Where style meets quality & service
Where style meets quality & service

Do Your Pinterest Boards Tell YOUR Story?

July 23, 2014  
Filed under AFR Event Furnishings

By definition on their own site: Pinterest is a place to discover ideas for all your projects and interests, hand-picked by people like you.

After asking Siri “What is Pinterest?” this is what she came back with: Pinterest is a visual discovery tool that people use to collect ideas for their different projects and interests.

What’s my point? In both instances, it does not mention anything about selfies sparking inspiration. Don’t be that brand or person. After all, you yourself are a brand and an extension of the brand you represent.

Now that I have your attention, your Pinterest boards should tell your story fueled by visual content that inspires your audience. As with Instagram, Pinterest provides a visual playground to authentically showcase your brand. Focus on creating unique boards that appeal to different groups of people.

AFR has done an exemplary way of sharing their #afrTOUR stops with their boards. Through their various pins, they give a glimpse of every city’s event, capturing the experience for their audience. Here’s a snapshot of those boards:

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If your brand is not on Pinterest, you are missing out on some major opportunities! Influencers play a key role on Pinterest and help spearhead new products and trends. Here are some stats to get your creative brain juices fizzling:

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infographic credit: hello society

It is important to do a cross-pollination of your content across all social media platforms to provide your existing community and new audiences a seamless experience. Pinterest should be an extension of all your marketing efforts, if not one of your top three, since it is one of the highest social media platforms to drive traffic. Keep in mind that pins have different traffic patterns as some pins are clicked through immediately while others get repined prior to being clicked.

Once you’ve created an account, you will want to inform everyone to create engagement. You can do this by sending a dedicated Pinterest email to showcase your boards and encourage following as well as integrate some Pinterest tools. You can add the “Pin It” button to your website to grow Pins and referral traffic. You can also add hovering “Pin It” buttons over your product line. This is one tactic that I recommend as it provides yet another opportunity, in a subtle way, for your clients to pin their favorites. Here is an example of this option on AFR’s Furnishings:

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You might be wondering how you can measure your ROI. There are tools you can use to measure your Pinterest account, such as Pinterest’s own analytics, only available once you verify your website and Tailwind. These tools, although not completely free for Tailwind, are of benefit if you want full access to their management tool. Understanding your followers behavior will point you in the right direction on what type of Pins you need to share and how to better create your content.

No matter your story, it is imperative to orchestrate a distribution strategy to maximize your reach with your audience. Remember to mix things up a bit. It’s okay to share other interests, just as long as your brand story message doesn’t get lost.

Happy pinning!

Written by Guest Blogger Jose Ramirez, Backdrops Beautiful

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Effective Home Staging on a Budget

July 2, 2014  
Filed under AFR Furniture Rental

Home staging is often perceived as an expensive option for homeowners when selling their home. Understanding home staging and how it can increase your financial benefit can help calm nerves and show that the expenditure can most times be fully recouped. One thing is for certain; listing a home without a strategy for selling can mean less money in your pocket after the sale.

It is important to understand that home decorating and home staging is two different things. Home decorating is customizing a space to your particular style and preferences. Home staging creates a neutral style that appeals to a broader audience and allows potential buyers to imagine living in the home. It also enables the home staging professional to showcase and highlight the positive attributes of a home. Empty space always appears smaller than it is. Feed the imagination of the buyer and help establish perspective on what will fit and what won’t.

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When home staging, be sure to hire a professional that knows best how to create a neutral environment that will aesthetically appeal to a big audience and showcase your home in its best light. It is important that every potential buyer can imagine themselves (and their personal tastes) living in the home they are viewing. Even on a limited budget, there are ways to get the results you are looking for. Here are a five tips and tricks to help you save right away:

$. Limit the amount of accessories. Remember that you don’t want a specific style within the space; you want a peaceful, neutral setting that allows for anyone to imagine living there. A few well-placed accessories can make a powerful statement.

$$. Stick with substantial pieces. Showing a potential buyer that you can comfortably fit a couch and a love seat with cocktail and accent tables in the living room is enough. You don’t have to demonstrate that Grandma’s favorite rocking chair and the kid’s huge beanbags fit as well. Focus on the basics to create a clean environment that allows the buyer to see the beautiful picture window, crown molding or beautiful fireplace in the room. Be careful not to over stage and hide selling points.

$$$. Don’t worry about matching pieces. You don’t need a whole collection to make a statement. Mix and match. It’s very trendy right now and can save you some money when being selective in how much furniture you place in a space.

$$$$. Limit the length of your rental term. Most rentals do have a minimum leasing. Take advantage of it. You can always renew the term, but in the meantime, save yourself some money by being conservative (and optimistic).

$$$$$. Check with your tax specialist to find out if home staging may be tax deductible. Home decorating is not, but real estate marketing may be. Be sure to consult with your tax professional beforehand to find out what is and is not allowable.

Lastly, statistics have shown staged homes sell faster and for a higher price. Home staging provides a competitive advantage over empty homes that cannot be beat and it can easily be done on a limited budget working. If you are looking for a professional home staging consultant, you can call your local AFR Representative at 888.AFR.RENT to schedule a free consultation. We’re ready to get you on the road to happy selling!

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Walk on the Wild Side: Unusual or Unique Event Spaces

June 25, 2014  
Filed under AFR Event Furnishings

Clients are always looking for new and different spaces for events. A plethora of different reasons take clients on a search for something outside the norm of ballrooms and four walled venues.

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Being different. Clients like different and unique whether it be because of a theme desire or status standpoint or simply to create an environment that supports their brand. Everyone loves when their guests walk away raving about their events.

Being the first. Clients love when they are able to be the first group to hold an event at a new venue. It sets them apart from the crowd, and sometimes the competition if there are multiple events in a city during a conference.

Being creative. Being creative creates a buzz for the host whether corporate or social. Who doesn’t love when their guests walk away from their event thinking that the host is the most creative mastermind to ever hit planet earth? Using places that are accessible to everyone and creating an unexpected experience a big deal.

The opportunities are endless. You’ve heard the saying, “Stop and smell the roses”, right? The same rule applies when looking for a unique or unusual venue. All you need to do is stop and take a look around you and let yourself dream a little. Ask the question, – what if? Thinking outside the norm of ordinary, will give you a chance to either find a unique or unusual venue or create one.

Let your imagination take a walk on the wild side. Try something that is out-of- the-box extraordinary when your next client calls looking for something unusual. Make sure to consider every detail carefully. Creative venues are more challenging, and sometimes more expensive, when you consider everything that needs to be brought to the site to make the event happen in a high level manner that is standard with a more traditional venue.

Here are a few idea sparks to get you started!

The ideas are endless…happy creating!

If you need some new ideas for your next venue, at AFR, we see tons of venues each and everyday. Don’t be shy, pick up the phone and give your local representative a call at 1-800-AFR-RENT. We’ll gladly share our ideas with you!

Production & Photography Credits:
Chuck Robertson & AFR Event Furnishings Staff
Construction Site/Yacht: Event Savvy, Atlanta, GA
Tennis Courts: AFR Furniture Rental Staff

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Writing, Writers and Award Submissions

June 18, 2014  
Filed under AFR Event Furnishings, AFR Furniture Rental

The 2014 awards season is in full swing!  With the Spotlight Awards and Esprit deadlines just past, and BizBash, NACE and TSE GALA’s looming on the horizon, I thought it might be a good time to share some tips on what you should look for when searching for a writer to help you with your award submissions.

While a talented creative writer is an excellent place to start, creativity is not the only skill you should be looking for. There are several qualities to consider when hiring someone to help with your awards writing. Here are a few things to think about:

Does the writer have event industry experience?

Someone with industry experience understands what is pertinent to the category in which the event is being submitted. For example, beautiful decor is not going to be the focus when you are entering your Olympics event in the logistics category.

Someone who has hands-on experience and knowledge of events can bring the vision to life for the judges, who are usually event professionals. Having event experience can also mean that the writer is better able to focus on relevant and desirable content for an award-winning entry.

Can the writer paint the picture?

Every event is a story, so your submission should tell one as well. It’s not just facts, figures and answers to questions (though the details and results are important to include). The writing needs to be intelligent, flowing and evocative. Touching emotion is key.

The judges weren’t at the event. The writing and supporting materials have to place the reader right in the middle of the excitement. A good awards writer can transport a reader, awaken emotion and pique the judges’ attention and curiosity. Whether it’s a wow moment, a humorous touch or something that chokes them up; vivid details are key components of a well-written entry.  You want the writing to touch the emotions of the judge as they read your entry.

Can the writer sell?

An award specialist also knows how to “sell” why the event should be an award winner and how it exceeds the judging criteria in relatable and significant ways pertinent to current industry standards. Having some marketing skill running through the veins never hurts. But beware: These submissions are not advertisements; they are experiences. While winning an award is a great marketing tool to inspire your clients, marketing to the judges is a different technique all together.

Good writers do not have to be English majors.

Good award writers should have an engaging style that is easy to read. Award writing does not require formality.  Of course the copy should be put together well, with good syntax, sentence structure and spelling. There is a process to writing, and submissions always need to go through content revision (big picture changes) and then of course final editing (spelling, sentence structure, grammar and punctuation).  It’s important to not skip these steps. Remember, entries are a reflection of your overall work as a professional business and good presentation is a must.

At the end of the day …

I often have new clients approach me saying, “We need to win, so you have to write it.” The truth of the matter is that the event has to stand on its own. I, nor any other writer, can make an event win, but we can provide a competitive advantage. Successful and experienced awards writers should be able help you decide if the event is a contender, what category to enter and the best angle to take. They can then guide you through the rules and criteria and writing process to set you up for success.

Once you hire a writer, set them up for success. Give them your time to interview, provide them with event collateral, pictures and media, and be available for input and questions.  Time is one of the greatest gifts you can give to a writer. Consider having them write throughout the year, not just when the deadline approaches. You’ll get a fresher writer with more time to focus on your award. There is a writing process, and it is important in achieving a great product.  I often get calls on the day awards are due, and as much as it pains me to say no, I do.

A strategic approach to award writing is well worth the investment to produce a quality product, achieve potential recognition from your colleagues and clients, and relieve some of the anxiety of looming deadlines.

Through words, Ruth Moyte, captures a moment, makes a connection, builds emotion and delivers a message. Building on story, rhythm and timing, she has written hundreds of award submissions with great success. Each reflects the personality and brand of the client for whom she is writing, many of who are global industry leaders throughout the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. With over 20 years of experience in the special events industry, Ruth has written for many of the world’s leading brands. From script writing, speeches, awards submissions, creative concepts, conference content, brand strategy, print and web copy and more, each project she takes on is delivered with her passion-driven writing style.

 

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Crank Up Your Facebook Page

June 11, 2014  
Filed under AFR Event Furnishings, AFR Furniture Rental

Are you posting for Facebook or your audience?  You can definitely do both. Use Insights to determine what’s working for your page and see what posts are driving engagement. Create different concoctions for all your posts. Mix it up a bit, especially since Facebook is always changing its algorithm. Adding images, url links, hashtags and tagging properly to your posts can give you a better chance of appearing at the top of your fans news feeds.

Cover photos continue to play an important role for Pages. On a desktop it is the first thing visitors see when the go to your Page. Your photo should be to the point and illustrate what your business does by either showcasing your products or service. Remember that you can be as creative as you want since the 20% text rule does not apply to cover photos.

A missed networking opportunity is not using your Facebook page as your actual profile. It is a good way to build business alliances by acting and posting as your Page.It helps create visibility and credibility if you’re commenting on your industry. This gives life to your Page and the engagement comes directly from your business.

Facebook has rolled out a new streamlined design for all pages. Here are the highlights:

Facebook has no set schedule when it comes to updating its platform. And just when we all think we have their EdgeRank figured out they release a new update. My number one suggestion to businesses is for them to answer this: Why wouldn’t you want to have your business on the most visited platform?

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Discover Chic and Unique Furniture at AFR Clearance Centers

June 4, 2014  
Filed under AFR Event Furnishings, AFR Furniture Rental

With stylish furniture at great prices, the AFR Clearance Centers have become known for offering an array of new and like-new furniture at drastic discounts — often more than 50-60% off of retail prices! Our inventory includes items ranging from floor samples and model home furnishings to rental returns: think sofas, loveseats,  dining room and living room sets, along with desks, chairs, and shelves for your home office. Each location receives new inventory daily,  as items find new homes and make room for new arrivals.

This means there’s almost always something new to discover at the AFR Clearance Center, including some very unique pieces of furniture that can give a distinctive flair to your home décor. For example, some recent arrivals at our Secaucus, NJ Clearance Center  include unique metro side chairs that would give any space a sophisticated feel, and a dune buggy-styled twin bed that would make a fun addition to a kid’s bedroom. The inventory at our Pennsauken, NJ Clearance Center includs a regale feeling blue chaise, while our Atlanta Clearance Center  recently received some U-shaped desks finished in mahogany.

Such unique furniture usually doesn’t stay in stock very long, but AFR Clearance Centers receives new stuff every day.  Want to discover unique furniture at 50-60% off retail prices? Like our Facebook page, visit our website, or stop by one of our furniture stores to browse!

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The Surprising Benefits of Volunteering

May 28, 2014  
Filed under AFR Event Furnishings, AFR Furniture Rental

With busy lives and families to maintain, it can be hard to find the extra time to volunteer with an industry organization or Board.  However, the benefits of volunteering can be enormous to you, your business and your community. Volunteering helps everyone, but there are many more considerations to take note of when you look beneath the surface of giving back.

Here are six positive side effects of volunteering that you may not have thought about:

1.  You work with people in a non-selling environment.  When you work with people in a non-selling environment, you get to know one another and build a relationship that increases trust and forms a bond. That can easily translate to first call business when the time arises.  You have to have a good product and service behind you, but in the end, people buy from those they know and trust.

2.  It builds your network. When you volunteer on a board, it increases your network whether locally, nationally or internationally.  Knowing the right people in your city, country or around the world provides you with many new opportunities to do business with one another.  How great is it to be able to pick up the phone and make things happen no matter where you are because you share a common bond through an industry organization?

3.   Volunteering can help position you and your business as a leading expert in the industry.  When you start out with a committee and work your way up to an Executive Board position, you can gain steady traction as a leader.  Not only that, but the increased brand visibility doesn’t hurt either – there’s something to be said for name recognition when people know you and they can confidently refer someone to you and your company.  Additionally, you often enjoy exposure for your company whether it is in the press, a program, on signage, on the web or even presenting an award.

4.  Volunteering helps move your industry forward.  Volunteering with organizations and on Boards often includes education. What better way to lead than by educating the younger generation considering or entering your industry?  People look up to those that have experience and a reputation of leadership. Be a part of the future of your industry by helping to shape it. You can do that when volunteering with industry organizations. 

5.  You can learn new skills and gain valuable experience that can help further your career. Just because volunteer work is unpaid does not mean the skills you learn are basic. Many volunteering opportunities can provide extensive training. Volunteering can also help you further develop skills you already have. For example, if you are in a sales position, you can further develop and improve your public speaking, communication, and marketing skills!

6.  Perhaps most importantly, volunteering creates The Happiness Factor. Giving back and volunteering will make you feel good. Many studies have shown that the more people volunteer, the happier they are. Happy people are usually healthier.

In the end, volunteering connects you to others with common interests and allows you be a part of achieving something that will further you, your career and your company and best of all impact others lives in surprising ways.  There is simply no downside to it!

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Calligraphy: It’s All In the Writing, Or Is It?

May 21, 2014  
Filed under AFR Event Furnishings

Calligraphy is a visual art related to writing.  Most often associated with official documents, monarchs and royalty and of course wedding invitations, it has always held a regally formal and official feel.  Well times, they are a changing.

Now we are seeing a trend swing with the creative use of calligraphy throughout the event. Moving past the English traditional styling, it’s not just for royalty anymore. Calligraphy is adding a personal touch to the print elements that are carried throughout the event and moving beyond into the decorative and design side.  From Copperplate and Black letter to Uncial, Asian and more vintage styles, calligraphy is becoming an artistic design tool.

Turning to our indispensable inspiration resource, Pinterest, we found some really interesting ways to use the written art form within the design of events.

1.  Take a peek at calligraphy name scrolls on reception chairs from burnettsboards.com.  It is a fun application for special occasions or weddings to denote guests of honor or even the bride and groom.

2.  We loved this Chalkboard Paper Table Runner that we found on shopwaitingonmartha.com.  You can even add some jars of colored chalk on the tables and let your guests have fun doodling.  When they are finished, cut the runners apart to create custom artwork and have them framed as a reminder of the event for the guest of honor or the bride and groom.

3.  Check out this cute Maternity Photo Shoot. Beyond being the cutest pug in the world, the calligraphy in the shot brings personality into play and makes your pet a part of the family fun.

4.  For an event that was designed after the theme Once Upon a Time featuring details from storybook tales and a nod to the poisoned apple in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, these escort cards by Meant to be Calligraphy were attached to red apples from Edge Floral.  Deliciously dangerous and cool aren’t they?

5.   Have some fun with menu boards. We loved this example from Style Me Pretty.  Create chalkboards out of anything with chalkboard paper, which can be found almost anywhere online these days in both chalkboard green and black.  Cut it to any shape.  The ideas and applications are infinite.

6.  These Write on Aluminum Tags we found on Etsy are just cool and can be used in so many different ways from escort tags to custom napkin rings and more. Let your guest write their own, or use a calligrapher to create something custom.

The ideas are endless – from table numbers to directional signage, inspiration and art walls, photo backdrops and even overall decorative design elements, there is a myriad of ways to incorporate calligraphy into your event. Did you notice the stage floor at the Oscars earlier this year?  The design pattern was simple striking and prominent in every photo you can find online.

Additionally, you can take that same pattern and pull it onto acrylic and illuminated tabletops or ghost chair backs for another surface on which to play. Anywhere writing or design is involved, you can infuse calligraphy.

Pull some calligraphy design onto the walls of your event with custom lighting gobos.  Calligraphy can even be entertainment with a professional artist onsite at your event creating custom memory cards.

For more ideas on how to infuse calligraphy elements into the design of your event, take a stroll around Pinterest or call your AFR Representative at 888.AFR.RENT.  We are more than a furniture rental company, we are your event partners.

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AFR Gives Back To Rockaway, New York

May 14, 2014  
Filed under AFR Event Furnishings, AFR Furniture Rental

Wow!  wOw! WOW!

What an amazing experience the AFR Gives Back Team had in Rockaway, New York this past weekend!

The news coverage has long since dissipated about Hurricane Sandy, but one thing remains the same – and that is that many people still need help and aren’t receiving it. We at AFR Furniture Rental have set our sights on a mission to help change that, and this trip was the first of more to come.

A group of forty AFR Team Members from Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey headed to the Rockaway Peninsula to help the Andre family return home after they were displaced by Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2012.

Partnering with our friends at St. Bernard’s Project (who many of you are familiar with through our work with EPTA) and Friends of Rockaway, two fantastic recovery organizations, we set out on a mission to make a difference.

Meet Pat Andre and her son Gerard.  They road out the storm in horrifying circumstances and escaped with their lives.  Since October of 2012, they have been staying in a tiny apartment trying to rebuild their lives.  Pat has been a resident of Rockaway for fifty years and all she wanted was to be able to go back to the place that she knew as home.  We wanted to help.

Donating $20,000 from our Christmas Fund (thank you all for being so generous), we provided the funds to cover the gap for the bones of Pat’s home to be rebuilt.  While that was happening, we worked with her to come up with a design scheme that she would love.  Settling on a coastal style, we set out to compile everything (with the help of our generous sponsors) that we’d need to complete her home. With everything in place and ready to go, on May10th, we set out to deliver an early Mother’s Day Present for Pat, that couldn’t be matched.

While in Rockaway, we split into 4 groups.  While one group worked at the Andre family home, the rest of the team spread out over 3 other homes, picked by Friends of Rockaway, all in various stages of reconstruction.  We helped finish dry wall, install flooring, and primed and painted.  We wanted to help as much as we could, wherever we could.

At Andre household, we were busy hanging blinds and doing a little exterior landscaping to brighten things up a bit.  Once we were done with that, it was time to completely furnish the Andre’s home with new bedroom furnishings, dining room sets, living room sets, soft goods, accessories and more.   The home was divided into two separate residences, which Pat shared with her adult son, Gerard. On one side a kitchen, dining room, living room, bedroom and bath.  The other, a studio, included a bedroom, living room, eat-in kitchen and bath. We completed them both.

When it was finished, we were so excited and couldn’t wait to see if Pat loved it.  We needn’t have worried.  Her first words when she walked in were, “WOW!  It looks like a beach cottage that you would see on tevevision.  I hope I don’t wake up tomorrow to find this is all a dream!”  To say our hearts melted would be an understatement.  In that moment, lives were changed – both hers and ours.

As one of our AFR Gives Back Team shared with us afterward, “I just wanted to send a note to say “thank you”. I thought a lot about the day as we drove back to Philly.

So often, we get wrapped up with things going on in our own lives. We all have personal or business things we deal with on a daily basis and it so easy to forget that there are many people struggling with their own difficulties.

So I truly “thank you” for the opportunity not only to help the Andre Family return to their home (which looked so beautiful and warm), but also for the chance to be a part of something bigger than myself and remember how lucky I am everyday to live the life that I am fortunate enough to live.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. It is in that spirit that AFR is so committed to giving back to the communities in which we work and live.

Our mission is not finished. We WILL be back.

For more information, please contact us at tschmitt@rentfurniture.com

 

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Living Décor – Springing with Ideas.

May 7, 2014  
Filed under AFR Event Furnishings

Spring officially arrived over a month ago and after spending the last seven months in what seemed to be a perpetual winter on the East Coast, we are looking forward to spring as signs of new life begin making their appearance everywhere.

While we were waiting for the big thaw, we had plenty of time to look for new ideas to incorporate into our events. We found one that we especially love – living décor. One of the best creative tools that any event professional can have at their fingertips is Pinterest.  That’s where we went looking for inspiration.  We thought we’d share a few of our favorites with you.

1.  Create a unique Living Photo Backdrop for your next event.  Just take a look at this one created with hedge and fresh floral by Sullivan Owen.

2.  Looking for a different ceiling treatment?  Look at this Living Green Canopy we found by taraguerardsoiree.com.  What a great idea and it’s simply beautiful.

3.  Living Table Runners. Bring living décor right onto your table tops with a moss table runner or other living tabletop elements.  Set against fresh floral it can create very unique and beautiful tablescapes.

4.  Look at this lovely Living Chandelier embellished with fresh floral and ivy by Magnolia Rouge: Bridal Fashion by Kelsey Genna, with styling by On My Hand.  It’s perfect for your next spring event or wedding.  Use the guest of honor’s favorite flowers and make it perfectly personal.

5.  Living Bar Backs.  Look at this colorful bar back by Flower Bazaar using exquisite roses in brilliant colors. It added a wow factor at our Miami Networker last year.

Integrating living décor into your events is limited only by the confines of your imagination and creativity.  It can be used with almost any application including water elements, floral walls, tabletop décor, stage décor, ceiling treatments, lighting elements, entertainment and more.   For an extra bonus, you can combine living décor with our Grass Collection and hedges to design a stunning event.

Whether or not Mother Nature decides to cooperate, spring has finally sprung and you can let the fresh ideas flow and breathe some life into your events with living décor!

 

 

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