Canadian Rental Service

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Editorial: Bring focus to events

Some thoughts on focus in events, both here and at your company.


Hello, event rental people, it’s nice to speak to you again. I know we spill most of our ink here in Canadian Rental Service talking about issues related the equipment rental side of the industry, but rest assured we know what an important and vibrant sector party rentals are. Our March issue has traditionally been dedicated to event rentals, and this is one of those. But, going forward, we are going to try to serve the party sector better with a regular column called The Event so there is at least some event content in each issue.

Please welcome Tara Jacobs, who will be writing the new column. Tara has been our event director here at Annex Business Media (our publisher) for the past seven years. In that role, she and her team organize and promote events for 50 Canadian trade publications, in markets as diverse as electrical contracting, cannabis growing, chiropractory, architectural glass, manure management (it’s a shit show!), pizza restaurants and aviation. And, yes, she’s the brains behind the Canadian Rental Mart and all the exciting new things going on with our big event (Oct. 20 – 21 at the International Centre in Mississauga, in case you’d forgotten).

Tara has kindly agreed to share some of her insights and experiences in the event industry with us. You’ll be able to get the most valuable perspective of all from her column: that of your customers. She’ll be talking about what works and what doesn’t in planning and staging events. She’ll mention trends in decor, technology and event structure that are interesting to her as someone who does this for a living. She’ll talk about her experiences with renting event products and services and how that has worked out. I know Tara’s contributions will give you lots to think about and many great ideas for how to improve your business. Where she’s finding time to write these columns is a mystery to me, but I’m trying not to ask too many questions.

Under Tara’s direction, our company has vastly expanded our involvement in events of all kinds and we seem to be talking about them as much or more than we talk about the various communication channels. I’ve said for years that as more and more of our interaction takes place via screens, a hunger grows in people for the opportunity to get together face-to-face. That trend is only accelerating in every industry Annex covers. We see that when we host an event in any market, the interest and connection to our magazines and digital channels grows. I wonder if there’s a common principle there for your business. Have you ever tried getting your customers together for a barbeque, open house or sporting event? Obviously sponsoring and showing a presence at existing community events is something we all find beneficial and gratifying. And if you’re in the event rental business yourself, well, you know how to put on a show people are going to want to attend.

With all the thinking and working on events I’ve done lately, I’ve found one word coming back to my mind over and over again: focus. The most successful events I attend or host these days seem to share the quality of having a singular niche focus both in content and in the structure. I was recently at the Concrete Expo in Mississauga, where I ran into several rental friends. The name says it all – this one’s for the concrete industry and nothing else. But the show has grown massively in only three years and was well attended again. It’s not hard to see why. The focus might be narrow, but it’s deep. You’re only going to see concrete-related suppliers, but you’re going to see most of them, and over a range of equipment and products that address just about everything to do with concrete. The other element of events that seems to benefit from focus is the structure. One day, easy registration and access, small footprint, in and out. The sprawling week-long conference with show floors, seminars, meals, awards, evening entertainment, side trips, golf tournaments and so on seems to me to be on the way out, or at least restricted to the very largest continental shows. So my advice, when thinking about events for your business or your customers, is to look for the focus.