mark and Marla moved Meeting Tomorrow to its first office located in Chicago. In less than a year, MT went from a makeshift, 600 square-foot apartment office of six people (and one dog!), to an actual office with eight additional employees.


    Mark in the MT Office during construction

     Growth forced the company to move yet again, but with hardly any time passing, employees began to have their desks set up in the kitchen due to the fast paced growth. As crowded as it was, Jamie Doligosa, who started as a college intern and has been with the company since it moved to Chicago, looks back to all the fond memories she had during those crowded office days. She recalls having to take turns cleaning the bathrooms when there was no maid service and having companywide meetings at the nearby pub due to lack of office space. She laughs remembering the office with no AC or heat and how the employees would go in shifts on the worst Chicago winter days in order to warm themselves up at the bowling alley down the street.


    Mark Aistrope and Phil Hamstra

    Throughout all those years in interesting work conditions, Jamie remained convinced she hit the jackpot working for Mark: “Whenever the company would lose money on an order or something would discourage the employees, Mark would always tell us that it wasn’t so bad and would continue to focus on the positive.”

     As the company continues to grow, it is easy to see that the employees still see the people, Mark included, as the best part of working at Meeting Tomorrow. The About Us page of Meeting Tomorrow’s website includes pictures of all of the company’s current full-time employees. Employees list what they love most about their jobs and describe what they do. Almost every single person lists the people as what they love most about Meeting Tomorrow.


    The MT Team at the annual company Whirlyball tournament.

     One big challenge Mark faced was coming up with a mission statement that encompassed everything great about the company’s employees and culture. “I didn’t want to have the mission statement be about things we strived to do, but something we are already doing and are already doing really well,” Mark said.

     After a couple of weeks meeting with his team to figure it out, he finally realized his mom, Gail Aistrope, had said it best: “Mark always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but he didn’t want to build a place just to work; he wanted to build an environment that fostered respect and affection.”

    “I wanted to create a place where Monday was just as great as Friday because you loved coming to work, and that starts with the people,” Mark said. Therefore, he decided to make the company’s mission to build a company that fosters a culture of respect and affection. He wanted to make sure everyone felt the desire to protect Meeting Tomorrow’s core values of commitment, kindness, and humility, so he put those words on the wall of the office and encouraged employees to leave notes for others about how their work has demonstrated those values. “Once it’s stated, there is an accountability there that isn’t there without it. When you have it written where everyone can see it… everyone is rowing in the same direction.”


    The MT Core Values Wall

     Today, Meeting Tomorrow has a 15,300 square-foot loft-style office with more than 60 full-time employees (and two dogs!), about ten times larger than its original team of six. The company has expanded far beyond renting presentation equipment. Meeting Tomorrow is now providing full-service audio visual production, webcast production, and event technology rentals.

     The growth of Meeting Tomorrow did not only come in square footage, but in partner relationships as well. Mark’s desire to fill every potential client need led him to reach out to more and more partners. Originally, he did this by looking in the local Yellow Pages. Today, their ever increasing Audio Visual network includes 2,000 partners around the country, many of them members of ITRA. Thanks to the wonderful partners Meeting Tomorrow works with all over the United States and Canada, more and more clients are provided with successful events every year.


    Kelsey and Fudge, the MT office dogs

    Focusing on growth is important, but doing so does not just mean jumping into the next big thing; it means constantly reevaluating processes and how to get things done efficiently. Meeting Tomorrow finds it essential to not only see what other services we can provide, but also, how we can make our current services more efficient. In order to do so, employees constantly challenge the way things are accomplished. In fact, Meeting Tomorrow recently reorganized its entire warehouse to accommodate its updated equipment inventory. The new layout enables the warehouse staff to fulfill large quantities of iPad, laptop, and monitor rentals more efficiently.

     *MT Warehouse Video

     Meeting Tomorrow now executes more than 9,000 successful events annually. For more than a decade, the company’s Event Services Team has been developing quality-control and logistics processes to ensure that clients have “worry-free events”.

     Visit http://meetingtomorrow.com to learn more about Meeting Tomorrow.

  • 20 Apr 2016 1:00 PM | Anonymous


    This week the ITRA features InCharged in its company spotlight!


    InCharged specializes in doing branded cell phone charging stations.  This means that companies are able to rent charging stations, while also being able to customize the look whether it be for a cell phone company or an e-reader like Audible.  These stations are perfect for large corporate events because of the easy accessibility and because there are always those in need of a phone charger!


    Currently InCharged serves clients all over the continental US as well as a variety of international clientele.  They also are able to offer special rates on purchases for ITRA members along with a partner program for leases.  These offers are exclusive to ITRA member so be sure to check out how getting involved in the ITRA can save you and your company money on fantastic products that InCharged has to offer!  Any questions or inquiries can be directed towards Karina Montero who is the representative member of the ITRA.


    To reach InCharged you can go through the ITRA representative: Karina Montero

    InCharged phone: 860-879-1782  

    InCharged website: InCharged.com


    Written by: Nathan Kallen Nwkallen@gmail.com

  • 18 Apr 2016 12:50 PM | Anonymous

    By Nathan Kallen Nwkallen@gmail.com

    Nearly every few months Apple comes out with a new operating system update.  If a company were to have update by hand, it would take an unreasonable amount of time without the Apple Configurator.  Similarly, to have to put a load on every computer or laptop would not be possible without something called ghosting.


    Apple configurator is a software, that along with a port able to connect multiple Apple devices, can update multiple devices with a few clicks on a computer.  The software is meant to allow companies to mass update their apple devices without having to do them one by one.  Additionally, the configurator can allow for custom loads on Apple devices including apps, accounts, permissions, and formats of how the screens and apps are presented.  This is a must have for any company carrying large amounts of Apple devices for both loads for customers and updating devices every few months.


    An example of this would be if you need to update ipads to 9.2 while also downloading a credit score and stopwatch application.  To do this you would simply set the configurator to update to 9.2, program the applications into the configurator, then selecting the applications before starting the updating process.  The finished product will be a fully updated ipad with the required applications in any form of home screen the customer desires.or laptops and desktops that are not apple products, the way in which you upload loads is entirely different.  What first needs to happen is your company needs to setup a server on your network.  From here, you are able to upload images that your customer will send you on a seed unit that has everything the customer needs for their load.  Once you upload this to your server, you are able to access it by simply changing the startup and going into the server in essence.  Once you arrive at this point you can simply choose which load you want for the computer and as soon as the ghosting process finishes, you can start the computer normally and it will open with everything that the customer needed from the seed unit.


    A way that this can be used is if you receive an order for 100 laptops that need to have Windows 7, Microsoft Office 2010, and a company specific application.  You will need the customer to send you a seed unit that has the exact load they need to have on the 100 laptop order.  Once you upload the load to your server you simply open each computer to the alternate startup screen and choose the load.  Once the ghosting has finished you’ll have the computer with all required applications.  The only extra step you may need to take is activating certain applications such as Microsoft Office.


    Both of these types of mass loading and updating are key for any company that has a large inventory of both computers or Apple devices.  Apple configurator can still become tedious with their port stations having a limited amount of ports to connect your devices too.  Oppositely, since with ghosting everything in on your own server you can have many more computers going off the server downloading the load at any given time limited by manpower and the strength of your server.


  • 08 Apr 2016 9:35 AM | Anonymous

    By Nathan Kallen nwkallen@gmail.com

    The current market for tablet devices is largely cornered by Apple’s iPad.  The remainder of the market is generally split between various companies such as Samsung, Microsoft and Google, each with their own tablet.  A question that is often brought up within companies is “which tablet they should invest in for their rental inventory?”


    The answer is overwhelmingly iPads in the current market.  While iPads are not the latest and greatest when it comes to technology, because they were able to be the first company to push tablet technology, most customers will typically seek out Apple iPads.  This means Apple has the advantage when it comes to the consumer market for tablets.  While there are a large variety of iPads, the generation 4s and above are what typically reap the largest return on investment.  This is because these are the latest generation of iPad and use lightning cables instead of the 30-pins that the generations before it have used.  By buying generation 4s and over, you will not need to deal with any sort of differing cables because iPad Airs, Pros and Minis also use lightning cables.  The iOS’ of nearly all iPads is updated regularly with new updates every few months.  This can also be a downside because you may need to mass update the iPads much more regularly than you would with a Google or Samsung tablet.  If a customer has an app built on a particular version of the iOS they could encounter performance issues.


    While iPads have a large percentage of the rental market, customers looking for the latest and greatest technology will tend to lean more towards the Samsung, Google and Microsoft tablets.  This is due to the greater functionality and additional uses that a customer may not be able to do with an iPad.  This includes being able to run Microsoft programs and have the tablet be able to stand on its own as essentially a smaller, handheld laptop.  Many of these tablets allow for extra space to be allotted with removable SD cards while you are limited in space to what the Apple iPads provide initially.  The newest Samsung, Microsoft and Google tablets also have better resolutions and a more substantial programmer interface that is near non-existent on most Apple products.


    While there are major differences between both Apple, Samsung, Microsoftt and Google tablets, it would be best to still be able to diversify your inventory.  You may lean more towards having a greater inventory with Apple products while also supplementing it with a few of Microsoft, Google or Samsung tablets for when a customer is looking for a Windows or Android solution.  This will allow you to appeal to a much larger client base and be able to fill the market for tablets which grows every year.



  • 04 Apr 2016 12:17 PM | Anonymous

    This week the ITRA will showcase Alliant Event Services in its company spotlight!


    Alliant Event Services is a company that have been delivering meticulously executed and artistically designed audio visual services, nationwide for over 30 years!  Specializing in trade shows and special events their services include lighting , sound, video and much more.  Alliant is able to build custom designed sets paired with webcasting solutions in order to ensure your event is a success.


    Clients give praise to the sensational work of Alliant like Steve James said “I have worked with countless event service/ AV companies over 3 decades producing local, national and international events, concerts and conventions - the team is among the very best I have worked with.”  If you are looking for an event rental company dedicated to sincere, top of the line service, Alliant Event Services is the place to go!


    The offices of Alliant Event Services are located outside of Los Angeles, California and in Salt Lake City, Utah.  This allows Alliant to service the continental US with a strong hold on the Western part of the United States.  


    To reach Alliant Event Services you can go through our ITRA representative: Sanjay Patel

    Company phone: 800-851-5415

    Website http://www.alliantevents.com/

    Written by: Nathan Kallen

  • 24 Mar 2016 10:31 AM | Dan Kallen (Administrator)

    This week the ITRA features Datapoint in its company spotlight!


    Datapoint is a technology rental company that provides temporary internet and Wi-Fi solutions for events, meetings, and the enterprise.  They are able to provide Wi-Fi solutions to conferences and events with as many as 1,000 attendees to as few as you might like.  Datapoint specializes in meeting temporary internet, specialties-Wi-Fi, and technology rentals across the United States centralizing in Henderson, NV.


    Large events and conferences often rely on Wi-Fi in order to succeed and Datapoint ensures this through having a team of trained network specialists able to be on site at events.  The website allows for clients to easily access the Wi-Fi solutions they need through both detailed descriptions and accurate solutions for each specific type of event.  Currently Datapoint is having a special $50 discount on all CradlePoint MBR1400 rentals until the end of the month on all new orders so you better act fast!  


    To reach DataPoint you can go through the ITRA representative: Ronda Henderson

    Company phone: 702-220-8888.

    .Website information: Eventwifipro.com


    Written by: Nathan Kallen

    Email: Nwkallen@gmail.com


  • 11 Mar 2016 5:24 AM | Dan Kallen (Administrator)

    With the influx of new 4K monitors hitting the market it is time to ask yourself if it is worth it to upgrade your displays from 1080p to 4K technology.  The biggest difference is that the 4K monitors have 4 times better picture resolution and quality.  The visual experience is actually profoundly different.  However, there are several factors that may influence your decision on whether now is the time to start upgrading.

    • 1.       Pricing.  One of the single most significant factors on switching over to 4K display technology is simply the price.  4K monitors can typically run double the amount that you would pay for the same size monitor with 1080p resolution.  While prices of both types of monitors are continuously falling, the payoff for getting a 4K and renting it out on a consistent basis are probably going to be a challenge.
    • 2.       Content.  A key factor in your decision to purchase a 4K monitor is the content that you will actually be able to display.  In order to maximize the resolution of the display, you must have content that has been developed specifically for 4K resolution.  Most internet content is not currently maximized for 4K display.  On top of that, you will also need a computer or other device capable of outputting the video at 4K.  This alone could drive up your costs.
    • 3.       Consumer vs. Professional.  There are currently two different kinds of 4K monitors that are marketed for different audiences.  While both are equipped with the 4K resolution output, the difference in the amounts of usable ports and connectivity options can vary greatly.  The consumer model is obviously an option for lower end event and trade show rentals.  This solution is a viable option for smaller AV and computer rental companies who do not typically service high demand customers.  Professional grade 4K displays offer more robust internal electronics, more integrated ports and connectivity (HDMI 2.0 to Mini DisplayPort) and are typically more rugged.  They also come with a higher price tag.

    Overall, when considering an upgrade to your display inventory there are many considerations.  Several ITRA members already have 4K monitors in their inventory.  If you do not currently own any 4K monitors I suggest that you go to the ITRA Member Directory and call a trusted ITRA member company to help you find the right display for your 4K monitor rental needs.

    Nathan Kallen

    nwkallen@gmail.com


  • 23 Feb 2016 3:57 PM | Doug Watson (Administrator)

    By Nathan Kallen nwkallen@gmail.com

    We all know that the cost of your equipment isn’t the only expense you have to worry about. There are many other factors to consider when renting your equipment out. Will it work when it gets to the venue should not be one of those factors. Ever lose a power cord? Need an extra battery? How about opening up a laptop and noticed that the display is now cracked?

    If any of these scenarios sound familiar to you maybe it is time to look at what you’re storing and shipping your equipment in. One of the most overlooked expenses in rentals is the case that the equipment is stored and shipped in. Over the years, we have seen expensive electronic equipment shipped in every way imaginable. From sticking it on a pallet and wrapping it with shrink wrap to cardboard boxes and Styrofoam peanuts. Why do we see these examples? Because our customers are tired of making shipping claims for damaged products and can’t afford to keep replacing brand new equipment because it arrived at its final destination in more pieces than it should.

    To get some suggestions on the value of protecting your gear with cases, we contacted new ITRA member Jay Griffin, from ECS Cases.  Here are some things to consider when deciding if a reusable, rugged, transit or rackmount case will fit your needs.

    • 1.     Do I need to protect the equipment I am shipping? If you’re shipping pamphlets the answer is no. If it’s electronics then the answer is most likely yes.
    • 2.     How valuable is my equipment? Consider a few things beyond the purchase price and cost of replacement. How much money are you spending every time you have to buy a new cardboard box? How much are you spending in wooden crates that get broken down and destroyed? Ruggedized, reusable containers can see Return on Investment rather quickly, especially when expensive equipment is damaged by poor packaging choices.
    • 3.     How many times have you not been able to find accessory equipment because it didn’t get shipped with the component? With customizable cushioning you can have all your accessories together with the equipment and never have to worry about it not showing up at the same time, thus cutting down on expensive secondary shipments to cover forgotten items.
    • 4.     How much should I spend on a case? That question is harder to answer. You could buy a cheap case and plan on replacing it every 2 to 3 years or you can spend more on a case that is engineered and built to last for 20 years or more. The cost of the cheaper case should be factored in to question number two’s response.  With the more durable option, you can budget approximately 10-25% of the value of the equipment. (I.E. 20 Ipads valued at $500 each= $10,000. A case to house all of those should run $1000-$1500.)

    In following up on the earlier blog post on Managing Your Shipment (1-6-16) 2e spoke to Brady Tinkham of Champion Logistics. Brady was very wise to point out that the key to keeping freight claims to a minimum and reducing theft is best done by using a case. He also pointed out that it will provide the most efficient way to transport your valuable equipment. For more information on how ECS CASE can help you pick the right case for your rental product portfolio please call Jay Griffin at 541-476-8871 or via email at:  Jay.griffin@ecscase.com


  • 17 Jan 2016 7:17 PM | Doug Watson (Administrator)

    By Nathan Kallen nwkallen@gmail.com

    In today’s hyperconnected business environment, internet connectivity is one of the primary tools that companies use in tandem with their technology rental requirements. When you do not have access to an existing wireless network, or a facility is charging ridiculous amounts of money for access, you need to use a cellular network. Here are some considerations when it comes to cellular connectivity:

    1. The Network – This is the carrier that you will get your cellular data from. A key to finding the right carrier is to carefully look at their coverage areas. Most carriers offer access to network engineers who can help you understand the coverage viability in the location of your meeting. For example, if you have a meeting in Lincoln, Nebraska will the carrier you select be able to provide you with adequate coverage? The two most commonly used networks are Verizon and AT&T.
    2. Contract vs. No Contract – Cellular companies will often offer plans where you purchase the device directly from them at a discounted price. This may be an attractive option when it comes to your initial cellular investments. However these contracts typically run for two years and you must make monthly payments even if the device is not used at all. The other option is No Contract, Pay As You Go. For this option, you pay full price (higher up front charge) and then pay only for the data that you are using. The data charge is typically more expensive when you use this option but you are not locked in to a long term contract and do not have to make monthly payments.
    3. Quantities of connections – If you are doing an event where you only need a small number of connections it may be best to check with the venue to see about the costs for internet access. Or you may want to consider renting a few devices that have cellular data connections built in. If you are working at a mid sized event a different option might be to employ the use of several cellular hot spots strategically placed throughout the facility. This option lets you connect multiple devices in different areas and gives you a preset amount of data that can be shared by each device. Finally, if you are doing an event with hundreds or even thousands of users you will need to use a cellular array. This solution requires specialized gear and trained engineers.
    4. Data Management – One of the issues to be aware of when you are using cellular data is the amount of data that each user is consuming. Typically each provider will give you access to a dashboard feature which will let you closely monitor and regulate the data by user. It will even allow you to block access if a user is risking overage charges.

    There are several member companies in the ITRA who provide cellular options. Please contact any of those members if you have questions.
    Nathan Kallen
    nwkallen@gmail.com



  • 05 Jan 2016 7:04 PM | Doug Watson (Administrator)

    By Nathan Kallen nwkallen@gmail.com

    We all strive to effectively manage our costs of doing business. One of the easiest components to manage is finding ways to diminish our shipping costs. In order to help drive down these prices and ship the most efficient way possible we talked to Brady Tinkham of Champion Logistics, a fellow ITRA member. Brady has offered the following suggestions of things to consider when engaging a transportation and logistics partner:


    1. Allow enough time for ground transit. The standard times would be 5 – 7 days coast to coast, 3 – 5 days for Midwest to East/West coast and 2 – 3 days for regional shipping.
    2. Keep your case/crate/pallet dimensions in mind as these contribute to freight costs. Pack items in to the most efficient container possible as to limit the amount of extra space. A 48x48x48 pallet that only weighs 150 lbs. will be shipped and priced out at a 450 lbs “dimensional weight.”
    3. Provide all shipping details up front to eliminate driver wait time or additional pickup/delivery charges. These details should include:
    a. Arrival time, event name, venue/business name, loading dock and on site contact
    b. Trade show shipments require: show name, exhibitor name, booth number, general contractor and specific delivery and pickup times
    4. Keep freight claims to a minimum by packing electronics in a crate/case rather than on a pallet. This will reduce both theft and damages while providing your equipment with the most efficient form of transit.
    5. Be sure to use a carrier that has experience with your kind of business. Get to know your freight rep and ask questions about your specific needs. Using a direct carrier will provide a much better level of service than a freight broker. Don’t simply go to a carrier that may be slightly cheaper without doing your research because this can lead to late deliveries and damaged goods, which ultimately increase your costs.

    When auditing freight costs, be sure to analyze shipping invoices as well as all related over-expenditures. Did a late shipment cause your labor crew to work an extra 4 hours? Did you have to air freight items because of damage or lost equipment? These costs are related to the performance of your shipping partner.

    By following these simple steps you will be able to ensure your company is maximizing revenue by cutting down on costs that are potentially not needed or come from poor planning. For further information please contact Brandy Tinkham at Champion Logistics. Brady can be reached at: 312.888.6888.



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