It's easier than ever to learn CPR: New guidelines from the American Heart Association have simplified the technique (fyi, no more mouth-to-mouth contact). One way to get your staff trained: the American Red Cross (redcross.org) offers half-day courses all across the U.S. Prices vary by region. Thanks to Ruth L. Gregg, CMP, event planner for the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute, for the idea.
Are You Prepared?
If you're concerned about safety at a meeting, ask prospective venues if an AED (automated external defibrillator) is on site and what percentage of the staff is trained in emergency management. If the answers are "yes" and "40 percent" (or more), you're probably in good hands, says Ruth L. Gregg, CMP, event planner for the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute. Gregg notes that for some groups, it might be worth the $1,500 to $2,500 to purchase an AED (aed.com).
Magnetic name badges are both durable and easy on clothes, but they are often simple to a fault. Bob Seidman of Par-T Shots can make full color magnetic badges in any size, either in advance or at an event. He charges $10 for a single badge or $4 to $6 for multiple badges, depending on quantity. (516) 766-4666; par-tshots.com
Finding the perfect prize for your raffle or contest can be tough. A better option: let the recipient choose their own with a customized Visa gift card, such as these offered by Incentive Card Lab. Upload a pertinent photo or company logo, and load each card with as much cash as you like. Cost, $5.95 per card (plus cash value). incentivecardlab.com
Cyber Clean is a putty that makes it easy to get computer keyboards dirt- and dust-free. Buy a canister for $6.99 here, or call the company to order customized tubs for promotional giveaways. (800) 364-3664; cyberclean.tv
An inconvenient fact: many overseas merchants no longer accept the magnetic-stripe credit and debit cards that U.S. travelers typically carry. When planning an incentive trip to Europe, consider ordering pre-paid chip & PIN cards from Travelex. Attendees can get cash out of ATMs or use the cards for purchases, with no transaction fee. Cost is just for the cash value loaded onto the cards. (877) 414-6359; www.us.travelex.com
At many of the conferences she organizes, event planner Carolyn Ray (about.me/carolynray) hides a tiny note somewhere in the venue (e.g., under a text-heavy sign, on a wall) that reads, "If you see this, you win a prize." Underneath the note is contact info to claim the prize, whether it be a mug, bag of candy or T-shirt. At the end of the conference, the winners are announced. The possibility of finding the sign helps ensure that attendees pay attention to their surroundings.
Attendees can store their session notes and handouts in these high-quality stylish binders from Russell + Hazel. Both the binders and the rubber bands can be customized. The Signature Pattern Binders (shown) cost $24 each; the minimum order for customization is 250 units. (952) 279-1360; russellandhazel.com
Surprise Industries specializes in stunts that will get people talking and make for fond memories. For example, the company can arrange for costumed "aliens" to swoop down from the ceiling, "abduct" key guests and transform them. Prices start at around $400 per performer. (646) 450-7475; surpriseindustries.com
Nonprofits that collect lots of $5 and $10 donations might find it easiest (and more remunerative) to collect via text message. Set up an account with mGive, post a placard at your events (and/or even outside the venue), and attendees can send a small donation using their cell phones. This item is probably best-suited to large organizations with healthy budgets, as a basic account with mGive costs $500, plus $399 per month, plus a small service fee per donation. mgive.com
Boutique Tents custom-designs gorgeous tents for all kinds of upscale events. They're not for everyone -- they don't get larger than 15-square-foot, and they're for sale only, not rental -- but the design is exquisite. Prices start at about $3,000 for an 8-foot tent. (843) 345-5049; boutiquetents.net
No Double Dipping
Colorful hors d'oeuvres of hummus and cut veggies in a shot glass, along with individual fruit and cheese plates, make for delicious, healthful and practical party eats. These were created by the Chicago Hilton's catering team. (312) 786-6294; chicago.hilton.com